The British government’s buying two new Covid tests that take only 90 minutes to cough out a result. As usual, they’re going to be game changing. I can’t remember how many times we’ve been told that, and here we are, still whacking the same old volleyball over the same old weary net. Or in my case, into the same old weary net.
The reason I’m expressing just the slightest touch of cynicism about the tests–other than experience and generalized characterological weaknesses–is that next to nothing is known about the tests. How many false negatives do they produce? How many false positives? Dunno and dunno. No data’s been published.
That’s not a good sign. And the government has a track record of leaping in to buy pandemic goodies that then turned out to be somewhere between useless and not much better than.
Every last one of them was going to be either game changing or world beating. And no, we’re not competitive about this. We just don’t see the point of breathing if we’re not better than you lot.
Okay, when I say “every last one of them” I’m exaggerating. The swabs they bought and then had to toss in the dumpster didn’t get much fanfare, but the useless personal protective gear that they sent planes to Turkey for? The fraction of it that reached Britain was practically greeted with confetti and marching bands.
The new tests are called DnaNudge and LamPORE. And they detect flu and other viruses and well as Covid-19.
Watching how the press responded to the announcement of the new tests was interesting. On Monday–that was yesterday as I write this–they made front-page, huge-type, game-changing headlines in the sleazier papers and I wondered why the more responsible ones were either silent or downplaying the news. On Tuesday–today–they ran longer articles with a bit of analysis and skepticism.
Meanwhile, a group of not quite 70 virologists publicly criticized the government’s handling of the pandemic, especially the test and trace system, saying virologists are being bypassed.
One of the group, Deenan Pillay, said, “There’s always new tests being developed. And it’s almost as if they’re being pushed as a sort of magic bullet.” But what really needs to be done, he said, is “the more boring but really hard work of doing proper contact tracing.”
Part of the problem is that the testing that is being done–much of it by private contractors –isn’t feeding data to the National Health Service or local public health officials, who would be able to follow up on it.
The link for that is the same one as the one in the volleyball paragraph.
The British government has told drug suppliers that they should have six weeks’ worth of drugs stockpiled before the Brexit cut-off date of December 31. In case the supply chain gets disrupted, what with this little pandemic we’re experiencing and all. Because there isn’t going to be an extension, no matter what.
During the Brexit referendum, Remainers warned that this sort of thing would happen. Brexiteers–a.k.a. the people who are now in government–called it Project Fear.
I wouldn’t say I’m afraid exactly, although maybe I should be. But I’d be a damn fool not to take notice. Excuse me while I go check our stash of omeprazole. It doesn’t get you high, but it does control acid reflux.
If that doesn’t tell you my age, nothing will.
Russia says it will start production on a Covid vaccine in September and begin mass immunizations by October. Non-Russian experts are waving a few caution flags, though. The trials have been rushed, they say.
Not much is known about the development process, but there’ve been rumors that Russia’s elite got a prototype vaccine in July. Emphasis on rumors. The Russian media reports that doctors and teachers will be among the first people to be immunized.
A family went to a drive-in Covid testing center in a London parking lot, got tested without leaving the car, and were sent a notice that they owed a £90 fine for not paying for parking.
The company that issued the ticket is canceling it. I’m not sure if the driver managed to get that done before the press got involved–they don’t make that easy–or if it was the publicity that magicked it away.
A few more possible Covid risk factors and symptoms are being reported–still somewhat tentatively.
Possible symptoms are hair loss, rashes, and hearing loss.
Possible new risk factors might include being tall and being bald. Emphasis on might, but as a short, hairy woman I’m doing my best not to gloat.
The study on tall people has been criticized for not being well designed. It’s working theory, however, is that being tall exposes people to more of the aerosols that carry the virus. In other words, it’s nothing personal.
According to a study by the Office of National Statistics, less than half of British adults are keeping to the distancing guidelines when they see family and friends, and 8% never keep to the guidelines.
The survey was based on people’s own estimates of their behavior, which is notoriously faulty. In an earlier survey, 79% of the people surveyed thought they were doing better than average on keeping to the guidelines. So we can probably figure the true figure is less than less-than-half.
Speaking of notoriously faulty, I’m pulling that 79% figure from a notoriously unreliable memory–mine–so it may be off by a percentage point or two. But the original was well over the 50% you might reasonably expect.