Health Care

This is not, perhaps, all that much of a surprise

One shot of the Pfizer vaccine gives inadequate protection to cancer sufferers, new research suggests.


“Our data provides the first real-world evidence of immune efficacy following one dose of the Pfizer vaccine in immunocompromised patient populations.”

You don’t say. Vaccines work with the immune system, those whose immune system ain’t working well don;t respond to vaccines all that well. Or, at least, worse than those with better immune systems?

NHS at the forefront of technology again

The NHS is to send text messages to 400,000 people, asking them to book a coronavirus jab, with reminders for those who do not come forward.

As part of efforts to boost uptake, text invitations will be sent to those aged 55 and over, with a link to reserve an appointment at a mass vaccination centre or pharmacist.

Health officials stressed that invitation letters would continue to be sent, and that those who preferred not to travel to the sites could wait to be invited by their GP.

But they said the move could allow the programme to move more quickly through the age groups, reacting to changing vaccine supplies and filling empty slots.

Sending texts about appointments is apparently such a new idea that it can only be implemented as part of pandemic measures.


According to findings released on Monday, the prevalence of antibodies was 23% in the states of Lagos – which is home to more than 16 million people –

Up to now the country has recorded just 1,800 deaths from Covid

Measurement difficulties or just not very dangerous?

No, not really

Researchers have hailed the findings as a potential step in improving the health of people living with obesity.

For the first time it is possible to achieve through drugs what was previously only possible through weight-loss surgery, they said.

The drug, semaglutide, works by taking over the body’s own appetite regulating system in the brain, leading to reduced hunger and calorie intake.

It’s the only through surgery bit that’s wrong. Because of course there are other ways of taking over the body’s own appetite regulating system. By will.

“I’m going to eat less” or “I’m going to eat differently” or even “I’ll change how much I eat, what, and do a bit more exercise” all work assuming that the individual does actually do those things. As someone who has lost more than 10% of body weight on that third option I do know this works.

That the drug makes it easier, sure. But it’s possible without it.

Clearly true

A report from the Institute of Economic Affairs, released on Tuesday, argued that the NHS was “nothing special” and the Covid-19 crisis had been used to justify “conventional wisdom” that a state-run service is the best model for public healthcare.

“There is no rational basis for the adulation the NHS is currently receiving, and no reason to be ‘grateful’ for the fact that we have it,” argued Kristian Niemietz, the think tank’s head of Health and Welfare.

“It should go without saying that if the UK did not have the NHS, it would not have no healthcare system. It would have a different healthcare system,” he wrote.

Exactly that this questions the modern religion is why there’s so much screaming about it.

That didn’t work out well then

After a lifetime’s advocacy for the public model of healthcare and a career as an NHS psychiatrist, he died alone in hospital

The grieving son also doesn’t know what he’s talking about:

If the escalating costs of market-driven healthcare, drugs and technology had not created a crisis within the NHS in which lack of capacity means that doctors have to decide between which patients to save, I believe he might have had a fighting chance.

Drugs are cheaper than non-drugs as a treatment. That’s why we use them. So too technologies. We use the newer ones because they do the job for fewer resources. And someone’s really going to have to explain how allocating work to the lowest bidder increases costs…..

A bit too much of the waving of the bloody shroud here perhaps.


Spain’s remaining vaccine stocks are dwindling rapidly, leading Madrid and the northern region of Cantabria to stop issuing first doses to concentrate on administering second shots.

Which should be preferred? Quite a lot of protection for someone unprotected or a bit more protection for someone already rather protected?

Use the scarce vaccine to provide first shots is the obvious answer.


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?