Friday, 14 April 2023

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 14th April 2023

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 14th April 2023

World COVID Statistics: 685,461,263 reported cases and 6,841,423 losses of life.

"There is no health without health and care workers.
Health information does not communicate itself.
Vaccines do not administer themselves. 
Wounds do not dress themselves. 
Caesarean sections do not perform themselves.
Diseases do not diagnose themselves. 
Medicines do not prescribe themselves.
And care, compassion and kindness do not deliver themselves. 
They all require a person, and not just a person, they require a health or care worker."
Dr Tedros, head of WHO, on 7th April - the 75th anniversary of the formation of the World Health Organisation. 

310323 1st and 2nd COVID jabs will end for most on 30th June

The UK ONS have released their finalised mortality figures for England and Wales for 2022. This is based purely on raw numbers, and comparisons don't account for changes to population (age and number) over time. 
"In 2022, there were 577,160 deaths registered in England and Wales; this was 9,174 (1.6%) fewer deaths than in 2021, and 33,747 (6.2%) more deaths than the five-year average (2016 to 2019 and 2021)."
- More men died than women, and the area with the highest figure above the 5 year average was the South West. 
- Leading cause of death was dementia and Alzheimer's disease, with 65,967 deaths (11.4% of all deaths); higher than in 2021 (61,250 deaths, 10.4%).
- Leading cause of death for males was ischaemic heart diseases (38,730 deaths, 13.3%), and among females was dementia and Alzheimer's disease (42,635 deaths, 15.0%). This was also the case in 2021.
- COVID was the 6th leading cause of death (22,454 deaths, 3.9% of all deaths registered), having been the leading cause of death in 2021 (67,350 deaths, 11.5%).

Friday, 31 March 2023

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 31st March 2023

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 31st March 2023

World COVID Statistics: 683,871,943 reported cases and 6,830,866 losses of life.

"Isn't a baseline of 1 million current cases & several hundred deaths a week dramatic enough for you? Like Coronation Street, it drags on forever, but can't be said to lack drama."
Excellent quote from someone named Mal Smith on the COVID stats last week. COVID very definitely isn't over, we are 'learning to live with it'. Never forget those who won't ever be able to take it lightly. Around 1.5 million people in the UK will always be more vulnerable to serious disease and death. Never belittle someone who wants to wear a mask or flinches if you cough, whether for their own safety or yours.

310323 1st and 2nd COVID jabs will end for most on 30th June

The weekly COVID19 surveillance report from the UK HSA shows that hospital admission rates have decreased in almost all age groups. The highest admission rates continue to be seen in the over 75s.
This is for the week ending 26th March, so it's much more up-to-date than we used to have to work with. 

Friday, 24 March 2023

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 24th March 2023

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 24th March 2023

World COVID Statistics: 683,110,747 reported cases and 6,824,665 losses of life.

"I did not intentionally or recklessly mislead the house on December 1 2021, December 8 2021, or on any other date."
Boris Johnson, ex-UK Prime Minister, giving his written evidence at the 'Did you lie to Parliament?' enquiry.

"The PM certainly knew it was a drinks party because I told him and when he walked outside he saw a drinks party."
Dominic Cummings, ex-advisor to the ex-Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.

"Like many thousands of others, my family followed the rules and will have to live with the consequences of not being with our loved ones at the end, for the rest of our lives."
Ms Becky Cummer, spokesperson for the COVID-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group, speaking to Sky News.

Boris Johnson's official written defence was published on Tuesday. There was literally nothing new, a point that the investigating committee noticed immediately.
Boris admits he 'misled' Parliament, but said that he did it "in good faith". He's repeatedly saying he didn't know after-work partying and Friday afternoon drinkies were illegal. He claims when he said "I've done nothing against the law", he believed it.
He is clearly still confused over how he could be fined for his surprise birthday party where "no cake was eaten and no-one even sang happy birthday".
I can believe that. I can believe Boris thinks anything he does is fine, and if it's not fine now, it will be eventually.
The issue isn't cake Boris, the issue is lots of people gathering together in person, and as you didn't leave when they started arriving, you were one of them.

On Wednesday Boris gave sworn verbal evidence in person and underwent questioning from the Privileges Committee. One point raised repeatedly was whether he was advised works parties were illegal or not.
Hands up who had advisors during lockdown? No? Me neither. Hands up if you actually made the rules? ...that's you Boris...
Boris said that people who think folk in Downing Street were partying during lockdown "simply do not know what they are talking about".
My son missed out on his 10th and 11th birthday parties in March 2020 and 2021 (he was 13 on Tuesday). He says "3 or more friends would have counted as a party". I'm with him.

Moving on, the latest Continuous Mortality Investigation (CMI) report is far better news, although still unfortunate for anyone involved. It shows 55 losses of life above those lost during the same week (ending 10th March) in 2019. I can't see any bank holiday reporting affecting that, so it's possibly the best it's been in months or even years.
Although 533 deaths mentioned COVID, the non-COVID losses of life were incredibly low, so they were offset.

The ONS random sampling study is winding down, and this week there are less random test results across the UK, which reduces accuracy, and they didn't have enough samples returned in Northern Ireland to compile a full report. Sad times.
For the week ending 13th March for England, Wales and Scotland, and 7th March for Northern Ireland:
"The estimated percentage of people testing positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) increased in England, and the trends were uncertain in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland."
- England, estimate 1,493,200, equating to 2.66% of the population, or around 1 in 40 people.
- Wales, estimate 74,500, equating to 2.41% of the population, or around 1 in 40 people.
- Northern Ireland, estimate 26,000, equating to 1.42% of the population, or around 1 in 70 people.
- Scotland, estimate 136,200, equating to 2.59% of the population, or around 1 in 40 people.

The Health Foundation have examined results of a 10 country survey (high income countries, 9,526 people responded), and found that while most GPs have a higher workload than before the pandemic, UK GPs have the highest stress levels and lowest levels of satisfaction. On the plus side, they were great at using computer data and dealing with patients with dementia. Ermmmm yeeay.. ?

Junior doctors in England have voted to strike again over pay, after Government talks did not prove successful.
There will be a 96-hour walkout for shifts starting between 7am Tuesday 11th April and 7am Saturday 15th April.

Following on from last week's revelations about the origins of COVID and animals in environmental samples at Huanan Market in Wuhan, the French scientists involved have published their (not-yet peer-reviewed, but being held in high praise online) study.
The samples were collected waaay back at the very start of the outbreak, when the market was closed, right at the beginning of 2020.
A cluster of human COVID cases surrounded the market, but all animals within the market at the time tested negative. The genetic codes from swab samples of equipment and the market walls, floor etc were uploaded by Chinese scientists more recently, and the French team spotted they included lots of animal DNA.
Environmental samples can be a bit of a soup. If you tested my kitchen table you might find flour, human, cat, COVID and tomato. We can assume the flour and tomato aren't responsible for the COVID, but we can't say for sure the human or cat was, and it could even have been introduced by someone else. What is clear though, is that they existed in the same space together.
Animal DNA found mixed together with COVID included raccoon dogs, red foxes, rabbits, cats and dogs - all of which can definitely catch COVID - as well as other more exotic mammals including Amur hedgehogs, Malayan porcupines, hoary bamboo rats, Himalayan marmots, masked palm civets, Siberian weasels and hog badgers.
Lots of animal and lots of COVID together at the market does suggest a possibility that animals were infecting each other with COVID for a while before they passed it to humans, and/or humans became aware it existed.
(There's a great write up on this on CNN actually.)

A newly released (not-yet peer-reviewed) study from the University of Edinburgh has found that while having COVID infection often affects the menstrual cycle of those who have one, COVID vaccinations usually do not.
Now, this is one of those studies that relies on memory and personal experience, so it may not be as accurate as something measured and precisely counted, but it found people with a history of COVID infection reported an increased risk of heavier bleeding, missed periods and bleeding between periods, while there was no real difference between experiences of vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

Tanzania now has an outbreak of Marburg Fever. This is the haemorrhagic (bleeding) disease which Equatorial Guinea currently has an outbreak of too. It is a relative of Ebola and the fatality rate in previous outbreaks has been between 24-88%. There is no treatment.
Tanzania have identified 8 confirmed cases so far. 5 of those people have died.
Equatorial Guinea are not so quick to tell us what is happening, but we had an update on Wednesday. It isn't good news. In total there are now 9 laboratory-confirmed cases and 20 probable cases. There are 7 deaths amongst the laboratory confirmed, and all 20 probable cases have died. The cases are from 3 areas, 150km apart, and in one of those areas there's no clear link to other cases. The World Health Organisation sadly accept that this "suggests the potential for undetected community spread of the virus". 
WHO have access to trial vaccines which are too late to help anyone already ill, but as the fatality rate is so high, are being considered as an option for close contacts.
WHO still assess global risk as 'low', but within Equatorial Guinea it has been raised to 'very high'.

Monkeypox good news from the UK HSA:
"Thanks to the sustained reduction we've seen in mpox cases, the vaccination programme in England can be wound down this summer."
In fact, the UK has only detected 6 cases in 2023 so far, and 3 were returning travellers. Amazing considering the high in July last year was 350 people per week.
If you are eligible, there is still time to get your 1st, 2nd or both doses to get protected, but be quick. First dose by 16th June, 2nd by 31st July.
And guys... well done on putting the reins on this one...

The 3rd National Day of Reflection took place yesterday, Thursday March 23rd, marking 3 years since the UKs first COVID lockdown.
Organised by Marie Curie, COVID charities and other agencies, the Day of Reflection was an opportunity for all people to think and talk about their own experiences of loss, grief and bereavement during the pandemic.
I am sorry for anyone who has lost someone over the last 3 years, especially those who lost someone to COVID, or missed out on final moments or days, funerals, hugs, and held hands, and all of those things which make us human.

It is the weekend! Early finish for me as I am in the land of no internet and poor indoor phone reception, and its raining and getting colder, but at least its been sunny and I've topped up my Vitamin D. Don't forget yours, it boosts your immunity and makes the world feel a little less grey. Get yourself outdoors for some fresh air, and don't forget that treat either. You earned it. I have mine waiting back at home for me next week, and it's 2 hour long bubble bath shaped... ooooh yes.

Play Outdoors, Wear A Cardi, Save The NHS...

Some people. They look like numbers here, but they are all people.

Countries / Cases / Losses of life (plus figures added YESTERDAY in the full 24 hours until midnight GMT):

World 683,070,914 (+85,592) 6,824,482 (+617)
Russia 22,550,395 (+12,512) 396,974 (+36)
S. Korea 30,739,457 (+11,400) 34,201 (+14 )
USA 106,082,759 (+10,424) 1,153,526 (+138)
France 39,735,279 (+9,249) 165,454 (+29)
Japan 33,398,536 (+8,485) 73,632 (+40)
Germany 38,326,616 (+5,635) 170,231 (+157)
Mexico 7,516,046 (+4,008) 333,362 (+27)
Chile 5,243,653 (+3,769) 64,443 (+27)
Australia 11,297,847 (+3,373) 19,750 (+10)
Austria 6,015,537 (+3,327) 22,071





Jr Drs

Origins of COVID

And marburg image

Monkeypox and image

Friday, 17 March 2023

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 17th March 2023

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 17th March 2023

World COVID Statistics: 682,255,152 reported cases and 6,817,431 losses of life.

"Over 3 years into the COVID19 emergency, too many lives have been lost. Too many people are still suffering, including from Long COVID. We'll never stop demanding equitable access to life-saving tools.
"Understanding COVID19’s origins and exploring all hypotheses remains:
-a scientific imperative, to help us prevent future outbreaks
-a moral imperative, for the sake of the millions of people who died and those who live with Long COVID"
Dr Tedros, Head of the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Norovirus home care NHS advice

On 11th March it was 3 years since WHO declared COVID a pandemic. It wasn't actually their job, but by 11th March 2020 it had become clear no-one else was going to do it and everyone was waiting, so Dr Tedros made the announcement. In some people's minds this made him responsible for the entire thing. 
"Around this time three years ago, the world woke up to the seriousness of COVID19, to stay at home orders, to life - as we had known it - changed…
We have all been impacted by the COVID19 pandemic, we are all different, and we cannot go “back” to the way it was, we need to make our futures better…
I know the world wants so desperately for the COVID19 pandemic to be over. I do too. But we aren’t done yet and this virus isn’t done with us yet. It is here to stay and we can do more to protect everyone, everywhere…"
Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, COVID-19 Technical Lead, Emerging Diseases and Zoonoses Lead, WHO Health Emergencies Programme.

Friday, 10 March 2023

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 10th March 2023

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 10th March 2023 - the Matt Hancock Lockdown WhatsApp edition. 

World COVID Statistics: 681,301,970 reported cases and 6,810,359 losses of life.

"Since April ‘20, the COVID-19 Infection Survey has gathered & analysed more than 11 million swab tests & 3 million blood tests from households.
Thank you to everyone who has participated in the survey… your contributions have provided invaluable data that has helped develop our understanding of COVID-19 & helped shape decisions made throughout the pandemic."
Prof.Steven Riley, Director General of Data, Analytics and Surveillance, UK Health Security Agency.

100323 COVID jab Spring booster rollout recipients

Almost 3 years since the first UK press conferences, so hands up if you've got COVID! Yeeeay... noooo... booo. My youngest is testing positive again (4th or 5th time). Most of us are ill, but he's currently the only one with a positive test to prove it. Should be a fun weekend ahead...   

Friday, 3 March 2023

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 3rd March 2023

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 3rd March 2023

World COVID Statistics: 680,435,744 reported cases and 6,803,287 losses of life.

"Hospital admissions with COVID in England have fallen by 6% in-week.
Our R estimate has fallen to 0.95.
Admissions rose slightly in NE&Yorks and were flat in the Midlands, but fell everywhere else. The largest fall was 22% in the East.
Bed occupancy has fallen by 7%."
The COVID Actuaries Response Group
(Join in Yorkshire, and then we might get all good news to start with next week... )

Hospital-acquired COVID (which generally works as a canary in a coalmine, to tell us early which way it's going to go), fell by 12% in the latest weekly counts. Adele Groyer:
"There were 1,903 likely hospital acquired cases in the 7 days to 27 February vs 2,160 the previous week."

Protect yourself from Norovirus wash hands with soap

Sadly not quite a full house. The ONS random sampling is a bit more out of date, so expect it to show improvement next week. Week ending 21st Feb: 
"The estimated percentage of people testing positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) continued to increase in England and Wales, decreased in Northern Ireland, and the trend was uncertain in Scotland."
- England, estimate 1,298,600, equating to 2.31% of the population (2.18% in the previous reference week), or around 1 in 45 people.
- Wales, estimate 68,100, equating to 2.21% of the population (1.79% in the previous reference week), or around 1 in 45 people.
- Northern Ireland, estimate 20,800, equating to 1.14% of the population (1.62% in the previous reference week), or around 1 in 90 people.
- Scotland, estimate 117,100, equating to 2.22% of the population (2.18% in the previous reference week), or around 1 in 45 people.

Look for These Things in a Good HVAC Company (Featured Article)

Today I have a post from a contributor in the USA, with helpful tips for anyone looking to hire a company to fit, service or repair Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning - HVAC

Look for These Things in a Good HVAC Company

If you want to live in the warmest or coolest climate possible, your heating and cooling systems need to work effectively. The servicing, repairing, or replacing of a system is not a task for the typical "Do it Yourselfer," since it is rather complex.

Image of LEGO air conditioning unit on LEGO house roof eaves

In such a case, locating a reputable HVAC firm to carry out the essential repair becomes imperative. Name recognition and fame alone are not enough. In order to help you choose the most qualified professional, I have included some suggestions below.

Friday, 24 February 2023

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 24th February 2023

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 24th February 2023

World COVID Statistics: 679,392,534 reported cases and 6,796,421 losses of life.

"Almost everyone has at least one contact in their phone who will never pick up the phone again. Will never answer a text message "How are you?". These simple words have acquired a new meaning during the year of war. Every day, millions of Ukrainians have written or spoken this question to their loved ones millions of times. Every day, someone did not receive an answer. Every day, the occupiers killed our relatives and friends."
President Zelenskyy of Ukraine.

Bird Flu - what to report to DEFRA in the UK

Exactly a year after the first bombs fell on Kyiv, many countries have released statements hoping for peace. The Chinese message contains 12 points, never referring to invasion or war.  They include an offer of support to negotiate a peaceful settlement, and a promise to help with rebuilding post-war. They are also emphatic that nuclear, biological and chemical weapons must not be developed or used by any country, and that the sovereignty of countries must be respected in accordance with international law and the UN Charter.
They also have a pop at NATO and individual countries, saying that unilateral sanctions must stop, as it only agitates the situation and doesn't promote peace. 

“The Health Secretary will meet with the Royal College of Nursing on Wednesday to begin talks. The Royal College of Nursing will pause strike action during these talks.”
Joint statement from the Nursing Union RCN (Royal College of Nurses) and the Department for Health and Social Care on Tuesday. Scottish nurses have already paused strike action, now the rest of the UK follows, after the Government agreed to begin intensive talks.
"The talks will focus on pay, terms and conditions, and productivity enhancing reforms."
About blinking time. Let's hope it's productive. 

Friday, 17 February 2023

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 17th February 2023

COVID-19 Coronavirus and other virus UK and World News Update 17th February 2023

World COVID Statistics: 678,346,543 reported cases and 6,788,139 losses of life.

“Being First Minister of Scotland is, in my opinion, the best job in the world. It is a privilege beyond measure - one that has sustained and inspired me, in good times and through the toughest hours of my toughest days.
Since my first moments in the job, I have believed that part of serving well would be to know - almost instinctively - when the time is right to make way for someone else. And when that time comes, to have the courage to do so. In my head and my heart I know that time is now."
First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, announcing her resignation on Wednesday. 
Nicola spoke about needing time for herself, and commented on the brutality in politics... "It takes it's toll on you". 
Whatever your politics, over the past 3 years she had more integrity and honesty than any of the English cabinet, she actually answers questions, and she treated her population far more as intelligent human people, rather than expendable idiot meatbags. 

RSV information UK HSA

We did expect a rise in UK figures, and it looks like its arriving just in time for a half term firebreak. Hospital admissions with COVID are up by 11% on last week, bed occupancy is up 13%.

The UK ONS random sampling for week ending 7th February reflects this week's hospital increases - bear in mind this is always 'community transmission' and doesn't include people in care homes or hospitals:
- England, continued increase; estimate  1,054,200 people had COVID-19, equating to 1.88% of the population, or around 1 in 55 people.
- Wales, increase; estimate 46,300 people had COVID-19, equating to 1.50% of the population, or around 1 in 65 people.
- Northern Ireland, continued decrease; estimate 23,300 people had COVID-19, equating to 1.27% of the population, or around 1 in 80 people.
- Scotland, increase; estimate 96,500 people had COVID-19, equating to 1.83% of the population, or around 1 in 55 people.

This latest UK Continuous Mortality Investigation report is more of the same. We are still losing too many people each week. Week ending 3rd Feb:
"CMI calculates 167,200 excess deaths in the UK since the start of the pandemic. That total has increased by 15,800 in the first five weeks of 2023."
Again, a large non-COVID excess. Calculated excess deaths 1,509, the number of deaths mentioning COVID on the death certificate 499.

WHO were in trouble a good while back, when someone pointed out they were using flawed maths for their estimates of excess mortality - the number of extra people who died over the number we'd expect to lose. WHO apologised and changed it very quickly.
For over a year people in the know have also been telling IHME (the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation) that they have a problem with their estimates of excess mortality - their modelled mortality is underestimating wildly, which means the excess figures look HUGE. Finally this is being openly discussed in The Lancet, and questions asked as to why their figures are so different from everyone else's. IHME data is respected and used by companies, agencies and Governments worldwide.
Whenever a big organisation like this makes an error and doesn't correct it promptly, it has a knock on effect and everyone trusts scientists a little less. A lot of people are very unhappy with them for this. 

Possibly as a knock on from this, the UK ONS have also been asked to review their excess deaths data. The Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) have complained that ONS 5 year averages now use 2021 data (they have skipped 2020), which includes a lot of COVID-related deaths in the early part of the year. This makes it look like deaths are way down on average, when really they're still higher than 2019. The OSR are unhappy that the ONS don't make this clear enough. We should ALL be able to read this and understand what it actually means. 

Two new studies today, and this one is getting a lot of press - immunity after COVID infection.
A huge US study which pulled together 65 studies from 19 countries has concluded that protection against severe illness and death is about as high from previous infection with an Omicron variant as it is from vaccination. 88% at 10 months post-infection. Not so great when you were infected with an older Grandparent variant, but even that still offers around 36% protection against severe disease from current Omicron variants at least 10 months after infection. 
Most of the world has been heavily Omicron variants for over a year now, and there have been billions of infections during this time, so this is really a good thing from a bad thing - although only time will tell how long this protection lasts. 
There is obviously a caveat to this, we all know COVID infection causes some damage, whether it's minimal and all repaired in a few days, or still affecting us 2 years later, and a smaller chance of severe illness or death is just that - a smaller chance. You roll that dice each time. Vaccination really is incredibly valuable and far safer than infection. 

A US Government funded study has found that over half of all adults treated at hospitals for COVID-19 are still suffering 6 months later. It's not a study to be happy about really. They looked at 825 patients after one, three and six months, and found:
- 75.4% of COVID-19 survivors experienced cardiopulmonary problems at 6 months compared with 67.3% at month 1.
- 47.3% of COVID-19 survivors experienced functional limitations at 6 months compared with 55.3% at month 1.
- 56.4% of COVID-19 survivors experienced financial problems at 6 months compared with 66.1% at month 1.
Cardiopulmonary problems include coughing, rapid or irregular heartbeat, and breathlessness. We have to hope they may not be picked up on in the early days because "I'm feeling better" or "I'm slowly recovering back to health and not back at work/bowls full time yet", or else people are not 'recovering' as much as slowly deteriorating. Age will play a part in this, but still not good. 
Better news is to see recovery in function - ability to get on and do your daily stuff - but demoralising that we don't see massive improvement there either. I very much hope the next update from this study does offer us more.
This study was in the USA, with private medical care, and it's horrific to think that 2/3 people have financial worries just after coming out of hospital when they should really be focussing on getting better. Possibly worse that over half of them are still struggling 5 months later... 

The WHO Mpox (formerly Monkeypox) committee have met again, and it's been decided Mpox remains a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). It's just too dangerous to let it go, lose Government amd international funding to eradicate it, and risk mutation to a more deadly form. The current mortality rate is around 1 in 1,000, but previously it was between 3 in 10 and 8 in 10. 

Scientific Spat Of The Week:
A report in Nature magazine claimed that the World Health Organisation have abandoned plans for a second 'Origins of COVID' investigation. On Wednesday WHO said that simply isn't true, it's just that they're unsure how to progress.
How many times can you visit a meat market, 3 years after an event, and hope to find some clue? 

Famous People With COVID:
The Queen Consort, Camilla. She first told us she had a 'seasonal illness'. Bit of a white lie, unless "the 2020s" is a season now. Maybe in the future... 

Remember on 13th January when I said Russia claimed they had shot down a UFO, and "great, I had war with the aliens on my 2023 Bingo card"? I joked too soon. 
The USA seem determined, they've raised the sensitivity on their scanners and are shooting down everything bigger than car. 4 in the last 10 days. How the heck do we have car-sized things floating about out there and no-one bothered to mention it before?
Efforts are ongoing to collect the pieces and find out what they were. My guess is drones and balloons from over-exuberant gender reveals. Of course, whatever the official sources tell us, we may never really know... *insert X Files theme here*

The World Health Organisation have confirmed an outbreak of Marburg Disease in Equatorial Guinea.
Marburg is a vicious cousin of Ebola. Usually spread by bats, but also in the blood and other fluids from infected people, it is a haemorrhagic disease which causes you to bleed internally. It is horrendously painful, and kills on average around half the people it infects. So far in this outbreak, 9 people are known to have died, and there are another 16 suspected cases.
Because of the severity of this disease, WHO convened on Tuesday to discuss possible vaccine candidates that already exist and have been cleared for human testing, but haven't yet been trialled in infected humans. It is hoped these can be offered to patients - with successful outcomes. 
Your risk from Marburg outside a specific area of Equatorial Guinea right now is almost zero. Fingers crossed they get it under control swiftly.

The world keeps turning. New Zealand announced a State Of Emergency this week for only the 3rd time, after Cyclone Gabrielle devastated first the North Island and then moved South. Those billionaire bunkers better have good waterproofing, or they're not going to be much use in future. Best of luck to everyone affected badly by weather this week - including those of you in the UK who faced a hurricane today. 

It is the weekend! Hurrah. Long week for me, half term next week. Hopefully your week has been a good one, whether you had kids on half term or not. I'm finishing early today because I'm in the land of no internet and poor phone reception, and it's cold outside! I'll pull in some more stats next time when I'm not working on my phone. 

Do NOT forget to treat yourself to something nice. Be kind to you - and the world will be a lot easier to cope with when you're refreshed. You've earnt it. 

Stay Warm, Stay Sensible, Save The NHS. 


Bad stats


Stats And images:

Our world in Data US vaccination status




Origins of COVID WHO

Parent company of British Gas, Centrica, have announced record-breaking profits that are triple last year - £3.3BILLION.
The reason for the astronomical profits is that the price of gas went up massively, and their profits are in essence a percentage on top. Is there any other essential commodity which works like this? Are bakers raking it in because wheat is more expensive? Does your local Chinese takeaway now have a merc parked outside because of the price of spices? No. Usually a company has to keep to sensible price rises, or even lose a bit of profit, or the customer can go elsewhere. We can't realistically go elsewhere for power. Government decisions put us here.

War with the aliens

Wednesday, 15 February 2023

Goodbye to the #TBCSmiles... 102 months, 8 1/2 years.

So it's happened. After 102 months, or 8 1/2 years, and over 9,100 grintastic snapshots, I don't have enough #TBCSmiles this month to make a full collage. And it really feels right. 

I started The Brick Castle Smiles, or TBCSmiles for short, because I needed it. I needed to be reminded there was happiness in the world. I needed to see simple joy in the innocence of children, the wisdom of their Grandparents. I soaked in your belly laughs and wry chuckles, and warmed my heart. I needed to know the world wasn't broken. Most of all I needed to know that my kids could be happy, and my partner and I could then allow ourselves to be happy, because it meant we were coping.

Small boy in a rowing boat, staring at large metal sunflowers

I also knew I needed help to keep going. I struggled at first to find interest in anything, and having a monthly responsibility meant I paid attention to my blog, and my Instagram, and found the support I needed to know that I had some value.