A Driving Instructor's Blog

COVID-19

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Virus imageI’m utterly convinced the idiots I used to work for are in charge of the COVID vaccine rollout!

It stands to reason that we need to get as many people as possible vaccinated as soon as possible in order for it to be effective. After all, the fewer people who have COVID, the fewer they can pass it on to.

It doesn’t matter if a 40 year old gets it before a 70 year old – if both are jabbed within days of each other. But right now, we have decided to administer it to people who are considered ‘at risk’ first. That’s laudable at first glance, but it isn’t until you start considering the logistics of doing that that you start realising it is just a series of accidents waiting to happen. We’ve already seen that it results in situations where incompetent bureaucrats make mistakes which result in vaccine being thrown away because it hasn’t been properly refrigerated. As a result, we’re not getting it to enough people anywhere – no matter what their age or vulnerability.

Getting the vaccine to care homes, which are often in remote locations not on the government’s Big Atlas of the UK – anywhere outside London, for example – is fraught with problems, in spite of what the imbecile Johnson keeps saying. There are over 18,000 care homes in the UK, with just over 400,000 residents. Yet there are barely 7,000 GP surgeries covering the entire remaining population of over 60 million! On top of that, GP surgeries are already able to give vaccinations, whereas many care home staff will not be. It’s obvious who should be administering the vaccine right now in order to stop the spread.

This idiotic approach initially resulted in the decision to administer the second dose after 12 weeks instead of three – something that wasn’t part of the clinical trials that led to it being approved, and that’s all tangled up with the new, highly infectious variant sending the R rate skywards. In the meantime, they’re focusing on getting temperature and time-sensitive vaccine shipped to remote locations at the likely expense of ruining a lot of it. This is why the company I used to work for must be involved somewhere. It is incompetence to the max.

Look, you f***ing idiots. Just vaccinate as many people as possible, as soon as possible. By all means, aim to vaccinate the same people with the second dose in your calculations based on availability, but stop pissing around working out who to vaccinate first. It automatically leads to delays and screw ups. And fine, since you’ve spent the whole summer arguing that ‘young people don’t die from COVID’ then don’t prioritise them.

Just get the shots out and into someone’s arm! The workforce’s arm. Use GPs and pharmacies. The more people there are who are protected, the more everyone else will be protected. Especially in the care homes.

The government is targeting 2 million doses a week, yet they’ve barely managed a million in a month to date. They have no chance if they keep pissing about trying to get it to care homes before anywhere else, because too much can go wrong. It has gone wrong. And much more will go wrong.

Vaccinating anyone provides protection to care homes. Not as much as if you only vaccinated care homes, but infinitely more than what is happening right now. Then, don’t let anyone who hasn’t been vaccinated anywhere near a care home, and if they attempt to do so for any reason, jail them. It’s a far easier solution. Christ, we are so nearly out of this.

The Pfizer vaccine’s storage limitations were always going to be a challenge for the incompetents who run this country and healthcare system. But my worry is that the Oxford vaccine’s fewer limitations plays into their hands even more, because it allows them to be bureaucratically incompetent without the obvious and measurable wastage to highlight it. Creating a logistics situation that rivals a Gordian Knot plays into their hands still further.

If you don’t believe me, look at this story on the BBC today. It is a bureaucrat’s’ wet dream scenario, and they are playing it to the max.

Get. People. Vaccinated.

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Virus imageAnd as if that previous story didn’t illustrate why we so urgently need to get the vaccine out without having morons involved in the distribution, I saw this on the MSN Newsfeed just now. It’s titled ‘Unbelievably long queue for butcher winds around London street’.

The interesting part is how London – which has just gone into Tier 4 and has the new COVID variant circulating – has so many people in close proximity to each other not wearing masks.

In fact, around 90% of them aren’t.

They are why we have a problem. And they exist in great numbers.

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COVID VaccineYou couldn’t make this up. Not content with the ridiculously slow rollout of the COVID vaccine, or giving it to celebrities first when there are people far more in need of it, or throwing bits away (same article) which amount to almost a sixth more availability if they didn’t, some twat has now caused 1,000 doses of it to have to be thrown away.

The vaccine was sent to a GP surgery in Macclesfield, but for reasons which haven’t been made fully clear, a ‘refrigeration issue’ made it unusable.

The thing is, the vaccine can be used for up to 5 days when stored between 2°C and 8°C, and the fact it had to be disposed of suggests that even this wasn’t adhered to.

Whoever is responsible for this should be sacked. And someone is responsible,

A spokesman for NHS Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group said: ‘This temporary issue is being resolved…’

No it isn’t. We don’t have enough vaccine to go around in the first place, and it is is exactly what it looks like. A full thousand doses have been wasted because of someone’s complete and utter incompetence. It can never be ‘resolved’.

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DVSA logoSocial media has been in meltdown all day because of the usual idiots and their ‘can we work or can’t we work’ nonsense. The answer was obvious to anyone smarter than a chimp, but DVSA has now confirmed it in an email for those who weren’t.

Driving lessons

The Government has confirmed that driving lessons must not take place in areas in Tier 4 from 20 December until the restrictions are lifted.

Driving tests

The Government has also confirmed that all car driving tests will be suspended in areas in Tier 4 from 20 December until the restrictions are lifted. This includes ADI part 2 and 3 tests and standards checks.

There’s more detail, so click the link.

My only concern is that this should also apply to Tier 3 right now. I mean, let’s face facts here. We have the new variant spreading like wildfire, people who will ignore the restrictions in place over Christmas… we’re going to Tier 4 whether we like it or not.

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Silicone Nose BridgeYou have to laugh. Right from the start of the pandemic – with the requirement to wear a mask (unless you are a twat or genuinely exempt) – glasses steaming up has been a problem. If you go by social media, anything from washing up liquid, through squirrel pee, shaving foam, all the way up to 20ml bottles of over-priced chemicals is the way forward.

The bottom line is that your glasses – in my case, sunglasses – steam up because the mask directs warm and moist air up into the lenses.

Sometimes, the solution doesn’t lie with trying to stop basic physics (moisture condensing on glass). It lies with basic physics not being involved in the first place (keep the moisture away from the glass). And these things are the answer.

I bought some and they work perfectly. You just put one over your nose, put the mask on top, and the moist air goes out the side and not the top. The fact that they’re re-usable and cost as little as £5 for a pack of ten of them makes them a much better solution than bottles of Magic Liquid that you’re going to keep wiping off and use up in a week.

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Notts COVID Cases (EZGIF Creator)Well, we have a vaccine, but we’re not out of the woods yet. We’re close, but not in time to ‘save Christmas’.

Actually, people are pissing me off more and more all the time. There are still those who believe it is all a hoax, closely followed by those who believe we should ‘just get on with life’ as if the virus didn’t exist. Many refuse to wear masks, and many refuse to comply with any restrictions. And the media encourages them.

My local newspaper keeps publishing ‘updates’ on cases in the Nottinghamshire area, and these frequently contradict each other depending on whether they are reporting daily or weekly figures, or if they publish them just after a government announcement. The real problem – apart from the obvious fact the journalists who write the articles clearly don’t understand what they are saying – is the nutjobs who read it and then comment on it, because they mainly consist of the anti-vaxxers and deniers.

The animated GIF at the top of this article shows how cases have varied between the beginning of October and last week across Nottinghamshire. Each frame represents the one-week rolling average taken from the Government website interactive map, The white areas are labelled as ‘suppressed’ on the Government website – which could mean anything from ‘not measured’ to ‘deliberately withheld’ (and given that the white areas exist from as recently as December, and in some cases relate to areas desperate to get out of Tier 3, that latter possibility isn’t as unlikely as it might seem).

There is no pattern whatsoever. It’s like a kaleidoscope. And yet the aforementioned nutjobs immediately see any of the paler areas (including the white in some cases) as justification for opening up and carrying on as normal, egged on by the newspaper in question trumpeting loudly at any low figures after a period of high.

The simple fact is that you can be pale green one week and purple the next,

The other annoying detail is the vaccine rollout. I said we had one at the start, but I am suspicious. You see, my mum and dad are 84 and 92, respectively. Both have COPD, and they are therefore in the higher risk categories. I came across this Vaccine Queue Calculator today, and ran both my parents’ details through it. It suggests they will be vaccinated between 22 December and 18 January. I’d not have any major issue with that a) if it turns out to be accurate; and b) if it wasn’t for the fact that the BBC was trumpeting about how Prue Leith had been vaccinated earlier this week.

I have no issue with Ms Leith being vaccinated and wish her well, but I cannot understand how or why she has been done so soon. She’s ‘only’ 80 and she is working normally – which suggests no earth-shattering underlying health issues that no one knows about. She’s also pictured queuing and walking into the clinic normally, and I can assure you neither of my parents could do that – even if they’d been asked to do so. There are people who are considerably higher in the Priority Groups who haven’t been contacted yet – this 108 year-old lady only got it today (yes, she’s in Wales and not London, but it’s still odd).

Having my parents done is all the more important, since I’m not due until March next year – whether I have an underlying health condition or not!

Then there was a story which suggests we might be throwing vaccine away. The US has scrapped an order whereby one sixth of the vaccine was being discarded, saying it was a ‘labelling error’. From what I can gather, each vial contains a clear 5 injections-worth, plus a bit extra to make sure that can be achieved. It’s the ‘bits extra’ that are being discarded. The reasons why this was happening are quite complex if you’ve ever worked in the industry, but they are primarily bureaucratic in nature (unless you ask a pharmacist).

There is no reason whatsoever – other than bureaucracy – why the extra bits can’t be combined and used. That’s what this story is detailing. Fortunately it is pharmacists and GPs who are advocating it, so a lot of the potential bureaucracy is stripped away. But it raises the question of what the UK has been doing, and indeed it would appear that some vaccine has been wasted. It is likely it still is.

Pfizer has said:

At this time, we cannot provide a recommendation on the use of the remaining amount of vaccine from each vial; this is a matter for regulators to advise on. Excess vaccine from multiple vials must never be pooled.

If it’s from the same batch there is no solid reason why it cannot be pooled. Even if it’s different batches there’s still not much reason (unless you speak to a GP or pharmacist before they thought of it first).

As a result of the aforementioned nutjobs, we need the vaccine quickly. No wastage, and no f***ing about giving it to celebrities first. Just get it out so we are safe from the idiots. Christ, I’ve got until March to have to dodge them. Then, you won’t have stories like this.

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COVID imageA potential COVID vaccine in Queensland, Australia, has been kicked out because… trial participants gave false positive test results for HIV – even though the trial coordinators had already suggested participants might produce antibodies that would do this.

You can only wonder if they’d have kicked it out for lower profile false positives. For flu, for example. Or Chickenpox. Or if it was more effective in men.

Just imagine. You might eventually have had a vaccine which was 100% effective against COVID. But because it gives a false positive for HIV – an automatic trigger for stupidity in the modern world – in the early stage trials, it is automatically designated 0% effective.

This world is mad. Really, it is.

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DVSA logoUpdated again: A further DVSA email in mid-November ‘clarified’ the restart date. Another update today (see the end of this article) clarified it back to where it was the first time. I can’t be arsed to rewrite the whole article, so let’s leave it as a testament to how well the COVID pandemic is being managed.

DVSA has just sent out an email, which I suspect is intended to clarify things for those in this industry who find things more difficult to understand than most. I can’t see any other reason for it, since there’s nothing new in it.

In summary, it says:

The Government has announced new national restrictions will be in place in England from Thursday 5 November until Wednesday 2 December (inclusive) to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

Driving lessons in England

The Government has announced that during these dates, driving lessons should not take place in England.

What this means for driving tests

Further to the announcement from the Government, all driving tests in England will be suspended from Thursday 5 November and restart on Wednesday 2 December Thursday 3 December.

Critical workers tests and lessons

Given the short period of time the new restrictions will be in place, we will not be offering a critical worker priority service. We will keep this under review.

Waiting rooms in England

During the national restrictions in England we will also be pausing our plans to open up other waiting rooms in England until after 2 December.

There’s more words in the email, and a bit more information, so read the full message in the link at the start of this article. But this is the crux of it here. The strikethrough is the ‘clarification’ in the first update email.

Now let’s see what social media manages to pick out of this one to argue with. My money will be on that last one.

Update 1 December 2020: OK, I give up on this one. Another email has come through and apparently lessons CAN start again from 2nd December, unless you’re in Tier 3, where it is still the 3rd. Unlike most ADIs, I’m not blaming DVSA for this confusion. They originally said 2nd December, but the government ‘clarified’ it and it became 3rd December. Then we got the ‘tiers’ just to ‘clarify the situation even more’. Now we’re back to the 2nd. Or the 3rd.

It doesn’t affect me, anyway. I’m still holding out for either/both of a) the vaccine or b) infection rates similar to what we had during summer. With infections as they are right now, going out into the thick of it is only going to have one result – likely to end in another lockdown.

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Christmas CardIt suddenly occurred to me today that Christmas is only about six weeks away. Come to think of it, I always realise this late every year without fail. And about now, I’d be buying my Christmas cards from Asda – and I’m thinking like last year, with just walking in and browsing as I usually do.

This year, doing that among the nutjobs who are intent on spreading COVID as a result of their low IQs is a definite no-no, so it’s Amazon this time around. And I was surprised at what they had on offer. There’s even some pop-up ones, and I’ve never seen those in Asda before!

I read today that the guy who bought HMV out last year has said:

Look, the reality is – and obviously this didn’t happen – but if Amazon and the governments of the world sat down together and came up with a plan to give Amazon the best possible advantage, this would have been it…

He’s darned right. But although I sympathise with him and all high street stores, the reality of the situation simply cannot be denied.

I’ve never had any major issues buying from Amazon or anywhere else online. I buy what I want at the price I want, and if that means online – from Amazon or anyone else – then so be it. In the vast majority of cases, it is it. Better range, fast delivery (often less than 24 hours with Amazon if you order first thing), and better prices for many items (though not groceries, I admit).

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COVID virus graphicOriginally published 22 October, Last updated 5 November 2020

Due to the ongoing pandemic, the SEISS has been extended to April 2021. It will be paid in two instalments – the first, covering November-January, and the second covering February-April. It was initially targeted at people who were working fewer hours than they normally would be as a result of the ongoing situation, and who were eligible for SEISS in the first place (i.e. received the first two grants), but with the latest development of a new lockdown with all lessons and tests being stopped then it is back to where it was earlier this year.

As I understand it, those who couldn’t claim previously still won’t be able to. I do feel for them.

The pandemic is a developing situation, but it would appear that many instructors’ minds don’t work in the same way, and remain fixed in the past – and they were usually wrong even then.

When the SEISS extension was first announced it was during different restrictions, and was going to be 20% of earnings. This compared with 80% of earnings for the first grant, and 70% for the second earlier this year. However, it was still better than nothing. Then things changed, restrictions were increased, and the amount of the extension payment was raised to 40% of earnings. This was even better than still better than nothing.

On 2 November, this was changed to 80% for the duration of the lockdown, and 40% thereafter. However, it has now changed yet again, and will now be paid at 80% for the entire period November-January. The amount of the February-April grant has not yet been set.

You would have thought that instructors would have worked out by now that the situation can change overnight. But they don’t, and treat every change as somehow being carved in stone. No one knows what the next few months will bring, but at least those of us eligible for the grant will be covered.

Claims will open from 30 November 2020, and HMRC will notify people accordingly.

But if they’re paying it in instalments, how do they know we won’t still be locked down?

Oh, Christ! That was my response to this question before the latest change. Look, it doesn’t matter now, because it has already changed to 80% across the whole of November-January. You won’t have to worry about doing your sums anymore trying to work out the (absolutely meaningless) average overall figure. It’s 80%, period.

You’ve still got to pay tax on it

Yes. Yes, yes, yes. You are being given a percentage of your pre-tax earnings without actually having to earn it, so you’ve got to pay tax on it. Anyone who expects otherwise shouldn’t be running a business.

 

Reminder: Use the proper GOV.UK link to find out the latest situation with the grant. Don’t just guess.

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