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15.03.2020 – London, United Kingdom – Pressenza London

This post is also available in: Italian

Dozens of ‘mutual aid’ groups spring up as communities offer support during virus outbreak

Dozens of ‘mutual aid’ groups have sprung up across the country to support those suffering from the effects and threat of the coronavirus outbreak[1]. 68 groups have been set up online, with volunteers coordinating via WhatsApp and Facebook groups and offering people in self-isolation help with shopping, dog walking and picking up prescriptions.

The groups, which are being coordinated nationally by ‘Covid-19 Mutual Aid UK’, have organised online meetings today, as well as taking to the streets to give people flyers describing the kind of support they are offering. As well as practical support the groups are offering telephone calls with people who are self-isolating due to infection or increased vulnerability.

Anna Vickerstaff, one of the coordinators of the national network, said, “No matter what we look like, where we live, or how much money we have, getting sick reminds us that at our core we’re all just human. And in every country it’s the old, the sick and those already struggling who will be affected worse. That’s why we set this network up – because we want to make sure that no one in our communities is being left to face this crisis alone, and because we want to try and redress some of the serious inequalities this outbreak will expose.

“Groups are being set up and run entirely by volunteers – and our hope is that they can help to make sure people who need support get it. With the NHS and public services having been so ruthlessly underfunded in the last decade, we really just want to make sure that people don’t end up suffering alone, or without the basics and support that they need from the outside world.

“There’s some pretty big questions about whether or not the government’s response to this crisis has been fit for purpose. So it’s even more important that so many ordinary people across the country are keen to offer solidarity to each other in a moment of need. We’d love to see even more communities get involved too – and we’re developing resources to help people take action in their neighbourhoods.”

[1] A full list of groups is here:

For more information contact the campaign directly:  Kevin Smith on

16.03.2020 – Santiago de Chile – Redacción Chile

A Covid-19 Vaccine quickly and cheaply
(Image by Labiotech)

By John Scales Avery

The urgent need for a vaccine

Public health experts say that if the COVID-19 epidemic is not successfully contained, it could become a global pandemic, perhaps spreading to 80% of the world’s population. With a 1% mortality rate, this would mean that 70 million people would die of the disease. With a 2% mortality rate, the total number of deaths would be twice that number, 140 million people. Comparable numbers of people have died in the tragic wars and pandemics of the past. There is a serious danger that it might happen again.

Perhaps the best way to avoid such a tragedy would be to quickly develop an inexpensive and effective vaccine against the COVID-19 virus, and to distribute it very widely, free of charge, with the support of government funds. The most promising techniques for doing so, in my opinion, are the methods of monoclonal antibodies and gene-splicing.

Monoclonal antibodies

The 1984 Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology was awarded to Niels Kai Jerne, Wolfgang Köhler, and César Milstein for the development of the monoclonal antibodibody technique. Jerne had been able to demonstrate that immune systems contain very many strains of antibodies, each producing just a single antibody against a single species of virus or bacterium. When a patient recovers from a disease it is because the population producing exactly the right antibody has been stimulated to grow large, and thus the recovered patient obtains immunity to the disease.

Köhler and Milstein received their share of the 1984 Nobel Prize for developing methods for cloning lymphocites that produce an antigen that targets a specific virus or bacterium chosen by the researcher. In other words, given a particular virus or bacterium Köhler and Milstein’s monoclonal antibody technique can produce the correct antibody to fight it.

Gene-splicing techniques and mass-production of a vaccine

Now let us turn to the question of how gene-splicing techniques can be used can be used to inexpensively mass-produce a vaccine against the COVID-19 virus. Suppose that a culture of lymphocytes has been established producing the correct antibody to fight against the virus. The next step is to isolate the nucleotide sequence needed to produce the antibody. Then the new recombinant DNA techniques discovered by Paul Berg, Stanley Cohen, Herbert Boyer and others make it  possible to produce the protein by splicing this nucleic acis sequence into a plasmid of an easily-cultivated bacterium, such as E-Coli. The modified E-Coli bacteri can then be cultivated on a large scale, and they will produce large amounts of the vaccine protein.

Many proteins are today produced using gene.splicing methods. These include human insulin, interferon, serum albumin, clotting factors, vaccines, and protein hormones such as ACTH, human growth factor and leuteinizing hormone. One of Denmark’s major industries today is the production of enzymes, hormones and vaccines using the gene-splicing methods just described.

Balancing dangers in an emergency

We know with certainty that if a vaccine against the COVID-19 virus is not developed quickly and distributed widely, enormous numbers of people will die. Therefore, balancing dangers against each other, and choosing the path most likely to result in a minimum of fatalities, it seems logical to remove some of the  restrictions that normally block the rapid development of vaccines.  Firstly, the profit motive must be kept out of the picture. Public funds must be used for research. Secondly, prohibitions against testing on humans must be temporarily lifted. Thirdly, the requirement of years of testing before widespread distribution of the vaccine must be temporarily lifted. And finally, government funds must be used to make the COVID-19 vaccine free for everyone.

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer

We must act and dare the appropiateness and not whatever comes to our mind not floating in the likelihood but grasp the reality as brave as we can be freedom lies in action not in the absence of mind obedience knows the essence of good and satisfies it, freedom dares to act and returns God the ultimate judgment of what is right and what is wrong, Obedience performs blindly but Freedom is wide awake Freedom wants to know why, Obedience has its hands tied, Freedom is inventive obedient man respects God’s commands and by virtu of his Freedom, he creats new commands. Both Obedience and Freedom come true in responsability (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

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