Archive by Author
As the UK progresses towards the current milestones indicated by the government regarding the changing of social restrictions and the possible development of a different societal set of norms, either temporary or prolonged, it is time to start to categorise risk and future health care plans as our work (in health provision) will be in large part shaped by these developments.
Clearly, the aim of all countries needs to be focussed on the setting up of a future set of plans, strategies to mitigate future zoonotic migrations. But why stop there?
People, environments, and governments are undergoing serious challenges to their futures and part of this hinges on the development of a sustainable approach to health generation. The last 12 months has exposed international vulnerabilities, poor risk management and the associated consequences of a very small pathogen finding a willing host for its journey around the world. Read the rest of this entry »
As the roll out of vaccination and the staged end of lockdown appear to be coalescing into a shift in planning and return to work, there are numerous questions and challenges to be answered and resolved.
First and foremost, is that emerging data suggests that the effects of infection with SARS-CoV-2 are far reaching, extending beyond those with severe acute disease. Specifically, the presence of persistent symptoms after apparent resolution from COVID-19 have frequently been reported throughout the pandemic by individuals variously labelled as “long-haulers and long Covid sufferers”. Incredibly, some evidence is indicating that between as many as 10-30% of survivors of Covid-19 say they still experience symptoms. Just reviewing the implications of this sheer number implies that a review of the mechanisms and treatments is urgently required as this is likely to be a significant drain on health care resource. In the UK in February 2021 a small financial sum of £18.5million has been awarded for 4 research studies. Read the rest of this entry »
It may be helpful to view the last 12 months from a broad historical perspective for us to see the way forward from this pandemic. At this stage, many people strongly believe that the terrible toll it has taken demonstrates humanity’s helplessness in the face of nature’s might. But taken on review, 2020 has shown that humanity is far from helpless. Science has demonstrated, that given time the events of a pandemic induced crisis can be managed, even if political oversight/skill has been found wanting. One reason for the gap between scientific success and political failure is that scientists co-operate globally, whereas politicians tended to feud, and ideological beliefs compound strategic implementation. Read the rest of this entry »
“When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use; when diet is correct, medicine is of no need.”
The shift in messaging since the allocated timeline for 15m vaccinations was achieved in the UK, is a fascinating process of dialogue and development. One can imagine that numerous pressures are being experienced from scientists, physicians, economists, business owners and us as to how to look ahead and to present a changing landscape of risk analysis.
Back in the reality of what we can each do to ensure resilience in the face of exposure and or recovery from Sars-Cov-2 (and its variants) the key message is still being stifled. Non pharmaceutical interventions (NPI) remain an important part of transmission risk reduction. However, outside of the familiar refrains, relatively little, to non-existent discussions are directed towards nutrition and lifestyle imperatives. There are many explanations and accusations as to why, but the reality is probably far less menacing than some would like us to believe. Read the rest of this entry »
The state of ‘being’, sought by all and yet when obtained, is generally all too temporary, is that of ‘happiness’. How are you in its pursuit and attainment?
In the 2020 World Happiness Report the authors note that in the face of a pandemic where the social fabric is not strong enough to support co-operative action on the required scale, then fear, disappointment and anger add to the happiness costs of a disaster. There are few people that have not experienced these costs over the last few months. (Practical, safe solutions are described at the end!) Read the rest of this entry »
In the late 1650’s, the French polymath and renowned scientist Blaise Pascal, having undergone a religious experience that transformed him into something of a zealot, suggested the following logical strategy regarding belief in God: If there is a God, then believing in him will ensure you an eternity of bliss, while not believing in him could earn you an eternal sentence to misery.
On the other hand, if there is no God, believing in him anyway will cost you very little, and not believing in him will mean nothing in the non-existent after life. Therefore, the only sensible bet is to believe in God. This has come to be known as Pascal’s Wager.
The wager has a surprising number of applications beyond concerns for a comfortable afterlife. There are many things for which the value of believing something or not can be utilised as a ‘cost-versus-likely-benefit’ wager, often without regard to the actual truth of the matter.
Since science does not profess to have a final truth, and in many areas freely admits its incomplete knowledge, Pascal’s wager can provide a useful method of deciding between two alternatives. In this article it is the validity of the Sars-Cov-2 virus as a causative agent of global illness and the benefit or not of two of the most common non-pharmacological strategies and lifestyle proposals for its related management. Read the rest of this entry »
As is typical at the beginning of a New Year, there are numerous opportunities and encouragements to engage with life affirming, changing, or accelerating lifestyle related programmes.
Yet for most of us right now, we instead must manage several unwanted challenges, changes in lifestyle and family life brought upon us by the SARS-Cov-2 virus and its current variants. Read the rest of this entry »
As we come to the end of a very different year, it is common practice to look back on events. Obviously the Sars-Cov-2 virus has featured heavily so let’s do a quick review:
Based on collated data from research and observational studies since Feb 2020 it is well understood that the SARS-CoV-2 virus spreads most efficiently among unmasked adult speakers who spend time together in close, unventilated indoor spaces. More so, if when in that space, they insist on talking to each other!
It is also clear that the virus can spread through nonverbal activities. Sneezing and coughing produce virus-encased globs of spittle, and even heavy breathing, especially during a run or vigorous activity, can spray aerosolised droplets that can linger in the air before slipping inside a person’s nose or mouth. Read the rest of this entry »
As we progress towards a staged release of constraint on movement, interaction and social engagement, there are quite naturally discussions about the potential impact and risk of increased exposure.
Mortality rates have dominated discussions, so far, the global death toll of Covid-19 is estimated at 1.4m. Deaths are now running at a little under 10,000 a day or about 3.5m a year. If this were maintained, cumulative deaths over the first two years might reach close to 5m, or just over 0.06 per cent of the global population. To put this in context, the Spanish flu, which emerged in 1918, lasted 26 months and cost somewhere between 17m and 100m lives, or between 1 and 6 per cent of the then global population. However, as feedback from infected people who survive builds, there is a growing appreciation for the impact of post infectious morbidity, duration and intensity.
Substantial long-term morbidity is at least possible, as the Sars Cov-2 virus enters pulmonary and brain tissue and causes cardiac dysfunction. Read the rest of this entry »
On the 9th November 2020 promising results from a vaccine candidate against Covid-19 were announced by Pfizer and its partner, the German company, BioNTech. They stated that their candidate vaccine (BNT162b2 (modRNA)) was “more than 90 percent effective in preventing Covid-19 in participants”.
Whilst there have been substantive funds poured into vaccine development in the UK, EU and USA, Pfizer were quick to clarify that they funded the research with their partner independent of governments’ support. In July, Pfizer negotiated a $1.95 billion deal with the US government’s Operation Warp Speed, the multiagency effort to rush a vaccine to market, to deliver 100 million doses of the vaccine. The arrangement is an advance-purchase agreement, meaning that the company will not be paid until they deliver the vaccines. Delivery itself appears to be a significant challenge as the Pfizer vaccine needs to be kept at minus 70 degrees Celsius (-94 F) or below.
A week later, the 16th November, Moderna presented similarly promising preliminary results. Moderna recruited 30,000 volunteers across the United States to participate in its trial. A quarter of the participants are 65 years or older. White people make up 63 percent of the volunteers; 20 percent are Hispanic; 10 percent are Black; and 4 percent are Asian Americans. The United States government provided $1 billion in support for the design and testing of the Moderna vaccine and an additional $1.5 billion in exchange for 100 million doses if the vaccine proved to be safe and effective. They have proposed that theirs requires less stringent temperature controls. Read the rest of this entry »