by Francois Balloux
Wednesday, 12
August 2020
Reaction
12:00

Putin’s dangerous vaccine gamble

Even if it pays off, the President has set a worrying precedent for medical ethics
by Francois Balloux
Vladimir Putin has made a reckless gamble. Credit: Getty

Yesterday, Russia President Vladimir Putin claimed a huge victory: a new vaccine against Covid-19 has been approved, and mass vaccination will commence in October. Describing it as “quite effective”, the President added that it had passed all the required checks. And in case there were any lingering doubts, he reassured the population that his daughter had already been given it.

It should come as no surprise that these claims are all highly dubious. In fact, the Russian government bypassed proper safety and efficacy trials for their vaccine, which was approved after only two months of testing on humans. Not only is this a reckless and foolish decision, but mass vaccination with an improperly tested vaccine is deeply unethical.

The motivation feels political. By naming the vaccine Sputnik V — a clear allusion to the first Soviet space satellites in 1957 — Russia is inscribing itself in a vaccine arms race reminiscent of the Cold War. The Sputnik satellite represented a major moral victory for the Soviet Union over the USA, and Putin is hoping to tap into something similar. After all, this is a leader whose approval ratings dropped to record lows this year, and stemming the Covid-19 pandemic with the world’s first vaccine has an obvious political upside.

There is not much known about the Russian vaccine because, mysteriously, no publication about it has been released in the scientific literature. As far as I can tell, it seems to be a ‘prime-boost’ vaccine relying on sequential inoculation of two different recombinants of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein integrated into the adenovirus serotype 9 and 26 vectors, respectively.

Though other major vaccines of this sort are currently under development, none are available to the public because this technology remains largely untested. As such, there is genuine risk that the Russian vaccine could cause unexpected problems.

On a mass scale, this vaccine could lead to an unacceptably high proportion of the vaccinated population experiencing severe side effects. More concerning, however, would be for the vaccine to cause a rare phenomenon called Antibody-Dependent Enhancement (ADE), whereby those inoculated experience more severe disease symptoms upon infection, rather than being protected.

Any major side effects or ADE in the Russian vaccination campaign would be disastrous both through their negative effect on peoples’ health, but also because it could further set back the acceptance of vaccines in the population, which is the very last thing a world grappling with a pandemic needs right now.

Despite the current urgency of the Covid-19 pandemic, administration of a potentially unsafe vaccine is extremely risky. And even if the vaccine turned out to be a success, it is unlikely to save many lives in the short term, as it probably won’t be administered to the people most at-risk to Covid-19 first.

More fundamentally, whether the Russian gamble pays off or not, it will set the world back decades in terms of medical ethics, and create a precedent for rushed development of potentially unsafe vaccines and drugs, and all for a very questionable potential benefit to human health.

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Sarah Packman
Sarah Packman
2 years ago

It is very likely that the autoimmune reaction to the common cold suffered by some people in the West this year, was an ADE reaction to last years flu vaccine. The group who suffered extremely high mortality rates are the same people who are routinely coerced into taking the annual flu vaccine by our NHS and other Governments; the elderly and the immune compromised.
Western pharmaceutical companies routinely launch their vaccines without proper human trials, and they routinely tamper with the results and suppress contradictory studies. It’s got to the point that the Lancet, a once reputable publication, is now an international joke.
Can I suggest that we refrain from throwing stones at Russia since we are currently living in a glass house?

tfreeman
tfreeman
2 years ago
Reply to  Sarah Packman

From the number of her responses and the sense of surety in her voice, I have the sense that Ms. Packman landed on this page with an agenda.

It is obvious that the ethics of Big Pharma is a huge fault in the capitalist system. On the other hand, objective science rarely has such certitude as Ms. Packman expresses, especially when lives are at stake.

Kelly Mitchell
Kelly Mitchell
2 years ago
Reply to  tfreeman

Oh, please. We all have an agenda and strong beliefs that can’t be proved.

Athena Jones
Athena Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  tfreeman

There is nothing wrong with an agenda if it stands up to scrutiny. By all means, categorically refute with sources, Ms Packman’s claims.

Terry Hopkinson
Terry Hopkinson
2 years ago

Since when has Putin been protective of anyone other than himself. This is a corollary of a totalitarian regime which is what Russia is. It’s all about appearances rather than effect.
Let us wish the Ordinary Russian people well.

Adamsson
Adamsson
2 years ago

While not disputing your comments about the risks of the Russian vaccine how can you not accept that the same risks apply to all other rushed out vaccines?
If our government and the pharmacutical companies think it is safe why are unwilling to provide compensation for any harm caused?

Frederik van Beek
Frederik van Beek
2 years ago

Putin versus ethics is an easy distinction to write about. No one will dispute that Putin has warm feelings for anything but himself. But the article seems to be implicitly in favour of Western medical ethics. About Russian medicine I know nothing but I do know that western big pharma has also a questionable relationship with ethics and something is telling me that big pharma is heading in the same direction as the bankers in 2008 (or is already there). And we do remember the collateral damage of swine flu don’t we? Many children ended up with narcolepsy. So if ethical standards will suffer degradation I am more scared of the west than of some Russian experiment that is solely designed to irritate the western big pharma companies.

Rickard Gardell
Rickard Gardell
2 years ago

Why would you trust a US vaccine from say a publicly listed company like Moderna who have never achieved anything and have everything($30bn) to lose with lax FDA approvals? Why wouldn’t we give the russians the benefit of the doubt and send over some scientists to inspect it. Why so sceptical rather than hopeful?

chrisjwmartin
chrisjwmartin
2 years ago

Because no vaccine has ever been successfully and safely created in such a short period of time for any disease. This is not a case of Russophobia, it’s a case of responsible medicine.

Sarah Packman
Sarah Packman
2 years ago
Reply to  chrisjwmartin

As a previous commentator has mentioned, the Russian vaccine is most likely a placebo and this announcement most likely a PR exercise.
Either way, the Russian public are a lot safer that those on the West…

Kelly Mitchell
Kelly Mitchell
2 years ago
Reply to  chrisjwmartin

That’s always true of the fastest vaccine ever created. There is another vaccine somewhere that is the fastest created. Not saying I disagree with the underlying premise that it’s probably unsafe and also ineffective, just saying your argument is not sufficient.

chrisjwmartin
chrisjwmartin
2 years ago
Reply to  Kelly Mitchell

It is sufficient when there have been huge numbers of vaccines for hundreds of years and the current fastest was four years (for mumps). This is not just a case of slightly improving the speed. It is ridiculous.

By definition it is impossible for them to know in such a short time whether there are even medium-term side effects, let alone long-term side effects. Given that safety testing includes waiting to see if there are these longer-term side effects, it is impossible for a vaccine to be properly tested for safety in such a short time.

Michael Yeadon
Michael Yeadon
2 years ago
Reply to  chrisjwmartin

Spot on. I’m been in new drug R&D for 35y. We’d never do this even with a potential break through drug for an aggressive cancer. We’d minimally have more toxicology data & the experimental drug would exclusively be offered on a named patient basis initially, with very carefully articulated informed consent.

chrisjwmartin
chrisjwmartin
2 years ago
Reply to  Michael Yeadon

Thanks Michael. My own background in pharma when I was a younger man also leads me to caution on this, having seen a drug released prematurely because of its increased efficacy, and then hastily withdrawn due to their fatal side effects.

Athena Jones
Athena Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  chrisjwmartin

Now that is patently untrue. There have not been huge numbers of vaccines for hundreds of years. Indeed, the earliest Smallpox vaccines killed so many people took to the streets in protest.

Someone growing up in the Fifties might have Smallpox and then Polio and that was it. By the Sixties probably Polio and maybe Whooping Cough and Diptheria, and Measles. By the late Seventies and into the max-vax age it ramped up into dozens.

Sorry, dozens is not huge and we are talking 40 years or so of the max-vax experiment.

As to safety testing, if science-medicine had any ethics, vaccines would be an absolute minimum for 140 years to protect our children, on the basis, full effects cannot be known until two generations have grown up to live relatively normal lives, taking 70 as a reasonable age, the first giving birth to the second.

We have nearly a century to go to reach that point as our kids are now jabbed 50 times in the first five years of life, beginning within hours of birth if not in utero.

It’s all about the money and the power of the medical industry.

chrisjwmartin
chrisjwmartin
2 years ago
Reply to  Athena Jones

So you agree that improperly tested vaccines are dangerous”¦

As with all things in life, a balance must be struck. Waiting 140 years is unreasonable. So is waiting only a few months.

Michael Yeadon
Michael Yeadon
2 years ago
Reply to  Kelly Mitchell

They’ve achieved speed by the simple expedient of not really testing it all all.
Consider the possibility that the timing of serious adverse effects isn’t immediately after dosing, but six months later. Well, we had better hope that’s not true, because they have precisely zero subjects monitored out anywhere close to that. And that’s an absolutely minimal requirement.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
2 years ago
Reply to  chrisjwmartin

Not quite true is it. I don’t recall Jenner’s Pox vaccine being extensively tested, nor Pasteur’s rabies vaccine. Further, it isn’t evident that the yearly flu vaccine is safely tested, given that each year the vaccine is different!

Mirah Saulo
Mirah Saulo
2 years ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Was just going to say the same!

Malcolm Ripley
Malcolm Ripley
2 years ago

Becasue it takes at least 3 years bare minimum to effectively test a vaccine. You cannot physically do all tests and checks in less time than that. How come they have magically produced a Coronavirus vaccine that they could not do for SARS or MERS or the Common Cold?

Jennifer Saines
Jennifer Saines
2 years ago

Western pharmaceutical giants declared dengue-vax safe despite the clear signals in their trials that ADE would occur. How is Russia any less ethical than western countries that mandate the Hepatitis B vaccine whose trials only followed recipients for four days after vaccination? No vaccine on the childhood schedule has been tested against an inert placebo–all use an already licensed vaccine as placebo.

Sarah Packman
Sarah Packman
2 years ago

So encouraged by the informed responses to another pedestrian MSM-stylie unherd article. Freddie Sayer is about all I can bear these days on unherd….

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
2 years ago

From where did you get the idea that the only valid comparator in a drug trial is a placebo?

Athena Jones
Athena Jones
2 years ago

From the idea that the only way to assess safety is by comparison with something totally safe, i.e. a sugar pill.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
2 years ago
Reply to  Athena Jones

There is so much wrong in that short sentence, it’s hard to know where to start.
First, a safety test doesn’t need a comparator, it just needs an agreed definition of safety. Think crash testing of new models of car.
Second, nothing is totally safe, even a sugar pill can cause an allergic reaction.
Third, the purpose of a placebo in drug trials is to ensure the subjects (and the scientists in double blind trials) don’t know whether they are getting the trial drug, to avoid psychosomatic interference or bias with how the effects are perceived or reported.
Plus Michael’s comments below.

Athena Jones
Athena Jones
2 years ago

You said: First, a safety test doesn’t need a comparator, it just needs an agreed definition of safety.

Which was the double-blind, gold standard, inert placebo agreed definition of safety.

You said: Think crash testing of new models of car.

A manmade machine is not a human body and you can destroy as many as you like to get it right. Not so human bodies.

You said: Second, nothing is totally safe, even a sugar pill can cause an allergic reaction.

True, but if a sugar pill injected into a human body can cause an allergic reaction what on earth might a cocktail of synthetic chemicals and animal, human and bird material do. Surely it is a matter of degree? Particularly when our babies and children are the labrats.

You said: Third, the purpose of a placebo in drug trials is to ensure the subjects (and the scientists in double blind trials) don’t know whether they are getting the trial drug, to avoid psychosomatic interference or bias with how the effects are perceived or reported.

That is a sidestep. Yes, that is the use of a placebo in some instances but it is NOT THE USE OF A PLACEBO FOR SAFETY.

No doubt you mean well or have a vested interest but the word ‘apologist’ springs to mind. I prefer rigorous safety as good as it can get when interfering with my body or that of a child.

Michael Yeadon
Michael Yeadon
2 years ago

It’s reasonable to use an already licensed vaccine as control because we have large amounts of data with it. It’s called ‘active comparator’. In fact, in any disease where there’s an effective treatment, it’s actually unethical to test a new medical entity against a placebo, for reasons that I hope are obvious.

Athena Jones
Athena Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Michael Yeadon

Wow, what a copout. The reason for your little apologist dance is because placebo, i.e. proper, ethical studies were making drugs and vaccines look bad. Hey, solution, let’s no longer use a real placebo, an inert substance, but something which makes our drug or vaccine look good.

I am sure you believe what you wrote but most people with a modicum of common sense and intelligence do not. The greatest danger is how scientists and doctors are now so brainwashed.

The placebo, a pharmaceutically inert substance (typically a sugar pill), is the clinical researcher’s analogue to the scientist’s control experiment. To prove a new treatment effective above and beyond the psychological results of a simple belief in the ability of the drug to cure, a researcher compares the results of the experimental treatment for an illness with those obtained from the placebo. The placebo-controlled trial “is widely regarded as the gold standard for testing the efficacy of new treatments.

In short, you are saying, the GOLD STANDARD NO LONGER EXISTS.

Elizabeth Hart
Elizabeth Hart
2 years ago
Reply to  Michael Yeadon

Is it reasonable to use another vaccine as a control Michael?

What do you think about the Nimenrix Meningococcal ACWY vaccine being used as a control in the Oxford ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine trial?

Clach Viaggi
Clach Viaggi
2 years ago

Putin Is smart.
All this scandemic Is about authoritarianism and big profit from big pharma.
Releasing a vaccine which hopefully is just a placebo, but may also be dangerous with unknown side effects, is just a move to destabilise the profit distribution.

Sarah Packman
Sarah Packman
2 years ago
Reply to  Clach Viaggi

Agree. And his placebo will be about as effective as the Western version, but not nearly as dangerous to human health I would hope.

Athena Jones
Athena Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Clach Viaggi

All vaccines are dangerous with unknown long-term side effects.

Elizabeth Hart
Elizabeth Hart
2 years ago

Why is there a race for coronavirus vaccine products?

With the virus apparently waning in some countries now, why interfere in this process with fast-tracked experimental vaccine products, which may end up being pressed upon the global population every year?

Because Bill Gates, and apparently Putin, are determined to indulge in an expensive and highly questionable race for coronavirus vaccines…?

See what the software billionaire and vaccine guru has to say in this interview: ‘Multiple vaccine doses could be necessary to protect from coronavirus, Bill Gates says’. CBSN, 23 July 2020.

How did Bill Gates become the ‘go to’ person on international vaccination policy and practice?

Frederik van Beek
Frederik van Beek
2 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth Hart

Uhm, to answer your last question: Bill is the second biggest sugar daddy of the WHO (something in between 12% to 20 %), after the US, although… I heard that the US pulled back from the WHO so that would make him the biggest, anyways…it’s substantial (and what about countries? They are all together good for more or less half of the WHO budget, it’s a bit less as I remember, the rest is NGO’s/companies and BILL). Needles tot say that Bill ofcourse also pulls some strings in big pharma vaccinations programmes and in the academic world (I heard your Imperial college also receives a few millions and ofcourse Fauci, it’s better to ask who doesn’t get money from Bill :)). And don’t start with conspiracies because that has really NOTHING to do with it, it’s all there out in the open, no secrecy what so ever. We ask him to act and we want him to act , we adore him, this little fluffy computernerd. Bill has ofcourse the best intentions (and if he does not, nobody will ever know) and the road to hell is paved with them.

Elizabeth Hart
Elizabeth Hart
2 years ago

Frederik, as you indicate, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is exerting extraordinary influence over international vaccination policy.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is currently the lead funder of the WHO, with the Gates Foundation-backed Gavi Alliance in fourth place, behind the US and UK governments (as currently noted on the WHO’s Contributors webpage, updated until Q2-2020).

In regards to the Gavi Alliance, this was set up in 1999 with a $750 million pledge from the Gates Foundation. The Gates Foundation is a key Gavi partner in ‘vaccine market shaping’.

Bill and Melinda Gates pledged $10 billion for the ‘Decade of Vaccines’. Check out the ‘Decade of Vaccines Collaboration’, consisting of the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the GAVI Alliance, the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the African Leaders Malaria Alliance and others, including many governments, health leaders, non-government organizations and other agencies.

At the recent Global Vaccine Summit, hosted by the UK in June 2020, the Gates Foundation-backed Gavi raised “more than $8.8 billion from 31 donor governments and 8 foundations, corporations and organisations to immunise 300 million children and support the global fight against COVID-19”. (See: ‘World leaders make historic commitments to provide equal access to vaccines for all’ on the Gavi Alliance website.)

And check out the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations. CEPI was launched in Davos in 2017 and co-founded by, guess who, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, along with the governments of Norway and India, the Wellcome Trust, and the World Economic Forum.

CEPI is an “innovative global partnership between public, private, philanthropic, and civil society organisations. We’re working together to accelerate the development of vaccines against emerging infectious diseases and equitable access to these vaccines for people during outbreaks”.

In other words, CEPI is working to develop massive global vaccine markets.

To date, CEPI has secured financial support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome Trust, the European Commission, and the governments of Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Ethiopia, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Norway and the United Kingdom.

CEPI seems to be a bit cagey about clearly defining vaccine industry involvement, but representatives of Sanofi Pasteur, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Takeda are on its Scientific Advisory Committee.

Check out CEPI’s website for more info, including the about / who we are webpage.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg… There’s a massive international web behind the burgeoning global vaccine industry…and it’s time it was investigated…

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
2 years ago

From the nation that gave us Chernobyl, countless other cons, and has yet to land on the Moon, I am to say the least, sceptical.

Athena Jones
Athena Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Russia has a more substantial space history than anyone else. Who cares about the Moon. All theatrics anyway.

Athena Jones
Athena Jones
2 years ago

Yes, mass vaccination with improperly tested vaccines is unethical. But that applies to most vaccines. How many people know that a true placebo is rarely used in vaccine safety studies? Ergo, not a proper safety study.

When it comes to children, only one vaccine and one vaccine ingredient have actually ever been scientifically explored. They are MMR and Thimerosal although the pharma industry paid for the studies so they were hardly independent. And Thimerosal is still used in some Flu vaccines.

William Cameron
William Cameron
2 years ago

It takes time to check whether a vaccine is safe. Years.
No one can say that they have tested the effect of a new vaccine in a few months – because they cannot know what it will do to a human in two years time.

Gustav Nilsson
Gustav Nilsson
2 years ago

In Russia, you don’t approve a vaccine, the vaccine approves you

Frederik van Beek
Frederik van Beek
2 years ago
Reply to  Gustav Nilsson

In presenting the holy almighty corona-vaccine as the solution for all problems I would say that the difference between Russian and Western officials is not so big. (The real difference is that in the west we still have a few critical websites, like Unherd, but I wonder for how long, mainstream platforms like Youtube already banned scientific criticism regarding the corona measures).

ciaparker2
ciaparker2
2 years ago

Erdogan is a devout Muslim and has shown his devotion to it in many ways over many years. He has said that it is insulting to speak of a moderate Islam: Islam is Islam, and that’s the end of it. And the prime directive of Islam is to force the entire world to submit to Islamic law and obey it. It is not mandatory to convert to Islam, but those who don’t are dhimmis and must support the Islamic law financially and many forms of service. This directive is expressed in every holy text and legal school of Islam and predates every expression of modernity. I am a Catholic Christian who has had direct experience of God, so my experience is one of knowledge rather than belief, saeculae saeculorum, for centuries of centuries, tied to eternity beyond all passing phenomena. From my perspective, Islam is a heresy, but I respect those who are faithful to their vision of eternity, even though in this case they are my enemies. I have no understanding of or respect for those who have no love for the eternal personality of God.

William MacDougall
William MacDougall
2 years ago

It would be unethical to continue the worldwide lockdown unnecessarily. Of course we should take greater risks than we would normally.

Michael Whittock
Michael Whittock
2 years ago

At the moment many are incapable of understanding the deep and underlying motivation in religion which makes it so resilient. They are incapable because it’s an area of life from which they have closed themselves, although that does not have to be a permanent position.
As a Christian I can only speak for Christianity. For us our faith is not a religion but a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. This is a lived experience not a belief or ethic and it transforms and gives meaning to our lives. We receive resources of love,joy and peace for daily living and we know that because of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus we are forgiven and will be raised to Heaven.

mark taha
mark taha
2 years ago

They could and should have still run the public exams-I’d have gone back to O-levels and A-levels but nothing else. It would only have taken a bit of initiative-I know how I’d have done it..

John Vaughan
John Vaughan
2 years ago

Love ‘Ull, o’t’Umber!

johntshea2
johntshea2
2 years ago

Mr. Holland can take off his sandwich board and stand down. The end of secularism is far from nigh. Rumors of its death are, like Mark Twain’s, much exaggerated. Turning an old museum back into a mosque and promising to build a new temple complex are not remotely as significant as Misters Erdogan, Modi, or Holland declare.

Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
2 years ago
Reply to  johntshea2

Noted, but I’m not so sure. Particularly if one takes ‘religion’ in a the broader sense of a vision of the world that binds some people together, but separates them from others, then Tom Holland’s essay is timely. There are many of these broader ‘religions’ at work in the world today: civic nationalism (such nativist movements within the EU), or greater civilizational blocs (such as Russia, or China, or India), or ethno-nationalism (this race versus that race), or value-systems-as-religions (such as social justice warriors), and so on. Each has its vision of the world, demands loyalty from its adherents, and sets itself as separate from and in opposition to ‘the others’ or ‘the unbelievers’. Hence the prospect of the decline of the secular West and the rise of a multi-polar world that Tom Holland writes of. Not to mention multi-polar cleavages within countries. (Consider also, for example, Samuel P Huntington’s The Clash of Civilizations (1996) or Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind (2012).)

Ann G
Ann G
2 years ago

Yep, western cultural dominance is on its way out.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
2 years ago

Well at least he’s testing it on his own daughters and not some persecuted minority group.

Ray Hall
Ray Hall
2 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I would be more impressed if he tested it on himself. I have sympathy with Russians wishing to rebuild or protect their nation and wish that our politicians would do so for us.. But I have to automatically distrust anybody who was in the KGB.

Dick Barrett
Dick Barrett
2 years ago

We cannot all wait for a perfect vaccine. I am at risk from Covid and I will happily take any vaccine that is proven to prevent it, even if there is a risk of side-effects.This need not be the case for everyone. Others are welcome to wait for the perfect vaccine if they wish.

William MacDougall
William MacDougall
2 years ago
Reply to  Dick Barrett

Even if not yet proven to prevent it, only just likely to prevent it…

Athena Jones
Athena Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Dick Barrett

Your assumption is that an imperfect vaccine will not leave you with worse health. Read up on the harm done by the Swine Flu vaccine, also rushed through. Sure, you might be one of the lucky ones and absolutely your call to make your own decisions.

Although, any reading of descriptions of how a Covid vaccine is being designed to work – synthetic genetics which will trick your genes into becoming a ‘vaccine manufacturing lab’ would concern many people.

Although vaccines have involved genetic meddling of disease, animal, human and bird material for a very long time, so active genetic meddling with the recipient’s body is just another step in an experimental process.

Freedom to choose is the key.

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
2 years ago

He should be sec of defense. Good man. Not a swamp creature

David Radford
David Radford
2 years ago

Thanks Matthew for your article. One of my favourite artists is David Bell, also from Hull. Worth googling to see his paintings of trawlers of the bygone era when Hull fed the country with fish.
My first visit was with a Pompey fan to see his team draw 1-1 in a boring cup tie at Boothferry Park in 1966 or 7.
The city stank of fish and bone meal! But despite that we liked the place.
A few years later I fell for a Hedon girl and married her. We were not really suited and I parted from her over 10 years later but not before she gave me 2 wonderful daughters who I have a close bond with.
I used to visit them as often as possible and kept up with Hull’s development and warmed to Matthew’s description of the special places it has.
One daughter is still there with her partner and my granddaughter who is adored by my second wife and me
Go back as often as possible and cannot understand why people run Hull down so much.

johnbabb70
johnbabb70
2 years ago

What a vacuous irrelevant article. Where is this current movement for teacher based assessment? Something that was long ago killed off by the Gove /Cummings reforms and used in the article to distract from the lunacy of the current situation.
The centre-based assessments being used this year are based on the constraints of courses in which the end of course written exam has primacy, and in which such exams are perceived as the only things of value.The crude, norm-referenced statistical moderation that has been applied this year is laughable compared to what existed 10 years ago, when moderation involved moderators actually seeing the work for themselves, Even presuming that the end of course exam is a reliable method of assessment, there is no fair way now to asses students when the end of course exam is not able to take place.

Andrew Roman
Andrew Roman
2 years ago

This article is as much about two political leaders as it is about religion. Politicians seek popularity. If the religious people in their countries have been largely ignored it is good politics to give them an inexpensive symbolic gesture. What the article doesn’t tell us is whether the majority of the population is both a devout member of that religion and opposed to secularism.

The US would be considered a classic secularist country in is constitutional prohibition against Congress enacting laws favouring any religion as a state religion. Yet when recent Black Lives Matter protests were held near the White House what did President Trump do? He used the police to clear the road so that he could walk to a church and hold up a Bible. Although he was criticized for this, I don’t think his gesture was the end of US secularism.

I wonder whether these two politicians’ symbolic gestures to religious majorities in their countries really demonstrate the end of secularism is nigh.

Elizabeth Hart
Elizabeth Hart
2 years ago

Meanwhile, in Australia…

Australian prime minister says coronavirus vaccination is likely to be mandatory in Australia ““ look for ‘Scott Morrison expects a successful coronavirus vaccine would be mandatory in Australia’

Things are pretty grim in Australia”¦ Here’s a comment I left on a newspaper article today:

In the space of a few months we have a new coronavirus, a newly named disease, and vaccine products in ‘warp-speed’ experimental development.

Scott Morrison announces this morning coronavirus vaccination will be mandatory for Australians.

As I noted in a previous comment on this thread, my reading of the Biosecurity Act 2015 indicates people who refuse vaccination could be at risk of five years imprisonment and/or a $63,000 fine.

So our ‘liberal democracy’ is in very interesting times, with the threat of mandatory vaccination, currently not allowed to leave the country, or even the state in some cases. And we have the example of the police state of Victoria, with people in lockdown, impeded from leaving their homes, with mandated masks, and curfews. The police and ADF are enforcing these edicts, and we’ve seen horrifying vision of a woman thrown to the ground with a policeman astride her, his hands around her neck, because she wasn’t wearing a mask.

I can’t believe what’s happening in this country, it’s terrible, our rights are being trashed.

Meanwhile, in the past six months, 438 deaths have been attributed to COVID-19 in Australia, 351 of these deaths are in Victoria. Most of the deaths reported are in people over 80 years old.

I hope people are starting to wake up and think about this”¦

Elizabeth Hart

Stephen Follows
Stephen Follows
2 years ago

Crap town? Trust me, King’s Lynn’s much worse.

Nicholas Taylor
Nicholas Taylor
2 years ago

Erdogan’s and Modi’s acts could be seen as just populism riding on a circumstantial position of strength, necessarily relying on some or other superficial ‘religio’, as Trump relies on American exceptionalism. Such movements come and go. True religious take-overs stick, as Iran has shown, and may be triggered by an external, even existential, threat or opportunity, whether Anglo-American puppet-mastery, profit to Protestants, the promise of land and riches to Crusaders, or whatever drove Islamic expansion in the 7th-8th centuries. I could be just making this up, but I don’t see a significant external threat or opportunity to Turkey or India that requires a religious revival. Religion seems irrelevant, well, maybe just relevant to the slight inflicted on Turkey by rejection by the EU, or to lebensraum in Kashmir. I think it more important that secularism gets its act together. The subtheme of the article is that it too could be facing an existential threat. The difficulty is that it is defined mainly by what it is not. We do however have some bits and pieces, Magna Carta, the Rights of Man, the US Constitution, the UN Declaration, principles of reciprocity, scepticism, testability and falsifiability. There are common themes, and I believe they are deeper rooted in nature and reality, even in history, than the shallow and often contrived roots of any religious narrative.

Andrew Baldwin
Andrew Baldwin
2 years ago

Nicholas, you could add to those documents George Washington’s 1790 letter to the members of the Jewish synagogue at Newport, Rhode Island, which reads in part: “It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.” Devoutly religious people just as much as atheists or agnostics should lament the decline of secularism, which not only protects individual liberties but protects religious institutions themselves from the corruption that comes from too close association with the secular realm. Secularism, in the sense that Washington spoke of it, doesn’t exist in the People’s Republic of China either, although it doesn’t seem clear what state-mandated religion, whether Marxism or Confucianism or something else, China could end up with. If Tom is right and the world is headed away from secularism, this is a trend that really should be resisted, not endorsed.

Su O.
Su O.
2 years ago

I think you are discounting some fundamental human needs that have been with us from the beginning. Religious belief appears to be one of these and while it may ebb and flow somewhat in response to conditions, the long history of religious belief in every sort of circumstances in which humans have lived suggests that there is more involved than just some sort of stimulus and response. Religion may seem irrelevant to you, but even now, in a supposed era of secularism, most humans hold religious beliefs of some sort. Supposing that this apparently basic need will simply vanish when exposed to the scientific method is as unlikely as believing that human beings will stop being angry if you inform them that anger is a waste of energy.

You make the mistake of assuming that there is some way to make secularism appealing in the same way as religion but, for most believers, religion is about the metaphysical world whereas science, skepticism, etc., are about understanding the physical world and how it works. For educated people, understandings and beliefs about the non-physical/metaphysical/philosophical world (beliefs which cannot be examined in a laboratory and are subjective in nature) and beliefs about science, etc., are not incompatible. You seem to believe that secularism can simply be substituted for religion, as if they were different ways of satisfying the same need. Religion satisfies a particular kind of human yearning, while mastery of the physical world satisfies other needs entirely and is no substitute for religious belief. That being the case – and I think the case is proven by the fact that secularism never lasts very long – we would do well to find a way to accommodate human nature.

Giulia Khawaja
Giulia Khawaja
2 years ago

The lack at otherwise of a significant external threat is not the salient point of the religious revival in Islam. The religion is going through a reformation like that of Christianity in the 14th-16th -17th centuries and at the same time in its history. The Age of Reason in the 18th century brought some relief to the killings and torture from all sides so one can only hope Islam will experience something similar. We may have to wait some time.
There seems to be a fundamentalist movement on Hinduism but that is a much older religion and I have no idea what may be the reason.