Thursday, 30 April 2020

PEOPLE pitch in to make scarce gear for HEALTH CARE WORKERS

Shipment ready.
ROBERT BAILEY, (Oxford, England) bought a 3-D printer. He had no fixed use for until the Covid 19 pandemic. The Czech Republic manufacturer sent a pattern, approved by the Danish government for medical use. After Robert gets home from his day job he goes to work. He makes, on average, 7 visors a night. But then he got the idea to organize other 3D printer users in the Oxfordshire area. Today there are 60 in the COVID 19D OXFORD group. Volunteer cyclists deliver the visors. To date, they've delivered 2000 VISORS. Robert is the leader, but he's got dedicated, motivated volunteers.  News about their project spread like wild-fire. Robert was interviewed on the BBC news about the visor project. That the group, with delivered 2000 visors in less than one month, is an example for us all. They will keep their 3D printers working until the virus-crisis is history. Check out the Covid 19 3D OXFORD site.

SUE OSBORNE (Grand Junction, Colorado) has lost count of how many masks she's made for the Family Health clinic in Fruita, Co, and the Veterans Administration hospital in Grand Junction. Family Health sent her the kits. The masks are a special paper. Elastic is had to find these days, improvised by cutting strips from old tee shirts. Hi Fashion, a fabric store that has got behind a massive effort to supply masks to hospitals and to people, gives Sue the kits. They are looking for more volunteers as there's a huge need. The masks are sterilized in the hospitals with ultraviolet light. People can boil them before use. Masks have become a new fashion statement. Chic and in bright colors. Lots of places won't let you in without a mask...

NORTH DOWN & ARDS SCRUBS group (No. Ireland) makes much in demand SCRUBS for the National Health Service. Not the usual pale green, blue, or white, but in cheerful prints. A friend of mine in Colorado has a cousin who has volunteered. She lives on a farm and has set up a workshop in one of the buildings. People donate money to buy fabrics. These ad hoc help groups quickly to solicit donations volunteers. Amazing how much they produced in a short time during the virus-crisis.

But what we can't  forget is how many others, who don't get so much attention are putting their lives in jeopardy to help us survive: store clerks, pharmacists, trash collectors, firefighters, the police and many more.

Sources: Richard Bailey. Sue Osborne, Sharan Heller

Next week: SOCIAL ISOLATION sucks, it ain't all BAD

Note: What can i say, other than that this is applaudable. The need for protective gear is very real. My wife works in in-home care, and there's a shortage - their employer has not been able to provide masks for the workers. Which is a bit scary, of course.

Here in Finland, there's been discussion about using the 3D printers they have in schools and libraries for producing masks, and i read that at least one pharmacy is using their 3D printers to produce them. But the numbers are still small, i think.

I have a 3D printer too, but unfortunately, it's an old one and the printing area is just 10 by 10 cm - too small for masks.


Saturday, 11 April 2020

SWEDEN: open for business – RISKY or RIGHT?

Coronavirus in a nutshell by Kurtzgesagt

Fed up with SOCIAL DISTANCING, or worse, SOCIAL ISOLATION? Miss your pals and bored with virtual happy hour meet-ups? Tired of cooking, and eating, pasta for the umpteenth time?

You might try getting into Sweden. - some of their borders are still open and the towns are buzzing. The country is not (yet) locked down. The Swedish government thinks its citizens are responsible enough to decide how to deal with the Coronavirus pandemic, Although they urge people 70 and over to stay at home.

But you might have second thoughts if you check out what Swedish scientists and doctors have to say. According to the Guardian some 2,000, including the head of the Nobel Foundation and the head of immunology at the Karolinska Institute, think the government is leading the country to disaster. The rising number of people ill with the virus, last count 9,689 and 879 deaths might mean they will begin to listen to the experts. Stoicism is a way of life in Scandinavia, but it's not a miracle vaccine against a new and potentially fatal virus, that has the capability to make any one of us a weapon (except the victims who have recovered and have immunity).

Great Britain tried to go the Swedish route, but prime minister Boris Johnson finally had to stop shaking hands and take the doctors' and scientists' advice. He closed down the country. I'm happy the Finnish border is shut tight. Or there might be a mass exodus of our neighbors from the West. But there are hints the Swedish government night be re-thinking their laissez-faire plan and impose tighter controls. Better late than...

  • Finland: pop. 5.5 million, 2,769 COVID-19 cases, 48 deaths
  • Sweden: pop. 10.2 million 9,689  COVID-19 cases, 879 deaths 
  • Denmark: pop. 5.6 million,  5,819  COVID-19 cases, 241 deaths
  • Norway: pop. 3,7 million, 6314 COVID-19 cases, 113 deaths

* Data: April 10. 2020

** The Shark told me that Finland sends its tests to So. Korea for analysis. Norway has the equipment to test and analyze in the country.

*** Boris Jonson has Coronavirus and is in hospital, was in intensive care for a while, but now back in the regular ward.

Sources: New York Times, Guardian, net

Next week:  PEOPLE pitch in to make scarce protective gear for HEALTH CARE  WORKERS


As far as the Swedish route goes, I do not think it matters much whether they close borders or not at this point - all the neighboring countries are closed anyway. Other than that, I'm afraid they may learn the hard way that giving recommendations (which are similar to the policies we have here) is just not enough - strict, enforced policies are unfortunately needed to keep everyone at a bay.

Meanwhile, the opposition here in Finland is having a field day, because the government bought protective gear from China that turned out to be substandard. They had their suspicions i think, as right away when the shipment landed, it was sent to a government laboratory for testing. The papers were fine, the gear looked correct... but was not. It's still good enough to use outside hospitals, in care homes, etc., but not up to hospital standards. To make things worse, the purchase was made without proper background checks, from what some would call known crooks' companies. So all hell broke loose.

The head of the Security Supply center had to resign. and the opposition calls for the resignation of the minister of labor, Tuula Haatainen. Of course they do.

Personally, I think the people involved probably did the best they could in a difficult situation, and sending the gear to tests suggests that they were aware of the risk - but decided to take it. The alternative would have been a certain supply shortage. A few million went down the toilet, but in the face of the crisis, I really don't care about such small potatoes.

Similar fraudulent protective gear supplies have been sold to other countries too, including Sweden. They were not tested, and the gear was put to use in hospitals. They now have to recall it. The medical personnel working in high-risk jobs has been compromised there. I prefer the Finnish way, even if it caused a political shitstorm.

PS: The tests sent to South Korea are from a private hospital chain, not from government-issued testing, AFAIK. The government tests are analyzed here in Finland. 

PS2: My wife Riikka was tested when she had a sore throat, due to her profession in health care, the result turned out negative. But she told me that they actually took two samples, and the 2nd one was sent abroad for research purposes, to an international collection of test samples.


Saturday, 4 April 2020

SANNA MARIN: the new, glamorous face of FINLAND

Sanna Marin - photo: Wikipedia
A friend from the US called. 'WOW. I just caught your prime minister on cable – she's a  knockout.'

I said: 'Yeah, and she's smart too. So are her four ministers – they're all women – four under 35'.

Not many recently elected governments are called upon to face a crisis like the CORONAVIRUS pandemic. But Sanna and her gang of four took up the task with energy, clarity and a plan. They inform the Finnish people at daily briefings. So far they've done a first-class job. There have been only 20 deaths – the lowest of the four Nordic countries*.

Sanna was raised by two women - her mother and her partner. Her film star looks have caught people's attention, but she's had to dig in and work – nothing was handed to her.  She's given Finland a new profile – young, energetic, international. But she is dead-serious about her current mission.  In my informal poll of Eki and other Finnish friends, they were united in their praise for the way the government has managed the virus-crisis.

Sanna is a poster-model for egalitarian Finland. On the weekends she goes to her husband and two-year-old daughter, shops unguarded at the supermarket and gets a dose of reality and escapes the surreal horror-movie pandemic. Her movie-star looks and excellent English have got a lot of attention for Finland. But in a war, competence and SMARTS trump all.

PS: SANNA MARIN hits the international bigtime - she is featured prominently in the March issue of American and British Vogue. A happy coincidence in the midst of all the Coronavirus angst.

 * April 4. 2020: Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland.

Sources: Time magazine, the internet, Finnish friends

Next week: SWEDEN: open for business – RISKY of RIGHT?


Maggy is right about the polling of friends - I really like how Sanna Marin has handled the crisis and being the prime minister in general. She is smart, educated, calm, listens to experts, humbly admits mistakes when necessary... yea, i really like her, and the rest of current administration.

They have pretty much nailed the delicate balance and timing between 
the economic and social costs of restrictions* and slowing down the spread of the disease. That's what you get when you actually consistently follow the advice of the experts, instead of falling to the trap of political pressures. While Finland took on some measures later than other countries, the timing actually was pretty early considering the actual epidemic - Finland was late on the onset too.

The measures appear to be working: the number of new cases still grows, but linearly, not exponentially. We get less than 100 new infections per day, and that number has been somewhat steady for two weeks or so now (April 4. 2020), which means we likely have managed to flatten the curve as planned. If the curve was exponential, the new daily cases would be in the thousands already.

Of course, polling friends is just picking fish from your own little pond. There's considerable opposition in Finland - the country is still somewhat divided between the left-leaning government and the right-wing opposition. The opposition uses the crisis to try to advance their political gain, but with not that much success: they really can't oppose the measures without looking irresponsible so they pretty much must support the government - which is not really in their political interests. The only thing they can really do is to claim more should have been done, earlier, which just makes them look like hindsight-whiners.

The good news is, the True Finns party no longer leads the polls. 
The one-agenda wannabe-nazis have declined as they have no real solutions - racism and stopping immigration does not stop viruses. Sanna Marin's Social Democratic Party is now again the largest-polling party in Finland. 

*  The country was declared to be in a state of emergency, schools, and restaurants closed, no gatherings, social distancing, quarantine-like conditions for the elderly, isolating southern Finland from the rest of the country, etc.