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  • The Coronavirus Discussion Thread.
  • Premier Icon TiRed
    Full Member

    “I want to be clear this is not all doom and gloom at this stage and I do not want people to panic at this stage,”

    Not a politician, and I agree. Some science if interested. There is a mutation in Spike at position 681 that is called the furin cleavage site. Alpha has a mutation in that which increases it’s cleavage into the cell from ACE2 over wilt type virus. Delta has a different mutation called P681R that increases it’s cleavage over Alpha and makes it a lot more transmissible. The Omicron has many mutations, but I think it notable that it carries the Alpha mutation not the Delta. So it is possible that it is less transmissible than Delta, and in a country with a lot of Delta spread, it may (possibly) struggle to gain a footing. In South Africa, the Delta wave had passed and cases were very low when Omicron emerged. That’s not the case in the UK.

    Here is the preprint, if anyone wants to read https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8404900/ . They also smartly mutated Delta back to wild type at P681 and watched the fitness go away, proving that it is this mutation that increases competition.

    [tl:dr] In terms of spread, looking at the mutations Delta > Alpha and Omicron looks a bit more like Alpha than it does Delta. Lots of Delta might mean Omicron has a harder time getting a hold.

    Premier Icon ernielynch
    Free Member

    Omicron looks a bit more like Alpha than it does Delta. Lots of Delta might mean Omicron has a harder time getting a hold.

    That’s a shame if it’s less transmissible and with possibly less severe symptoms.

    Premier Icon mrlebowski
    Free Member

    Cheers Tired – your updates are worth their weight in gold (Or is it BTC these days!?) & far more lucid than any junk from the politicians!

    Premier Icon TiRed
    Full Member

    As mentioned earlier, I’m not a headline writer. As for sensitivity to treatments… A lot of scientists are busy looking at this now. I’d hazard that there will be lower sensitivity but not complete loss of protection, with retention of protection against hospitalisation. Some of the mutations might be bad news for some of the antibodies, but this is not known for sure.

    Curiously, nobody has mentioned that the rapid growth of Delta from very low levels in Israel (which slowed after two weeks) was at the same rate as Omicron in SA. One would not be surprised if the rate of growth tails off. We shall see…

    Premier Icon kimbers
    Full Member

    I suppose that makes how delta & omicron compare on immune evasion important

    Premier Icon sparksmcguff
    Full Member

    To the guy on here who thinks masks don’t work.
    I’m responsible for an organisation that provides adult care. The last two years have been incredibly stressful. Not least because public health protection measure continue to limit what individuals in care settings can do.
    We have been lucky. But have still had to manage cases of Covid. We know masks work. They have been part of our layered Swiss cheese approach. You can choose to believe what you like. But thinking masks don’t work and choosing not to wear one impacts far more people then just you.
    For god sake people regardless of what you believe wear a mask.

    Premier Icon twrch
    Free Member

    I will say one thing for you, you really excel at missing the point.

    Not really. My opening gambit was to suggest that maybe, we would have a better outcome if every form of care was not 100% focussed on avoiding the theoretical risks of Covid. Apparently, despite this approach having severe and counter-productive downsides (ie, healthcare effectively disappears for the rest of us, and it making life completely shite for healthcare workers), that will just not do. We took a lively diversion when I half jokingly suggested we needed another healthcare system, to care care of our actual healthcare needs. Despite the rest of the world using this model (and us here moving that direction anyway, as people really do need healthcare, and will do what they can to get it), apparently that won’t work either.

    It seems that all we can do is wear masks when out in public, despite several commenters agreeing that they don’t really do very much, and just grind on as we are. I recently read that 40% (I think that was the number, can’t remember exactly) of Covid infections were caught in hospitals. If it’s so essential to not catch Covid, it seems to me that the NHS has a lot of work to do in cleanliness and infection control. In fact, if it really is so essential that we don’t catch Covid, maybe we should close the hospitals? That would significantly cut down the amount of cases and transmission.

    I’ve tried to resist but I just have to rip this all apart.

    I’m so glad someone took the bait. So Wales has to mask up, because we’re fat and unfit? Seems fair. Maybe we’ll also take Austria’s lead in segregating more risky groups, and place them under house arrest too.

    …had a great time, I’m still slightly hungover, but masks aren’t required in Hospitality settings, everywhere was packed, 4 deep at the bar. I watched Wales v Fiji in Cardiff a few weeks before 60k+ people all sat shoulder to shoulder, stacked in neat rows, singing and shouting

    Sounds suspiciously like you were having fun and being very Covid-risky!

    We know masks work

    How?

    Not least because public health protection measure continue to limit what individuals in care settings can do.

    I’m genuinely sorry for how awful your life must have been for the past two years (I’m sure you all will have a hard time believing that, but it’s true). Hopefully the measures were of some use.

    Premier Icon martinhutch
    Full Member

    If I am wrong about the efficacy of masks, then the worst thing is that I look ridiculous and occasionally feel slightly uncomfortable. If mask-sceptics are wrong, people die unnecessarily.

    Premier Icon Klunk
    Free Member

    the theoretical risks

    ah those 150,000 make believe deaths.

    Premier Icon TiRed
    Full Member

    I suppose that makes how delta & omicron compare on immune evasion important

    Completely agree, but in that plot of Delta emergence, Israel was the most vaccinated population on Earth, so we’ve already seen what escape can look like. Omicron is identified in pockets in SA with lots of local spread. It is also perhaps notable that it is summer in SA too, so transmission may be different to UK and elsewhere. UKHSA put out an updated technical briefing document on Friday. A list of mutations is on Page 18. What’s the betting it will turn out to be a non-structural protein (NS) or something other than the “look at me!” spike protein, that turns out to be significant?

    Premier Icon mefty
    Free Member

    I will say one thing for you, you really excel at missing the point.

    Not aimed at you, although the fact you think it was may mean you do too – or does it? Very confusing.

    Premier Icon TiRed
    Full Member

    avoiding the theoretical risks of Covid

    Half of UK hospital beds were filled with patients undergoing treatment for COVID19 in January. which would meet the

    healthcare effectively disappears for the rest of us

    criteria effectively. There may be more efficient ways of maintaining healthcare whilst treating a large wave of patients, but the NHS (and private healthcare) does not have that luxury or capacity. BTW COVID19 was an immediate exclusion from my healthcare insurance policy (I asked) – and that was April 2020.

    Premier Icon Del
    Full Member

    someone took the bait.

    Premier Icon fenlander
    Free Member

    So, given that omicron can be detected by s-gene dropout, and there isn’t much alpha around, has anyone gone back through the last month or so of tests to see if there has been an increase in s-gene dropout? Not all labs can detect it, so I don’t think you can do it with the public PHE data which provides breakdown by target but lumps all labs (unless the % processed by each lab is consistent over time)? Seems like this would be the quickest way to understand whether we might have significant community transmission already?

    Premier Icon twrch
    Free Member

    Yes, a cheap shot, but it was fun.

    If I am wrong about the efficacy of masks, then the worst thing is that I look ridiculous and occasionally feel slightly uncomfortable.

    I have already highlighted my issues with masks, as a parent with young kids. I guess we’ll get to see the effects on social development.

    It is also very isolating, especially as we don’t seem to have an end for mask-wearing in sight, and stifles casual and light-hearted conversations. It also means we never see anyone else smile.

    immediate exclusion from my healthcare insurance policy

    Ah, so you have private health care? No wonder you can pontificate so easily about the nature of Covid and disease control. Saying that, my new job has the unexpected perk of private healthcare, so soon I too will re-join the ranks of people who can see a doctor from time to time.

    FWIW, in my opinion it seems that Covid has really shown the NHS is not working out, in it’s current form. Some form of hybrid care, like everyone else uses (certainly so in Europe) would be for the best, and maybe this is the chance to move towards it.

    Half of UK hospital beds were filled with patients undergoing treatment for COVID19 in January.

    Maybe you have a different source, but coronavirus.data.gov.uk indicates that there were nearly 40,000 people in hospital with Covid at the very peak in Jan 2021. There are over 160,000 hospital beds in the UK.

    Premier Icon kelvin
    Full Member

    Thanks for your posts as always TiRed. The wheat amongst the chaff.

    EDIT: There are plenty of other interesting and useful posts and contributors, I’m not suggesting TiRed’s posts are the only ones worth reading. The signal to noise ratio isn’t great right now though.

    Premier Icon kimbers
    Full Member

    Seems like this would be the quickest way to understand whether we might have significant community transmission already?

    I’m assuming they must be looking at this now

    I had my pcr test this afternoon after +ve lft and a grim 24hrs of symptoms , I wonder if they will sequence it and get back to me, I believe the extra restrictions are that my entire household has to isolate?

    Premier Icon scotroutes
    Full Member

    Had my booster today. And the flu jag.

    I had an almost immediate bad taste in my mouth – metallic/chemical. Other than that. so far, so good.

    Premier Icon singletrackmind
    Full Member

    Pre booked or walk in ? Did they offer teh flu vax as an add as you were there already ? or was it a pre-booked double . ?

    Premier Icon scotroutes
    Full Member

    “Pre-booked”, as in, invited. They’re not doing walk-ins locally yet, still getting through the 50+ age groups. They’re doing the flu jag at the same time.

    Premier Icon CountZero
    Full Member

    We know masks work

    How?

    Apart from the fact that medical workers, especially those in theatres and ITU have been wearing masks for decades, and don’t appear to suffer the sort of issues you’re banging on about.

    Then there are people who work in all sorts of facilities where mask wearing is compulsory for health reasons due to work conditions, not to mention vast numbers of Japanese who’ve been wearing masks when out in public for many, many years.

    My main point is, millions of people manage to wear them with little inconvenience to themselves, while managing to stay healthy, so what’s your problem, exactly?

    Premier Icon TiRed
    Full Member

    There are over 160,000 hospital beds in the UK.

    You wish 😀

    https://www.england.nhs.uk/statistics/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2021/11/KH03-Q2-2021-22-Statistical-Press-Notice-FINAL.pdf

    Less than 100k for general and acute care in England. The proportion of filled ITU beds was higher still.

    Some form of hybrid care, like everyone else uses (certainly so in Europe) would be for the best

    Agree completely.

    Premier Icon fenlander
    Free Member

    Hope you are feeling better soon Kimbers (and be interesting if we get told which variant from now on).

    Premier Icon twrch
    Free Member

    I gave the total number of beds for the UK (160,000 – I got the number from Stastia, FWIW). Working with the numbers just for England – the gov website gives a peak value of 33,000 people in hospital with Covid (cue usual discussion about whether that includes people who tested while being admitted, and those who caught it while in hospital), in Jan 2021. That’s 33% of general and acute beds (98,000), or 28% of all beds (120,000). Still some way from “half of all patients were being actively treated for Covid in Jan 2021”.

    Apart from the fact that medical workers, especially those in theatres and ITU have been wearing masks for decades, and don’t appear to suffer the sort of issues you’re banging on about.

    These comparisons to surgeons are getting very silly. I’m talking about the fact that my kids see almost all other people’s faces covered by masks (not forgetting that I’m in Wales, where it’s been mandated that everyone in a public building must wear a mask), including at nursery pickup/dropoff. If they were in secondary school, they would see everyone’s faces covered by masks, every day. How does that in any way relate to a surgeon wearing a mask during surgery, to protect open wounds from droplet infection?

    not to mention vast numbers of Japanese

    Huge numbers of Japanese people have also bought used panties from vending machines. What’s your point?

    The signal to noise ratio isn’t great right now though.

    Don’t worry, I’ll leave you in peace soon enough, to pontificate for a few hundred more pages on just how many jabs we all need before it’s time for another lockdown.

    Premier Icon twrch
    Free Member

    Eh, that comment about Japan wasn’t helpful. Oh well.

    Premier Icon frankconway
    Full Member

    To our Welsh contributor, why do residents of Asian countries routinely wear masks in cold/flu season or whenever a new virus emerges or a known one re-emerges?
    A clue – based on experience they know that mask wearing, as part of a range of preventive measures, helps.
    WTF does a poster’s access to private health care have to do with that they post?
    Pontificating? Someone who knows what they’re talking about and understands the subject matter is infinitely preferable to an internet random with no relevant knowledge or experience.
    Do you have that knowledge or experience? Immunologist? Virologist? Medically qualified?
    If only the forum allowed selective blocking.
    You have placed yourself in the pointless, useless and unfunny category.
    At least chewkw provides some entertainment value.

    Premier Icon kelvin
    Full Member

    deleted – what’s the point in engaging?

    Premier Icon Poopscoop
    Full Member

    I’m so over the mask debate. Trump and some other “leaders” have much to answer for.

    Truth is that there are people that will simply not wear a mask*. Not saying that actually applies to twrch as I think he does wear them but simply believes them to be of no/ little value? Full on anti mask types tend to only change their opinion when they or a loved one are directly impacted to a devastating degree.

    There is no escaping the fact that most attitudes are now set in stone this far into the pandemic. For good and bad.

    On a brighter note, thanks for all the latest info being posted by people, feeling a little less worried by Omicron now. Cautious as always but a little less worried.

    * It must genuinely suck not to be able to wear a mask due to medical exemption as you are lumped in with the other lot.

    Edit:

    Don’t worry, I’ll leave you in peace soon enough, to pontificate for a few hundred more pages on just how many jabs we all need before it’s time for another lockdown.

    See, this bakes my noodle far more than what you are directly saying about masks. Much of what you are advocating makes another lockdown more likely, yet have the temerity to make it sound like others are the ones that actually want it to happen. Incredible.

    Premier Icon Drac
    Full Member

    For one, the ever-increasing use of scary hospital and medical scenes being used to “educate” (or maybe even nudge) the public into the dangers of disease, goes so far against all they were taught about the need to humanise healthcare that it almost brought them to tears telling me about it.

    What? I don’t buy that for one second and what are you even trying to get at. How does it go against what they were told about humanising healthcare?

    My opening gambit was to suggest that maybe, we would have a better outcome if every form of care was not 100% focussed on avoiding the theoretical risks of Covid.

    Well it’s not. Maybe you should ask your close relative about that, if they exist.

    Premier Icon TiRed
    Full Member

    Fair enough, how about half of critical care beds? And hope no one you know needs one. The number of beds in the NHS is, I believe, a state secret (seriously) and can flex significantly. But if your staff are all off sick, and patients are stacking up then access is limited. Here’s the Nuffield view, where they increase critical capacity to 150%.

    I think it is self-evident that the NHS has come under unprecedented pressure, notably prior to vaccination roll-out, with a further smaller surge with emergence of a Delta strain. Provision of healthcare is not my expertise, development of new therapies, which hopefully will further reduce this pressure, is. And that day job offers the healthcare as a benefit. But when there’s no healthcare, private or public it doesn’t really matter (the local private hospitals were all requisitioned for covid treatment at the epidemic peak, if you didn’t know).

    Premier Icon twrch
    Free Member

    I don’t need to be a virologist or some other expert to comment on my subjective experience of life under Covid, and specifically how it has affected access to and quality of healthcare (which has been the topic of almost everything I’ve said). Somehow the merest mention of masks has set everyone off.

    WTF does a poster’s access to private health care have to do with that they post?

    It’s just very interesting, that one of our most frequent commenters on the subject of Coronavirus does not have to worry at all about the state of the healthcare that most of us have to use. I wonder how much that is also true, for those who make all the decisions about what is best for us?

    I think it is self-evident that the NHS has come under unprecedented pressure

    Yes, but as always, not due to absolute numbers of Covid patients (nor even absolute numbers of patients – bed occupancy has been significantly below average since March 2020). It’s a combination of staffing policies (which are dominated by Covid guidelines and procedures), care bottlenecks as services were reduced, working conditions, and yes, some Covid patients, with the issues that a new disease causes. We had a pretty good handle on the reality of what Covid could do fairly quickly. After all, our initial response to the pandemic was to empty the hospitals of everyone possible (sending large numbers of elderly back to nursing homes), in preparation for a surge of patients of all ages (which never happened).

    why do residents of Asian countries routinely wear masks in cold/flu season or whenever a new virus emerges or a known one re-emerges?

    I don’t know. Apparently a combination of culture, airbourne pollution, and some idea that surgical masks stop viruses. It’s worth noting that it’s more common to wear a mask if you display symptoms of a disease. Yes yes I know that Covid has a very high chance of being asymptomatic, but then again, being vaccinated reduces your chance of symptoms, making you more likely to be asymptomatic.

    Much of what you are advocating makes another lockdown more likely

    Really? Practically everyone who is at any kind of risk of a bad time with Covid is vaccinated, and a very high percentage of everyone else is too, and the advice of an internet stranger has the power to bring on another lockdown? I suppose the follow up question is – when will we ever stop wearing masks, if this isn’t enough?

    FWIW, it’s my personal opinion that the risks of Covid have been massively over-blown (although risk is still present), along with our response to it. We are now stuck in something closer to a mass hysteria. I’m sure you’ll all be falling over each other to present examples of people who did have a bad time with Covid, but the overall death statistics (and more specifically, the age- and health- related breakdowns) are quite clear. I’m sure the next argument is that we need to “protect the NHS”, but that has been the entire thrust of what I’ve been saying today. We have “protected the NHS”, and somehow it’s doing worse than ever (and also compared to other countries that have had a comparable time with Covid). Again, in my opinion, the excessive focus on Covid has caused numerous and severe side-effects with healthcare in the UK – the huge backlog of health issues, the compounding effect of health problems adding up as they are not treated, and the fact that the NHS is a horrible place to work at the moment.

    It’s probably time to show myself out.

    Premier Icon Poopscoop
    Full Member

    I just want to end my posts in this thread tonight on a lighter note.

    Tell me I’m not the only one that had a childish little chuckle when out of the blue earlier TiRed’s post included comments such as “increases it’s cleavage” in reference to omicron? I know it’s a technical term and entirely on topic but still.

    I’m sorry, and I’m not proud of myself but particularly coming from TiRed, I had a well needed chuckle.😁

    Premier Icon frankconway
    Full Member

    It’s probably time to show myself out.

    Your best post.
    Don’t forget to close door on your way out.

    Premier Icon reeksy
    Free Member

    I hope you recognise the inherent paradox in this comment:

    the risks of Covid have been massively over-blown (although risk is still present), along with our response to it.

    Without the response, do you honestly think life expectancy would not have reduced further?

    Premier Icon dantsw13
    Free Member

    PoopScoop – no, I chuckled too.

    Every time I fly into French airspace, the first ATC agency I contact is called “Brest Control” I’m ashamed to say I smirk every time I say it. I give myself extra points if they ask me a question and I get to respond with ” Affirm, Breast Control” Life needs these moments.

    Mask wearing has been mandated on air travel for a long time now. We are now allowed to offload those who refuse, although I can’t query them if they state they are exempt. The whole “Medical Exemption” thing gets me, mainly because it is so abused. The genuine sufferers get tarred along with the “Sunflower lanyard from eBay” mob.

    I have casually asked an “Exemptee” If he was exempt from all masks? Then what he would do in the event of a decompression when the O2 masks come down from the ceiling? Unsurprisingly he agreed he would put the O2 mask on. His medical condition must have been quite unique to only suffer from masks that helped others, not himself.

    Premier Icon Klunk
    Free Member

    Tired, what happened with the “significant slump” November cases predicted by the governments modelling ?

    Covid cases should slump in November by around 85 per cent to just 5,000 per day by Christmas even without Plan B restrictions, according to modelling seen by the Government.

    Premier Icon MoreCashThanDash
    Full Member

    The whole “Medical Exemption” thing gets me, mainly because it is so abused. The genuine sufferers get tarred along with the “Sunflower lanyard from eBay” mob.

    That’s the real loss here, those genuine cases have got lost in the noise about the anti-maskers.

    Still struggling to see how anyone can see the excess deaths from Covid and now the knock on impact to other care, and still question if a small effort is worth making.

    Premier Icon TiRed
    Full Member

    does not have to worry at all about the state of the healthcare that most of us have to use

    As it happens, you couldn’t be more wrong, but whatever. I’ve made more use of the NHS (long covid) in the last 18 months, than I have at any time in the previous 30 years.

    And I agree about the status of our healthcare and the COVID outcomes. The U.K. has had a relatively poor outcome compared to peers, our excess mortality has been higher, and at times quite remarkable.

    The “excess” focus on covid is really about the potential for excess use of resource. Strokes, cancer, heart attacks, diabetes, etc, are all linear and hence proportional to population number. This makes them much easier to plan for. Infectious diseases have long been the highest concern on government risk registers (over anything else you can think of) because they are nonlinear – one leads to two leads to four…

    At least now, we have effective interventions that have reduced the rates of hospitalisation by about four times and deaths by ten times. This means that we are very unlikely to see another lockdown without complete immune escape – and I don’t believe that this is omicron. We will also presently have means of mass treatment. But for some perspective, without those measures, over last Christmas, our actions led to 30k additional deaths compared to our European peers. That’s double a “bad flu year”.

    It’s probably time to show myself out.

    Don’t be silly, bring some facts. I’m always keen to debate. The facts are, however, pretty grim to be honest. Why not start with pregnancy risk for covid? You know that 5% of all women of childbearing age are pregnant at any time? Or the other immunocompromised and cancer patients. Or the general poor health status of the nation? COVID found us and our healthcare system out. Of tha I think we agree

    Premier Icon nickc
    Full Member

    FWIW, it’s my personal opinion

    You know, this is purely anecdote, but whenever I meet one of my patients that for whatever reason won’t wear a mask, or hasn’t been vaccinated, invariably they start with this…To the point that my reception team lead and I have a side bet running. The thing is, mostly it isn’t, it’s someone else’s opinion that they’ve lazily adopted as it suits.

    Premier Icon nickc
    Full Member

    COVID found us and our healthcare system out.

    Hallelujah brother. I suspect that the wrong conclusions will be made by politicians who’re obsessed by “market forces” though

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