Thursday, 12 March 2020

There's a certain irony

When the UK's minister for health tests positive for Coronavirus.

It's also an interestingly challenging time for societies across the globe, to see how their elected or non-elected politicians handle this particular crisis, and to see the benefits or disadvantages of private vs publicly controlled healthcare systems.

As Christians the response we should make to such a situation may depend on our own situations. Traditionally this is a group who have shunned personal safety in order to serve others, eventually often at considerable personal cost. Yet I seem to know a number whose health is likely to make them rapid victims, likely dead, and as such causing far more trouble than if they simply self-isolated for the next 8 weeks. Martyrdom is only useful if there's a really good reason for being a martyr.

What's going to happen? No-one really knows.

I know that's not news, but I've recently come across someone in the healthcare sector declaiming 'thus and so' about things in a manner that wasn't necessarily correct or particularly helpful - part of the problem rather than part of the answer. We probably won't have full, useful answers until the outbreak has run its course and real numbers on the actual event have been recorded and analysed, however the following is my take on useful things to know, based on what I'm reading and seeing:

1) There are a lot of asymptomatic/very mild infections - people don't know. I'm basing this on the rapid spread of the virus through populations, and where it's not been possible to track a source of infection for individuals who've tested positive, plus the Korean finding (they tested very extensively) of lots of cases with a relatively low mortality rate.

2) Not everyone clears the virus quickly. There have been a couple of reports of re-infection, but much more likely a test has given a false positive/negative along the way. My expectation is that some individuals continue shedding virus well after the 14 day quarantine period is over.

3) If we all isolated ourselves for a month the virus would likely come back. We need some herd immunity, but a vaccine won't happen for at least another 6 months, probably more, unless someone decided things are so bad that we can waive the usual safety and efficacy testing.

4) People don't/won't isolate themselves, because habits are too hard to break/the advice only applies to others/people just forget.

5) Minimal reports from Africa and India seem to suggest a hot climate is helpful, but I also wonder if we're not hearing about infections from there simply because no-one is testing and there are so many people dying of the usual diseases that a few more aren't even noticed.

6) Warm weather may not make any difference at all, since Tom Hanks & his wife are both now positive, having apparently caught the disease in Australia (assuming they didn't bring it from the US with them - who knows, because no-one really has any idea how foar it's spread in America right now).

So wrap up, stay warm, and keep at least 1M away from everyone else. :p

I hope you're all still here in 6 months.

There's an amusing irony that this afternoon I have a sore throat and a mild cough. However in mitigation, I did spent almost 1 1/2 hours on the telephone with a customer, so that's probably why the throat is sore. Chris has gone to a prayer meeting, while I'm self-isolating at home. As she left I said "I'll try to kill it with whiskey" to which she replied "good idea". :-)

Sometime I need to get another bottle of Stroh 80 - there's nothing else quite like it with honey and lemon to sooth a sore throat.


  1. That's helpful Toni, from a scientist even. Thanks.

    1. I'm trying to think if there are any comments I'd change in the light of developments this week?

      Probably not really. Regarding number 4) I understand that in France and Spain people didn't take lock-down very seriously at first, and there have been quite a lot of fines. Some British holiday makers have also behaved abomnably at times, with a video doing the rounds of one woman being forcibly removed from a swimming pool and being hand-cuffed face-down on the poolside. We don't have a lock-down here yet, but the roads are as quiet as if it were Christmas.

      Things are madly busy here, making antigens for Public Health England and other government agencies to try to develop an antibody test. Working from home is very much off the cards, and everyone is expected to be in unless they either have Covid-19 or are too conventionally sick to be useful. I'm not really part of that right now, but if we start losing staff then I'll be getting involved in antigen production for the first time since 1984 - in terms of the skils required, very little has changed. :-D


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