The Anonymous Widower

Should We Be Given More Discretion Over Mask Wearing?

I am a bad breather and have been so for most of my life.

I suspect, it’s because I grew up in London smogs and that ruined my breathing.

But my father and his father were also bad breathers and my grandfather died before he was forty of pneumonia.

So when I go on public transport, I find the following.

  • I have difficulty climbing stairs with my mask on.
  • I can’t wait to get out of the station or bus to take off my mask and put it in my pocket.
  • Often in London during the day, there is only a few people on the bus or train and we are all sitting there quietly at least three or four metres apart.
  • If I explain my breathing to staff, they will let me remove my mask. I have done this a coule of times, when I have to climb stairs to get out of a station.

Sometimes too, I’ll be on a crowded Underground train for part of my journey, but at other times, I’ll be one of perhaps three in an air-conditioned bus.

As of Thursday rules will say, that we don’t need masks in England, but the Mayor has said we must wear them on public transport in London.

I would like to see some personal discretion, so that some like me would feel more comfortable on public transport, when it is less busy.

January 24, 2022 Posted by | Health, Transport/Travel | , , , | 8 Comments

Covid Leaves Wave Of Wearied Souls In Pandemic’s Wake

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

It is the usual excellent article by Tom Whipple and it discusses long covid.

I haven’t knowingly had long covid or even common-or-garden short covid for that matter.

The Asian Flu of 1957-1958

But go back to 1957-1958 and the outbreak of Asian Flu.

This was another present from China to the world. Wikipedia says this about its severity.

The number of excess deaths caused by the pandemic is estimated to be 1-4 million around the world (1957–1958 and probably beyond), making it one of the deadliest pandemics in history.

According, to this page on Wikipedia, deaths from Covid-19, were approaching 5,500,000 at the first of January 2022.

But then the world population is now 7.9 billion as opposed to 2.8 billion in 1957. This is 2.8 times bigger.

If the Asian Flu of 1957-1958 had had a Covid-19 death rate around two billion would have died.

Was There A Long Form Of The Asian Flu?

In Long Covid And Coeliac Disease, I started the post like this.

I recently heard an interview with Adrian Chiles on Radio 5 about the so-called long covid

I am 73 and the more I read about Long Covid, the more I think I had something similar around 1958, when I had just started Minchenden Grammar School, where I missed most of the Spring Term. This was at the time of the 1957-8 flu pandemic., which killed between one and four million people worldwide.

This article on New Decoder is a personal memory of that pandemic, from an experienced journalist called Harvey Morris.

Last night, I was listening to another program about kids with long covid and they seemed to be describing how I felt all those years ago.

One of those two programs, also said that one doctor tested patients for coeliac disease.

So did I have a long form of Asian Flu which kept me off school for a long time?

I can remember a conversation between my late wife and my mother that took place before we got married in 1968.

My mother described how I was badly ill at around ten and how our GP, the excellent Dr. Egerton White kept coming to see me, whilst I was recovering at home, as he couldn’t fathom out what was wrong with me.

But he did seem to take particular care of me, even coming to visit me in hospital, when I had my tonsils out at around five. Could it be, that as he had brought me into this world, that he felt differently about me? It should be noted that he was probably from the Caribbean and either black or mixed-race.

Is Long Covid Linked To Undiagnosed Coeliac Disease?

As I said earlier that one doctor tested long covid patients for undiagnosed coeliac disease, at least one doctor must believe so.

Looking at the statistics in The Times article, I can make the following deductions.

  • 42 % of sufferers from long covid are over fifty?
  • 58 % of sufferers from long covid are female?
  • It is not stated how many sufferers had been diagnosed as coeliac and were on a long-term gluten-free diet.

These statistics would fit roughly with the statistics for coeliac disease.

  • According to the NHS, there are three times as many female coeliacs as male.
  • There was no test for coeliac disease in children until 1960, so it is likely, that many undiagnosed coeliacs are over 60.
  • Since around 2000, coeliac disease is tested for by means of a simple blood test.
  • Doctors understand coeliac disease better now, so I suspect more coeliacs under about thirty have been diagnosed.

I am certainly led to the conclusion, that undiagnosed coeliac disease could be a factor in long covid.

Treating Long Covid

The article on The Times has a section which is entitled How Do We Deal With It (1)?, where this is said.

One of the great challenges of pathology is that you have to know what you are looking for before you can find it.

“People with long Covid go to the clinician, give blood, and none of the results that come back show that these individuals are sick,” says Resia Pretorius, from Stellenbosch University. The doctors look through the metabolites in their blood, seeking something unusual, and find nothing. “The end result is their clinician tells them it’s psychology — go for a run or whatever. Some of these patients can’t even walk up a set of stairs. They think: are we mad?”

She had an idea. What if it was about the blood structure, as much as its composition? Her laboratory has looked at the blood of both acute Covid patients and long Covid sufferers. They have found tiny clots.

Something in the disease seems to cause malformation, and they can’t be removed.

They have also found preliminary evidence that treating patients with antiplatelet and anticoagulants leads to significant improvement. Although, she stresses, it’s a risky procedure that requires careful monitoring, in case people bleed dangerously.

When I read the bit about anticoagulants, the bells in my head started ringing.

I am a coeliac on a long-term gluten-free diet, who suffered a serious stroke in 2011, from which I made a remarkable recovery. I am now on Warfarin, which is the old-fashioned anti-coagulant and test myself regularly with a meter, so I don’t bleed dangerously.

Note remarkable is not a word of my choosing, but one that has been used several times by doctors referring to the recovery in my stroke. But then there are masses of Jewish, Huguenot and Devonian survival genes in my cells.

At the time of the panic about blood clots and the AstraZeneca vaccine I wrote A Danish Study On Links Between Coeliac Disease And Blood Clots, of which this is an extract.

This morning I found on the Internet, a peer-reviewed Danish study which was entitled

Coeliac Disease And Risk Of Venous Thromboembolism: A Nationwide Population-Based Case-Control Study

The nation in the study was Denmark.

This was the introductory paragraph.

Patients with coeliac disease (CD) may be at increased risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE), i.e. deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and its complication pulmonary embolism (PE), because they are reported to have hyperhomocysteinaemia, low levels of K-vitamin-dependent anticoagulant proteins, and increased levels of thrombin-activatable fibrinolysis inhibitor.

One thing in this summary screams at me. The mention of vitamin-K!

Ten years ago, I had a serious stroke, that because of modern clot-busting drugs failed to kill me.

I am now on long-term Warfarin and know I have to eat a diet without Vitamin-K.

There are too many coincidences in all this for me not to shout, “Do More Research!”

 

 

January 17, 2022 Posted by | Health | , , , , | 4 Comments

Ikea Cuts Sick Pay For Unvaccinated Staff Forced To Self-Isolate

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Ikea has cut sick pay for unvaccinated staff who need to self-isolate because of Covid exposure and in some cases for workers who test positive.

The article also says that Wessex Water and several major US companies have started penalising unvaccinated workers.

I agree with Ikea’s policy, as in a society, there are some rules that we must follow for the good of everybody.

If people don’t want to be vaccinated, they should either work for a company where everybody is unvaccinated or work at home.

January 10, 2022 Posted by | Health | , , , | 3 Comments

Is A High Capacity Freight Route Being Created On The Midland Main Line?

In the January 2022 Edition of Modern Railways, there is a section, which is entitled Mixed Fortunes For Freight In IRP, where IRP is short for Integrated Rail Plan For The North And Midlands.

In the section, this is said about freight on the Midland Main Line.

Whilst HS2 does relieve the MML, electrification of the route north from Kettering via Derby to Sheffield is of relatively limited use to freight, which is generally routed via Corby and Toton to Chesterfield and Rotherham. That said, assuming electrification of the passenger route includes the slow lines from Leicester to Trent and through Chesterfield, it does provide a base on which freight electrification can be built.

This would involve wiring Corby to Syston Junction (north of Leicester), Trent Junction to Clay Cross (south of Chesterfield) and Tapton Junction (north of Chesterfield) to Rotherham Masborough and Doncaster.

As with the ECML, this ‘freight’ electrification would provide a diversionary route and thus greater resilience for East Midlands Railway services.

In addition, gauge clearance throughout from Corby as part of this package would also be highly beneficial in creating a direct route from the ‘Golden Triangle of Logistics’ in the East Midlands to the North East and Scotland for consumer goods supply chains, boosting modal shift to rail and decarbonisation.

It does seem to be a cunning plan worthy of Baldrick at his best.

So is it feasible?

Which Routes Do Freight Trains Use Now?

Christmas in a pandemic, is not a particularly good time to look at the routes freight trains take.

But by looking at Real Time Trains, I can say this.

  • Many trains take the route via Corby and Syston Junction, rather than the direct route via Market Harborough and Leicester.
  • Leicester is quite busy with freight as trains between Felixstowe and places on the West Coast Main Line, go through the station.
  • Very few freight trains seem to take the route via Derby and the Derwent Valley Mills.
  • Most freight trains between East Midlands Parkway and Chesterfield seem to take the Erewash Valley Line via Toton and Ilkeston.

I don’t think the pattern will change much, if I look at the trains around the end of January.

What Do I Mean By European-Size Freight Trains?

The Wikipedia entry for loading gauge says this about about the route through the Channel Tunnel and up the Midland Main Line.

UIC GC: Channel Tunnel and Channel Tunnel Rail Link to London; with proposals to enable GB+ northwards from London via an upgraded Midland Main Line.

Note.

  1. . GC is 3.15 metres wide by 4.65 metres high.
  2. GB+ is 3.15 metres wide by 4.32 metres high.
  3. GB+ is intended to be a pan-European standard, that allows piggy-back services.
  4. British gauging is so complicated, it isn’t specified in standard units. It must be a nightmare for rolling stock designers.

I’ll take an easy way out and assume that by European-Size Freight Trains, I mean that the route must be cleared for GB+ gauge.

Could Kettering and Syston Junction Via Corby Be Cleared For European-Size Freight Trains?

According to a Network Rail Map from February 2010, the current clearance is as follows.

  • Kettering and Oakham – W7
  • Oakham and Syston Junction – W8

Note.

  1. Oakham and Peterborough is also W8
  2. The main problem seems to be that between Corby and Oakham, there are five tunnels; Corby, Glaston, Manton, Seaton and Wing.
  3. There are also a few overbridges and several level crossings, but they don’t look too challenging.
  4. Between Corby and Oakham, there is the magnificent Welland viaduct, which has eighty-two arches and is Grade II Listed.
  5. Ideally, freight operators would like to run European gauge piggy-back services, with road trailers travelling on flat wagons, as they do in CargoBeamer services.

It would be a tough call to satisfy my last point, but if it can be done it would allow all Midland Main Line freight trains to take the Corby diversion and this would remove the problems of running European gauge trains through Leicester station.

This Google Map shows a section of the Welland viaduct.

It could be key, as it is fully double-track.

But could it support two heavy freight trains at the same time?

But it would be some sight to see, long European-sized freight trains running over the viaduct.

Could The Midland Main Line Between Syston And Trent Junctions Be Cleared For European-Size Freight Trains?

The route is cleared to W7 or W8 between the two junctions and on inspection with my virtual helicopter, I suspect it wouldn’t be that challenging to upgrade.

It would also be sensible to clear the Castle Donnington Line for European-size freight trains, so that they could reach the East Midlands Gateway freight terminal.

This Google Map shows the location of the East Midlands Gateway.

Note.

  1. East Midlands Parkway station is marked by the red arrow in the North-East corner of the map.
  2. Castle Donnington circuit is in the South West corner of the map.
  3. The long East-West runway of East Midlands Airport is clearly visible.
  4. East Midlands Gateway is to the North of the airport.

This second Google Map shows East Midlands Gateway in more detail.

Note.

  1. In the North-East corner is Maritime Transport’s rail freight terminal.
  2. The M1 runs North-South at the Eastern edge of the map.
  3. East Midlands Gateway Logistics Park with two Amazon sheds is in the middle.
  4. The runway at East Midlands Airport is clearly visible.

The Integrated Rail Plan for the North And Midlands has already announced that High Speed Two will join the Midland Main Line to the South of East Midlands Parkway station to serve Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield.

  • This new line will have to go past the airport, either to the North of the Logistics Park or South of the Airport.
  • Could there be a station here, both for passengers and the workers at a very busy freight airport and Logistics Park?
  • Currently, trains between the rail terminal and London, London Gateway and the Port of Felixstowe have to reverse North of the rail terminal to access the terminal.
  • All the rail links between the Midland Main Line and East Midlands Gateway would need to be built to accept European-size freight trains, to ensure maximum flexibility.

It strikes me, that there are a lot of extra features that could be added to the rail network between the Midland Main Line and East Midlands Gateway.

Could The Erewash Valley Line Via Ilkeston Be Cleared For European-Size Freight Trains?

Consider.

  • According to a Network Rail Map from February 2010, the Erewash Valley Line is cleared to W8.
  • According to Wikipedia, it is the second busiest freight route in the East Midlands.
  • Network Rail have spent £250 million on the line in recent years to improve junctions and improve signalling.
  • The route doesn’t have a large number of passenger services.

These pictures show Ilkeston station on the Erewash Valley Line.

Note.

  1. The recently rebuilt bridge and the separate avoiding line.
  2. The Class 158 train under the bridge is 3.81 metres high.

As the European gauge; GB+ is 4.32 metres high, I would feel that Ilkeston station can handle European-size freight trains.

I have flown my virtual helicopter all the way over the Erewash Valley Line from Toton to Clay Cross North junction.

  • It looks as if most of the not many bridges are either recent or could be updated to handle the large European-sized freight trains.
  • It should also be noted that in many places there is a third track or space for them.
  • There are three stations and the Alfreton tunnel.

After this quick look, I feel that the Erewash Valley Line will be able to handle European-size freight trains.

Could Tapton Junction to Rotherham Masborough and Doncaster Be Cleared For European-Size Freight Trains?

This route has very few bridges and I doubt updating wouldn’t cause too many problems.

CargoBeamer

Would it be possible for one of CargoBeamer’s piggy-back trains carrying trailers to run between the Channel Tunnel and the rail terminal at East Midlands Gateway Logistics Park or perhaps another terminal further up the Midland Main Line?

If they could use the Gospel Oak and Barking Line to access the Midland Main Line, I don’t see why not!

Conclusion

It appears that it should be possible to allow European-size freight trains to run between the North of England and the Channel Tunnel.

 

 

January 9, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Macron Is Having Trouble With Another Brigitte

The text is a small section in the January 7th Edition of The Times.

Brigitte Bardot, 87, said she had refused the vaccine. “I’m allergic to all chemical products,” the film star told Gala magazine. “Even when I travelled in Africa, I refused to do it for yellow fever. My doctor wrote me a false certificate.” The remarks were not helpful for President Macron, who is trying to eradicate false vaccine certificates.

If she is allergic to all chemical products, what does she use to wash?

Perhaps, President Macron could ask Dame Joan Collins, who has been vaccinated, to point out to Brigitte, the error of her ways. After all, they were born within twelve months of each other.

January 7, 2022 Posted by | Health | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

South Africa’s Excess Deaths A Fifth Of Earlier Waves

The title of this post is that of a small section deeply buried in the January 7th Edition of The Times.

South Africa’s excess death rate from the Omicron variant has began to fall after reaching only a fifth of the level caused by the worst version. It is another indication that although highly infectious Omicron is not as life-threatening as other types of coronavirus.

Surely, this good news should be more prominent in the paper and published with a full explanation.

January 7, 2022 Posted by | Health | , , , | 1 Comment

Young Break For The Border To Ring In The New Year

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

This a subtitle to the report, above a picture of five Scots girls enjoying themselves in Newcastle.

Revellers from Scotland and Wales dodging Covid restrictions at home flocked to clubs and bars in England

It will be interesting to see how the Scottish and Welsh Covid statistics pan out in the next few days.

As a trained Control Engineer, I am totally against lockdowns, except as a very last resort.

It’s like trying to ride a bike only turning the handlebars full left and full right.

Try it and you will soon fall off.

January 1, 2022 Posted by | Health, World | , , , , , | 5 Comments

AstraZeneca May Explain Britain’s Lower Death Rate

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

These are the second and third paragraph of the article.

Dr Clive Dix said he believed that the jab could help to stave off serious Covid-19 illness for longer than RNA-based alternatives made by Pfizer and Moderna. “If you look across Europe, with the rise in cases, there’s also a corresponding lagged rise in deaths, but not in the UK,” he told The Daily Telegraph. “I personally believe that’s because most of our vulnerable people were given the AstraZeneca vaccine.”

Dix suggested that the T cell response to the AstraZeneca jab may explain the lower level of hospital admissions and deaths.

Dr, Clive Dix is a former Deputy Chair of the Vaccines Taskforce.

I think that Dr. Dix may have a point.

I am coeliac and I know I have a strong immune system.

When I had my dose of AstraZeneca vaccine, I was fairly sure that my immune system gave the viral vector vaccine a good kicking, as it thought the chimpanzee adenovirus on which it is based could be a dangerous intruder.

But with the second dose, I got no reaction. Had my immune system decided that the vaccine was a friend?

I have mentioned this reaction to people and I have found some coeliacs, who had a similar reaction to the one that I had with the AstraZeneca vaccine.

But more significantly, this summer, I suffered badly from hay fever. My GP told me that the high level could have been because the AstraZeneca vaccine had boosted my immune system.

I’ve only had it as bad once before and I suspect that was a couple of years after I went gluten-free, after being diagnosed as a coeliac. I suspect that that would have boosted my immune system.

I can do a small calculation.

I suspect, that there are about 40,000,000 in the UK who have been vaccinated with two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

If we assume coeliacs are 1-in-100 of the population and most have been vaccinated, as they tend to be cautious about their food and health, that equates to 400,000 people who could be fully vaccinated and have an immune system with all the defensive strength of a whole regiment of special forces soldiers on steroids.

For some time now, various sources have been saying the models of the pandemic aren’t right.

I do wonder, if coeliacs with the AstraZeneca vaccine are super-immune and they are skewing the models. After all 400,000 with a super-immunity is a large number in comparison to the total number of deaths from the Covids in the UK, which stood at 171,801with the Covids on their death certificate tonight.

Conclusion

I am drawn to one big conclusion and that is more research needs to be done.

It would be a great help, if we knew how many coeliacs on long-term gluten-free diets had ended up in hospital.

I wouldn’t ask the doctors, but the catering departments, who would be providing the gluten-free food, that the coeliacs will be demanding.

December 27, 2021 Posted by | Food, Health | , , , , | 1 Comment

Infection, Mortality And Severity Of Covid-19 In Coeliac Disease – Prof Jonas Ludvigsson

The title of this post is the same as that of this presentation on the Coeliac UK web site.

If you are coeliac and worried about catching the Covids, I suggest you watch the presentation.

The presentation is about eighteen minutes long and this is the last-but-one screen.

Coeliac Disease and Covid-19

  • No increased risk of death from Covid-19
  • No increased risk of ICU for Covid-19
  • No increased risk of any (!) Covid-19

THEN: Coeliac patients with Covid-19, have no increased risk of death compared to other patients with Covid-19.

Conclusion

The professor concludes it is good news and there is no need for coeliac patients to get the jab earlier than other people.

I would also like to add my fourpennyworth!

The professor was only analysing diagnosed coeliacs, who were probably on a long-term gluten-free diet.

My son was an undiagnosed coeliac, who lived the rock and roll lifestyle, generally living on ciggies, high-strength cannabis and Subways. His immune system, probably gave him all the protection of a plastic colander.

He died at just 37 from pancreatic cancer.

 

December 25, 2021 Posted by | Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Covid in Wales: Groups Of Six Allowed To Meet In Pubs

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

This is the first paragraph.

Groups of no more than six people will be allowed to meet in pubs, cinemas and restaurants in Wales from 26 December, the first minister has said.

I’m glad I don’t live in a nanny socialist state like Wales.

We should be treated like adults and allowed to develop our own rules.

  • I am doubly-vaccinated with AstraZeneca
  • I have recently  had a booster Pfizer vaccine.
  • I generally wear a mask, when I’m outside my house.
  • I avoid crowded places when I’m outside my house.
  • I only invite a selected group of people into my house.
  • I obey social distancing rules.

But my biggest protection comes from being coeliac on a long-term gluten free diet, which gives me an immune system, which is immensely strong.

I’ve yet to meet or hear of any coeliac on a long-term gluten-free diet, who has had a serious dose of the Covids.

December 22, 2021 Posted by | Health | , , , | 8 Comments