Friday 7 June 2024

COVID-19 Coronavirus, Avian Flu and other virus UK and World News Update 7th June 2024

COVID-19 Coronavirus, Avian Flu and other virus UK and World News Update 7th June 2024

"If H5N1 does jump to efficient H-H transmission in the future, we would probably look back and say: "The cow farms with PB mutations, the sea lions with an a-2,6 favorable mutation, the infected workers... the signs were there, and we didn't do enough to stop it"
Jay.P.Weiland, Infectious Disease Modeller and Data Scientist.

Advice for food safety following an emergency

In the UK excess deaths have levelled off at the recent low figures, and are now steady and close to 2019 levels.
"So on any reasonable calculation basis it is clear we are no longer experiencing the significant excess deaths seen from 2020 until early 2023."
Stuart McDonald of the COVID Actuaries:
Ahhhh, that's better. 

Friday 31 May 2024

Simba Orbit Weighted Blanket Review (Sent for review)

Last week Simba sent us their Orbit Weighted Blanket to try out, and I'll start this review by saying it's excellent. The Simba Orbit is a 15lb generously sized single blanket with a removable cover. Weighted blankets are great for anyone who likes to feel snuggled or secure when sleeping or relaxing, they're proven to help people sleep more deeply and soundly, and are often found useful by children and adults who have Autism Spectrum Disorder. 

Simba orbit Weighted Blanket with removable washable 100% cotton cover shown in front of packaging on a bed

One of my boys doesn't like the feel of a duvet, and has refused to sleep with anything other than heavy blankets for several years. He gets far too warm at night for much of the year, plus blankets can take an age to dry after washing and it really isn't ideal. He doesn't much like change, and wasn't sure about trying the Simba Orbit, but he agreed to a 3 night trial and he loves it! You'll be glad to hear the 'trial' ended after just one night, when he decided his old blankets are history and his weighted blanket is the future. 

Friday 24 May 2024

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 24th May 2024

 COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 24th May 2024

"COVID19 ranked among the top 3 leading causes of death globally in 2020 and 2021, responsible for 13 million lives lost.
In most regions of the world, it was among the top 5 causes of death. In the Americas, it was the number 1 cause of death."
The World Health Organisation

COVID no 1 cause of death 2022 23



In the aftermath of COVID breaking out, the 196 members of the World Health Organisation have decided on some changes to International Health Regulations.
“The IHRs focus on building countries’ capacities to detect and respond to public health events which could take on international dimensions, whilst the draft pandemic accord focuses on a coordinated international response to pandemics, with equitable access to vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics at the centre."
They haven't yet agreed on the wording for the Pandemic Accord, but discussions are at least ongoing and it's all become very civil.

Wednesday 22 May 2024

KatKin Fresh Meat Frozen Cat Food Review (sent for review)

We were recently contacted by KatKin to see if our cat Sonya wanted to try out their cat food. Unlike most canned and sachet cat foods, KatKin is not super heated to kill off any bugs or nasties. It means it won't last for months in your kitchen cupboard, but it also means it has retained more flavour and nutritional value. This is fresh meat, cooked, and frozen.

cat sniffing katkins food packaging

We were sent a 2 week trial box, with 14 portions of food in a variety of flavours (each approx 147g), plus Chicken Nibbles (50g) and Chicken Sprinkles, which are both made from freeze dried cooked chicken.

Friday 10 May 2024

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 10th May 2024

 COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 10th May 2024

"Hospital admissions with Covid in England increased by 33% in the last week of April, having been low and stable for a month.
Most regions saw significant in-week increases. The fasted increases were in NE+Yorks (+52%), Midlands (+39%) and South East (+38%)."
Stuart McDonald, COVID Actuary. 
This is a pretty rapid increase, and while it started from a low point, it's not great.
It implies the highest 'R' number since last Summer, and sadly this surveillance is only reported once a month now, so we'll have to wait a while and delve into UK HSA (Health Security Agency usually have a big lag in reporting) stats to find out what happens next.
Variant surveillance does suggest the FLiRT variant has already taken over in the UK, despite me being so blasé about it last report, so that may be a factor and it might be a bit more easily shared than it previously suggested, and hardly vaccinating anyone won't bring down numbers either.

On the positive side, despite bank holiday reporting being likely to have a lag, mortality in England and Wales is below expected levels for 2024. Up until week ending 26th April, 6% below expectations. 

100524 England COVID hospital admissions by area chart

Monday 6 May 2024

Not/Coming Out Charity Anthology Book Review (Sent for review).

We all carry secrets, parts of our lives which we hide away and don't share. Not/Coming Out is an anthology of poems and short stories from people who have hidden away the biggest parts of who they are. Some of the LGBTQ+ authors or their fictional (semi-fictional?) characters tell us what happened when they did reveal themselves, some explain why they don't. For all of them it is a huge decision which is very often overshadowed by worry, even when they are amongst their closest friends and allies. 

Black and white line drawn image of a closet or wardrobe, containing various clothes and with a teddy bear sitting in front

Thursday 2 May 2024

We Are Family: Six Kids and a Super-Dad - a poetry adventure by Oliver Sykes (sent for review)

We Are Family: Six Kids And A Super Dad is a poetry adventure written by Oliver Sykes. Intended for independent readers aged around 7 - 99 or over, the anthology introduces us to Oliver, his 5 siblings and his Super Dad. It gives us an insight into how a big family can work really well as a team, sharing chores and responsibilities, and being there to annoy and frustrate, support and love each other. 

We are family by oliver sykes book cover showing kids on a bunk bed being held aloft by a flying Dad

Author Oliver Sykes grew up not far from where I grew up, and was one of 6 children. When he was aged 8 his Mum left the household by choice and never returned. In We Are Family we get a glimpse into that time, and just how hard it was for his Dad to ensure his family survived and thrived.

Friday 26 April 2024

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 26th April 2024

 COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 26th April 2024

World COVID Statistics: 704,753,890 officially reported cases and 7,010,681 losses of life. And that is the last COVID statistics update. Very few countries still report, and even less test regularly, so it's far from accurate. Huge thank you to Worldometers dot info for keeping tally for the last 4 years. 

Pharmacy First England list of services available, shown in front of image of frontage of chemist

"It's World Immunisation Week
Every minute, every day over the last 50 years, immunisation saved over 6 lives. It is one of humanity's greatest achievements.
Yet there’s more work to do. We’ve eradicated smallpox, it’s time now to eliminate malaria, polio, cervical cancer and more.
Nobody should suffer from a disease we know how to prevent.
It’s Humanly Possible."
The World Health Organisation

"Thanks to immunisation, a child born today is 40% more likely to see their fifth birthday than a child born 50 years ago.
And more and more lives are being saved as more and more diseases are becoming vaccine preventable, with newer vaccines against COVID-19, malaria, cholera, dengue, meningitis, RSV, Ebola and mpox, and more in development"
DrTedros, Head of WHO

Monday 15 April 2024

Itson - A More Environmentally Conscious Household Battery (Sent for Review).

This Spring when you are buying batteries for household gadgets and toys you will be able to choose a more environmentally conscious brand with a lower carbon footprint - itson batteries.

itson batteries box cover showing 2 varieties low and high drain

Itson batteries are brought to us by APS (Advanced Power Solutions, previously known as Panasonic Energy Europe), and focus on local production using 100% renewable energy from wind and solar. The batteries are  packaged plastic free, and sourced and made within the EU, further reducing their carbon footprint to as little as one third that of other batteries. 

Friday 12 April 2024

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 12th April 2024

 COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 12th April 2024

World COVID Statistics: 704,749,430 officially reported cases and 7,010,624 losses of life.

Hiya! Welcome back. Not a lot of COVID news this week, it's especially quiet because a lot of regular sciencey folk have taken time off, so no big COVID news means no disasters, which is always a good thing.

120424 Biggest 5 month drop in waiting lists ever

Friday 22 March 2024

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 22nd March 2024

 COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 22nd March 2024

World COVID Statistics: 704,308,357 reported cases and 7,007,032 losses of life.

"We cannot allow the cycle of panic and neglect to repeat.
We cannot forget the trauma of the pandemic, and the painful lessons it taught all of us.
I urge all Member States to work together on the principles of solidarity and equity to find common ground, compromise and to give all of us an effective agreement, and a safer future"
Dr Tedros, Head of the World Health Organisation, talking about the ongoing discussions around the 'Pandemic Accord' - a collective agreement on how the world's Governments should act and react to the next pandemic, using the lessons learnt from COVID.

220324 UK NHS waiting lists falling text only

On 20th March 2020 all UK schools closed to most pupils. Gyms and other leisure facilities closed, and we were all asked to avoid inessential mixing. 
4 years and 2 days ago our lives changed forever. 

Wednesday 20 March 2024

LeLightGo LED Lighting Kit Review for LEGO Alpine Lodge set 10325 (sent for review).

It's been far too long since I reviewed anything LEGO related, so I was very happy to accept a request from LeLightGo to look at their miniature LED LEGO lighting kits. 

The sets come complete with everything you need, can be powered using USB or batteries, and everything is a tiny scale, so that it can be almost entirely hidden away inside your LEGO build... and it looks fantastic... 

20240317_234328 lelightgo review alpine cottage at night full set

Most of my LEGO is currently in storage because of my move to Scotland and temporary accommodation, but this Winter's Christmas LEGO ICONS set #10325 the Alpine Lodge is right here, and an ideal candidate for lighting up. 

Friday 8 March 2024

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 8th March 2024

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 8th March 2024

World COVID Statistics: 703,975,702 officially reported cases and 7,004,515 losses of life.

4 years since most of the world went into lockdown, a sad milestone as over 7 million people worldwide have now officially died directly from COVID. The true figure is far, far higher, and we'll never know just how many more people did not die directly from acute COVID infection, but had their lives cut short because COVID exists. 
Sadly this is the sort of data that takes ages to compile, but in 2022 Scientists from Cornell University estimated worldwide deaths due to COVID existing, from the beginning of 2020 until the end of 2021 (the first 2 years of the pandemic), number 14.9 million people. During that time 5.42 million people officially died from COVID.

cumulative-excess-deaths-per-million-covid

Friday 23 February 2024

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 23rd February 2024

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 23rd February 2024

World COVID Statistics: 703,586,078 officially reported cases and 6,985,448 losses of life.

"This week, Member States from around the world are meeting in Geneva to discuss the new Pandemic Accord.
This agreement is being developed, shaped and decided on by the 194 Member States that make up the World Health Organization.
Building on the lessons of COVID-19, I broadly see 3 key benefits; the agreement would help countries drive a more equitable response, it will boost collectively health safeguarding and it will enhance cooperation."
Dr Tedros, Head of WHO (World Health organisation). 
Word is that the talks haven't gone entirely smoothly, with some disagreements and failure to commit, and frankly a jaded response - seems everyone is a bit bored with pandemics right now and can't really face having to learn from their mistakes and get ready for the next one... 

Infections hurt people quote from UK doctor


In the UK all of the COVID stats are going down - positives, hospitalisations and mortality. The unusual double wave has passed, and so has any fear about JN.1. It could have been responsible for the extra peak, but it hasn't got out of control and it's not proven any more dangerous than previous variants. Ahhhh... 

Tuesday 20 February 2024

The Traitors Strategy Card Game Review for 4-8 players aged 8 or over. (Sent for review by Ginger Fox Games)

Missing the BBC TV game show The Traitors already? Don't panic, because now you can play it yourself at home. Ginger Fox Games have released a card game version for 4-8 players aged 8+, and they've sent us a copy to review. 

Pack front The Traitors strategy card game showing Egyptian style mysterious decor and mystery human wearing black hooded robe

Firstly I have to admit to never having watched The Traitors on telly, so this was a complete unknown for all of us. I was worried it would be a vicious and heartless game, but it turns out that isn't the case. This is a very quick game to play, each round takes about 30-45 minutes depending on the number of players, and although it's all about strategy, there isn't really enough time to be mean to anyone else - especially good if you are playing with younger gamers. 

Friday 9 February 2024

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 9th February 2024

 COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 9th February 2024

World COVID Statistics: 702,882,810 officially reported cases and 6,980,637 losses of life.

In England the unusual second peak in hospital admissions for flu over the last few weeks seems to have finally eased (although this cold snap won't be helpful in keeping it down, and we are still likely to see some increased mortality due to having a lot of very sick people already). From Stuart McDonald (COVID Actuaries):
"Today’s surveillance report from UKHSA shows hospital admissions from flu are within the medium threshold and are no longer on the rise. 
Other indicators such as primary care consultations and ICU admissions are consistent."
Thank goodness for that.

England COVID Actuaries chart Hospital admissions by area
via COVID Actuaries


In other good news, hospital admissions with COVID are down 20% on last week... ahhhh... and relax (but not too much!).

Friday 26 January 2024

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 26th January 2024

 COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 26th January 2024

World COVID Statistics: 702,382,516 reported cases and 6,973,669 losses of life.

"In the week ending 12 Jan 2024 (Week 2) of deaths registered:
▪️ 17.7% involved influenza or pneumonia (2,425 deaths)
▪️ 2.8% involved COVID19 (388 deaths)"
UK ONS (Office for National Statistics). 
These figures are higher than a normal week in part due to delays from Christmas and New Year, and a lot of people are unhappy that many folk hospitalised with pneumonia are not even being tested for COVID, nor is it considered relevant to these stats if they tested positive a couple of weeks or more previously.
The good news is that alongside preliminary figures since then, we don't seem to have quite as many people sick with COVID as this time last year. 
The bad news is that we already have a lot of people in hospital with flu, and significant pressure on the NHS, causing 'critical incidents' in several trusts (including Leicester). Unusually we have had 2 flu waves and may not be at the peak of this one for hospitalisations, so fingers crossed that tapers off.
If you are ill, whatever it may be, please stay home if you can.

WHO Measles is one of the world's most contagious diseases

Wednesday 24 January 2024

Ad | Simple Steps To Get More Proactive With Your Healthcare In 2024

Simple Steps To Get More Proactive With Your Healthcare In 2024

In the pursuit of well-being, a proactive approach is paramount to ensuring a healthier and more fulfilling life. This comprehensive guide provides essential steps and insights to empower you on your journey towards proactive health in 2024. You can lay the foundation for a thriving and balanced lifestyle by addressing various aspects of physical and mental well-being.

National Health Service launch leaflet explaining we are all paying for the NHS


Embrace A Holistic Approach To Fitness

To kickstart your journey towards proactive health, consider adopting a holistic approach to fitness. Instead of fixating solely on traditional gym workouts, explore diverse activities that engage both your body and mind. Activities like yoga, Pilates, or even outdoor exercises can contribute to your overall well-being. This approach not only keeps you physically active but also promotes mental clarity and emotional balance.

Prioritise Mental Well-Being

A proactive stance towards health extends beyond physical fitness, encompassing mental well-being. Engage in mindfulness practices such as meditation or deep breathing exercises to alleviate stress and enhance your mental resilience. Consulting with a mental health professional can also provide valuable insights and coping mechanisms tailored to your specific needs.

Drawing of young man sitting on the ground looking scared


Cultivate Nutritious Eating Habits

Nutrition plays a pivotal role in proactive health. Rather than adhering to restrictive diets, focus on cultivating sustainable and nutritious eating habits. Incorporate a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains into your diet. Consult a registered dietitian for personalised advice, ensuring you meet your nutritional requirements while enjoying a diverse and satisfying range of foods.

Address Skin Issues That Have Been Bothering You

Your skin is a reflection of your overall health, and addressing skin issues is a proactive step towards well-being. If you've been dealing with persistent skin problems, consult with a dermatologist. Whether it's acne, eczema, or other dermatological concerns, seeking professional advice ensures effective treatment tailored to your skin type and condition. You can find a lot of medications for skin issues, as well as problems like migraines and hay fever, at an online pharmacy. The Independent Pharmacy treats 88 medical conditions online, and they offer speedy delivery. Visit their website to find out more.

Overhead view of 12 small plastic cups filled with different coloured juice drinks


Stay Hydrated

Hydration is often underestimated but is crucial for maintaining optimal bodily functions. Make a conscious effort to stay hydrated throughout the day by drinking an adequate amount of water. Carry a reusable water bottle to encourage consistent hydration, supporting your overall health and well-being.

Foster Quality Sleep

Prioritise a good night's sleep as an essential component of proactive health. Establish a consistent sleep schedule, create a relaxing bedtime routine, and ensure your sleep environment is conducive to rest. Quality sleep positively influences physical and mental recovery, contributing to improved focus, mood, and overall vitality.

Young boy fast asleep leaning over the back of a Manchester tram seat


Regular Health Screenings And Check-ups

Being proactive with your health involves regular health screenings and check-ups. Schedule routine appointments with healthcare professionals to monitor key indicators of well-being. Address any concerns promptly and work collaboratively with your healthcare team to implement preventive measures.

Final Thoughts

Embarking on a journey towards proactive health requires a commitment to holistic well-being. By incorporating these essential steps into your lifestyle, you can cultivate a foundation for lasting health and vitality. Remember that proactive health is an ongoing process, and small, consistent efforts lead to significant and sustainable results. Prioritise your well-being and embrace the positive transformations that come with a proactive approach to health in 2024.


Tuesday 23 January 2024

Futliit LED Backpack Reviewed By Teenagers (Sent for Review).

We recently moved to rural Scotland, and a big change for my teenage boys has been walking a mile to and from the school bus down an unlit country lane, often in the dark. I'd seen LED backpacks for younger children, but was delighted when Futliit got in touch to see if we were interested in reviewing their much more teenager-appropriate light up backpack. 

Futliit Backpack review with 6ft tall teenager wearing backpack 2 LED strips lit up

My initial reaction upon opening the package is that this is an excellent quality bag. The material is still soft, but feels incredibly robust and waterproof. 

Futliit Backpack shoulder strap and padding close up

The stitching is very well done, and the inside lining is soft and will wipe clean. There are some lovely details which make all the difference, including a strong carry handle on top, and neatly shaped thick padding on the straps and the rear of the bag, as well as the base - this bag is designed to last a long time. 

Wednesday 17 January 2024

Simba Hybrid All-Year Duvet Review (with temperature control technology). Sent for review.

What could be more timely than a duvet review? In this cold, Wintery weather we all want to feel snug and warm, and the Simba Hybrid Duvet really does do the trick. 

Simba Sleep have sent me their 10.5 Tog all-year Hybrid Duvet with Stratos® responsive temperature control technology. Not only is it warm in Winter, it dissipates excess heat so that you won't be too hot in Summer, so you can use this duvet all year round. 

Close up of Simba label showing some duvet fabric all around

The duvet arrives covered in a 50% recycled plastic bag, with a recycled textile zip up storage bag inside - storage bags are always handy, and it's a really nice touch - plus I love the fact we don't have loads of waste plastic. 

Simba Duvet inside recycled fabric storage bag

I unzipped the bag and the first thing I noticed was just how luxurious this feels. The plain cotton on the underside of the duvet is super soft, it's almost a shame you won't be sleeping without a duvet cover. 

Friday 12 January 2024

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 12th January 2024

 COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 12th January 2024

World COVID Statistics: 701,603,634 officially reported cases and 6,967,340 losses of life.

Hello again after my longest break in 4 years - and Happy New Year to you all! I hope your festivities went well and you spent time with people you love. Glad to have you with us... 2024 off we go... 

"We are entering the 5th year of the pandemic and we are certainly in a different phase.  This phase is marked by an evolving virus (with the XBB and BA.2 sublineages circulating and JN.1 becoming dominant).
It’s marked by reduced impact compared to the peak of COVID19 a few years ago, but it’s still a global health threat and it’s still a pandemic causing far too many (re)infections, hospitalisations, deaths and long covid when tools exist to prevent them."
Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, COVID technical lead for The World Health Organisation (WHO), trying very hard in her end of year message to remind us that the COVID pandemic isn't over, and we should all do the simple stuff like stay home when you are ill, and wearing masks when in busy enclosed spaces. 

120124 UKHSA Stats

Over the past 3 weeks the UK Health Security Agency and mainstream media have avoided saying "COVID" as much as possible. We've had warnings about Flu, RSV, seasonal illness and 'cold weather making lung conditions worse', but if you can find COVID mentioned, it usually isn't in the headlines. 
The Guardian ran an interesting piece about a surge in English hospital admissions due to flu, with "an average of 1,313 people in hospital with the virus each day during the week ending 31 December", but read on and you discover "an average of 3,929 people in hospital" with COVID each day during the same week. This is despite very little testing, even reportedly in people admitted to hospital with obvious symptoms. 
You just can't make something go away by pretending, however hard you try.