Health Care


NHS vaccine centres are offering Covid jabs to friends and family aged under 70 in breach of national policy, The Telegraph can disclose.

Senior NHS sources threatened to take disciplinary action against hospitals and GPs across the country offering leftover jabs to relatives and friends of staff despite being outside the top four priority cohorts.

Health bosses have insisted that drawing up a ‘friends and family list’ helps avoid waste by ensuring that they never throw away any Pfizer vaccine, which comes in boxes of 975 doses and can only be stored for five days once thawed.

However, ministers are understood to be determined that younger people with a connection to NHS staff should not be allowed to “jump the queue” over the vulnerable and elderly.

If the stuff would be wasted without an arm to put it into then there’s no queue being jumped, is there?

This is akin to that EU idiocy, not buying more Pfizer because that would be unfair to Sanofi.

Fairness ain’t the correct criteria here.

Calling BiG

Almost 30% of Covid patients in England readmitted to hospital after discharge – study
Readmission rate for Covid patients 3.5 times greater, and death rate seven times higher, than for other hospital patients

Covid affects the old with comorbidities more than others. We’d therefore expect those hospitalised with Covid to require more hospital care more generally than the general population.

So, is all this adjusted for this?

That’s the thing matey

but everywhere else you look, there are government blunders, delays and failures which – in a more predictable world – would already have had huge political consequences.

What kind of country allows this to happen? In the polls, the Conservatives are either ahead or neck and neck with Labour. Among many people I have interviewed and some I know, there seems to be a shrugging belief that, because the virus is unprecedented, disaster of some kind was always inevitable, and on balance, Boris Johnson and his ministers are doing as well as anyone could.

Where has done better?

No, NZ isn’t a good example, fewer people than Trowbridge 1,500 miles from anywhere else isn’t a good comparison.

As Polly refuses to grasp

Especially this one: the NHS took over all the capacity of private hospitals, its 8,000 beds, 680 operating theatres and 20,000 staff, to carry out non-Covid emergency treatments for cancer, stroke and heart patients. In a gesture of wartime necessity, the well-off could not commandeer special treatment.

But the beds were not requisitioned as they might be in wartime; they were officially bought at “cost price” and the sum has been estimated to be £1bn, steep according to many.

Therefore, people buying their own health care, after they’ve already paid their taxes for the NHS, save the NHS £1 billion, don’t they?

The reason we want to be in political union with this lot is what?

In France we are watching the parallel unravelling of the Europeanist Macron presidency. The leader who began this pandemic with the stirring words “we are at war” – repeated ever since – cannot explain why the French state had failed to vaccinate more that 352 people by the beginning of this week when Italy has done 129,000, Poland 51,000, or Denmark 47,000. The Balkans have done better.

“We are facing a state-scandal,” said Jean Rottner, president of the Grand Est region and himself a critical care doctor. “It is harder to get vaccinated than it is to buy a car.”

Indeed. The elderly must have a medical consultation five days before the jab. There must be a cooling off period after consent in case patients change their minds.

The precautionary principle has been pushed to absurdity, which raises suspicions in France that foot-dragging on the roll-out disguises something else: failure to secure the specialist freezers needed for the BioNTech vaccine.

But are they really triplets?

A mother has become the first in the UK to give birth to triplets carried in two separate wombs.

Melanie Bassett, 32, already a mother-of-two, was stunned when doctors discovered she was carrying identical babies in one womb, and another single foetus in the other.

Brooke and Isabelle, along with their younger triplet Beau, were born in January.

There are all sorts of variances possible among humans. With 7 billion of us we’re not in an infinite universe where everything must happen but still, quite a lot of rare things will. So there are cases of double penis, two vaginas and so on. Two wombs is rare but not unheard of. We’d expect perhaps 20 women in the UK to have the two uteri.

But are they actually triplets? We can, and do – although not in colloquial language – make the distinction between sharing an amniotic sac and not sharing between twins (monoamniotic etc). But the usual assumption is sharing a womb or uterus. It’s definitely a shared pregnancy. But does that non-monouterine, to coin a neologism, mean they’re not really triplets but twins and a sibling?

Next up, angels, pins and dancing.

My word

England’s test and trace service is being sub-contracted to a myriad of private companies employing inexperienced contact tracers under pressure to meet targets, a Guardian investigation has found.

The UK’s supply of experienced contact tracers being how large?

The beginning of the end

No, not the end of the beginning:

The Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine has been approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for use in the UK, paving the way for mass vaccination to start.

Officials said the vaccine will be made available “from next week”.

As with other pandemics, vaccination does mean the end of the problem. Sure, manufacturing volumes and all that but some months and we’re done. All we’ve got to do then is pay for all the politicians have done over the past year.

Well, no, not really

Britain is lagging in international league tables for cancer survival, largely because so many cases are spotted so late.

As a result of Covid we’ve had estimates of increased mortality from delays in treatment. From memory, a month’s delay in treating (fill in forgotten name of cancer here) increase mortality by 9% or summat.

Hmm, OK. The NHS promise – not one that’s met – says your cancer should *start* being treated within 60 days.

It is actually vaguely possible that the reason the UK has bad cancer results is because the NHS is shit at treating cancer. On the grounds that Stalinist bureaucracies never do anything quickly.

Doubt it, really

A confidential Cabinet Office briefing seen by the Guardian also warns of a “notable risk” that in coming months the country could face a perfect storm of simultaneous disasters, including the prospect of a bad flu season on top of the medical strains caused by Covid.

‘Flu tends to kill the elderly with comorbidities. We’ve just rather depleted the national stock of those.

Hayek’s NHS argument

From Boganboy:

BIG: I’d argue that we’re compelled already to pay for universal health care for all others in our country. Indeed the real fuckwits insist we pay for the health care of the whole world.

Thus I feel that we can reasonably demand that those receiving the care should make sure it is at minimum cost to us. Hence the case for compulsory vaccination and indeed seat belts.

That is what Hayek’s argument about the NHS was. Why it will lead to serfdom. Because we do pay for the health care of others then we get to tell others what to do.


14% eh?

The US Centers for Disease Control and Protection has found that 300,000 excess deaths were recorded in the US this year – 66% of which are accounted for by the official coronavirus death toll of around 220,000. Excess deaths refer to how many more deaths have been reported in total this year compared with the same period last year. Usually, between the beginning of February and the end of September, about 1.9 million deaths are reported. This year, it is closer to 2.2 million – a 14.5% increase. The remaining deaths, the CDC wrote, “provide information about the degree to which Covid-19 deaths might be underascertained”.

So, is that more or less than the normal variabilty seen over time?

Quite so, but we do need to get this the right way around

Piers Mitchell, a paleopathologist at Cambridge University who worked on the study, said ancient latrines could become a key source of biomolecular information and allow scientists to explain how modern lifestyles affect human health.

“If we are to determine what constitutes a healthy microbiome for modern people, we should start looking at the microbiomes of our ancestors who lived before antibiotic use, fast food, and the other trappings of industrialisation,” he said.

Sure, let us compare ancient shit with new in order to find out. But:

One of the big challenges in working with an archaeological dig was differentiating what was faeces and what was dirt. However, researchers were able to identify a wide range of bacteria, parasitic worms, and other organisms known to inhabit the intestines of humans.

Imagine, say, that antibiotics cause asthma. I’m sure there’s someone out there that claims they do. It is not then true to say that we want to stop using the antibiotics in order to avoid the asthma. Rather, we need to balance the costs of the asthma against the benefits of the absence of parasitic worms.

After all, that we live longer and healthier now is rather proof that we’ve a better or more health microbiome these days.

This means Africans should be less susceptible to Covid

Modern humans and Neanderthals could be forgiven for having other issues on their minds when they interbred in the stone age. But according to researchers, those ancient couplings laid a grim foundation for deaths around the world today.

Scientists have claimed that a strand of DNA that triples the risk of developing severe Covid-19 was passed on from Neanderthals to modern humans. The genetic endowment, a legacy from more than 50,000 years ago, has left about 16% of Europeans and half of south Asians today carrying these genes.

The origins of the risk genes came to light when scientists in Sweden and Germany compared the DNA of very sick Covid-19 patients with that from Neanderthals and their mysterious sister group, the Denisovans. The stretch of DNA that makes patients more likely to fall seriously ill closely matched that collected from a Neanderthal in Croatia.

The Neanderthal component of African genes being only a small backwash rather that that larger amount – and Denisovan – in European and Asian.

Genes matter, eh?