Health Care

So, what’s the problem here, Guardian?

One of two 90-minute rapid coronavirus tests bought by the UK government and announced on Monday has yet to be approved by regulators, while no data on the accuracy of either has been published, the Guardian has learned.

The test, from Oxford Nanopore, a young biotech company spun off from Oxford University, has not yet gained a CE mark. Before Covid-19, Oxford Nanopore had been involved only in research, not tests for patients.

We’re in an emergency, government should still only buy things that have all the boxes ticked? Or, CE is a European thing. We should be berating the bureaucrats for not pulling their thumbs out?

What, actually, is the complaint you want to make?

So here’s some fun

Areas are being locked down again.

More than 2.7m people in northern England have woken to fresh lockdown restrictions despite living in neighbourhoods which have had fewer than four confirmed cases in the last 14 days, Telegraph analysis has revealed….

We have slightly out of date information on ethnicity by area.

Further data on ethnic groups by local authority can be found from either the Office for National Statistics or Nomis.

Wouldn’t that be a fun cross correlation for someone to do?

Just for completeness sake perhaps alongside one of material deprivation?

Wonder why some newspaper hasn’t already done it really…..

Tsk Nicola, Tsk

Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of misleading the UK public after she was criticised by a statistics watchdog for making unsubstantiated comparisons about coronavirus rates in Scotland and England.
Scotland’s First Minister repeatedly claimed earlier this month that the prevalence of the virus was “five times” higher in England, and opponents said she had deployed the figure to suggest her policy was working better than elsewhere in the UK
She also used the statistic to justify her controversial refusal to rule outimposing quarantine on visitors crossing the border into Scotland and taking a different approach to Boris Johnson on air bridges
But in an intervention described by her critics as “damning”, Ed Humpherson, Director General for Regulation at the Office for Statistics Regulation, said that the uncaveated comparison should never have been made as it was not backed up by sound data.
An investigation also found that the justification for the claim provided to the media who questioned its basis was different to the one provided to regulators, after Ms Sturgeon’s officials changed their story.
The accusations of citing false figures will prove embarrassing for Ms Sturgeon, who has won widespread praise for her handling of the pandemic despite separate statistics published on Thursday confirming that Scotland has the third-highest rate of excess mortality deaths in Europe.

Politician quotes dodgy figures, well I never.

And of course what’s really important here is that how may get it is not the point. It’s how many excess deaths are avoided which is. Oddly, something that would be improved by lots of people getting it then not dying from it. Because that means we can open up again earlier and do nice things like treat cancers thereby reducing the number of excess deaths.

Herd immunity being a real thing even if we’ve not got there yet.

Dear Rhiannon

I popped down to my local when it opened and had a glance inside, but it was a mask-free zone, so I didn’t go in. It’s such a simple thing, putting on a mask. It says: “I care about your welfare, as well as my own, and do not want to infect you.”

That could be because browsing and sluicing are things done with the mouth, requiring the absence of a barrier in front of it.

Other countries haven’t needed to legislate, perhaps because they had higher levels of trust in their governments.

In both Portugal and Spain they are compulsory, by law.

Will the fact masks are now obligatory in shops in England finally – please God – mark the end of the mask culture wars? Will this spark a political and public commitment to sane and effective public health policies? Well, yes and no. On the one hand, it’s a relief that the government has finally listened to what the World Health Organization has been saying in increasingly desperate tones since early spring.

And now you’re really missing the point. The earlier advice against masks was issued because the NHS is so inefficient that Ministers were convinced if we did then medical staff couldn’t – not enough masks around, d’ye see?

Yes, OK, fair enough

Wealthy men are nearly twice as likely to develop high blood pressure than men who have a lower income, a study has revealed.

Higher household income was more likely to make men drink alcohol every day and be obese in contrast to wealthy women who were more likely to engage in healthier behaviour.

More than one in four adults in the UK have high blood pressure, with an estimated one billion people living with it worldwide. High blood pressure is the leading global cause of premature death.

Except we do have a problem here. Wealthier people live longer than poorer people – in the UK at least.

Meaning that either these observations don’t apply to the UK or that high blood pressure isn’t all that much of a problem.

Not fit for purpose

Matt Hancock has called for an urgent review into England’s coronavirus death toll, having only just realised that anyone who has ever tested positive counts in Covid statistics, regardless of the cause of their death.

In contrast to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, where daily deaths are often zero, daily Covid deaths in England hover persistently around 100.

Now, statisticans have analysed Public Health England (PHE)’s methodology and found that at least some of this is because of a counting method that means that even if someone is run over and killed, if they previously tested positive for Covid they would add to the statistics.

“No one with Covid in England is allowed to ever recover from their illness,” write Carl Heneghan, from Oxford University, and Yoon Loke, from University of East Anglia.

That explains their obesity stats too I assume. Anyone who ever has consumed a Yorkie bar dies of it, even if the death cert say anorexia.

Isn’t this a shocker?

Some older people who fund their own care home fees are being forced to pay a steep and unexpected coronavirus bill by their care provider, it has been revealed.

The costThe cost of doing something goes up, the market price goes up. Stunning really, we really do need some sort of science that could explain such events.

The stunning efficiency of the British state

Britain’s disastrous decision to abandon testing for coronavirus occurred because health systems could only cope with five cases a week, official documents show.

Newly-released papers from the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies shows routine testing and tracing of contacts was stopped because Public Health England’s systems were struggling to deal with a handful of cases.

At a meeting on Feb 18, advisors said PHE could only cope with testing and tracing contacts of five Covid-19 cases a week, with modelling suggesting it might only be possible to increase this to 50 cases.

That’s really very useful in a pandemic, isn’t it?

PHE has, however, been excellent at stopping people doing that evil vaping thing so that’s all right then.

Part of this is terrible

Another part not so much:

New figures compiled by the non-partisan APM Research Lab and released on Wednesday under the title Color of Coronavirus provide further evidence of the staggering divide in the Covid-19 death rate between black Americans and the rest of the nation.

Across the country, African Americans have died at a rate of 50.3 per 100,000 people, compared with 20.7 for whites, 22.9 for Latinos and 22.7 for Asian Americans.

More than 20,000 African Americans – about one in 2,000 of the entire black population in the US – have died from the disease.

The disparity, sure we’d like to know why it happens. But the overall rate – 0.05% of the population. Not, exactly and precisely, an horrendous pandemic. Black Death, for an extreme contrast, was 30%.

As to the why, until we see figures corrected for socioeconomic position we’ll be able to extract nothing of use from he numbers.

This could be a right pisser

Lockdown may be needlessly prolonged by the Government’s reliance on an “irrelevant” infection rate measure, senior MPs and scientists have warned.

Ministers have been told the national reproductive ‘R’ value of coronavirus should not be regarded as the key to unlocking the UK because the figure has been skewed upwards by cases in hospitals and care homes.

It’s not going to be true over all time, for if it were then we’d never have had an epidemic.

But wouldn’t it be annoying if R has been below 1 near all along? So that, say, after that first intrusion, then people start washing their hands, sneezing into their elbows, that’s all it took to get it below 1?

Vitamin D’s lookin’ good here

Black people are more than four times more likely to die from Covid-19 than white people, according to stark official figures exposing a dramatic divergence in the impact of the coronavirus pandemic in England and Wales.

The Office of National Statistics found that the difference in the virus’s impact was caused not only by pre-existing differences in communities’ wealth, health, education and living arrangements.

It discovered that after taking into account age, measures of self-reported health and disability and other socio-demographic characteristics, black people were still almost twice as likely as white people to die a Covid-19-related death.

Bangladeshi and Pakistani males were 1.8 times more likely to die from Covid-19 than white males, after other pre-existing factors had been accounted for, and females from those ethnic groups were 1.6 times more likely to die from the virus than their white counterparts.

The risk of Covid-19 death for people from Chinese and mixed ethnic groups was found to be similar to that for white people.

We’ve medical types here – whadda you say, Vitamin D a candidate?


WHO says 190,000 could die in Africa as UN chief warns of ‘tsunami’ of hate worldwide

Among a billion people that’s a death rate of 0.019%.

Somewhere above lightning strikes and somewhere below intestinal worms. Sure, rather a blow to the 190,000 people but still a rather minor change in the world.

Yes, yes, yes, we don’t know and all that

For this is just the one sample. And yet:

More than 10 times as many people in Germany as thought may have been infected with coronavirus, researchers have said, as Italy led swathes of Europe out of lockdown and officials said the continent’s outbreak was mostly past its peak.

Researchers from Bonn University said on Monday that their preliminary study, based on fieldwork in the town of Gangelt in Heinsberg municipality, which had one of Germany’s highest death tolls, showed the risk of infection by asymptomatic carriers.

The researchers concluded from a random sample of 919 people that about 15% of Gangelt’s population had been infected, with a fatality rate of 0.37%.

If generally true then we are talking of a bad ‘flu year. And for this we…….?

Perhaps not the right decision

More than 300,000 in the UK may have quit smoking during the coronavirus crisis as evidence mounts that the habit makes them more vulnerable to Covid-19, a survey suggests.

A further 550,000 have tried to quit, while 2.4 million have cut down, according to the joint study by YouGov and the campaign group Action on Smoking and Health (Ash).

Given that the actual evidence is that – as far as anything is certain so far – nicotine is protective then, well, can we prosecute ASH for killing people?

The horror, the horror

Has Sweden’s coronavirus strategy played into the hands of nationalists?
Gina Gustavsson
Talk of Swedish exceptionalism and wounded national pride has echoes of the forces unleashed in Britain by Brexit

How are we going to propagate the liberal international world order if some damn disease comes along and messes things up?

I entirely agree Rhiannon, totally so

The toll of coronavirus on NHS staff isn’t just physical – it’s psychological, too
Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett

It’s vital that, alongside PPE, we make sure frontline workers have the long-term support they need to stay mentally well

So true, so true.

Lucky we’ve got an organisation that treats peoples’ mental health then. The NHS.

And if that ain’t quite good enough for the Angels then that rather calls into question the Angels bit, doesn’t it?