Silver Lining Department: Pain researchers have noticed that Covid can block pain receptors, fooling people into thinking they’re not sick. I’d explain that in more detail, but between the first few paragraphs of the article and the last ones all I managed to scrape off the page was an impressive-sounding buzz.
What I can tell you is that understanding this (as I so clearly don’t) opens up two possibilities: 1, By blocking something called neuropilin-1, doctors could limit Covid’s entry into the body. 2, By blocking neuropilin-1, they could limit the body’s experience of pain.
In other words, a new approach to pain control may come out of this mess, as well as another possible way to tackle Covid. Take heart, my friends. Every silver lining hides a cloud.
Or vice versa. I keep forgetting.
Tragically, that line about silver linings isn’t my own. I stole it from a song by Brian Bedford, “I Hear the Sky Is Falling,” sung by Artisan. It’s a lovely little paranoia song. I recommend it, because we all need a paranoia song to fall back on from time to time.
Early research says that Covid doesn’t spread easily among kids under ten. They don’t catch the bug as easily as adults, and when they do they don’t get symptoms as often, which means they don’t cough and sneeze it into other people’s breathing spaces.
That was the silver lining. The (small) cloud is that infected kids do spread it, but at a lower rate.
After kids turn ten, though, every cell their bodies wakes up, showers, and puts on big-boy pants and a bad attitude, and from then on kids spread it more easily–possibly as easily as adults.
But again, that’s all based on early and limited research. Like so much about this mess, it’s not certain.
On Tuesday, when he was announcing a new, improved, world-beating set of Covid restrictions in England, Boris Johnson called for togetherness. Or, to be completely accurate, “a spirit of togetherness.”
I don’t want to misquote a man whose public statements mean so little.
So what does this one mean? We’re all going to virtually join our sanitized hands, keep two meters apart, and sing “Kumbaya” as we beat the virus by not doing half the things he told us–told us? hell, begged us; harassed us– to do just six weeks ago.
I support a lot of the changes–the country opened up too quickly, with minimal planning and a screwed-up testing system–but I don’t know how seriously people are going to take them. The government’s blown whatever credibility it back when lockdown started. So even though some of their own scientists (that means the ones they’re willing to listen to, sort of) say the restrictions are late and not enough, getting people to follow them may be like rolling a dead horse uphill in an ice storm.
About a 20% of people in Britain say they’d be likely to refuse a Covid vaccine and 78% said they’d be likely to get it. The missing 2% may be covered by the about at the beginning of the paragraph. Or they may be on break, having a nice cup of tea. It’s a British thing–not drinking the tea but attaching a nice cup of to it. It makes such a difference when you raise it to your lips. Your blood pressure falls. You expect–well, if not exactly wonders, at least niceness. And as a rule, you get it.
A post or three ago, I wrote about younger women forming a larger part of hospitalized Covid patients, and I’ve found a bit more detail: The study was based on hospital admissions and it noticed a rise in serious cases among women between twenty and forty. Between January and September, 44% of hospitalized cases were women. Since August (yes, you noticed: they overlap), it’s been 48%, driven by a rise in the twenty-to-forty age group, with no matching rise in admissions of men in that group.
So it’s not a huge rise, but it is an increase. The best guess is that it’s because the work women in that age group do leaves them more exposed to the virus than the work men do. It should remind us, though, that no age group is invulnerable.
Hospitalized Covid patients who also had the flu were more than twice as likely to die as those who didn’t (43% as opposed to 26.9%).
Those numbers don’t actually look like one’s more than twice the other, do they? I’m trusting an article in the Medical Express. Maybe they were in too much of a hurry to check their figures.
Either way, it was a small study but the findings line up neatly with preliminary findings from another study that’s in progress. To be on the safe side, get your flu shot, okay?
The Helsinki airport has started to use sniffer dogs to detect travelers with Covid, and they’re close to 100% accurate. Plus they have lovely soft fur and it only takes then ten seconds to make their judgements, although the process itself somehow takes a minute, probably because humans are slower on the uptake than dogs are.
Meanwhile, with the Brexit transition period ending on January 1, we’re told that a reasonable worst-case scenario would involve lines of 7,000 trucks waiting to use the Channel Tunnel. They count on delays of two days and 30% to 60% of the trucks not having the right paperwork.
And then there’s the possibility that a Covid spike could mean a shortage of port staff and border officials slowing things down a bit more.
And then we have to talk about disruptions to imports. Only we won’t. I’ve exceeded my dire warning limit for the day.
And did I mention that truck drivers will need a Kent access permit if they plan to use the tunnel or ferry to France?
“We want to make sure that people use a relatively simple process,” Michael Gove said.
Gove? He’s the minister for the cabinet office, the chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and the only human being I’ve ever seen who looks like a balloon wearing a bow tie. Even when he’s not wearing a bow tie.
When Johnson’s government tell you the process is going to be simple, you’ll want to sit down and make sure you’re comfortable.
The head of the Road Haulage Association said, “How on earth can [trucking firms] prepare when there is still no clarity as to what they need us to do?”
We’re looking forward to another interesting year.