The Anonymous Widower

Should The NHS Adopt A Whack-A-Coeliac Policy?

The Wikipedia entry for Whac-a-Mole, says this about the colloquial use of the name of an arcade game.

In late June 2020, Boris Johnson based the UK’s COVID-19 strategy on the game.

Because of the high number of diagnosed coeliacs in the Cambridge area, I believe that I was diagnosed to be coeliac, by possible use of a Whack-a-Coeliac policy at Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge, in the last years of the Twentieth Century.

  • I was suffering from low B12 levels and my GP sent me to the hospital to see a consultant.
  • It was only a quick visit and all I remember, is the speed with which the nurse took my blood.
  • A couple of days later, I received a letter from the hospital, saying it was likely I was a coeliac and it would be confirmed by an endoscopy.
  • A point to note, is that I had my endoscopy with just a throat spray and this must have increased the efficiency and throughput and reduced the  cost of the procedure.

The only way, I could have been diagnosed so quickly would have been through an analysis of my genes and blood. But I was never told, what method was used.

I have a few further thoughts.

My Health Since Diagnosis

It has undoubtedly improved.

Cancer And Diagnosed Coeliacs On A Gluten-Free Diet

Joe West of Nottingham University has shown, that diagnosed coeliacs on a gluten-free diet have a 25% lower risk of cancer compared to the general population.

That is certainly a collateral benefit of being a coeliac. But is it being a coeliac or the diet?

I’m no medic, but could the reason be, that diagnosed coeliacs on a gluten-free diet have a strong immune system?

Coeliac Disease Is A Many-Headed Hydra

I have heard a doctor describe coeliac disease or gluten-sensitivity as a many-headed hydra, as it can turn up in so many other illnesses.

Type “coeliac disease many-headed hydra” into Google and this article on the NCBI , which is entitled Gluten Sensitivity: A Many Headed Hydra, is the first of many.

This is the sub-title of the article.

Heightened responsiveness to gluten is not confined to the gut

My son; George was an undiagnosed coeliac, who had a poor diet consisting mostly of Subways, cigarettes and high-strength cannabis. He died at just thirty-seven of pancreatic cancer.

Did George have a poor immune system, which was useless at fighting the cancer?

Undiagnosed Coeliac Disease In The Over-Sixty-Fives

In A Thought On Deaths Of The Elderly From Covid-19, I used data from Age UK and Coeliac UK to estimate the number of coeliacs in the UK over the age of sixty-five. I said this.

Age UK has a figure of twelve million who are over 65 in the UK. If 1-in-100 in the UK are coeliac, that is 120,000 coeliacs over 65.

But some research shows that the number of coeliacs can be as high as 1-in-50.

If that 120,000 were all diagnosed, I would have several coeliacs amongst my over-65 friends. I have just one and she is self-diagnosed.

Are all these undiagnosed coeliacs out there, easy targets for diseases like cancer and COVID-19?

The Ease Of Testing For Coeliac Disease

I was worried that my granddaughter was coeliac and I asked my GP, how difficult a test is to perform.

He said, that a genetic test is usually quick and correct and only a few borderline cases need to be referred to a consultant.

Diagnosis has moved on a lot in twenty years.

Cambridge, Oxford and Covid-19

Six weeks ago I wrote Oxford And Cambridge Compared On COVID-19, to try to find out why the number of Covid-19 cases are so much lower in Cambridge than Oxford.

Checking today, the rate of lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents is as follows.

  • Cambridge 336.6
  • Oxford 449

So why the difference?

In the related post, this was my explanation.

Is the large number of diagnosed coeliacs around Cambridge, the reason the area has a lower COVID-19 rate than Oxford?

It sounds a long shot, but it could be a vindication of a possible Whack-a-Coeliac policy at Addenbrooke’s in the last years of the Twentieth Century.

Conclusion

I think the NHS should seriously look at a Whack-a-Coeliac problem!

  • The health of a large number of people would improve.
  • There would be less cancer in the UK.
  • A better combined National Immune System might help in our fight against the next virus to follow COVID-19.

It would be a very simple testing program, that would be mainly in the hands of the GPs.

 

 

July 6, 2020 Posted by | Health | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Japan A ‘Very Interesting Market’ For Gore Street As It Becomes An ‘Enabler’ Of JXTG’s Transition

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the Solar Power Portal.

This is the introductory paragraph.

London Stock Exchange-listed energy storage fund Gore Street has outlined how it sees Japan as a “very interesting market” following its investment from JXTG Nippon Oil & Energy Corporation.

I like Gore Street’s philosophy and its execution.

I am not an investor and probably never will be, but they seem to be based on sound principles and do their modelling well. I’ve built enough large financial models to know a good one from its results.

Gore Street is normally investing in lithium-ion batteries.

  • These batteries now have a predictable reliability profile and I suspect cash-flow from owning a battery is fairly predictable.
  • The control and monitoring software will get better as time goes by and these batteries will probably update themselves automatically.
  • They probably aren’t that affected by COVID-19, as lockdown still needs energy to be balanced and these batteries are probably performing as normal.
  • The heat of the last few weeks probably caused more grief than COVID-19.
  • If a site visit is necessary, they can probably be done with one man in a van with a key to the security system. So maintenance is probably easy to do, whilst maintaining social distance.

I also liked this paragraph from the article.

, Gore Street Capital CEO, Alex O’Cinneide, said that the fact that the deregulation of the Japanese market over the next few years makes it of interest to the company, alongside it having the same characteristics of the UK in terms of the decommissioning of coal, nuclear and gas and increasing levels of renewables.

Could Gore Street Energy Fund, be a safe investment for today’s difficult times?

 

July 2, 2020 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage, Finance, Health | , , , | Leave a comment

Coeliac Disease: Can We Avert The Impending Epidemic In India?

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the Indian Journal Of Research Medicine.

With the high levels of COVID-19 in Leicester and an Indian population who make up 28.3 % of the population of the city, I was searching the internet to see if there was any connection between those of Indian heritage and coeliac disease.

I know you should not try to prove a theory. But as a coeliac, I’m very interested to see how the millions of diagnosed coeliacs on a gluten-free diet like me, are faring in this pandemic.

These are some extracts from the article.

Prevalence Of Coeliac Disease In Northern India

Coeliac disease was recognized in northern India, primarily in children, since the 1960s. A community-based study in Ludhiana that involved a step-wise approach to case detection and diagnosis estimated that celiac disease prevalence in this city was at least 1 in 310 individuals. Hospital-based studies examining a general paediatric patient population suggest a prevalence of 1 per cent.

One per cent is a high figure.

Diet And Coeliac Disease

The other variable is that cereal consumption patterns are very different between north and south India, although there has been a recent change in these patterns particularly in urban areas. In south India, rice is the primary cereal consumed in the diet. In the Indian sub-continent, wheat consumption is high in Pakistan and in the States of north India, which also constitute the coeliac belt of India.

It’s fascinating how too parts of the same country can be so different.

Introducing Babies To Gluten

The time of first exposure to wheat influences the development of celiac disease. In countries such as Finland, Estonia, and Denmark, characterized by low gluten consumption in infancy, celiac disease prevalence is much lower than in Sweden where gluten consumption is high in infancy. A natural experiment occurred in Sweden about two decades ago when national recommendations were made to introduce wheat into the diet after cessation of breast feeding at six months. This change was coupled with increased wheat gluten consumption through infant feeds. Together these measures resulted in a two-fold increase in incidence of celiac disease in Sweden, which was attributed to introduction of wheat into the diet after cessation of breast feeding. In 1996 this recommendation was changed to introduce gluten in gradually increasing amounts while the infant was still being breast fed. This led to a dramatic decrease in celiac disease incidence.

We used a Baby Mouli with our three and they all got what we ate, through a sieve.

All Wheats Are Not Equal

The other dimension to this problem is that not all wheat is alike when it comes to inducing celiac disease. The ancient or diploid wheats (e.g. Triticum monococcum) are poorly antigenic, while the modern hexaploid wheats e.g. Triticum aestivum) have highly antigenic glutens, more capable of inducing celiac disease in India, for centuries, grew diploid and later tetraploid wheat which is less antigenic, while hexaploid wheat used in making bread is recently introduced. Thus a change back to older varieties of wheat may have public health consequences.

I’ve read somewhere before that high-gluten wheats could have been the reason that bubonic plague came back.

Public Health Recommendations

Public health authorities may well want to examine both these avenues, i.e. infant feeding recommendations and wheat varieties cultivated in the country, for opportunities to avert the epidemic of celiac disease which is impending in our country.

I’ll agree with that! And the recommendations should be carried forward in the UK.

Conclusion

I have found this medical paper fascinating.

I can’t resist looking up the rates of confirmed cases in the countries mentioned.

  • Denmark 12751 – 6.80 million – 187.5
  • Estonia – 1947 – 1.32 million – 147.3
  • Finland – 7190 – 5.52 million – 130.2
  • Sweden – 65137 – 10.3 million – 632.4
  • United Kingdom – 311965 – 66.5 million – 469.1
  • United States – 2593169 – 326.7 million – 793

Note.

  1. The first figure is the number of lab confirmed cases from Wikipedia
  2. The second figure is the population.
  3. The third figure is the rate of lab-confirmed cases per 100.000 of the population

I have left India out as their numbers of tests seem extremely low.

Note how the three countries, that have fed their children on a low-gluten diet are top of the table, with the lowest rates of lab-confirmed cases.

I have said it before and I’ll say it until I’m blue in the face. Undiagnosed coeliac disease may have something to do with this pandemic and someone should investigate it properly.

Thoughts On The Outbreak In Leicester

I have heard reports that those found positive in Leicester live in a poor area and they tend to be younger.

Could it be that in their new country, they were introduced to gluten too early, because it’s easier to give gluten than proper food? Especially, where some roads in this country, are lined with scores of fast food shops selling gluten-rich junk food.

What do I know? I’m just an engineer and a coeliac who has a good nose for problems!

But please someone! Research the connection between undiagnosed coeliac disease and COVID-19!

My son; George was an undiagnosed coeliac with a gluten-rich and smokey lifestyle. He died at just 37 from pancreatic cancer.

Did he have a poor immune system, which meant he couldn’t fight the cancer? One expert on cancer said, “Yes!”

June 29, 2020 Posted by | Health, World | , | 6 Comments

Meet The Futuristic-Looking Electric Arrival Bus

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Microsoft News.

The Arrival Bus is by the same company, who are building electric vans for UPS, that I wrote about in UK Electric Van Maker Arrival Secures £340m Order From UPS.

This is a video of the prototype under test.

This article on CNET is entitled Arrival’s Electric Bus Is Designed For Coronavirus-Era Social Distancing and it contains this paragraph.

The British startup company, which focuses on smart electric vehicles, on Wednesday debuted the Arrival Bus, pitched as just the bus for social distancing. That’s because the interior of the bus is customizable, with removable seats, so you can create additional space between passengers. It’s a pretty novel way to increase or decrease seats to meet reopening guidelines

If it works, knowing Sod’s Law, it will probably be rarely used, as someone will come up with an affordable vaccine, that’s bulletproof!

As we’ve also had an electric bus from Norfolk, that I wrote about in Equipmake Opens New Electric Bus Factory In Snetterton, there will be several players helping to decarbonise the bus industry.

June 22, 2020 Posted by | Health, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Coronavirus: Over 600 People Test Positive At German Slaughterhouse

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on DW News.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Yet another German slaughterhouse has registered a massive outbreak of the coronavirus. Roughly two-thirds of the test results so far have come back positive.

Does the author think this is a recurring problem?

There is a sub-heading in the article of By No Means An Isolated Case, where this is said.

Germany’s meat processing sector has come under increasing scrutiny during the pandemic, with several plants reporting massive outbreaks. The sector is plagued with poor working conditions, exploitative contracts and usurious rents in mass housing for eastern European workers.

The company is blaming Bulgarian and Romanian workers going home for the long weekend.

The next paragraph, would appear to debunk that theory.

According to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, Germany has had far more confirmed cases of coronavirus than either Romania or Bulgaria. In the past 14 days, Germany registered 4,814 new cases, compared to 2,898 in Romania and 915 in Bulgaria.

By comparison, we have had 14,932 lab-confirmed cases in the last fourteen days.

The article says that this slaughterhouse is in Gutersloh and from a picture in the article, the slaughterhouse seems to process pigs.

Out of curiosity, I looked up the Wikipedia entry for Gutersloh.

It looks to be a typical German town of 100,000 people, but it does have one unusual feature according to Wikipedia; ten percent of the population are Arameans.

I have found these facts on Wikipedia.

  • The total number of Arameans in Germany is between 100,000 and 120.000. See Arameans
  • There has been a long history of Turkish people migrating to Germany. See Turks In Germany
  • The number of Turks in Germany is 2,774,000, making them the largest minority. See Demographics of Germany
  • Many of the Turks were brought to Germany in the 1970s to do the jobs the Germans didn’t want to do and to solve a labour crisis, after the building of the Berlin Wall. See Turks In Germany

Turks are Muslim and the Germans produce a lot of pork. So do Turks work in German slaughterhouses handling pork and making sausages?

If they don’t, does this explain the large number of Arameans in Gutersloh? Arameans are Christians and unlike Muslims and Jews, eat pork.

Their diet also contains alcohol and appears to be gluten-rich!

I’d love to have German statistics of COVID-19 by ethnicity!

June 21, 2020 Posted by | Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

Hydrogen Freight Trains And Anti-Slip Technology For UK Railways Get Share Of £9.4m Funding

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Professional Engineering, which is published by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers.

This is the introductory summary.

A zero-emissions machine that removes and replaces rails, a hydrogen-based turbine system for freight trains and ‘cryogenic blasting’ to prevent wheel slip could all be coming to UK railways thanks to a new £9.4m fund.

The article is a good summary of the important projects and it also gives details of what a project in the last round of funding achieved.

I seem increasingly to be reposting articles from professional engineering institutions. Does this mean, that we’re all thinking that good engineering, is one of the ways out of this COVID-19 mess?

I also think, that if I look at the list of twenty-five new projects, that I listed in First Of A Kind Funding Awarded For 25 Rail Innovation Projects, that some will benefit the wider UK population in a world dominated by the remains of the COVID-19 pandemic.

June 21, 2020 Posted by | Health, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Heated Railway Platforms Tested To Avoid Ice Accidents

The title of this post is the same as the first part of the title on this article on Engineering and Technology.

The platforms have been developed by researchers at Sheffield Hallam University and have received a share of the Government funding, I wrote about in First Of A Kind Funding Awarded For 25 Rail Innovation Projects, where it is Project 4.

These paragraphs describe the project.

The concrete slabs come with a built-in heating system that activates in freezing conditions to prevent dangerous icy conditions for passengers.

Rail Safety and Standards Board figures show that 19 people were killed and more than 7,000 were injured in accidents around platform edges on Britain’s railways in a recent five-year period.

It looks like there’s scope for this simple idea to save a few lives.

COVID-19 Reconstruction Projects

If the trial installation or installations, that will be paid for by the Government grant is or are a success, I can see large numbers of the UK’s three thousand or so stations being fitted with these platforms.

This is surely the sort of project, that could be rolled out on lots of sites across the UK to get the constriction industry working again, after COVID-19!

 

June 20, 2020 Posted by | Health | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Atheists Less Likely To Die From Covid-19 Than Believers, Research Finds

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

People without religious faith are less likely to die from Covid-19 than believers, according to the first analysis of its kind from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This paragraph gives some actual statistics.

For Muslims the figures were 198.9 deaths per 100,000 males and 98.2 deaths per 100,000 females. Among Christians, the death rates were 92.6 for men and 54.6 for women, and among Jewish people 187.9 for men and 94.3 for women.

These are my observations.

The Average Death Rate

The average death rate of these religious groups is 121 per 100,000 people or 1 in 826 people.

The Number Of Coeliacs In The UK Population

This page on the NHS web site says this about the number of coeliacs in the UK population.

Coeliac disease is a condition that affects at least 1 in every 100 people in the UK.

But some experts think this may be underestimated because milder cases may go undiagnosed or be misdiagnosed as other digestive conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Reported cases of coeliac disease are around 3 times higher in women than men.

I hadn’t known the last point, but all my coeliac friends and acquaintances, with two exceptions are female! The two male exceptions are both chefs!

Thinking about the last point, I do wonder if women are more likely to have coeliac disease as the disease can affect their natural functions, so they are likely to go to the doctor with a problem, that could be a coeliac symptom, like the inability to conceive.

Diagnosed Coeliacs On A Gluten-Free Diet And Cancer

It has been shown by Joe West at Nottingham University, that diagnosed coeliacs on a gluten-free diet are less likely to get cancer, than the general population.

Does this mean, that this group of people have a strong immune system?

Diagnosed Coeliacs On A Gluten-Free Diet And COVID-19

Various doctors have said, that COVID-19 attacks people with compromised immune systems.

So do diagnosed coeliacs ona gluten-free diet get a measure of protection from COVID-19 from their strong immune systems?

Ashkenazi Jews And COVID-19

My coeliac disease comes from my great-great-great-grandfather, who was from Konigsberg in East Prussia.

In those far-off days at the start of the Nineteenth Century, if you were a Jewish male in East Prussia, you had to leave at eighteen, unless you were from one of the privileged Jewish families.

As my ancestor wasn’t he hopped on a boat and ended up in Bexley.

Luckily, I was diagnosed as a coeliac at Addenbrooke’s hospital at the age of 50. My health, which had been poor off-and-on improved immediately and considerably, once I was no longer eating gluten.

But in the Jewish population, there are a lot of undiagnosed coeliacs, who probably have poor immune systems due to their diet.

Are they like targets in a shooting gallery for the evil COVID-19 virus?

Christians And COVID-19

I do wonder about communion rituals.

Especially, as some churches insist that wheat must be used. Even if you’re coeliac.

Surely, your health is more important.

Why Are Women Less Likely To Die?

If undiagnosed coeliac disease is an explanation, as the disease is three times more common in women would explain it, as they’d all be on protective gluten-free diets.

Muslims And COVID-19

Most Muslims come from areas, where coeliac disease is rare and are probably on a gluten-free anyway.

But they do appear to suffer high levels of other diseases like diabetes, that compromise your immune system.

June 19, 2020 Posted by | Health | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Who Needs Offices? Zopa Doesn’t!

opa’s update to all their investors yesterday.

It had a sub-heading of At Zopa!

Finally, a quick update on where we’re at as a company. All of our staff are still working remotely. Our diligent preplanning for a situation in which we could lose access to our offices has meant we’ve been able to continue to serve our customers throughout the pandemic, while also implementing new solutions to adapt to this unprecedented situation. Like other businesses, we’ve been planning for what a return to our offices looks like. But as we’ve been able to keep serving your needs while operating from home, we are in no rush. Being in this position allows us to stay focused on supporting your needs during this challenging moment.

How many companies after we are through the COVID-19 pandemic will decide to downsize their office requirements considerably?

June 18, 2020 Posted by | Business, Finance, Health, World | , , | 1 Comment

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