The Anonymous Widower

Dexamethasone Declared First Drug To Save Lives Of Coronavirus Patients

The title of this post, is the same, as that of this article in The Times.

These are the introductory paragraphs.

British scientists have hailed a “huge breakthrough” in the fight against Covid-19 after a cheap drug was declared the first to save lives.

Dexamethasone, a decades-old steroid that costs about 50p per day, was found to reduce deaths by up to one third for the sickest patients. NHS hospitals were advised to begin using it immediately.

According to a retired Senior Hospital Pharmacist friend, Dexamethasone has been around a long time and is used in shock. She added “So don’t know why not tried before.”

The Times article says this about previous use.

While it had been administered to Covid patients in China and elsewhere its use was controversial, with no definitive proof that it worked.

Could it be that the research was discounted on ageist grounds against the drug?

Wikipedia also says this about the drug?

it was the 259th most prescribed medication in the United States, with more than a million prescriptions.

That is about 1-in-327 of the US population.

Dexamethasone And Coeliac Disease

Out of curiosity, I typed “Dexamethasone and coeliac disease” into Google.

I found this page on SpringerLink, which is entitled The Role of Corticosteroids In Celiac Disease.

This is the first sentence.

Since Dickie first described the benefits of a gluten-free diet in the 1940s and 1950s, this diet is the standard of care for all patients with celiac disease. For patients with a new diagnosis, dietary compliance can be difficult to achieve, possibly resulting in a clinical course marked by delayed recovery and persistent symptoms. This is of particular concern for patients in the developing world, where gluten-free food items may be difficult to obtain or to identify. While dietary modifications are likely to remain the treatment of choice in celiac disease, the use of adjuvant corticosteroids in newly diagnosed patients is a topic that has been addressed previously.

I’m no medic, so what follows in the scientific report is beyond my limited medical knowledge.

However in A Thought On Deaths Of The Elderly From Covid-19, I estimated that there are around 120,000 undiagnosed coeliacs in the UK, who are over 65. I used data from Age UK and Coeliac-UK.

According to Joe West of Nottingham University, diagnosed coeliacs on a gluten-free diet have less chance of getting cancer!

Could it be that this group of people, of which I am one, have a strong immune system?

So could the reverse be true and that undiagnosed coeliacs on a typical gluten-rich diet have a compromised immune system?

My son was an undiagnosed coeliac, with a poor diet who smoked. He died at just thirty-seven from pancreatic cancer!

Could some of the patients, who recovered from COVID-19, when given dexamethasone, have been undiagnosed coeliacs?

I, of course don’t know.

But the role of coeliac disease in the recovery from COVID-19 must be investigated.

A quick way to test my theory would be to survey the catering departments of all hospitals and see how much gluten-free food was being sent to wards, where COVID-19 is being treated.

Coeliacs, whether diagnosed by doctors or self-diagnosed, will probably be vociferous in their need for gluten-free food. I certainly was, when I had my stroke in Hong Kong.

Give me the data and I’ll analyse it!

I would also like to hear from any coeliacs, who have been given dexamethasone!

 

June 16, 2020 Posted by | Food, Health | , , , | 2 Comments

Will Bread And Circuses Help Us Through COVID-19?

Bread and circuses is an old phrase that goes back to Roman times.

It looks like TV and on-line cooks and chefs and the supermarkets have given us the first, so do we need more of the second?

At the weekend, I enjoyed watching quality horse-racing on ITV, so wouldn’t it be sensible to get football on free-to-air television as soon as possible.

It might encourage people to stay-in, rather than gather in groups.

Would it cut the spread of COVID-19?

June 9, 2020 Posted by | Food, Health, Sport, Uncategorized | , , , | 3 Comments

COVID-19 Pandemic In Cambodia

The title of this post, is the same as this entry in Wikipedia.

This is the introductory paragraph.

The first case relating to the COVID-19 pandemic was confirmed in Cambodia on 27 January 2020. According to Global Health Security Index’s report in 2019, Cambodia ranked 89th out of 195 countries in preparedness for infectious disease outbreak.

It doesn’t prepare you well for the remarkable statistics from the country, given in the Wikipedia entry.

  • Confirmed cases – 123
  • Tests conducted – 15,162 as of 17th May
  • Active case – 1
  • Recovered – 122
  • Deaths – 0

The Wikipedia entry then lists all of the cases in detail.

I know we can say that any country with an important amount of revenue from tourism can massage the statistics, but I do feel that the data is reasonably scientifically correct.

So why are Cambodia’s statistics so remarkable?

I have never visited Cambodia, but Cambodian cuisine used to be recognised as completely gluten-free, when I was diagnosed as a coeliac by Addenbrooke’s hospital in 1997. I was told by a dietician at the hospital, who joked that someone should start a Cambodian restaurant in Cambridge

There is sufficient data on the Wikipedia entry to almost do a professional track and trace and it appears that several cases came from a cruise ship and others from foreign travel.

But even so, only 52 Cambodians have been admitted to hospital with Covid-19 and all have survived.

Could it be that their diet gives them a strong immune system?

I seem to remember reading somewhere, that a scientist postulated that one of the waves of plague that swept Europe happened, soon after high-gluten wheat started to be grown in great quantities.

Conclusion

The Cambodians are obviously doing something right!

May 22, 2020 Posted by | Food, Health | , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts On Coeliacs And COVID-19

This article in The Times is entitled Covid-19: Being Black Does Not Put You At Greater Risk, Researchers Say.

This though is the significant paragraph in my view.

The documents also show that among younger people obesity raises the death rate fourfold, and for those in their fifties it more than doubles it.

As I am not by any means obese, it pleases me.

But it got me thinking about fellow coeliacs.

Most are built like whippets and many seem to be fit for their age.

So do we get a secondary protection against COVID-19?

How Many Diagnosed Coeliacs Have Caught COVID-19?

the coeliac charity; Coeliac UK, indicated to me, that they are doing research into the number of coeliacs, who have caught COVID-19.

Surely, one way to find out how many coeliacs are in hospital with COVID-19, would be to look at how many hospital cases are on a gluten-free diet!

May 21, 2020 Posted by | Food, Health | , , | Leave a comment

Solar Freeze

I found this simple idea on an awards web-site.

Solar Freeze is designed to solve this problem.

In much of the developing world, postharvest losses are as high as 80% and the cold‐storage chain is virtually non‐existent due to the high cost of equipment and spotty electricity. Because fresh produce can perish in a matter of days under ambient temperatures, temperature control alone can extend the shelf life by weeks or even months.

And this is their solution.

Solar Freeze is pioneering mobile cold storage units powered by renewable energy for rural smallholder farmers, to help them reduce the huge challenge of post-harvest loss in much of the developing world, postharvest losses are as high as 80% and the cold-storage chain is virtually non-existent due to the high cost of equipment and spotty electricity.

I do like the term spotty electricity!

They’ve come up with products like this mobile solar-powered cold room.

I’ve also found this video.

This is the sort of help and innovation, that a lot of the world needs.

April 29, 2020 Posted by | Food | , , | Leave a comment

Prue Leith’s Solution To The Flour Shortage

I was watching BBC Breakfast, when Prue Leith was interviewed about the shortage of flour.

When asked for her solution to the problem of making cakes without flour, her answer was forthright.

  • She said the best thing to do, was to buy a gluten-free cookery book.
  • She then gave some ideas for cakes.

As a coeliac I thoroughly approve.

 

April 28, 2020 Posted by | Food | , , | 1 Comment

Surviving Lockdown

People ask if I am surviving lockdown.

I am lucky in several ways.

Housing

I live in a spacious house, which is comfortable.

Although, it does have problems.

  • It was built by a Turkish Jerrybuilder, who bought fixtures and fittings at the cheapest price possible.
  • It gets too hot.
  • The plumbing is suspect.
  • The air-conditioner is broken and the service company, have had my money to fix it, but won’t come.
  • The smoke detector above my bed is just hanging there, as I wrote in A Design Crime – The Average Smoke Detector

Hopefully, when we beat COVID-19, I’ll be able to move.

Finances

My investments give me enough to live comfortably. If you call, living in two rooms, never talking face-to-face with anybody living comfortably.

Exercise

I am still fit and can exercise as much as I need and is recommended.

I have a workout that I do twice a day, which includes movements like press-ups, stretches and single-leg stands.

I can do two dozen press-ups straight off or walk three miles, if I need to.

Health

My health is good, despite being a coeliac and suffering a serious stroke ten years ago.

  • I test my own INR.
  • I seem to have survived my fall of a month ago.
  • I only go to the surgery for B12 injections, drug reviews and the odd problem.

Other than that I just suffer from the problems of a healthy man of 72, like arthritis and hay fever.

I do have a strange skin, that leaks a lot of water and doesn’t bleed, when I have an injection or a doctor or nurse takes blood. I never have a plaster after either procedure.

Food

I am a reasonable and very practical cook, or so my son and various friends tell me. These are some meals, I’ve been cooking under lockdown.

Sardines And Baked Eggs

Pasta With Yogurt Sauce For One

Goat’s Cheese, Strawberry And Basil Salad

Cod And Tomato With Basil

Lemon And Spinach Cod Gratin

Smoked Haddock And Curried Rice

I shall add more here.

I won’t starve!

Shopping

A Marks and Spencer food store is fifteen minutes walk away, so I can get all the food I need.

I also got plenty of Adnams 0.5% alcohol Ghost Ship beers direct from the brewers delivered last week.

Their beers have been a lifeline, as they are gluten-free, thirst-quenching and don’t get me drunk. Even in quantity!

I also have safe delivery without any contact, as the couriers just ring my bell, we chat through the window about three metres away and they leave the goods on the step.

I didn’t think about lockdown, when I bought this house, but it is ideal for safe COVID-19-free deliveries.

Lockdown Practice

There can’t be many people, now going through the COVID-19 lockdown, wo have locked themselves away so many times in their life as I have.

  • At the age of about six, I spent three months or more, in isolation because I caught scarlet fever.
  • For the summer before A-Levels, my parents went to their house in Felixstowe. For part of the time, I locked myself in my bedroom and read up on my A level Physics.
  • A couple of times at ICI, I self-isolated with a computer to get important jobs done. How many have used an IBM-360 as a PC?
  • I self-isolated to write Speed, my first piece of independent software.
  • Pert7 and other software for Time Sharing Ltd was written overnight sitting in the window of their offices on Great Portland Street.
  • Artemis was written in an attic in Suffolk, with no-one else around for most of the time.
  • The special PC version of Artemis, that was a combined project management, database and spreadsheet program, was also written under lockdown.
  • After Celia died, I wrote Travels With My Celia(c) under lockdown. You can download the pdf file here.

Lockdown has almost been a way of life for me.

But on past form, I certainly have the mental strength to get through lockdown unscathed.

Conclusion

There must be a lot of others in much worse situations than myself.

 

April 18, 2020 Posted by | Computing, Food, Health, World | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Fruit And Veg Self-Sufficiency Ahead Thanks To Heat From Sewage Farms

This headline caught my eye on an article in today’s Times.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Britain will become far more self-sufficient in tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and other produce under plans to tap heat from sewage farms and pipe it to giant greenhouses.

The idea of using waste heat to grow fruit and vegetables is not new.

The technique is used at Drax power station and at various Scottish distilleries.

Low Carbon Farming just intend to do it with heat from sewage works.

  • They have identified 41 sites in the UK.
  • The greenhouses will be larger than the O2.
  • The first two sites are in East Anglia and are being built near two of Anglian Water’s sewage works.
  • Fully developed, they could make the UK self-sufficient in tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers and for most of the year.
  • It would be a £2.67 billion investment, that would create 8,000 jobs.

Intriguingly, if they need more heat, they’ll use a fossil-fuel combined heat and power unit. The carbon dioxide produced will be fed directly to the fruit and veg, as it makes them grow faster.

Another Source Of Heat

In Exciting Renewable Energy Project for Spennymoor, I wrote about a Durham University project to use the waste heat in old coal mines to heat housing.

Could this heat be used to grow fruit and veg?

April 14, 2020 Posted by | Food, World | , , , | 1 Comment

Queuing For Marks And Spencer In Dalston

I took this picture of the orderly queue waiting to get into Marks and Spencer in Dalston.

It does appear that everybody was obeying the rules and I only took twenty minutes to enter the store.

  • The store was well-stocked, although there were very few ready meals with long Best Before dates.
  • Gluten-free bread, biscuits and cereals were at near normal levels.
  • There were about a dozen bottles of Adnams low-alcohol beer on the shelves, which I reduced by a couple.
  • There were no gluten-free cakes. Not that I buy them often.
  • Some lines like gluten-free sandwiches seem to have been dropped. Not that I wanted any, as I won’t be travelling.
  • The staff were being very professional.

I was able to get enough food in my bag to get me through to the middle of next week.

April 9, 2020 Posted by | Food, Health, World | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Short-Notice Spaghetti Trains Organised To get Pasta Across The Alps

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Railway Gazette.

This is the introductory paragraph.

DB Schenker has organised the transport of several hundred tonnes of pasta by rail from Italy to Germany, enabling 650 Aldi supermarkets to replenish supplies which had been depleted by customers stocking up during the coronavirus pandemic.

I can’t help feeling that this story pays homage to Richard Dimbleby‘s classic April Fool story about the spaghetti harvest in Switzerland.

April 6, 2020 Posted by | Food, Transport | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments