The government announced a new budget last week and it gives National Health Service workers a raise of 1%. If the government’s inflation forecasts for the coming year are right, that’s a real-world cut in income.
By pretty much any measure, the government’s in their debt: Their pay’s dropped below inflation over the past ten years (by quite a bit, thanks). During the pandemic, they’ve been working themselves to pieces without proper protective gear and they weren’t even in the top categories of people who were eligible for the vaccines. Some have died. Others have caught Covid and recovered. I doubt anyone has numbers on how many are struggling with long Covid or on how many are terrified at work.
What they’ve gotten from the government is praise and (for a while) clapping on a Thursday night, none of which goes far at the grocery store. But the government swears that 1% is all it can afford.
On the other hand, the government saw its way clear to spend £6.2 million on a new center for press conferences. Because it’s in the public interest. Take away it’s and because and that’s a direct quote.
Nurses are threatening to strike.
We should all be on strike, although since I’m retired I’m not sure what to stop doing.
The medical stuff
Contrary to what we all thought at the beginning of the pandemic, people with asthma are no more likely than non-asthmatics to get Covid, to be hospitalized for Covid, or to die of Covid. No one’s sure why, but a few possibilities pop up.
- Asthmatics may have been more cautious about exposing themselves to the virus, lowering their chances of catching it.
- Inhalers may limit the virus’s chance to attach to the cells in asthmatics’ lungs.
- The chemical receptors that the virus binds to in the lungs are less active in people with a particular type of asthma, and that may work against the virus and in the humans’ favor.
It’s not all good news, though. Covid can make the asthma symptoms worse.
You know all that stuff you heard about Prozac? Well, forget about it as a way of fighting depression, at least for the moment. It may be a good thing to have in your system if you’re fighting Covid. It counters inflammation and calms cytokine storms–the body’s wild overreaction to Covid that causes so many of the bizarre problems Covid leaves in its wake.
A study has already established that patients who were taking fluoxetine (the generic name for Prozac) were less likely to be intubated or die of Covid. Now a second study is looking at whether it can keep infected people from developing long Covid.
If hearing that doesn’t cure depression–at least for a few minutes–I don’t know what it’s going to take. Let’s throw caution to the winds and have a nice cup of tea.
Researchers are tinkering with a treatment that looks like it could stop both Covid and flu viruses from replicating. And it could be inhaled using a nebulizer, meaning people could take it at home.
What is it? Um, yeah. It all has to do with mRNA and changing a protein and hamsters. The hamsters are the only part of it I understand. Small furry creatures with big cheeks. Sorry. They’re not the ones who change the protein. They were part of the experiment.
Sorry, hamsters. On the part of the human race, I apologize. For all the good that does you.
If this whatever-it-is works, it could see off the new Covid variants and 99% of the flu strains that’ve been making us sick for the last century.
No, I know: We haven’t all of us been around for all of the past century–that’s just me. We’re talking about the flu strains that’ve been around for the past century.
So there’s another reason to abandon our collective depression and maybe have a biscuit with that cup of tea.
Do I know how to throw a party of what?
Admittedly, this is all early-stage stuff, but still. Enjoy the biscuit. Enjoy every moment you can manage.
Reopening the schools
English schools restart up on the day I’m posting this (Monday, March 8; happy International Women’s Day to those of you who celebrate it) to the tune of–
How about the tune of six brass bands who haven’t agreed on what to play and haven’t practiced since the pandemic started? And they all swapped instruments when they got off the bus, so the oboe player has a trumpet and the trumpet player got stuck with a banjo.
One band’s playing the masks-recommended tune, but only in secondary schools. Another band’s playing the masks-aren’t-required tune. A violin player’s off by herself playing the this-is-madness theme song.
I know I said brass bands. That’s what we get for electing a bunch of incompetents.
Can schools require masks?
A headteacher (if you’re American, that means a principal) tweeted, “Everyone, inc the govt, knows that the issue will cause conflict due to the polarised views held and they are throwing me under the bus. Already had ‘human rights’ quoted, threats of litigation. . . ”
So far, there’s no advice on improving ventilation, which would make a serious difference in the virus’s ability to move from person to person. Even though science’s understanding of the virus has moved on since the beginning of the pandemic, the government’s repeating the advice it started out with: keep some distance, wash your hands, keep surfaces clean.
It’s offered no advice on making class sizes smaller so that it’s possible to create distance.
Secondary school kids will be tested regularly using a quick but inaccurate test that the government spent a lot of money on. It kicks out a lot of false positives, so if a kid tests positive they’re supposed to confirm that by taking a slower but more accurate test.
So far, so sensible.
What happens if the more accurate test tells the kid he or she isn’t infected? That’s where it all goes wavery. If the more accurate test says the kid (or the kid’s family) is negative, they still have to self-isolate.
Because that’s how we’re going to do it.
And no, we’re still not going to pay people who test positive enough money that they can afford to take time off work.