Category Archives: Coronavirus

Silencing Alternative Coronavirus (COVID-19) Narratives?

In the public interest.

I was just sent this journalists blog yesterday and saw this article.

I am concerned about censorship shutting down narratives that do not fit the official line.  This appears to be the times we are in even prior to the coronavirus.

When we see dissent or differences of opinion being quietly or overtly removed (deleted) as they are not towing the official line, we are experiencing the implementation of a counter terrorism move to manage information dissemination.  In the War in Iraq this was information management which is why they embedded journalists.

In a democracy people have a right to discuss their ideas, air their concerns, share what is being discussed to garner opinions and to work together to determine solutions.

In a control paradigm those who differ from the mainstream line will be viewed as a threat and overtly or covertly shut down.  This can happen through IT diverting algorithms, it can happen through publicly demonizing a person, finding weaknesses in that person and exploiting where fear may be or threatening the person to be silent as big agenda’s are at play.

Now what happens when those alternative views are backed up by scientists and doctors who are neutral?  What then?

Caitlin mentions a CIA contractor, this is a reference to the Deep State.  Visit ex CIA whistleblower Kevin Shipp for more information on the Deep State and Shadow Governments. https://www.fortheloveoffreedom.net/

People’s Skepticism About Covid-19 Is The Fault Of The Lying Mass Media

by Caitlin Johnstone

Coronavirus disinformation is the hot topic of the day, with pressure mounting on social media platforms to censor incorrect information about the virus and mainstream news outlets blaring dire warnings every day about the threat posed by the circulation of false claims about the pandemic.

“As fast as the coronavirus has raced around the globe, it has been outpaced by a blinding avalanche of social media sorcery and propaganda related to the pathogen, much of it apparently originating in Russia,” the Washington Post editorial board warns. “As always when it comes to its relations with the West, Moscow’s main currency is disinformation, and it spends lavishly.”

This would be the same Washington Post who falsely assured us that the Bush administration had provided “irrefutable” proof that the government of Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. The same Washington Post who falsely assured us that Russian hackers had penetrated the US electricity grid to cut off heat during the winter, and who circulated a McCarthyite blacklist of alternative media outlets designated “Russian propaganda” compiled by a group of anonymous internet trolls. The same Washington Post whose sole owner is a literal CIA contractor yet never discloses this brazen conflict of interest when reporting on the US intelligence community as per standard journalistic protocol.

If outlets like The Washington Post had done a better job of consolidating their reputation as a reliable news source instead of constantly deceiving their readers about very important matters, people would believe them instead of believing a “blinding avalanche of social media sorcery” (and web wizardry and internet incantations and electronic enchantments and net necromancy).

We’re seeing these urgent warnings about coronavirus disinformation and misinformation from mainstream outlets who’ve sold the public lies about war after war, election after election, status quo-supporting narrative after status quo-supporting narrative.

Here’s How to Fight Coronavirus Misinformation” reads a headline by The Atlantic, whose editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg once assured us that “the coming invasion of Iraq will be remembered as an act of profound morality,” and whose star writer is David “Axis of Evil” Frum.

“China and Russia have seized on the coronavirus outbreak to wage disinformation campaigns that seek to undermine the U.S. and its handling of the crisis, rather than addressing public criticism of their own struggles with the pandemic,” warns The New York Times, who played a leading role in the disinformation campaign to build support for the Iraq invasion and who aggressively pushed crazy-making Russia hysteria (including famously retracting its bogus “17 intelligence agencies” claim).

So it is understandable that people are suspicious and looking to alternate sources for answers. The outlets which are warning them about the dangers of this virus and defending massive, unprecedented changes which have an immense impact on the lives of ordinary people have an extensive and well-documented history of lying about very important things. People are aware of this, in their own ways and to varying degrees, and it doesn’t help that all the usual suspects are behaving in a way that feels uncomfortably familiar.

“This pandemic will be more consequential than 9/11. It probably already is. People just don’t realize it, because they still think—still feel—that once this is all over we’ll go back to the way things used to be. We won’t,” says The Bulwark, whose founder Bill Kristol was also the founder of the wildly influential think tank Project for a New American Century (PNAC). PNAC famously argued a year before the 9/11 attacks that the massive worldwide increase in US military interventionism they were promoting at the time would not be possible without “some catastrophic and catalysing event – like a new Pearl Harbor”. All of which miraculously came to pass.

I personally believe there’s enough evidence that this virus is sufficiently dangerous to justify many of the significant steps nations have been taking (though of course we must oppose and be vigilant against government overstepping into authoritarianism). The statistics are still very blurry and unreliable, but the mountains of testimonies by rank-and-file medical staff pouring in from areas where the outbreak is bad constitute enough anecdotal evidence for me to believe that this virus can very easily overwhelm our healthcare systems if we don’t collectively take drastic measures to contain it.

That said, I certainly can’t cast blame on people who believe the threat the virus poses is being greatly exaggerated. Not because I think they’re right, but because you don’t blame a population who’s been constantly lied to for their disbelief in what they’re being told by the very political/media class which has been lying to them. It’s not the fault of the rank-and-file public that they’re believing conspiratorial narratives, erroneous Facebook memes, right-wing pundits and the US president over the mainstream press; it is the fault of the mainstream press themselves.

I’ve taken a lot of flack in conspiracy circles lately for my relatively normie stance on Covid-19, but I also can’t really take it personally because it isn’t really their fault. Not everyone has the time and the resources to independently comb through many disparate bits of information about a single topic and synthesize a lucid understanding of what’s going on; that’s meant to be the job of the press, but since they’ve neglected to do their job time and time again they lack the credibility to demand that people believe what they’re reporting.

So I never join in the loud finger-wagging and aggressive demonization of those who express doubt in what’s really going on with this thing. I’ll leave that to those of a more mainstream bent, since they seem to enjoy it so much. As for myself, I will continue pointing out that the reason misinformation is so readily believed is the same as the reason Trump’s criticisms of the mainstream press are so readily believed: they have absolutely earned their garbage reputation.

The whole reason the world is the way it is right now is because people have been manipulated by the media-controlling class into accepting an absolutely insane status quo as normal. That’s the only reason anyone believes it makes sense for so few to have so much while so many have so little, for trillions of dollars to be poured into military expansionism and wars which benefit no one but the rich and powerful, for the environment to be destroyed to make a few more millionaires into billionaires, for a demented right-wing racist warmonger to be running against another demented right-wing racist warmonger for the most powerful elected office on the planet.

The big lies happen once in a while, but these little lies of normalizing our insane status quo happen every single day. On some level everyone is aware, however dimly, that our society is crazy and needs to change drastically, and so they are also aware that this is the opposite of the message they receive every day from the “authoritative” narrative-makers. The crazier things get, the more this awareness will necessarily grow, and the less people will trust the billionaire media whose only purpose is to maintain the status quo upon which its owners have built their respective kingdoms.

You can’t blame people for being distrustful when you make them that way. The people screaming the loudest about disinformation right now are the ones most responsible for it.

_________________________

Thanks for reading! The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics onTwitter, checking out my podcast on either YoutubesoundcloudApple podcasts or Spotify, following me on Steemit, throwing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypalpurchasing some of my sweet merchandise, buying my books Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone and Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish, use or translate any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge.

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Caitlin Johnstone | March 31, 2020 at 3:13 pm | Tags: caitlin johnstone, coronavirus, COVID-19, media, MSM, propaganda | Categories: Article | URL: https://wp.me/p9tj6M-25S
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Trump Believes the Coronavirus COVID-19 Death Rate is False

In the public interest.  Trump questions the World Health Organisation.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/trump-says-he-thinks-3-4-coronavirus-death-rate-is-a-false-number/

Trump says he thinks 3.4% coronavirus death rate is a “false number”

By Kathryn Watson

House approves $8.3 billion coronavirus bill

President Trump said in an interview Wednesday night that the 3.4% mortality rate for coronavirus cited by the director of the World Health Organization is a “false number,” and he also said that he thought people infected with coronavirus may get better “by sitting around and even going to work.”

However, on Thursday morning, he flatly denied that he had suggested Americans infected with coronavirus could go to work, blaming the media for misinterpreting what he said in his interview with Fox News late Wednesday.

Mr. Trump told Fox News’ Sean Hannity in a Wednesday night phone interview that he doesn’t believe the death rate from the spreading virus is as high as 3.4% — the rate stated by World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Wednesday — pointing out that many people might have mild symptoms and never report their cases and “get better, just by, you know, sitting around and even going to work.” The president’s remarks highlight a frequent criticism of the administration’s stringent requirements for testing up to this point: that because the tests have been scarce, the number of those who have been infected is likely significantly higher than what has been reported.

Top U.S. health officials in a briefing Thursday morning also said they believe the 3.4% number is too high, and the actual rate is far lower. Some medical studies have suggested coronavirus has a mortality rate of about 2%. If many people with mild or no symptoms aren’t being counted in those calculations, the overall death rate would be lower.

“I NEVER said people that are feeling sick should go to work,” the president tweeted Thursday morning. “This is just more Fake News and disinformation put out by the Democrats, in particular MSDNC. Comcast covers the CoronaVirus situation horribly, only looking to do harm to the incredible & successful effort being made!”

Here’s what the president told Hannity:

“Well I think the 3.4% is really a false number. Now, this is just my hunch, and, but based on a lot of conversations with a lot of people that do this — because a lot of people will have this and it’s very mild. They’ll get better very rapidly, they don’t even see a doctor, they don’t eve call a doctor. You never hear about those people. So you can’t put them down in the category, the overall population in terms of this corona flu, or virus, so you just can’t do that. So if, you know, we have thousands or hundreds of thousands of people that get better, just by you know, sitting around and even going to work, some of them go to work, but they get better, and then when you do have a death like you’ve had in the state of Washington, like you had one in California, I believe you had one in New York, you know all of the sudden it seems like 3 or 4 %, which is a very high number, as opposed to a fraction of 1%. But again, they don’t, they don’t know about the easy cases because the easy cases don’t go to hospital, they don’t report to doctors or the hospital, in many cases, so I think that that number is very high. Personally, I would say the number is way under 1%.”

Mr. Trump did not appear to add that people who feel sick should not go to work, as his top health officials have repeatedly emphasized in White House briefings.

Keeping White House messaging consistent on the virus is proving to be a challenge for a president who built his campaign and even his presidency on speaking off-the-cuff.

Mr. Trump said a vaccine would be available to the public “soon,” but is consistently contradicted by health officials who state that a vaccine will not be available earlier than the next 12 to 18 months, despite the administration’s push for swift movement.

He’s said therapeutic treatments or “therapies” are “sort of another word for cure,” although viruses generally do not have cures.

Mr. Trump has made it a priority to address the nation, bringing back regular White House briefings to address the epidemic on a nearly daily basis. He’s visiting the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta on Friday, and Vice President Mike Pence — tasked by the president to focus full time on combatting the virus — is in Minnesota and Washington state meeting with government and business leaders to address the crisis.

Will Violence Worsen due to Lockdown?

In the public interest.

The perceived fears arising from the coronavirus and the actual impact is surfacing.  The real issue in my view is the social problems that are largely masked and not dealt with in respect of confronting violence not by force but by delving into the constructs of violence in man’s image.  Violence comes from fear (false evidence appearing real). It is largely a call for help as a person can’t cope when they lash out.  Men are not taught emotional intelligence, how to communicate how they feel, they bottle and suppress as it is unacceptable for them to cry or feel vulnerable.  This is not being dealt with and funding won’t change the root problem.  Denial typically occurs or narratives around ‘feminism’, ‘hairy armpits’ (I smile) and the gender wars.  This need not be.  It is about gently dealing with violence and reframing the masculine.  His softening and feeling will be his liberation from social constructs that call him ‘weak’ or a ‘girl’ if he shows pain. 

Other interesting questions around the whole lockdown and coronavirus phenomenon.

War or problem to be solved?

Social control or social distancing?

Control is powerlessness that imposes over others. It masks what is out of control ‘within’. The war mentality must destroy what causes upset or powerlessness. War against anything only increases the problem as it escalates. You have to de-escalate to see the challenge in issues, to look for the opportunities in solutions and to be fair minded to all sides in order to balance outcomes.

Restriction of movement, restriction of work will build powerlessness, anger and frustration behind closed doors. 

The Prime Minister has mentioned his concerns about domestic violence which reveals it is a serious problem.  Money will not solve these problems, it is about social change or a paradigm shift as the real transformation.  Men must look at power and control and the suppression of their emotions as they seek to craft a world in their image.  We must develop Cultures of Peace to ensure social stability. This means reframing what is to be a male, the idea of patriarchy, use of force and control as security, male violence as acceptable and to question thinking that leads to violence. We must learn how to transform not business but society to find inner peace. This narrative is largely left to the side yet it should be front and centre.

This short note is from the editor of the Conversation and then an article from the Mandurah Mail on the Lockdown and domestic violence.

Editor’s note

Since the lockdown measures to curb the coronavirus pandemic began, experts have warned that people being kept at home for much longer than usual – and under stress – would lead to a spike in family violence. New preliminary research by Amanda Gearing shows the horrible truth of this: over the past four weeks, she has been contacted by a dozen women who believe they and their children are at risk of being murdered.

Many of these women, Gearing writes, have likened their situation to “domestic terrorism” – they will spend their next months feeling like hostages, desperately trying to save their lives and those of their children.

As one woman said: “I’m trying to work out what to do before I end up in a body bag but that seems unavoidable right now.”

However, a better understanding of the link between coercive control and intimate partner homicide, Gearing writes, may enable authorities to intervene sooner and legislate to criminalise coercive control, as the UK has done.

https://www.mandurahmail.com.au/story/6705364/lockdown-hiding-domestic-violence-stats/?cs=9397

Lockdown hiding domestic violence stats

The full extent of the rise in domestic violence during the coronavirus won't be known for months.
The full extent of the rise in domestic violence during the coronavirus won’t be known for months.
 

There’s a deeply concerning consensus among anti-domestic violence advocates that coronavirus lockdown measures are cloaking rapidly escalating abuse in family homes across the country.

Job losses, financial hardship, isolation, working from home and cabin fever are among the stresses that are confronting couples, many for the first time, brought on by COVID-19.

Not to mention the added pressure of meeting the constant needs of young children while in lockdown.

The full extent of the rise in domestic violence will not be fully known for months, but experts agree the final figures will not be easy reading.

It’s expected that once lockdown measures are lifted and some normality returns to life with people even just heading back to to work, DV reporting will peak, says Griffith University associate professor Jennifer Boddy.

“If we have everyone in the one household being required to isolate, victims of violence can’t reach out without their presence being missed,” Ms Boddy, a senior lecturer in Social Work, said.

“It’s when they can get away from their partner they can get help and we are potentially a long, long way from that.”

Just last Sunday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced an initial $150 million for domestic, family and sexual violence support due to the fallout from coronavirus.

Google has noted a 75 per cent increase, year-on-year, in searches for related to domestic violence and domestic violence hotlines.

The government funding can’t flow through soon enough, says Domestic Violence New South Wales (DNVSW) co-ordinator Renata Field.

The peak body, which represents more than 60 services across the state, has received differing responses from its services, from a zero increase to 40 per cent, and that in itself was alarming.

“Some are saying it’s similar (to usual figures) and that’s very concerning because it may mean people cannot reach out for help,” Ms Field said.

She said they wanted more resources poured into assisting victims once measures are lifted and the true impact of lockdown and isolation is known.

“We know some people won’t be able to reach out for help until it’s safe for them physically walk into services,” Ms Field said.

In the aftermath of the 2009 Victorian bushfires it became apparent that there was an escalation in domestic violence from men who had shown no signs of ever being aggressive towards their partner, Ms Boddy said.

While those prone to inflicting domestic violence became even more aggressive.

“I hate to say but some perpetrators of violence will use these measures to further isolate the victim and inflict more abuse,” Ms Boddy said.

“We saw some research that came out of the 2009 Victorian bushfires where women described experiencing violence after the fires that they had never experienced before.

“It’s possible the stress of the situation means some men will use violence when they have not done previously.”

Besides there being assistance and protection for victims, there are services for men – who find themselves in an aggressive frame of mind – to reach out to.

Men’s Referral Service (MRS), which has an around the clock helpline among other services, will be pitching for a portion of the $150 million in funding to assist and reduce domestic violence.

The service had a 25 per cent increase in calls after Hannah Baxter and her three children were killed in February and that trend is likely to continue because of the coronavirus crisis, says CEO Jacqui Watt.

“I don’t know if we have even seen the tip of the iceberg,” Ms Watt said.

“We think women’s services will have an increase, and so will we, and want to work together with them as much as we can and let people know there is someone at the end of the phone they can talk to.

“We work on the basis no one wants to be a violent partner or violent parent and we are trained to help people understand that their actions are having an enormous impact on people.”

NSW Domestic Violence (1800 65 64 63)

Men’s Referral Service (1300 766 491) for men, or friends and family of men using violenceI

1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)

Lifeline 13 11 14

beyondblue 1300 22 4636

Australian Associated Press

 
 

Top stories

Shutterstock

Coronavirus and ‘domestic terrorism’: how to stop family violence under lockdown

Amanda Gearing, Queensland University of Technology

New research shows Australian women living under new coronavirus regulations are in fear of their lives from abusive partners or former partners. Action must be taken now to stop it.

David Chang/EPA

Antibody tests: to get a grip on coronavirus, we need to know who’s already had it

Larisa Labzin, The University of Queensland

A test that detects antibodies against the coronavirus behind COVID-19 would reveal those people who have already encountered the virus – and therefore who might be ok to resume normal life.

@shotsoflouis/Upplash

JobKeeper payment: how will it work, who will miss out and how to get it?

Rebecca Cassells, Curtin University; Alan Duncan, Curtin University

About one million casual workers will miss out, simply because they haven’t been with their latest employer for more than 12 months.

Brittani Burns/Unsplash

The safest sex you’ll never have: how coronavirus is changing online dating

Lisa Portolan, Western Sydney University

How do you encourage people to date when social distancing? Apps are trying to figure it out.

Health + Medicine

Education

Environment + Energy

Business + Economy

Arts + Culture

Science + Technology

Politics + Society

Cities

  • Australians are moving home less. Why? And does it matter?

    Aude Bernard, The University of Queensland; Sunganani V. Kalemba, The University of Queensland

    Long before coronavirus hit Australia we were moving less between states and regions. Some worry about economic impacts, but a greater concern is inequality if some people find themselves ‘trapped’.

“THE AGE OF DISRUPTION” ‘a Perfect Storm’ goes Viral

In the public interest.

I felt to explore the disruption. It led me to the Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.  His speech is about digital disruption.  I contemplate in the midst of the Coronavirus we all have to go online.  Yet the virus is called mild I think people are sensing this perfect storm.

Perfect Stormnoun a detrimental or calamitous situation or event arising from the powerful combined effect of a unique set of circumstances:
a perfect storm battering corporate pension plans.

Yet the Prime Minister on the 15 March 2020 at his press conference stated the virus is mild…

“…But the truth is that while many people will contract this virus that it’s clear, just as people get the flu each year, it is a more severe condition than the flu, but for the vast majority, as I said last week, for the majority, around 8 in 10 is our advice, it will be a mild illness and it will pass. “ Prime Minister Scott Morrison..

Excerpts from Josh Frydenberg speech below:

“This perfect storm – decades in the making – has delivered what now seems like the overnight arrival of something that was previously inconceivable: artificial intelligence and machine learning...

In simple language, machines are providing insights and recognising patterns by rapidly processing data which allows predictions, and in many cases decisions, to be made….As companies adapt to this era of disruption, business transformation has become the order of the day....

This is where ensuring our education system, including early childhood, schools, VET and universities effectively respond to this challenge will be critical. Problem solving, data science and creative thinking are among the capabilities that will be in demand in this new work environment...

The services sector which makes up around 70 per cent of the Australian economy compared to around 60 per cent three decades ago, tends to by its nature to have lower levels of productivity. Services are more labour intensive and less likely to see capital substitution. However, with the maturation of emerging technologies this could change

Moreover, the nature of the services offered by both Google and Facebook allow them to collect an unprecedented amount of personal data, which is then monetised by providing advertisers with highly targeted opportunities…

While the opportunities are boundless, with McKinsey suggesting that automation technologies could add up to $4 trillion to the Australian economy over the next 15 years, the threats are also real

So how much and how quickly our productivity increases from here will depend in part on how governments, employees and employers respond to this changing technology landscape...

Our goal – which I am confident that we can achieve with the right policy settings across both the public and private spheres – is to ensure that when these technologies become part of our everyday life they will contribute to a more prosperous, secure and harmonious future for all Australians.

A few questions:

Should we as Australians or anyone in the global community have a vote on whether we want this digital future that gathers our data and knows everything about our lives ?

Who truly benefits – the community or global IT business?

What about public needs, wants and rights to privacy?

What about the vulnerable and the homeless?
How will they survive in disruption? To-date clearly the money to house every person is there but not actioned. What of the treatment of those vulnerable in detention centres? Who truly cares?

Will this imposed future be democratic and foster happiness in our society or will our lives be automated and focused on the cryptocurrency of inclusion and exclusion?

What of breaching ecological tipping points given economics is about growth not balance?

Lastly, and most importantly, what are the health impacts from electromagnetic frequency (EMF)?

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the cancer agency of the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2011 concluded that EMFs of frequencies 30 KHz – 300 GHz are possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B). 

Refer links:

https://www.gaia.com/article/5g-health-risks-the-war-between-technology-and-human-beings

https://ehtrust.org/wp-content/uploads/Scientist-5G-appeal-2017.pdf

There needs to be a broader discussion to ascertain if this adverse health impact is true. Does it create a major health problem greater than the coronavirus?

The Hon Josh Frydenberg MP
Treasurer
Federal Member for Kooyong

SPEECH

“THE AGE OF DISRUPTION”

SIR ZELMAN COWEN ORATION

VICTORIA UNIVERSITY, MELBOURNE

29 August 2019

***CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY***

It’s a great privilege to deliver this oration in Sir Zelman Cowen’s name and I want to thank the Cowen family and Victoria University for the opportunity.

As Glyn Davis and Peter Dawkins wrote in The Australian just a few days ago, Victoria University is one of only a small number of dual-sector universities providing a highly innovative and quality education both in the tertiary and vocational streams.

With the wave of new technology challenging our traditional methods of learning and the institutions that provide it, it is only appropriate that the Sir Zelman Cowen Centre is hosting key stakeholders for an important upcoming discussion about the future of universities.

As a Vice-Chancellor, Provost and Dean, Sir Zelman was a great educator and reformer, always appreciating the wonders of learning and curious about the future.

He would be proud that the Centre in his name is promoting this important debate.

Sir Zelman Cowen was a giant of a man and a dear friend and mentor.

I will never forget his generosity of spirit and his intense loyalty as a friend as we sat together each weekend for many years talking about his life and the changing world in which we lived.

While never a meeting of equals, he ensured age was no barrier to friendship, always putting me at ease.

He never needed to demand respect or command obedience but by virtue of his very nature and being, he simply earned it.

He was always proud of his immigrant background and his Jewish faith and he never sought to distance himself from his heritage during his long and distinguished career.

He is an inspiration to many.

And as our nation’s nineteenth Governor-General, he brought a touch of healing to the country and set a standard that is the benchmark for those who have followed.

He was always above the rancour of partisanship – earning respect from all sides, devoting his life as he did to public service.

But for all that Zelman achieved in public life, he knew none of it would have been possible without the support of his wife of sixty years, Anna.

Their marriage was a true partnership based on eternal love and respect, and I want to thank Anna for being here today, pass on our best wishes for a speedy recovery after a recent fall, and thank her for her enduring friendship.

It would be remiss of me as well not to plug her recent brilliant book titled My Vice-Regal Life which published her personal diaries from the Cowens’ time at Yarralumla.

Like Zelman, Anna possesses a sharp wit and a great sense of humour.

For example, recording on one occasion an investiture by Sir Zelman where he was waving a sword wildly around, saying after the event that it was remarkable that they didn’t have to pick up peoples’ ears from the floor!

This evening I ask you to lend me your ears as I share some thoughts on an issue that affects the future of all of us – namely that we are living in the age of disruption.

The world has seen nothing like it. Big data, artificial intelligence and the explosion in connectivity.

It is the fourth industrial revolution.

The first being the use of steam to mechanise industries and the Dickensian conditions it created in the factories of England in the 1800s.

The second saw the arrival of electricity and the third the development of the computer and with it the proliferation of information technology.

This fourth revolution is different in both nature and scope.  Developing exponentially rather than in a linear fashion.

It is less about disseminating information to the wider public, as was the case with the invention of the printing press, but more about algorithms and data as new building blocks to fundamentally change the way we do thing across every sector of the economy.

From energy to education, health and hospitality, mining and manufacturing and even to administration and agriculture.

While the opportunities are boundless, with McKinsey suggesting that automation technologies could add up to $4 trillion to the Australian economy over the next 15 years, the threats are also real.

Cyber security, privacy concerns, competition issues, the integrity of the future of our tax base and the future of work are among them.

A little less than a century ago John Maynard Keynes gave a famous lecture entitled ‘Economic possibilities for our grandchildren’ where he predicted an era of progress where by 2030, technology would not only boost incomes and ultimately solve the production problem, but also reduce the need for labour to a 15 hour work week.

So far he been broadly right on incomes and production, but as for his concept of ‘technological unemployment’ society has found new ways to productively deploy labour in response to the age of disruption.

Our task today as the French Noble Prize winning economist Jean Tirole has pointed out, is to anticipate the challenge that has come with the digital revolution so we can adapt to it as we have done with previous revolutions, rather than merely endure them.

Against this backdrop, I want to talk about three things tonight:

  • First, how this digital disruption is playing out and how it will continue to evolve;
  • Second, the implications of this for the Australian economy; and
  • Third, how the Government is responding to these developments.

*  *  *  *  *

Disruption that is unfolding around us

The ability to deconstruct information into bits – ones and zeroes – and seamlessly duplicate and distribute this data through a network of networks has led to an explosion of connectivity and facilitated the rise of the digital economy.

More than half the world’s population are using the internet, and as at December 2018, the United Nations estimated there were some 5.2 billion active mobile broadband subscriptions globally.

Network effects, which occur when the usefulness of a service grows exponentially with the number of users and providers, are flourishing now – and at a scale never seen before.

For example in Australia, there are now more than 80,000 active drivers using the Uber platform, supplying services to around 4 million Australian customers.

Two sided digital platforms are allowing unprecedented numbers of buyers and sellers to come together and interact.They are empowering consumers to make better choices about the products and services they purchase, including a more personalised matching to an individual’s preferences.

These platforms are enabling unused capacity to be filled and utilised more efficiently.

Today we are seeing play out before our eyes the combined effects of:

  • a massive increase in digital data;
  • the growing force of computer power;
  • the ascent of new platforms;
  • new organising principles of powerful algorithms;
  • the development of advanced analytical tools and techniques; and
  • unprecedented ease of connectivity between people.

This perfect storm – decades in the making – has delivered what now seems like the overnight arrival of something that was previously inconceivable: artificial intelligence and machine learning.

In simple language, machines are providing insights and recognising patterns by rapidly processing data which allows predictions, and in many cases decisions, to be made.

For example, Qantas has partnered with the University of Sydney’s Centre for Field Robotics to create a new system called ‘Constellation’ which brings together a database with a decade of weather patterns and combines it with aircraft capability to map out the optimal flight path.

Qantas believes that by sending its aircraft into the strongest jet streams, the system can reduce its fuel bill by $40 million a year and reduce its CO2 emissions substantially.

With greater connectivity and growing networks the so-called Internet of Things is also coming into its own.

Cheaper and more widely available broadband along with huge advances in Wi Fi and sensor technologies has meant that more and more devices and equipment can be connected to the internet.

Business equipment, vehicles, household appliances and wearable devices can communicate with each other and generate data.

For example, your mobile device can be used both remotely or automatically, to change the temperature settings in your house, such as through the air-conditioning system to respond to the movement in electricity prices through the day.

This saves customers money and improves the reliability of the system.

We are now only at the very nascent stage of the Internet of Things and the upward trend in data generated will accelerate into the future.

A super-connected world, combining billions of people with artificial intelligence, online transistors and real life data sets the scene for a process of constant change and improvement.

*  *  *  *  *  *

As companies adapt to this era of disruption, business transformation has become the order of the day.

For many companies this means devising new digital strategies, new business models and more.

As reported in The Economist last year, of America’s 20 most valuable non-tech firms, 14 have a digital dimension to their strategies.

The message is every firm needs to adapt and look for new opportunities.

Mining

In Australia we’re seeing a big transformation in our world leading mining companies.

Rio Tinto for example has recognised that its future success cannot solely rely on traditional mining mindsets and its legacy asset bases.

It is leading the way internationally with autonomous mining operations in the Pilbara.

Autonomous long distance trains, autonomous haul trucks and autonomous drill systems – all monitored from a control centre located 1,500 kilometres away in Perth.

Its ‘Mine of the Future’ programme will allow assets to be networked together across all components of the mining value chain.

Machines talking to machines will help reduce variability through the system and improve both safety and productivity.

Today’s mining engineers – and those into the future – will be equally specialised in data analytics and artificial intelligence, as they will be in their knowledge of ore bodies.

Autonomous vehicles

Disruptive technologies like autonomous vehicles are likely to profoundly reshape mobility within cities – they will fundamentally change the way people get around and will shape how cities grow into the future.

General Motors has said it is committed to introducing an autonomous ride sharing service to several big cities in the United States and is aiming for a future of zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion.

As with other digital technologies there will be powerful network effects at play.

Of course when it comes to autonomous vehicles, there has been a great deal of promise.

But we should remember Amara’s Law – that we tend to overestimate the impact of a new technology in the short-run, but we underestimate it in the long run.

Healthcare

With a growing and ageing population, there is tremendous upside potential from technology innovation in the health care sector.

As the Productivity Commission has noted, the health sector is very good at generating and storing data, but less effective at translating this data into useful information.

The expanded use of health information and digital technologies – including e health records – can help establish a better evidence base, deliver better quality care, reduce medical errors and streamline administration and overall healthcare efficiency.

Data that allows performance monitoring and comparison of government activities in the healthcare space is a fundamental starting point for improving the delivery of those activities to the community.

At an individual level, data collected through personally controlled devices such as smartphones and health monitors have huge potential to assist medical practitioners and patients.

Looking back over the twentieth century the advancements in health technology have been astounding, for example the introduction of magnetic resonance imaging machines, DNA mapping and antibiotics.

Advances in artificial intelligence are adding to these. For example, we don’t just have MRI’s, we can now use machines to help interpret MRI’s.

Financial Services and Digital Currencies

Australia’s financial sector is also experiencing a wave of innovation-driven disruption with the emergence of the ‘fintech’ sector, using data and latest technology to design and offer better and bespoke products and services.

For example, it is facilitating the development of new payment products with financial services firms having begun to collaborate with technology firms, including most notably Apple’s agreement with the major banks to allow their customers to use Apple Pay.

Closely related to disruption in financial services has been the development and substantial interest in virtual currencies or cryptocurrencies as they are better known.

As the Reserve Bank Governor Phil Lowe has noted, as people’s needs change and technology improves so too does the form that money takes.

Already in Australia we have seen a significant shift to electronic payments with the proportion of cash transactions made by households falling from around 70 per cent in 2007 to 37 per cent by 2016 – with Australians enthusiastic adopters of ‘tap and go’ payments.

The Reserve Bank’s New Payments Platform launched in early 2018 has leveraged digital technologies to improve payment services – allowing Australians to settle their bills in seconds, 24/7 with instant settlement and funds availability.

Cryptocurrencies are designed to mimic cash transactions allowing peer-to-peer transfers of value, without the need to know or trust the other party in the transaction or for any central body to act as an intermediator.

For all of the noise around cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, the reality is that they are not currently being widely used for everyday payments.

However Bitcoin’s creation and that of the new Libra currency still in development by Facebook has been instigated through the development of blockchain technology.

These are developments that regulators are watching closely.

It is worth remembering that Governments exist to provide essential public goods and money is one of these very important public goods, providing a store of value, a unit of account and a medium of exchange.

*  *  *  *  *

The implications of digital disruption for the Economy

The underlying characteristics of digital technologies – and their application – are having profound impacts on the economy.

These impacts spread across jobs; competition, productivity; and of increasing focus, the tax base.

The future of work

The future of work looms large in the transition to a digital economy as it has done with the previous three industrial revolutions.

Technology has always led to a shift in the types of jobs and skills required.

This does cause people concern as they feel more insecure, not just about their job today but also the future job prospects, including for their children.

This can play out in two ways with the rise of automation and robots taking what would otherwise have been the work of people and the existence of the gig economy which sees workers on short-term contracts or undertaking freelance work paid for a service as opposed to being a permanent employee.

This could include everything from ride share drivers, freelance journalists, self-employed independent contractors and a myriad of services like bookkeeping.

This on-demand workforce is made available by platforms like AirTasker, Freelancer and Uber.

The gig economy which is still emerging may provide for some people greater flexibility, job entry opportunities and satisfaction to workers on the one hand, but on the other, raises challenges around the regulatory framework and its enforcement and the constancy and security of employment.

In each of the industrial revolutions, there has been a shift in the makeup of the workforce.

The question that still remains unanswered for the future of digital revolution is will technology complement and augment the capabilities of workers leading to higher productivity, higher wages and higher output as has been the case with the arrival of the three previous revolutions?

This is where ensuring our education system, including early childhood, schools, VET and universities effectively respond to this challenge will be critical. Problem solving, data science and creative thinking are among the capabilities that will be in demand in this new work environment.

Technology’s impact on productivity

For all of its promise, the digital revolution has been slow to show up in the measured productivity figures as might have been expected.

As I said earlier this week in a speech to the Business Council, there seems to be three main factors at play.

First, as the OECD has found, while innovations are clearly occurring giving benefit to some firms, they have not spread as widely to other firms across the economy as one would hope.

There is a clear gap between those at the frontier and the rest. Many firms appear to be waiting for technologies like Artificial Intelligence, autonomous vehicles or the Internet of Things to mature before they adopt them.

Second, for some technologies it takes time for the full benefits to be seen. This was the case for electrification which arrived in the United States in the 1890’s but took 30 years for factories to reconfigure their processes to enable them to maximise the gains.

A corollary today is the effective use of machine learning which requires a new approach with the right data sets, skill technicians and analysts as well as a regulatory framework fit for purpose.

And third, there is a long run structural shift in the Australian economy towards services as incomes rise.

The services sector which makes up around 70 per cent of the Australian economy compared to around 60 per cent three decades ago, tends to by its nature to have lower levels of productivity.

Services are more labour intensive and less likely to see capital substitution.

However, with the maturation of emerging technologies this could change.

So how much and how quickly our productivity increases from here will depend in part on how governments, employees and employers respond to this changing technology landscape.

*  *  *  *  *

How is the Government responding?

At a time of significant technological disruption, questions arise as to what role the government should play and to what extent will it need to impose new regulations?

As with many things governments do, this is all about getting the balance right and exercising judgement around the trade-offs that inevitably arise.

Too much regulation and the incentive to invest will be stifled, while too little regulation and consumers may not trust the products and new services that result.

Digitisation is having an impact in areas which are firmly within the realm of governments.

This includes intellectual property rights; privacy; competition law; employment law; regulation; taxation and cybersecurity.

Governments recognise their obligation to their citizens to ensure their interests are protected as are those of the community as a whole.

As digital revolution rolls on, people need to have confidence in the system’s underpinnings.

Again, as Jean Tirole has observed, social acceptability of digitisation depends on us believing our data will not be used against us; that online platforms will respect the terms of our contracts them; and that their recommendations will be reliable.

*  *  *  *  *

In this regard, I wanted to briefly mention tonight three areas of policy reform which fall within my remit as Treasurer and are directly related to the regulatory framework underpinning the growing digitisation of Australia’s economy.

There are the implementation of the Consumer Data Right; the ACCC’s Digital Platforms Inquiry; and reforms to ensure Australia’s tax system is able to meet the challenges of a more digitalised economy.

The Consumer Data Right

Earlier this month the Government passed through Parliament an important piece of legislation – the Consumer Data Right.

This law gives consumers new rights to their digital data.

It creates a new lens through which to view personal data – as a valuable asset that is being created and can be utilised.

Consumers will have a right to access information currently held by businesses about the transactions they enter into as consumers.

Importantly it will also allow consumers to request their data to be transferred to third parties which should help reinvigorate competition be it on someone’s mortgage, electricity bill or mobile phone plan.

At the most basic level, accessing this information will help consumers compare and switch products and provide them with scope to better manage their budgets.

More broadly, today one of the barriers to competition is the availability of information.  Companies who have collected huge data sets on their customers have a substantial competitive advantage over other businesses trying to compete in the same space.

The consumer data right regime will go some way to addressing this.

The initial application of the law will be to the banking sector with the regime extended in future to the telecommunications and energy sectors.

Eventually we would like to see the Consumer Data Right extended across the economy.

*  *  *  *  *

Digital Platforms Inquiry

Last month the Government released a ground-breaking report prepared by the ACCC into digital platforms.

It examined the impact on competition, privacy and consumer outcomes arising from the significant market power of the leading search engines and social media platforms, and in particular Google and Facebook and their influence on the media and advertising market.

The report makes it clear that the digital platforms are an important innovation that have fundamentally changed the way the media content is produced, distributed and consumed.

However the ACCC found that Facebook and Google have grown rapidly over time to become the dominant players in important online markets in Australia, giving them immense market power.

For example, for every $100 spend by advertisers on online advertising, excluding classifieds, $47 goes to Google, $24 to Facebook and $29 to other participants. The market is worth nearly $9 billion annually in Australia, and has increased eight-fold since 2005.

Google and Facebook are dominant with 98 per cent of online searches on mobile devices are with Google and Facebook having approximately 17 million Australian users.

The scale of the advantage of incumbents is enormous.

Moreover, the nature of the services offered by both Google and Facebook allow them to collect an unprecedented amount of personal data, which is then monetised by providing advertisers with highly targeted opportunities.

Our legislative and regulatory framework did not and could not anticipate such a new paradigm – a paradigm which poses a real challenge to regulatory authorities the world over.

The Government is currently consulting on the report’s recommendations but has accepted the ACCC’s overriding conclusion that there is a need for reform – to better protect consumers, improve transparency, recognise power imbalances and ensure that substantial market power is not used to lessen competition in media and advertising services markets.

I expect that the Government will provide its final response to the report before the end of the year.

*  *  *  *  *

Digital Tax

The digitalisation of economies is also having far reaching implications for tax systems, both in Australia and around the world.

The current international tax framework applying to companies is based on the location of physical assets, labour and capital, the source of income and the residence of taxpayers and less from where businesses are deriving value from user data or user generated content.

This framework – developed in the 1920s – could not have envisaged the extent to which businesses would become globalised and digitalised.

Today, most major digital businesses are able to access markets via technology without necessarily having a physical presence in that market, allowing them under existing tax rules to pay a lower effective rate of tax then what may apply to other companies.

For example, in 2016-17, despite Google having around $1.5 billion of revenue in Australia, they only paid $33 million of tax on a taxable income of $177 million.

Their effective rate of tax is around 18 per cent, with large deductions before they even get to their taxable income.

Addressing these issues is by no means straightforward and is imposing challenges both for Australia and globally.

While other countries like France and the United Kingdom have sought to introduce a direct tax on digital services, our preference is to work with other countries to achieve a consensus-based solution through the OECD and G20.

We have an ambitious goal of reaching such a consensus by the end of 2020.

*  *  *  *  *

Conclusion

In an increasingly competitive and globalised economy, we need to recognise the unprecedented scope and speed of technological change.

It is creating both challenges and opportunities, as it changes every aspect of how we live and how we work.

We cannot stop technological change nor we should we try to.  Rather we need to effectively adapt with a clear sense of what is important to us.

As Mark Weiser wrote in the Scientific American back in 1991, ‘The most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it.’

Our goal – which I am confident that we can achieve with the right policy settings across both the public and private spheres – is to ensure that when these technologies become part of our everyday life they will contribute to a more prosperous, secure and harmonious future for all Australians.

If Zelman was here today, this is not only what he would hope for but what he would use his great capacity to help achieve.

Ends.

Refer further link re: background Sir Zelman Cowen:

Sir Zelman Cowen Forest in Israel

 

Plain Soap Better than Anti-Bacteria Foams for COVID-19

In the public interest.

A very interesting article by a Techy start-up.  Good on you.

Corona virus (COVID-19) is no match for plain, old soap — here’s the science behind it


 

 

This is part of our series on how you can prepare and prevent coronavirus. This article is compilation of series of tweets by Professor Palli Thordarson at School of Chemistry UNSW. Special thanks to Professor Palli Thordarson for the sharing this information.

Why does soap work so well on the SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus and indeed most viruses? Because it is a self-assembled nanoparticle in which the weakest link is the lipid (fatty) bilayer. A two part thread about soap, viruses and supramolecular chemistry.

The soap dissolves the fat membrane and the virus falls apart like a house of cards and “dies”, or rather, we should say it becomes inactive as viruses aren’t really alive. Viruses can be active outside the body for hours, even days.

Image

Disinfectants, or liquids, wipes, gels and creams containing alcohol (and soap) have a similar effects but are not really quite as good as normal soap. Apart from the alcohol and soap, the “antibacterial agents” in these products don’t affect the virus structure much at all.

Consequently, many antibacterial products are basically just an expensive version of soap in terms of how they act on viruses. Soap is the best but alcohol wipes are good when soap is not practical or handy (e.g. office receptions).

But why exactly is soap so good? To explain that, I will take you through a bit of a journey through supramolecular #chemistry, nanoscience and virology. I try to explain this in generic terms as much as possible, which means leaving some specialist chemistry terms out.

I point out to that while I am expert in supramolecular chemistry and the assembly of nanoparticles, I am not a virologists. The image with the first tweet is from an excellent post here which is dense with good virology info:

I have always been fascinated by viruses as I see them as one of them most spectacular examples of how supramolecular chemistry and nanoscience can converge. Most viruses consist of three key building blocks: RNA, proteins and lipids.

The RNA is the viral genetic material -it is very similar to DNA. The proteins have several roles including breaking into the target cell, assist with virus replication and basically to be a key building block (like a brick in a house) in the whole virus structure.

The lipids then form a coat around the virus, both for protection and to assist with its spread and cellular invasion. The RNA, proteins and lipids self-assemble to form the virus. Critically, there are no strong “covalent” bonds holding these units together.

Instead the viral self-assembly is based on weak “non-covalent” interactions between the proteins, RNA and lipids. Together these act together like a Velcro so it is very hard to break up the self-assembled viral particle. Still, we can do it (e.g. with soap!).

Most viruses, including the coronavirus, are between 50-200 nanometers – so they are truly nanoparticles. Nanoparticles have complex interactions with surfaces they are on. Same with viruses. Skin, steel, timber, fabric, paint and porcelain are very different surfaces.

When a virus invades a cell, the RNA “hijacks” the cellular machinery like a computer virus (!) and forces the cell to start to makes a lot of fresh copies of its own RNA and the various proteins that make up the virus.

These new RNA and protein molecules, self-assemble with lipids (usually readily present in the cell) to form new copies of the virus. That is, the virus does not photocopy itself, it makes copies of the building blocks which then self-assemble into new viruses!

All those new viruses eventually overwhelm the cell and it dies/explodes releasing viruses which then go on to infect more cells. In the lungs, some of these viruses end up in the airways and the mucous membranes surrounding these.

When you cough, or especially when you sneeze, tiny droplets from the airways can fly up to 10 meters (30 ft)! The larger ones are thought to be main coronavirus carriers and they can go at least 2 m (7 ft). Thus – cover your coughs & sneezes people!

These tiny droplets end on surfaces and often dry out quickly. But the viruses are still active! What happens next is all about supramolecular chemistry and how self-assembled nanoparticles (like the viruses) interact with their environment!

 

Now it is time to introduce a powerful supramolecular chemistry concept that effectively says: similar molecules appear to interact more strongly with each other than dissimilar ones. Wood, fabric and not to mention skin interact fairly strongly with viruses.

Contrast this with steel, porcelain and at least some plastics, e.g. teflon. The surface structure also matter – the flatter the surface the less the virus will “stick” to the surface. Rougher surfaces can actually pull the virus apart.

So why are surfaces different? The virus is held together by a combination of hydrogen bonds (like those in water) and what we call hydrophilic or “fat-like” interactions. The surface of fibres or wood for instance can form a lot of hydrogen bonds with the virus.

In contrast steel, porcelain or teflon do not form a lot of hydrogen bond with the virus. So the virus is not strongly bound to these surfaces. The virus is quite stable on these surface whereas it doesn’t stay active for as long on say fabric or wood.

For how long does the virus stay active? It depends. The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is thought to stay active on favourable surfaces for hours, possibly a day. Moisture (“dissolves”), sun light (UV light) and heat (molecular motions) all make the virus less stable.

The skin is an ideal surface for a virus! It is “organic” and the proteins and fatty acids in the dead cells on the surface interact with the virus through both hydrogen bonds and the “fat-like” hydrophilic interactions.

So when you touch say a steel surface with a virus particle on it, it will stick to your skin and hence get transferred onto your hands. But you are not (yet) infected. If you touch your face though, the virus can get transferred from your hands and on to your face.

And now the virus is dangerously close to the airways and the mucus type membranes in and around your mouth and eyes. So the virus can get in…and voila! You are infected (that is, unless your immune system kills the virus).

If the virus is on your hands you can pass it on by shaking someone’s else hand. Kisses, well, that’s pretty obvious…It comes without saying that if someone sneezes right in your face you are kind of stuffed. Part 2 about soap coming next (25 post limit reached)!

Part 2 about soap, supramolecular chemistry and viruses. So how often do you touch your face? It turns out most people touch the face once every 2-5 minutes! Yeah, so you at high risk once the virus gets on your hands unless you can wash the active virus off.

So let’s try washing it off with plain water. It might just work. But water “only” competes with the strong “glue-like” interactions between the skin and virus via hydrogen bonds. They virus is quite sticky and may not budge. Water isn’t enough.

Soapy water is totally different. Soap contains fat-like substances knowns as amphiphiles, some structurally very similar to the lipids in the virus membrane. The soap molecules “compete” with the lipids in the virus membrane.

Image

The soap molecules also compete with a lot other non-covalent bonds that help the proteins, RNA and the lipids to stick together. The soap is effectively “dissolving” the glue that holds the virus together. Add to that all the water.

The soap also outcompetes the interactions between the virus and the skin surface. Soon the viruses get detached and fall a part like a house of cards due to the combined action of the soap and water. The virus is gone!

The skin is quite rough and wrinkly which is why you do need a fair amount of rubbing and soaking to ensure the soap reaches very crook and nanny on the skin surface that could be hiding active viruses.

Alcohol based products, which pretty includes all “disinfectants” and “antibacterial” products contain a high-% alcohol solution, typically 60-80% ethanol, sometimes with a bit of isopropanol as well and then water + a bit of a soap.

Image

Ethanol and other alcohols do not only readily form hydrogen bonds with the virus material but as a solvent, are more lipophilic than water. Hence alcohol do also dissolve the lipid membrane and disrupt other supramolecular interactions in the virus.

However, you need a fairly high concentration (maybe +60%) of the alcohol to get a rapid dissolution of the virus. Vodka or whiskey (usually 40% ethanol), will not dissolve the virus as quickly. Overall alcohol is not quite as good as soap at this task.
 Image
Nearly all antibacterial products contain alcohol and some soap and this does help killing viruses. But some also include “active” bacterial killing agents, like triclosan. Those, however, do basically nothing to the virus!
 
To sum up, viruses are almost like little grease-nanoparticles. They can stay active for many hours on surfaces and then get picked up by touch. They then get to our face and infect us because most of us touch the face quite frequently.
 
Water is not very effective alone in washing the virus off our hands. Alcohol based product work better. But nothing beats soap – the virus detaches from the skin and falls apart very readily in soapy water.
 
Here you have it – supramolecular chemistry and nanoscience tell us not only a lot about how the virus self-assembled into a functional active menace, but also how we can beat viruses with something as simple as soap.
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hank you for reading my first thread. Apologies for any mistakes in the above. I might have some virology details wrong here as I am not a virologist unlike

who I am a big fan of! But I hope this inspires you not only to use soap but to read up on chemistry!