The Anonymous Widower

RMT Threatens Strikes Over ‘Guardian Angels’ Plan

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

The RMT has warned of possible industrial action in protest at a government plan for unpaid volunteers to help guide railway passengers and prevent overcrowding at stations.

They don’t seem to be in favour.

This was a statement from the Department of Transport.

These volunteers will play a crucial supporting role in keeping people moving by easing crowding and providing advice to help maintain social distancing, protecting passengers and tackling the spread of the virus.

‘We are clear these volunteers will not be performing any tasks or roles that vital frontline staff are trained to carry out, and they will be deployed at key stations in the short term when the easing of lockdown restrictions could see the increased use of public transport.

It puzzles me, why the RMT didn’t strike during the Olympics, as we had all those charming volunteers, helping visitors with their needs.

June 2, 2020 Posted by | Health, Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Zopa Seems To Have Deconstipated

In early March, I wrote Is The COVID-19 Having An Affect On Lending At Zopa?, where I said this.

I lend money on Zopa and at the moment no-one seems to be borrowing any money.

I put some of my pension in my lending pot into the peer-to-peer lender each month and it’s still there sitting safely in the queue for a borrower.

Perhaps everybody is being cautious because of the COVID-19 alert.

At the time of writing this new post, everything seems to be back to normal. Or at least money, that I put in my lending account yesterday, has now been allocated to borrowers and is awaiting the final checks.

Eight years ago, I wrote Stability in Financial Systems, where I put forward my belief that Zopa is a stable system, that adjusts itself to the conditions it encounters.

Has the peer-to-peer lender just demonstrated, that my thoughts are correct, by sailing untroubled through the COVID-19 crisis, with just a small adjustment on the tiller here and there, just as it survived the Banking Crisis of 2008?

May 29, 2020 Posted by | Finance, 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

Oxford And Cambridge Compared On COVID-19

In Is There A Link Between Historic Coal Mining And COVID-19?, I mentioned this article in The Times, which is entitled Pressure To Free London From Lockdown As Cases Fall.

The article gives an interactive table, which is entitled Number Of Cases By Area.

Three figures are given.

  1. Registered cases
  2. Cases per 100,000 of the population.
  3. Cases in the last two weeks.

These figures are for areas around Oxford.

  • Oxford – 615, 399, 90
  • South Oxfordshire – 358, 255, 36
  • West Oxfordshire – 324, 295, 50

And these figures are for areas around Cambridge

  • Cambridge – 222, 177, 20
  • South Cambridgeshire – 206, 131, 10
  • East Cambridgeshire – 111, 124, 12
  • West Suffolk – 205, 115, 18

So why are COVID-19  cases in Cambridge so much lower than Oxford?

Consider.

  • Both cities and surrounding counties have a similar character.
  • Both have well-respected hospitals, medicals schools and medical research.
  • Air pollution appears to be low in both areas.
  • Both cities probably have a similar ethynic mix and large student populations.

As I used to live near Cambridge, I have my own mad personal theory.

Addenbrooke’s Hospital

I have used several hospitals in my life, but only two changed my life totally.

  • I had my vasectomy in the old Hackney Hospital.
  • Addenbrooke’s, who with a simple blood test decided I was probably coeliac.

So perhaps, I’m biased.

But consider these possible facts.

  • My coeliac consultant at Addenbrooke’s told me, that he had more patients with the disease than any other in the UK.
  • The manager at Carluccio’s in Cambridge, told me that they sold more gluten-free food, than any other restaurant in the group.
  • In 1997, I was diagnosed fast, because Addenbrooke’s were using a new genetic test. I was later checked using an endoscopy.

Could it be that someone at Addenbrooke’s had decided they wanted to find all the coeliacs in and around Cambridge?

What would be the effects of diagnosing as many coeliacs as you could find in an area?

  • A doctor of my acquaintance talked of coeliac disease as the many-headed hydra, as it led to so many other medical problems. So extra diagnosed coeliacs might improve health statistics in an area.
  • Personally, I have said good-bye to migraines, nail-biting and lots of joint pains, after going gluten-free.
  • I also haven’t had a serious dose of flu since diagnosis. Since 2005, I’ve probably had the flu jab.
  • Joe West at Nottingham University, has shown that coeliacs on a gluten-free diet have lower cancer rates than the general population.

Consider.

  • Immunotherapy is a medical technique, where the patient’s immune system is activated or suppressed to help them fight a disease.
  • Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease, where gluten causes damage to the gut.

So could coeliacs on a gluten-free diet have a more powerful immune system?

Undiagnosed Coeliacs

Coeliac disease is genetic, with mine coming from an Ashkenazi Jewish ancestor from Konigsberg in the Baltic.

  • Other roots of coeliac disease are Irish, Italian and black people, who have slaves as ancestors.
  • There was no test for coeliac disease in children until 1960.
  • There was no genetic test for coeliac disease until the late 1990s.
  • Research has shown that coeliacs are at least 1-in-100 of the UK population, but could be higher.

If coeliacs on a gluten-free diet have a good immune system, do undiagnosed coeliacs have a poorer one?

Oxford And Cambridge Compared

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

Conclusion

What do I know?

I’m just a mad engineer and mathematician with coeliac disease.

 

 

May 23, 2020 Posted by | Health | , , , | Leave a comment

Is There A Link Between Historic Coal Mining And COVID-19?

In Air Pollution May Be ‘Key Contributor’ To Covid-19 Deaths – Study, I wrote about the link between current pollution and COVID-19, that had been shown by European researchers.

Today, in The Times, there is an article, which is entitled Pressure To Free London From Lockdown As Cases Fall.

It talks about the areas, that are recording the most new cases of confirmed COVID-19 in the last fortnight.

The article says this.

Only one area south of Birmingham is in the 20 local authorities with the most coronavirus cases in the past two weeks, while those with fewest are clustered in the south, an analysis of official figures by The Times shows.

That local authority in the top twenty is Ashford.

i have looked at all the data in The Times and this table shows the number of cases in the last fortnight in decreasing order.

  • Birmingham – 266
  • County Durham – 209
  • Manchester – 184
  • Bradford – 168
  • Sandwell – 164
  • Wigan – 156
  • Shropshire – 155
  • Cheshire West and Chester – 151
  • Sheffield – 144
  • Cheshire East – 135
  • Leeds – 138
  • East Riding Of Yorkshire 129
  • Barnsley – 126
  • Tameside – 124
  • Doncaster – 121
  • Ashford – 118
  • Stoke – 117
  • Wirral – 107
  • Trafford – 102
  • Folkestone and Hythe – 99
  • Leicester – 99
  • Bolton – 94
  • North Somerset – 94
  • Oldham – 93
  • Stockton-on-Tees – 93
  • Oxford – 90

Note.

  1. Why is Cheshire in the top half of the list?
  2. There seem to be a lot of coal mining areas on the list.
  3. Ashford and Folkestone and Hythe are even close to the former Kent coalfield.

I’d love to see Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish data added to this list!

Is Coal A Factor?

Given the large number of coal-mining areas featuring in my list, I very much feel that there should be a serious analysis to see if working in the mines or growing up in a coal-mining area, is a factor related to the chances of catching COVID-19.

I should say, that my only personal memories of British coal mines working, was to see the mines in Kent, as we drove to see by uncle in Broadstairs. They were filthy places.

The Cheshire Paradox

Cheshire doesn’t have any coal mining, but it does have a lot of chemical works and oil refineries along the Mersey, many of which use Cheshire’s most valuable natural resource – salt.

When I worked at ICI, I was told that there was enough salt underneath the green fields of Cheshire to last several thousand years, at the current rate of extraction.

There was also the ICI office joke about pensions.

You would get a good pension from ICI, as the pension scheme was well-funded and also because so many pensioners, after a lifetime of working amongst all the smells and dusts of a chemical works, which gave the lungs a good clear out, didn’t live long in the fresh air of normal life and caught every cold, cough and flu doing the rounds.

The three Cheshire areas have these numbers of total confirmed cases per 100,000 residents.

  • Cheshire East – 304
  • Cheshire West and Chester – 312
  • Wirral – 378

These compare closely to nearby Liverpool with 319.

But look at these figures of a similar county around London, that from personal experience is similar to Cheshire.

  • East Hertfordshire – 176
  • North Hertfordshire – 171

So have all the chemicals in the historic Cheshire air, softened up the population for COVID-19?

I used the word historic, as pollution in the seventies in Cheshire/Merseyside was much higher, than it is today.

 

 

May 23, 2020 Posted by | Health, World | , , , | 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

Jews In The UK And COVID-19

This article on the Times of Israel is entitled Coronavirus-Related Death Toll Jumps To 458 Among UK Jews.

  • According to Wikipedia in 2011, there were 263,346 Jews in the UK.
  • This gives a figure of 0.174% for the percentage of Jews, who have died.
  • According to UK government figures, 35, 341 have died from COVID-19.
  • According to Wikipedia, the UK population in mid-2019, was 66,796,807.
  • This gives a figure of 0.053% for the percentage of the UK population, who have died.

From these simple figures Jews are over three times more likely to die of COVID-19, than the general population.

Why are Jews, so much more likely to die of COVID-19, than the general population?

In A Thought On Deaths Of The Elderly From Covid-19, I postulated that there could be large numbers of undiagnosed coeliacs in the over-60s, who because of compromised immune systems, would be more susceptible to the virus.

I also said that the number of undiagnosed coeliacs over sixty-five could be as high as 120,000. These would have all been born before 1960, when it became possible to detect coeliac disease in children.

I am also fairly sure, that my coeliac disease came from my Ashkenazi Jewish genes.

This second article on The Times of Israel is entitled Jewish Charity Warns Of Coeliac ‘Stigma’ As Half-A-Million Said Undiagnosed.

This is the introductory paragraph.

A Jewish charity says there is a “stigma” surrounding coeliac disease in the Jewish community, after a national charity warned that there were still half a million people in the UK who are undiagnosed.

I would assume that the half-a-million figure refers to all the population of the UK, as there are only about half that number of Jews in the UK.

Could coeliac stigma mean that there many older Jews, who are coeliac, have not been diagnosed and their poorer immune systems make them more vulnerable to COVID-19?

A Wider Picture

This article on Times of Israel is entitled How COVID-19 is hitting Jewish communities around the world.

It is well-worth reading.

Conclusion

I should say, that I’m no medic, but just a humble engineer, mathematician and statistician, who has nearly sixty years experience of analysing data.

That experience, says that undiagnosed coeliac disease, is not helping our fight against COVID-19!

 

May 20, 2020 Posted by | Health | , , | 8 Comments

Pedestrians Get More Space In Dalston

I took these pictures in the Kingsland Road in Dalston this morning.

It will be interesting to see how this narrowing works out.

Not just for pedestrians! But for politicians as well!

There has been a certain amount of drivers against the narrowed roads. Who will they vote for in the next election for London Mayor?

 

 

May 19, 2020 Posted by | Health, Transport | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

What Happened In Hackney On Friday?

These are total number of lab-confirmed cases of COVOD-19 in Hackney over the last few days.

  • 9th May – 622, 0
  • 10th May – 623, 1
  • 11th May 624, 1
  • 12th May – 624, 0
  • 13th May – 624, 0
  • 14th May – 626, 2
  • 15th May – 626, 0
  • 16th May – 637, 11

What happened on Friday?

You have to go back to the 21st of April to find a larger figure.

Could it be that the COVID-19 testers raided an illegal gathering, care home or a house with large numbers of people living in it, in close proximity?

Or could it be the fallout from the parties in Hackney Marshes and London Fields, last weekend, that were reported in Monday’s edition of The Times.

So do you reap, what you sow?

May 17, 2020 Posted by | Health | , | 10 Comments