The Anonymous Widower

Fergus Walsh On The AstraZeneca Vaccine

I have just watching a ten-minute interview on BBC Breakfast with Fergus Walsh, who is the BBC’s Medical Editor.

If you are worried about Covid-19 vaccination and the AstraZeneca vaccine in particular, I suggest you find the interview on iPlayer. It took place at 0815.

He is undoubtedly well-connected to healthcare in the UK, as during the pandemic, he has had deep-access to doctors, researchers and patients, so anything he says, should surely be taken seriously.

Clots Caused By The AstraZeneca Vaccine

On this he said, it was at the same rate as the Pfizer vaccine. Now there’s a thing!

The rate of those, who broke their ankle after being vaccinated is also probably the same for both vaccines.

Fergus Has Had The AstraZeneca Vaccine

This happened on Sunday.

His endorsement of the vaccine, is probably as well-reasoned as anyone.

Conclusion

Why are politicians and others rubbishing the AstraZeneca vaccine, when respected agencies say there is no problem?

Is it just jealousy?

Given the success of the vaccine with AstraZeneca, I doubt Oxford will be looking for another partner.

March 16, 2021 Posted by | Health | , , , , , | 7 Comments

Oxford Vaccine Team Use Same Tech To Revolutionise Cancer Treatment

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

I’m no medic, but I know enough about cancer, vaccines and the human immune system, to know that the team that developed the Oxford vaccine, could be on to something here. Especially, as they have got backing from Google’s venture capital arm.

March 6, 2021 Posted by | Finance, Health | , , , , | 1 Comment

Inner Eye AI Identifies Tumours To Speed Up Treatment Of Cancer

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

A hospital in Cambridge is the first to use artificial intelligence technology developed by Microsoft to treat cancer patients faster, helping to cut the treatment backlog and save lives.

There is only one NHS hospital in Cambridge and that is Addenbrooke’s, who probably saved my life, by diagnosing me as coeliac in 1997.

This paragraph explains the development of the software and how it will be deployed across the NHS.

Inner Eye is the result of an eight-year project with Microsoft and Addenbrooke’s and is being introduced in other NHS trusts. It is easy to access and free to use. When the AI tool is in place, hospitals will be able to use their own data to improve accuracy.

This paragraph sums up the usefulness of the system.

Pat Price, a professor at Imperial College London and chairwoman of Action Radiotherapy, a charity, said: “This is just one brilliant example of the quiet but amazing technological revolution that has unfolded in radiotherapy in recent years and could dramatically improve cancer survival rates.”

It really is amazing how since my wife died of a squamous cell carcinoma of the heart, treatment of cancer has improved.

I can envisage a time, when a rare cancer like that, which killed her in three months, will be survivable!

January 11, 2021 Posted by | Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Care Homes In England Had Greatest Increase In Excess Deaths At Height Of The COVID-19 Pandemic

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the University of Stirling web site.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Care homes in England experienced the highest increase in excess deaths at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic compared to those in the rest of the UK, according to new research.

The actual figures are as follows.

  • England – 79 %
  • Northern Ireland – 46 %
  • Scotland – 62 %
  • Wales – 66 %

So why are the three Celtic nations, doing better than England?

In A Thought On Deaths Of The Elderly From Covid-19, I said this.

How many undiagnosed coeliacs are there in those over seventy, who because they are coeliacs, have a compromised immune system?

I would be undiagnosed but for that elderly locum!

How many other coeliacs are there in the UK population?

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

Will these 120,000 people have a compromised immune system, that makes them  more susceptible to Covid-19?

It has been said, that a good immune system helps you fight Covid-19!

If those 120,000 elderly undiagnosed coeliacs have a compromised immune system, how many are in poor health with cancer, arthritis and general poor health and have decided that a care home is best.

Coeliac Disease And The Celts

The Irish have a history of coeliac disease, which I have heard suggested goes back to the potato famine.

Certainly, the whole island of Ireland is a coeliac friendly place compared to some parts of England. Although, Liverpool with its strong Irish heritage is an exception.

Conclusion

I do wonder, if understanding of coeliac disease in the three Celtic nations is better than it is in England and a higher proportion of elderly coeliacs have been diagnosed.

Any younger coeliac born after about 1980, has probably been picked up, for the simple reason, that most GPs these days take regular blood tests and do seem to be more knowledgeable about the disease than GPs were before about 1980.

According to my GP, to test a child, is normally just a simple blood test and an analysis at a lab. Only a few cases, will need an endoscopy.

So do we have this population of undiagnosed coeliacs with compromised immune systems in English care homes?

Perhaps, everybody in a care home, should be tested for coeliac disease?

If nothing else, it may save money on cancer care, as diagnosed coeliacs on a gluten-free diet are 25 % less likely to suffer from cancer.

 

August 30, 2020 Posted by | Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pancreatic Cancer Deaths Around The World

This data is from a web site called World Life Expectancy.

My son died at just 37 and if I can save one person’s family, from the same anguish, that I have suffered, it would have been worth it.

The data is World Health Organisation data from 2018, and the figures shown are as follows.

  1. Age adjusted death rate per 100,000 of the population
  2. World ranking
  3. Rating in the country of pancreatic cancer amongst all deaths.

The country name links to the data.

These are a few of my thoughts.

The Top Ten Countries

These are the top ten countries.

  1. Hungary
  2. Uruguay
  3. Armemia
  4. Malta
  5. Czech Republic
  6. Estonia
  7. Iceland
  8. Israel
  9. Slovakia
  10. Austria

The full list is on the World Life Expectancy web site.

From the top ten, it looks to me, that pancreatic cancer seems to be common in the old Austro-Hungarian Empire.

I also think there could be a Jewish connection.

In the history of Jews in the Austro-Hungarian Empire on Wikipedia, this is an extract, that talks about Jews around 1900.

In that period, the majority of Jews in Austria-Hungary lived in small towns (shtetls) in Galicia and rural areas in Hungary and Bohemia; however, they had large communities and even local majorities in the downtown districts of Vienna, Budapest and Prague. Of the pre-World War I military forces of the major European powers, the Austro-Hungarian army was almost alone in its regular promotion of Jews to positions of command. While the Jewish population of the lands of the Dual Monarchy was about five percent, Jews made up nearly eighteen percent of the reserve officer corps. Thanks to the modernity of the constitution and to the benevolence of emperor Franz Joseph, the Austrian Jews came to regard the era of Austria-Hungary as a golden era of their history.

That doesn’t sound like they were suffering large amounts of anti-semitism, as they had for a long time in the Baltic States and East Prussia, where my ancestor emigrated to England around 1800.

I need some help here from a Jewish historian.

But the statistics and geography  are indicating to me, that Jews from the Austro-Hungarian Empire could have chosen to emigate through the Balkans to Palestine, when they saw the way the tide was turning after World War One.

I know a bit about life in Palestine in the 1930s, because at one period of my life, my next-door neighbour was a retired British Officer, who was stationed in the country. He was actually in the King David Hotel, when it was blown up. Charles is long-dead now, but I wished I’d recorded his memories, as in today’s Middle East climate, they would be an unusual insight.

But why Iceland, Malta and Uruguay?

Ireland And The United Kingdom

As could be expected, Ireland and the United Kingdom are fairly close together in the table; at 40 and 44 respectively.

  • Just men and the positions are 49 and 51.
  • Just women and it’s 37 and 42.

In the tables, Canada and Australia are just below the United Kingdom, with New Zealand a few places further down.

Cambodia, Laos And Vietnam

To a coeliac like me, Cambodia is interesting, as they are reckoned to have the most gluten-free cuisine in the world.

But these three countries, are all in the bottom third of the table, along with some other major countries, whose food has a lot of rice; Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Pakistan and Thailand.

I know gluten affects my health, but if your diet contains little gluten, does that lower, your chance of getting pancreatic cancer?

 

 

 

 

 

August 18, 2020 Posted by | Health | , , | Leave a comment

One-Hour Covid Test Approved For Rollout

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

This article is more than the title as it details four testing methods, currently being rolled out.

After reading this article, I would not be surprised to see an affordable COVID-19 testing device being developed and available for non-professional use in the coming months.

Getting it right, will bring the team so much of a financial reward, they’ll make Dyson look like pauper. No wonder organisations like Cambridge University, Imperial College, big pharmaceutical companies and hedge funds are backing development.

As these tests are often about measuring the intricate properties of both human and virus DNA, I wonder how many other collateral benefits will aid diagnosis of diseases like cancer.

May 23, 2020 Posted by | Health | , , , , | 4 Comments

AI ‘Outperforms’ Doctors Diagnosing Breast Cancer

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

Artificial intelligence is more accurate than doctors in diagnosing breast cancer from mammograms, a study in the journal Nature suggests.

An international team, including researchers from Google Health and Imperial College London, designed and trained a computer model on X-ray images from nearly 29,000 women.

I have rarely worked with healthcare data, so I can’t comment on the accuracy of this trial.

However, over fifty years ago, I was able to make a lot of progress in the analysis of mass spectrometry data, by observing operators and asking how they identified various chemicals in the scan from the mass spectrometer.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find some detailed observation of the working methods of radiologists, formed the foundation data for this research.

The research seems to have done it well, judging by the published results.

Should we trust ourselves to methods like this in healthcare?

Undoubtedly! Yes!

Many systems like this are starting to be used in the maintenance of complex entities, as diverse as trains, planes, chemical works and advanced automated distribution depots.

But every fault, is always tested by a trained person.

This is a paragraph from the BBC article.

Prof Ara Darzi, report co-author and director of the Cancer Research UK (CRUK) Imperial Centre, told the BBC: “This went far beyond my expectations. It will have a significant impact on improving the quality of reporting, and also free up radiologists to do even more important things.”

I very much feel we will see very much more of this automated testing of the human body! And not just for cancer!

I already know of groups working on automatic diagnosis of arthritis!

 

January 2, 2020 Posted by | Computing, Health | , , , , | 1 Comment

Home Kits Signal End Of Cervical Smear Test

This is a headline on the front page of today’s copy of The Times.

Being male and living alone, I wouldn’t know what a woman thinks!

But there must surely be some women, who would think this is at least an improvement.

Health services across the world will also be able to save money, as the procedure must be more efficient and need less staff, who can probably be redeployed, where they are needed.

November 5, 2019 Posted by | Health | , | 2 Comments

Smart Lavatories Could Spot Tumours Before They Form

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on page 14 of today’s copy of The Times.

With bowel cancer being a big killer, I can understand how it might work there, but how will it spot brain tumours.

Perhaps all those school bullies, who put unfortunates’ heads down the toilet and pulled the chain, had it roight?

October 21, 2019 Posted by | Health | , | 2 Comments

Thoughts On eScooters!

Consider.

  • This article on the BBC is entitled Emily Hartridge: TV Presenter And YouTube Star Dies In Crash. It is an extremely sad tale and it has led to the inevitable call to ban electric scooters.
  • There is also this article on the BBC, which is entitled Iris Goldsmith: Teenage girl dies in ‘quad bike’ accident. This is another extremely sad tale and many are questioning, what a teenage girl was doing, riding a quadbike.
  • And then there’s this article on the BBC, Which is entitled Govia Thameslink Fined £1m Over Gatwick Express Window Death.

Young people and some older ones too, often do stupid things.

Many also crave danger and go mountaineering, riding on the tops of trains or jumping into rivers from a great height.

Doing things out of the ordinary is a natural reaction and is one of the reason, why humans are the most successful species on this planet.

I think the problem is the way we bring up children.

  • My parents let me do anything I wanted up to a point.
  • They also taught me lots of skills.
  • From about twelve, I used to cycle all over London.
  • I spent endless hours in my father’s print works doing things that would be frowned upon now, because they are too dangerous.

A couple of months ago, I was interviewed by a sixth-form girl student, in the volunteering I do at Barts Hospital in giving experience to prospective doctors.

She had lived in an over-protective environment and hardly left home on her own.

It was almost child abuse. She didn’t say, but I suspect she’d even been driven to and from school.

When it came to our own children, C and myself were fairly liberal and it was strange how, two became very street-wise and had the occasional scrapes, whereas the other was generally well-behaved.

Perhaps, we didn’t get everything right, but I like to think, we gave them a good appreciation of risk!

And that is one of the mot important things to learn in life, as often, those that ca’t assess risk, come to unfortunate ends.

I do feel my youngest son’s unhealthy lifestyle was a factor in his getting pancreatic cancer, especially if he was coeliac like me! But then he wouldn’t get tested!

His daughter though, seems to have a good appreciation of risk, but then if your father dies, you probably do!

To return to the eScooter, which is where this post started.

They Look Fun!

They certainly look fun and I constantly want to have a go on one.

Remember, I have crashed a twin-engined aeroplae and ridden horses in the Masai Mara.

At seventeen, I also sat on the back of a motorcycle, the wrong way round and went through the Mersey Tunnel.

Was I wearing a helmet? Of course not!

Are They Dangerous?

The risk depends on where they are used and how competent the rider is!

Ask any A & E doctor, what sport causes the most injuries and they’ll say something like rugby or horse-riding!

When A & E doctors start complaining about eScooters that will be the time for action.

Would Training Help?

Training isn’t the important thing.

However experience, especially that gained in a safe environment is important.

But to legislate that training should be mandatory will only have the reverse affect.

Conclusion

It’s a difficult problem, but we must teach everybody to appreciate risk.

When I joined ICI in 1969, I went on a formal Health and Safety course.

It has proven to be invaluable all my life an I haven’t worked on a chemical plant since 1970.

July 17, 2019 Posted by | Health, Transport, World | , , , , , , | 2 Comments