Tuesday, 23rd November, 2021

[Day 617]

Today was quite a fine day – although a little overcast, it was still quite a pleasant start to the day. When the post arrived, it contained some of the warning stickers (advertising the presence of CCTV in the vicinity) which had not been anticipated until Thursday or Friday. As these had arrived, they promptly got put into position onto two of our concrete uprights and secured with some really heavy duty tape which should help avoid the ravages of any wet weather.

Meg and I decided to make an earlier start than normal because we always need to get back in time for Mike to depart in good time for his Pilates class. We particularly wanted to get a good walk in today whilst the weather remains mild-ish and before the ice and frosts intrude. In the park we met with our Intrepid Octogenerian Hiker who had completed about 7km of his 10km daily routine and also another younger friend who we meet quite often but not as regularly. Then of course we had to make our way home quite rapidly so that Mike could get changed and go down to the weekly Pilates class. On the return home, we had quite an innovative lunch. We both enjoy kippers but they have to cooked with a degree of care so that they do not smell out the house with a cooking spell. This time around, though, we took the expedient of cooking the kippers by a ‘boil-in-the-bag’ method which does minise the cooking smell. We had these with a new type of ‘quasi-rice’ which is on the market but which contains beetroot and some other plant-based foodstuffs but which do not carry the calory overload associated with conventional rice. This all turned out to be quite a delicious meal and certainly one which we will repeat next Tuesday when turn-around times are tight and we have to cook a meal in a hurry.

There is a very interesting COVID story which is starting to hit the airwaves this evening. The nub of the story is that the AstraZeneca virus may be helping to protect the UK population in an interesting way. The chief execustive of AstraZeneca explains why hospitalisations in the UK might be less than in Europe despite the fact that we have an average of approx. 40,000 new infctions every day.

He argues that ‘both the antibody response and the T-cell response were important factors in the body’s immune response to a virus….Everybody’s focused on antibodies, but antibodies you see them decline over time. What remains, and is very important, is this T-cell response and as soon as the virus attacks you, they wake up and they come to the rescue and they defend you. But it takes them a little while, so you may be infected but then they come to the rescue and you don’t get hospitalised.’ This is all quite interesting stuff and it may that a positive ‘spin’ is being put upon the effects of the AstraZeneca vaccine which, of course, has several competitors. For a reason about which even the search engines is unusually opaque, the AstraZeneca vaccine has not been authorised for us in the USA. But from what I can gather, they have ‘given’ away 4 million does of the vaccine to their neighbours (in Canada and in Mexico) and have an option or may have purchased another 60 million doses. So I can only infer that the USA Food and Drug Adminstration (FDA) are operating a ‘not invented here’ syndrome which may have the effect of protecting some of their home-made vaccines. It may be that the Americans are being super-cautious because of the reported, and very rare instances of blood clots associated with the Astra Zeneca vaccine. But the incidence of blood clots is incredibly small. For the vast majority of people the benefits of the vaccine vastly outweighs the risks. By the end of April, according to the UK medical regulator, the MHRA, 79 cases were identified, and 19 people died. This was out of a total of more than 20 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine which has been given in the UK at that time. And the incidence of blood cots is less than associated with widely available contraceptive pills (made, of course, by American manufacturers) Forgive me if I ‘smell a rat’ in all of this but I am sure that a degree of ethnocentrism is involved in all of this – it seems bizarre in the extreme that a vaccine is judged good enough for one’s neighbours and for export to every other part of the world but not for your own population. What must be remembered is that the US government authorised the first trials of the oral contraceptive not on its own population but on a population of Puerto Rican women in the mid 1950’s – a population that happened to be black, local and compliant enough to be ‘leaned upon’ by the American medical authorities. Need I say more?