Sunday 31 May 2020

Day 76 of self-isolation - More possible vaccines

It's Sunday, and we're running out of food. OK, we've got tins of stuff, so we won't starve, but we ran out of fresh fruit and vegetables. All the avocado and asparagus is gone. But the Waitrose van arrives today.

... later ...

The van arrived, with huge amounts of food, to last us till next weekend. Fish and chips tonight!

We've started to make plans for a cautious family reunion. I might get to see grandsons.1-3 for the first time in months!

More possible vaccines

USA numbers are down, at 1015, which is encouraging. Not so encouraging are the pictures I'm seeing of the riots, where I see a lot of people without masks who are not social distancing.

In the UK, numbers are down to 215, which is also encouraging. Reopening is going to happen, despite worries from some experts. Big close-together demonstrations in London. The virus will be delighted.

Latin America is still a tragic tribulation; India and Pakistan still growing fast.

A new technology for making vaccines has been developed. The big advantage of this method, is that it can potentially lead to a much faster track to a vaccine. Instead of the usual 18 months, it could be as little as six months. Science!

The old way of making a vaccine was to use whole but inactive viruses, and injecting those. This takes a long time, because you have to grow the viruses, then deactivate them (but without completely destroying them).

mRNA is messenger RNA (RNA is what viruses are made of, it's kind of like DNA, but much simpler. One obvious difference is that it's a single helix instead of a double helix.

mRNA is used by the body to send messages around on what proteins to make. Using mRNA to make vaccines has been in research for 30 years, but now, perhaps, this research has become sufficiently advanced to be practical.

The Oxford University vaccine(which has been in human trials for a month now) is an mRNA vaccine. There's another runner in this race, from ModeRNA Therapeutics, which has passed the initial safety checks, and will now be tested in 600 humans, starting next week. It's too soon to say when this vaccine might be ready,

Because mRNA vaccines are using such a different technology from tradition al vaccines, it is hoped that we might have 30 million doses of the vaccine by this autumn, with a billion not long after.

Pfizer is hoping to have millions of doses of their vaccine by October - also based on mRNA. It looks like this is the technology with the best chance of getting a vaccine by the end of 2020.

But nothing is certain. Another hundred companies are trying to develop vaccines - we hope that at least one of them is practical, and preferably sooner rather than later.

Saturday 30 May 2020

Day 75 of self-isolation - costs and benefits of lock down

Costs and benefits of lock down

We take those actions where the benefits exceed the costs. So lets look at benefits and costs.


There's really only one benefit. The lock down reduces the numbers of people who get infected, and therefore the number who die. So far, we've officially seen 38,000 deaths, although if you look at "excess death" figures, that's more like 60,000.

Left to itself, the virus spreads fast - we've already seen that. On average, each infected person infects three more people (an R number of 3). 3-9-27-81-243-729 ... you see how it goes. The lock down reduced this to 0.8. So starting from 100, you get 100-80-64-50-40-32 ...

Were there any alternatives to the lock down? Yes - if we had had a vaccine, but we don't. Maybe we will in September. Or maybe not.

The other alternative is face masks. Masking also reduces the R number, but 1) we don't know how many people would obey masking rules, and 2) we don't know how much masking wuold reduce the R number.

People often misunderstand masking. It is principally for the benefit of others, not for the wearer. It does give some benefit to the wearer, which is nice.

The "Masked Hamster" experiment showed that infection when the infected hamsters were masked, fell to a quarter of the unmasked. So masking is very good. If people are willing to do it.

How many would have died without the lock down. We'll never know. But we do know that most of the people in the UK would have been infected, and of the infected, some 1% would have died. So something like half a million dead bodies.


There are many costs. Grandparents can't see their grandchildren. Grandson.3 is about to learn how to crawl, and we haven't seen him for three months. When we do see him, he won't know who we are. Parents are locked in with their children, and are trying to home school then, many for the first time.

The economy hasn't collapsed, but many businesses have been closed for months, and might not survive. Many restaurants will close for ever, airlines are in dire straits and are cutting staff, hotels are in trouble. People can't pay rent, which puts pressure on landlords, both in the private and in the commercial sector.

A lot of commerce has gone online, and won't return to bricks-and-mortar. Six months rfom now, high streets will have a large number of empty properties, and rents will fall as landlords compete to attract new businesses.

In the USA, unemployment has reached 40 million. This is a recession that is comparable with those of 1929 and 2006, and the bounce-back to those took 8-10 years. The recession in the UK might not be so deep, but the recovery will take just as long.

Countries have found the Magic Money Tree. It turn out that it was there all along. But this is going to mean borrowing on an unprecedented scale, which means higher interest rates. I'm also expecting significant amounts of inflation.

Family savings have been drawn down; planned purchases of consumer goods have been deferred ndefinitely because food and other necessities came first. And consumers will be very cautious coming out of this. The reverse of the "Great Toilet Roll" panic-buying will mean that consumers will be wary of spending more than they need to.

As we come out of lock down, that will be replaced by track-and-trace. That was supposed to be in place by Jue 1. Now we learn that it won't be running until the end of June (and that probably means the end of July). Why is our government so serially incompetent at IT projects? And, as far as I can see, nothing has been done to avoid scam calls pretending to be tracers, or malicious reports of people having been in contact (and therefore needing to isolate for 14 days).

What is the benefit of installing the app? It means you get to tell other people that they might have been infected, which doesn't help the infected person at all. What is the cost of installing the app? You get to be phoned up by the tracers and told to give up work for two weeks. The incentive to install the app, is perverse. Only patriotic or ethical people will install it, and we all know how many Cummingses there are.

Things left undone

I have a cloth mask, which will act as a good shield should I become infected, to stop others being infected by me. The Masked Hamsters showed that this reduced infections by 75%. Why isn't our government telling us to wear masks in public? And to do so whether infected or not, because 50% of infections are without symptoms. So you can be infected, and be a spreader of Covid-19, without knowing it.

I have s tub of vitamin D tablets. We know that vitamin D plays a part in the immune response, we know that many people are vitamin D deficient. nd we know that vitamin D tablets are cheap and readily available. Why isn't the government advising on this?

Cummings should be fired. He should have his knitted cap publicly removed and burned. Otherwise, far too many people will treat the guidelines as casually as he did.

Friday 29 May 2020

Day 74 of self-isolation - Hydroxychrloroquine - the roots of the myth

Hydroxychrloroquine - the roots of the myth

Towards the end of March, Trump got enthusiastic about chloroquine (he said, "some people call it hydroxychrloroquine" because, he didn't realise that these are two different things) and the world went mad, chasing the rabbit that Trump tossed out. And people have been arguing about it ever since.

A week ago, Trump doubled down by announcing that he himself was taking HCQ. As a preventative.

Now "The Lancet", one of the most respected medical journals in the world, has published a major study that shows that HCQ is harmful to Covid-19 patients (although still a valuable drug for lupus and some other conditions).

And so Trump has stopped taking HCQ. I would guess that the White House medical team, after reading that report, cut off his supply. If I were his doctor, and had read that article, I would certainly have done the same. Trump doesn't even have Covid-19, so why risk taking a drug that can give heart problems, especially in a person that is so obese?

The rabbit, of course, will continue to run. Fervent Trumpers, treating every word uttered as a permanent pearl of wisdom, will continue to push HCQ despite the evidence.

So I wondered where this rabbit had come from? Where did this story start?

I think I found the origin. It's a letter in "Nature" (a very highly respected scientific journal). The letter, dated 18 March 2020, was written by Jia Liu, Ruiyuan Cao, Mingyue Xu, Xi Wang, Huanyu Zhang, Hengrui Hu, Yufeng Li, Zhihong Hu, Wu Zhong and Manli Wang (the affiliations list shows, unsurprisingly, that they are all based in China) and is entitled "Hydroxychloroquine, a less toxic derivative of chloroquine, is effective in inhibiting SARS-CoV-2 infection in vitro"

"In vitro" literally means "on glass". SARS-CoV-2 is the name for the virus that causes the disease Covid-19. It means that this isn't a test on actually living beings, just in a glass dish.

This would explain why Trump got confused between chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine.

So, a paper published on 16th March, read by Trump a few days later (or, more likely, it was summarised for him by his staff as a possibly promising drug worth investigating), was seized on by Trump as a game-chamger, in order to keep up the spirits of Americans who, by then, were dying in large numbers.

Another paper, published in "Nature" on February 4th, looks at the effect of Remdesivir and chloroquine, also in vitro, and by a similar list of authors, says much the same.

Remdesivir has, since then, become the most promising drug to offer treatment. One study found that it shortened the recovery time of patients from 15 to 11 days.

You will have noticed that Trump sticks rigidly to a policy of "Never admit mistakes". I suppose he thinks that admitting mistakes makes you look weak? And for sure, any admission of a mistake would be seized on by the media with great glee. So, having announced this "game changer", he can't say "Sorry, I was wrong". The most he can do, is stop taking it himself.

Thursday 28 May 2020

Day 73 of self-isolation - Moving averages

Moving averages

Each weekend, there is a dip in the numbers (also on holiday Mondays). The reason for this dip, I don't know, but I'm quite sure that it isn't the virus taking a couple of days off. It surely has to do with the reporting system, and the fact that although rapid response to medical issues are the top priority of every doctor, the filling in of statistical forms are not.

The issue of the weekend dip in the numbers, can be handled in one of two ways. The first way is to use a seven day moving average; the second way is a technique called "seasonal adjustment", that allows for a regular variation in statistics around the seasons of the year - in this case, it would be applied to daily data with a seven day cycle.

I chose to use a seven day moving average. Seasonal adjustment has two problems. First, it's really best applicable to a situation where the underlying data is stable or slowly rising or falling. The pandemic numbers are obviously not like that. The second reason is that it is a lot more difficult to explain how the calculation is done, whereas a seven day moving average is self-explanatory. If anyone needs it to be explained, please ask.

The seven day moving average also deals with the problem of "holiday Mondays", which also appear to have a strong influence on the daily numbers. One disadvantage of the moving average, is that it will always lag three days behind the daily report. That can't be helped, but the moving average line (in red on my charts) and be extended "by eye" if you want to.

The data come from the usual source - the numbers. I've extracted the numbers and created a Libreoffice spreadsheet to make the charts. As usual, I'm offering the spreadsheet to anyone who wants to play with it.

So here I present the numbers for the UK; cases and deaths. The day by day numbers, and the seven day moving average.

As you can see, the case numbers are falling,but are still 1/2 of the level that they were at the peak. Death numbers are also falling, and are a third what they were at the peak.

In my view, the numbers haven't gone down to a level that makes reopening safe. Maybe by June 15 they will be low enough.

Wednesday 27 May 2020

Day 73 of self-isolation - The New World Order

The New World Order

I'm reposting a message written six months from now, 28 November, 2020, which fell into a chronosynclastic infundibulum and emerged on my desk just now.

The last twelve months

We now know that the Covid-19 virus was first detected on November 25, 2019, exactly a year ago, so it's time for a retrospective on the events of the last twelve months.

The virus was ignored for a long time, and then not taken seriously for several weeks - as a result, it was able to infect so many people that it was impossible to deal with it on a case by case basis. Instead, governments all over the world responded by telling everyone to stay at home. This, of course, led to a huge world-wide depression, the like of which has not been seen since 1929.

Now, we're in a New World Order. We have a vaccine at last (thanks, Oxford University) and billions of doses have been manufactured and distributed ... except in the USA. Unfortunately, the USA has suffered an epidemic of disinformation (mostly, locally sourced, although some people suspect that a foreign actor has taken advantage of the pre-existing widespread gullibility), and half the population have refused to be vaccinated, for fear of a non-existent microchip being implanted with the vaccine, courtesy of Jervis Tetch (aka the Mad Hatter).

The world has learned to live with the peculiar people of the New World; every American travelling abroad has to be quarantined for two weeks on arrival. You'd think that the Certificates of Vaccination would have made this unnecessary, and so they did ... until the anti-vaxxers learned how to forge them.

But every cloud has a silver lining, and evolution works. People with the anti-vaxxer gene are gradually dying out (measles, mumps and rubella have made a strong comeback).

Some other countries have had the same problem, especially those that also have a tendency to religion. Many of the Islamic countries have preferred to trust to Allah than to take a Western vaccine, which is rumoured to cause infertility and impotence. Again, evolution is culling the unvaccinated.

In the sane parts of the world, Covid-19 is a thing of the past, but we are aware and alert for the possibility that a second wave of a mutated version might hit. So we've built up our stockpiles of PPE and medical equipment, and we're ready in case it hits again. And we won't be caught napping again. Next time, whether it's the same virus mutated, or something completely new, we won't be asleep at the wheel.

Life has, in many ways, changed.

During the lock down, we discovered that it's a lot cheaper and easier to have meetings electronically, and many international conferences can be done the same way. And working from home, for at least a few days each week, has become the norm for many occupations. The lock down gave us the impetus to install the infrastructure to make that happen, and we've learned how to use it.

Internet shopping and banking turned out to be easier than many people had thought, and now that we've become used to buying many goods that way, including groceries, that will continue. It means that many small retail outlets have failed, are failing, or will fail, but that's what happens when a new technology replaces the old.

Cash is no longer king. There is an awareness that handling something that has been handled by several other people is not a great idea; contactless payment and use of the RFID chip has become widespread.

The reduction in travel has led to a big fall in car usage and airplanes. This has led to a sudden fall in pollution and oil prices. The slump in oil prices has been great for most people, but catastrophic for many small oil producers, especially those using an expensive extraction system.

As cars left the roads during the lock down, it became more economic and safer to travel by bike (or electric bike) and people who have now discovered the pleasure of electric biking through a city, are unlikely to go back to the unpleasant old ways.

Many industries will never fully recover. Who would buy the folly of locking yourself into a cruise ship and breathing in the air that a thousand other people just breathed out, and risking a lengthy quarantine on board with nothing to do but hope that you don't get infected. Who would cram themselves into an aluminium tube for hours on end, sharing the bacteria and viruses of hundreds of other people? These industries won't go back to normal. And that will put the kibosh on the industries and supply chains that lead to ships and airplanes.

Other industries have become a lot more hygenic. There was a time when at the supermarket checkout, there was nothing between you and the cashier - now there will be a perspex shield, and non-cashier checkout is greatly encouraged. Barbers and hair stylists are masked, and gloved, and new gloves for each customer.  In all sorts of ways, there have been small changes that have already been adopted, and which will persist. Because would you rather go to a hair stylist that is very careful about hygene, or one that isn't?

People's social habits have changed. People no longer shake hands (and the awkward "bump elbows" never caught on). But the nod (or slight bow) is the new handshake. It has also become socially unacceptable to go barefaced in public, just as public spitting vanished a century ago. And everyone carries a small bottle of hand sanitiser.

Unemployment worldwide is still at disastrous levels, although our politicians are telling us that everything will be great in 2021.  But after the lies that they have been telling us for the last twelve months (and many years before), we don't believe them. Do they think that saying so will make it so? And the large number of closed shops and restaurants attest to that. Too many businesses went bust during the lock down. This has also meant that rents on those properties are not being paid, and the landlords are desperate to get the occupancy up. This has led to a crash in rents, and consequentially in property values.

The financing of the lock down is now starting to catch up with us. Governments are reluctant to raise taxes to cover the expenditures (that would deepen the depression) and financing via borrowing would raise interest rates (and would deepen the depression). So we're beginning to see the inflation that is the only way to cover the hole.

The US election was held three weeks ago, but arguments continue about who won. Both parties have claimed victory, and several lawsuits are working their way through the courts. In my opinion, the winning party will be the

At that point, the chronosynclastic infundibulum closed, so that's all we have of the message from November 28th, 2020.

Day 72 of self-isolation - this is what Covid-19 can feel like

 This is a guest post by Ian. He fell ill in mid-Mach, and this is what he experienced.

Corona Experience

I fell ill just over two weeks after visiting Paris. It turned out that the ' smokers cough ' of my agent was a bit more than that.

My wife is a kidney transplant patient of over 20 years. She was to become my nurse during shielding and lockdown.

In mid-March I felt unwell but I couldn't put a finger on it. I was tired, thick headed but no cough. I did have the odd sneeze but I had no temperature. So I went to bed with half a paracetamol in the middle of the afternoon. My wife went for a walk.

I didn't get up the next day nor the next. I knew I wasn't well but I had little to show for it.

Then came the cricket bat attack. I literally exploded in runny faeces. And then came the fatigue. Fatigue at a level I had never experienced. I could barely get out of bed to the toilet. I wore a nappy.

I remember little of the next two weeks except during the ' better ' interlude. My GP did ring everyday and I was mostly coherent : not always.

Round two was another cricket bat attack. At this point because I had none of the NHS111 symptoms I was not classed as Covid. Round two changed that. The GP warned me to call 999 at the first hint of breathing difficulty , not NHS111.  One evening I felt my chest tighten and I had sharp pains to my heart.

At 10pm I did actually call NHS111. Sometime around 1am I finally was called back by a truly intelligent nurse. By then my chest had eased as had my ' heart pains '. We decided that unless my condition worsened I would be safer and better at home. My GP would have an emergency email to greet her at 08:00 hrs.

My GP called out the mobile paramedics. My ECG was fine, my oxygenation was fine, my BP and temperature were fine except I was obviously very ill. I remained at home.

In my lucid moments I had posted about my condition and symptoms on FB. I documented all the so called mild symptoms of Covid long before the UK government or any other recognised them: brain fog , loss of taste, massive diarrhea, dreadful dreadful fatigue. This was the third week of March.

Slowly I got better and then I had two more waves of attacks, each less awful than the previous but not 'mild' in anyone's book. My GP called me into the closed surgery for my bloods. All my tests and poo tests came back ' normal '. But I was obviously very ill.

At one stage I emailed the doctors with my research on diarrhea Covid. It turns out that 30% of Covid is like mine. The US Gastroenterology already knew. The Chinese already knew. The UK was still saying I had a ' tummy bug '. Then my GPs believed me and I had test after test: never for Covid as that test only works for a short 72 hour window after initial symptoms.

After the fourth bout my GP was a bit fed up with me. She said I had viral fatigue and that was that. I emailed back with BMJ Blog of the Professor of Tropical Medicine in Liverpool: his eight weeks of hell was a carbon copy of mine.

April came and went. I was mostly dreadfully ill. May arrived. It continued.

In mid May I took matters into my own hands. The medical profession these days is test and treat. Tests come back negative ... No need to treat. Actually this works more than 80% of the time. The medical profession these days is poor at analytic thought in a new situation. They look for patterns etc and most don't ' think through the problem '. I don't think they have the time.

I put my symptoms into Google. The waves of attacks, the exploding faeces, the lack of any serious temperature etc, and back came the answer : Crohn's. I knew I didn't have that but the similarity was uncanny.

I was close to cracking it.

The problem was that the virus binds very nicely indeed to receptors in the gut. And it had food! The body responds and the gut gets massively inflamed that inflammation is the carbon copy of Crohn's inflammation. At the end of a wave of attack I slowly got better and then returned to my old high fibre good for you diet and started to exercise. Both were very big mistakes. High fibres etc just cause more inflammation unless the gut has repaired. But that needs four weeks and each attack wave was just seven days.

As for exercise: hmmm all that extra blood flow etc simply exasperated the gut inflammation. Even less ' bad food ' was needed for a wave attack. Body temperature and pulse were crucial. 80bpm preferably 60bpm was needed. Take half a tab of paracetamol to keep the body temperature down. Do everything to protect the gut.

My current diet is not quite ' baby food' but an adult version of mush. High calories but mush: porridge, chocolate puds, eggs etc etc. Virtually no fibre.

I then discovered that Crohn's inflammation flare ups are treated with aspirin derived NSAIDs. So after breakfast I take a low dose tsb of aspirin.

It turns out that taking aspirin was beneficial in more ways than one. I had taken it on and off all through the eight weeks. I was right to have done so. It is the thickening blood caused by Covid that can cause so many additional problems. The doctors now know that. I limped to that conclusion in April.

Aspirin proved a cheap effective life saver.

I never had the pneumonia. At 69 years of age I'm not sure I would have survived that. A third of cases are like mine and gut cases carry on for a long time indeed.

I am recovering. I'm not there yet but hopefully will be so by July. It's been an awful experience.

Day 72 of self-isolation - USA death statistics

Analysis of NCHS death statistics

Rick Heidel alerted me to a source of death statistics for the USA that I hadn't spotted before. These are official USA deaths from all causes, week by week, reported by NCHS (National Center for Health Statistics). I've compared those with the Worldometer figures that I've been using (these are very similar to the John Hopkins University figures, qand I think any differences are minor).

I read the notes to the NCHS statistics, and they explain that for the last few weeks, the death figures are incomplete.

"Previous analyses of 2015\u20132016 provisional data completeness have found  that completeness is lower in the first few weeks following the date of  death (<25%), and then increases over time such that data are  generally at least 75% complete within 8 weeks of when the death  occurred"

This is clear if you look at the data for 5/9 and 5/16. The number of deaths per week was around 57-58 thousand before the pandemic. The figure of 22 thousand in 5/16 is because of this reporting lag (unless you think an effective troupe of faith healers has been busy). Likewise the figures for 5/9 and 5/2 are incomplete. The further back you go, the better is the completeness of the statistic. This is just because the statistics arrive late, and they always have (NCHS analysed 2015-2016).

In a normal week, there would be some 58,000 deaths. If the actual deaths in that week are 74,000, then we call the difference of 16,000 "excess deaths". The usual reason for watching "excess deaths" is to alert us to a problem that we hadn't realised was happening. For example, if a hospital has excess deaths of newborns, then maybe there's a problem in that hospital that needs attention. In this case, we know the cause, but we're cross-checking the Covid-19 numbers reported in other sources.

So, what information can we extract from these data by looking at the number of excess deaths?

In early April, we see some 30% of excess deaths, and when we look at the cumulative excess deaths, we can compare that with the Worldometer figures. And we see that for April. there is a substantially larger number of excess deaths than the Worldometer figures show. The implication is that the number of deaths caused by the pandemic, is being under-estimated.

By how much are the numbers being understated? That gets difficult, because of the lag in reporting deaths mentioned in the notes. As more deaths get reported for the last 8 weeks (the notes suggest that the data could be as poor as 75% complete for the last 8 weeks), the "excess deaths" figures could rise. But we don't know that. So we have to take these numbers with a pinch of salt.

But what these figures suggest, is that the Worldometer numbers are low by a factor of 30-40% or so.

I also include a study done in NYC, which I can recommend as worth reading, and which shows (among other interesting details) that the actual death numbers were 28% higher than the reported numbers.

In the spreadsheet, I give the sources of data I used.


We can't give an exact percentage by which reported Covid-19 deaths are understated, but it looks to be 30 or 40%. But we can say with a strong degree of confidence, that the numbers are not being overstated.

Tuesday 26 May 2020

Day 71 of self-isolation - Dunkirk


80 years ago today, operation Dynamo began. This was the operation to evacuate the British Army (and much of the French) across the Channel after their catastrophic defeat by Nazi Germany.

For various reasons (which are still being argued over today), the Wehrmacht didn't press its advantage and take 338,000 Allied prisoners, mostly British. All heavy equipment was left behind (soldiers had their helmets and rifles, nothing else) and there was a real fear that this would be followed up by a Nazi invasion of England, and the end of our civilisation.

But the weather was good, the RAF held off the Luftwaffe, and a flotilla of small boats rescued the Army from the beaches of Dunkirk. Thames tugs, pleasure steamers, fishing trawlers and yachts all took part, many making multiple crossings. In the end, the evacuation was completed by 800 vessels between 26 May and 4th June.

Wars are not won by evacuations. We then had to face the power of Nazi Germany alone, across the 21 mile wide English Channel, defended only by the Royal Air Force, the Royal Navy, an army that was armed principally with rifles and a Home Guard armed mostly with broomsticks. It was not looking good.

Hitler offered peace. Churchill said the polite equivalent of "Fuck you", making the well-known V-sign that became widely adopted as the sign of defiance.

 We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender
Today, Covid-19 has taken 265,277 British prisoners, and killed 37,048 of us. And all that stands between us and the virus invasion is hand hygiene, social distancing and face masking. Well - fuck you. We've been here before, and we'll do the same as we did then. We will use our science (radar, Spitfires, vaccine development) and our discipline (rationing, blackout, social distancing) and we will hold out against all the odds. We'll grit our teeth through the blitz of Covid-19. Our NHS was not overwhelmed. Never was so much owed by so many to so few.

And when the Oxford University vaccine arrives (or whichever other vaccine comes first), we will commence Operation Overlord and recapture everything that we lost.

I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat. Come then, let us go forward together with our united strength.

Day 71 of self-isolation - a look at history

A look at history

Spanish flu, 1918

100 years ago, there was a major pandemic caused by the H1N1 influenza A virus. It was
called "Spanish flu" because the newspapers at the time (1918) weren't allowed to
report on it. But the Spanish newspapers (Spain was neutral) could and did.
The first known case was reported at Camp Funston in Fort Riley, Kansas,
on March 11, 1918.

It originated, as far as we can tell, in Kansas. Numbers are imprecise, but
it's estimated that it infected about a third of the world's poplation, and
killed between 20 million and 50 million, including 675,000 Americans.

For comparison, WW1 military and civilian deaths 15 to 22 million, of which
117,465 were American.

The first wave was in spring 1918, was mild, and there weren't many deaths. But
in autumn 1918 things got really bad. Victims died within hours or days. Your
skin turned blue, your lungs filled with fluid and you suffocated. Young or old,
people with or withut conditions - H1N1 killed them all.

There was no treatment. There were no vaccines, no antivirals. No drugs,
nothing. But there was aspirin. And patients were advised to take up to 30 grams
pe day. Which we now know is toxic; 4 grams it to top limit.

Busnesses shut down, crops couldn't be harvested. And that wasn't because the
government ordered that - it was because so many people were ill - or dead.

At first, the US government and the media pretended that it was just like "normal
flu". So, September 28, Philadelphia had a big parade attended by tens of
thousands of people. Ten days later, 1000 Philadelphians were dead. By March,
that was 15,000.

There is no vaccine.

Asian flu, 1957

This was H2N2, and caused 1-4 million deaths worldwide and 70,000 to 116,000 in the USA.
A vaccine is available.

Hong Kong flu, 1968

This was H3N2. One million killed worldwide, 100,000 in the USA.
It still exists, as seasonal flu.
A vaccine is available.

SARS, 2002

Sars (SARS-CoV-1) spread is 2002-2004. Also called "Severe acute respiratory syndrome".
There were 8098 cases worldwise, and 774 deaths. A vaccine is available.

Swine Flu, 2009

Swine flu A(H1N1)pdm09 appeared in January 2009 That was a true pandemic, with 700 million to 1400
million cases, and hundreds of thousands of deaths (estimated 284,000,
range 151,700 - 575,400). Deaths in the USA were 12,469

A vaccine was available in November 2009

MERS, 2012

MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome), now called MERS-CoV, was first seen in Saudi
Arabia. There were 2519 cases, and 866 deaths. There is no vaccine.

Ebola, 2014

28652 infected world wide, 11325 died. 2 people became infected in the USA, 7 cases were evacuated to the USA.
2 deaths.

Covid-19, 2019

As of May 24, 2020, the pandemic is still sweeping around the world. So far, we've seen
5.5 million cases (but those are tested cases, the real number is several times as high.
Deaths so far as 350,000l There is no vaccine.

Monday 25 May 2020

Day 70 of self-isolation - being unwell

 Being unwell

I haven't had any serious illnesses, so I can't really say what it's like. And I hope I am never in the situation of being able to describe what it feels like to have Covid-19. But I did have something once.

It started when I woke up one morning, with an agonising pain in my left elbow, plus some pain in my left shoulder. And I felt weak, and had a temperature. When we described this to our GP, he immediately called an ambulance, and I was ferried to hospital.

Apparently, the heart cannot feel pain, but the pain is referred to the left arm, because that's the nearest. So if you ever get an appalling pain in your left elbow for no apparent reason (you didn't just bash it into a wall) call an ambulance.

They got me into hospital, into bed, and did this test and that. My heart seemed to be beating fine, and they diagnosed pericarditis, an inflammation of the lining near your heart.

They kept me in hospital for a week, as a precaution, total bed rest. Not allowed a computer! But I persuaded them to allow me books, and that week, I learned Pascal from the Microsoft manuals.

After a week, they let me out, and soon after, I went back to work. But I immediately discovered that I could barely walk a dozen yards without getting tired. For weeks afterwards, there was a huge gap between what I thought I should be capable of, and what I could actually do. I remember walking to the nearby library to get books, and I had to stop and rest frequently.

Eventually, I got my full strength back

From what I've heard from friends, Covid-19 is a lot worse than that, even if you survive.

Sunday 24 May 2020

Day 69 of self-isolation - full batshit crazy

 I got this email (along with the usual offers from sexy females, good news about my fund and incomprehensible emails in languages I don't speak).

It's too good to waste. New World Order, RFID chip, Number of the Beast. Hypodermic needle to install, Barack Obama may be the biblical Antichrist.

Read it. This isn't a rare view. Half of Fox News viewers believe that Bill Gates wants to use a coronavirus vaccine to implant a microchip. 44% of Republicans and 19% of Democrats the same. So they will refuse the vaccine.

America is doomed.

How are you doing?
I hope you, your family, and friends stay safe by taking the proper
precuations as we enter in to confusing and troubling times as we
watch a worldwide pandemic unfold with this Coronavirus.
Could there be something more deeper going on with all of this? Could
we be seeing the signs of the times unfolding? Could this be a door of
opportunity for people to open their hearts to what God has to say?
Jesus says to His disciples concerning the last days, "For nation
will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will
be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these
are the beginning of sorrows" (Matthew 24:7-8).
We have been seeing a record setting amount of Earthquakes world-wide
in various places, incuding places that normally do not receive
Earthquakes. Now with this Coronavirus, could this be one of the
pestilences that will fall upon us in the last days as spoken by
Jesus? Where will it leave our economy? Did you know the Bible teaches
there will be a cashless society in the last days? Will this be a
major stepping stone in bringing that about?
You may have seen on NBC news just months ago concerning the
implantable RFID microchip that is gaining ground in Sweden where
people are getting this microchip implanted in their hand.
Would you allow a microchip to be placed inside your body that has
the ability to track where you go and what you do? How about if you
knew it matched perfectly with Bible prophecy where God warns us not
to take it during the future reign of the Antichrist, otherwise we
will receive the fullness of His wrath (Revelation 14:9-11)?
This may be the most imporant message you will read in these
times...please do not ignore this! This messsage reveals what the Mark
of the Beast is, and the meaning behind counting a number people have
been pondering for centuries, 666. This is truly a message from God!
In the Revelation of Jesus Christ given to the apostle John, we read:
...."And he (the false prophet who deceives many by his miracles)
causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to
receive a mark in their right hand or in their foreheads,
that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark or the name
of the beast or the number of his name.
Here is wisdom: Let him that hath understanding count the number of
the beast, for it is the number of a man; and his number is six
hundred threescore and six" (Revelation 13:16-18 KJ21).....
Referring to the final times, this can only be speaking of a cashless
money society, which has yet to occur, but we are making our way
towards. Why's that? Otherwise we could still buy or sell without
accepting the mark among one another if physical currency was still
around. It logically deduces itself to this conclusion.
The mark of the beast can't be anything spiritual, because the word
references two unique physical spots. If it was to be spiritual, it
would just say in the forehead.
Here is where it really starts to come together. It is shocking how
accurate the Bible is concerning the RFID microchip. These are notes
from a man named Carl Sanders who worked with a team of engineers to
help develop this microchip in the late 1960's.
Carl Sanders sat in seventeen New World Order conferences with heads
of state officials such as Henry Kissinger and Bob Gates of the CIA to
discuss plans on how to bring forth this one-world system. The US
government commissioned Carl Sanders to invent a microchip for
identifying and controlling the peoples of the world-a microchip that
would be placed underneath the skin with a hypodermic needle (a fast,
convenient process that would be gradually received by the world).
Carl Sanders, along with a group of engineers with him, with US grant
monies supplied by US tax dollars, took on this mission and designed a
RFID chip that's powered by a lithium battery, rechargeable with the
aid of the temperature fluctuations in our skin. Without the
understanding of the Bible (Mr. Sanders was not a follower of Jesus at
the time), these men spent one and a half million dollars gathering
information on the best and most convenient location to have the RFID
chip placed under the skin.
Guess what? These researchers determined that the forehead and the
back of the hand (the two locations Revelation says the mark will go)
are not only the most convenient places, however are also the only
viable locations for constant, consistent temperature fluctuations in
the skin to recharge the lithium battery. The RFID chip is around 7
millimeters in length, .75 millimeters in diameter, about the size of
a grain of rice. It is capable of holding pages of details about you.
All your general history, work history, crime history, health history,
and financial data could be stored on this microchip.
Mr. Sanders believes that this RFID chip, which he remorsefully
helped invent, is the "mark of the beast" described in Revelation
13:16-18. The Greek word for "mark" is "charagma," which is defined as
a "scratch or etching." It is also interesting to observe that the
number 666 is a word in the original Greek. The word is "chi xi
stigma," with the end word, "stigma," also meaning "to stick or prick.
Carl believes that is referencing to the usage of a hypodermic needle
being poked into the human flesh to insert the RFID chip."
Mr. Sanders asked a Boston Medical Center doctor what would happen if
the lithium contained within the RFID microchip leaked into the body.
The doctor responded that if the microchip broke inside a human body,
the lithium would cause a severe and painful wound filled with pus.
This is what the book of Revelation says:
"And the first (angel) went and poured out his bowl into the land—
and a bad and evil sore came upon the people having the mark of the
beast and the ones giving worship to his image" (Revelation 16:2
The holy scriptures tell us that we cannot buy or sell without having
the mark, or the number of its name. Which is the number of the beast,
666. Revelation 13:18 tell us to calculate the number 666. How can we
calculate 666?
This is where it becomes an eye opener. Counting the number of the
beast, 666, has been long discussed all throughout history, however
has finally been uncovered in these last times by the Holy Spirit.
What you will see confirms itself with the word of God the real
meaning to calculate 666.
Throughout the scriptures, God uses the number 3 as confirmation of
things. Below are a some examples:
...."So there are three witnesses in heaven: the Father, the Word and
the Holy Spirit, and these three are One" (1 John 5:7 AMPC)....
...."That He was buried, that He arose on the third day as the
Scriptures foretold" (1 Corinthians 15:4 AMPC)....
...."Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to
come!" (Revelation 4:8 NKJV)....
Now what's interesting is the the mark is explained in detail in
three different verses (Revelation 13:16,17,18), and every verse lists
three different examples of the given topic. The final three being the
number 6 being used three times in a row. That is a key factor to
solving the way to calculate the number 666.
What does it mean to calculate? It means to add up. How could we add
up 666? Recall back to my past key point concerning God confirming in
threes. Now logically, what can be the most rational way to add up the
number 666? To count it equally in threes based off the number. We
cannot count it equally as 600+60+6, this would also take us back to
the beginning. We are not able to count it as 600+600+600, or
60+60+60, because there are no zeroes in between or at the end of 666.
The only sensible option is 6+6+6=18. What's interesting is that the
verse that reveals for us to count the number itself is verse 18,
being the 3rd verse out of three verses that describe the mark. What
is 18 divided by 3? 6. So 3x6=18, or 6+6+6=18.
Yet another interesting point is that the two other possible
combinations (making a combined total of three possible combinations)
for moving the "+" symbol in between the 6's are 66+6=72, and 6+66=72.
Add up both 72's together and you get 144. Why the number 144 is
interesting is because the verse following Revelation 13:18 is the
first time in scripture where the 144,000 are being described in
...."And I saw, and lo, a Lamb having stood upon the mount Sion, and
with him an hundred forty-four thousands, having the name of his
Father written upon their foreheads" (Revelation 14:1 YLT)....
Now if you add up all three values by counting 666 by moving the "+"
symbol around in all three possible combinations, we would get
72+72+18=162. What's interesting in regards to the number 162, is, if
you divide 144,000 by 162, you get 888. The name of Jesus in Greek
gematria calculates to 888. The New Testament was written in the Greek
language. Revelation 14:1 not only mentions the 144,000, but also the
Lamb of God who is Jesus.
Now what is interesting in regards to the the number for Jesus, 888,
is that if you apply this same system, you get 8+8+8=24. Why the
number 24? Revelation 4 tells us there are 24 elders seated around the
throne of God. This is the same throne where Jesus sits:
"Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven,
and One sat on the throne. And He who sat there was like a jasper and
a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the
throne, in appearance like an emerald. Around the throne were
twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders
sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their
heads" (Revelation 4:2-4).
Now if you take 8+8+8=24, and 8+88=96, and 88+8=96, you get
24+96+96=216. Take 144,000 divided by 216 and you get 666. Do not
forget that this was the same formula to get the number 162 out of
counting 666 that produced the number 888 when dividing 144,000 by
162. It is perpetual.
With making use of the same formulation of counting by including the
"+" symbol in between the numbers, why do all these numbers relate in
such a way?
The book of Revelation contains the use of the number 7 in various
forms. For instance 7 seals, 7 trumpets, and 7 bowls. What is
interesting about the number 37 (three sevens) is if if you divide any
number that contains the same single digit three times in a row, such
as 111 to 999, it comes out to the value of if you were to add all
three numbers up. For example 888 divided by 37 equals 24. So
8+8+8=24. Or 666 divided by 37 equals 18. So 6+6+6=18. Could this be
another way of God's word confirming itself that the mystery behind
calculating the number 666 indeed is 18?
Yet another interesting factor to observe is that if you add up all
the numbers from 1 to 36 (1+2+3...+36), it totals 666. The number 36,
as in three sixes? Might this be a sign that we need to add up three
sixes as opposed to perceiving the number as six-hundred sixty six?
Now what could this mean? Well we know in this world we're recognized
by numbers in various forms. From our birth certificates to our social
security card, also with our drivers license, being recognized based
on a system of ruler ship. So it's plausible that this RFID chip will
incorporate a new identification that has a complete total of 18
"here the wisdom is, the one having the mind let him calculate the
number of the wild beast, number for "of human" it is, and the number
of it 666" (Revelation 13:1, Greek Translation).
The Greek word "anthrĊpos" being used in verse 18 where it says "of
human" is the Greek strongs concordance G444. The first two
definitions of the word are "a human being, whether male or female",
and, "generically, to include all human individuals". Could the number
of the beast apply to all mankind?
In the Greek (the New Testament was originally written in the Greek
language), and other translations, you will notice the beast is
described as an "it", instead of "him". The reason I'm making this
point is because when a translation says "His number is 666", this
would imply a singular person, the Antichrist. But by saying "the
number of it 666", implies that it is of the beast system as a whole.
We can know the number of the beast cannot be to identify products
(like a new barcode) to buy or sell because scripture says we cannot
buy or sell without the number of the beast. What am I getting at?
There will be instances where you could buy something someone made
themselves and it wouldn't have a store branded identification on it.
But for this number to be in our chips, that is where it must be to
conclude ultimately that we cannot buy or sell without having the
number of the beast. As previously mentioned in Revelation 13:18, the
number of the beast (6+6+6=18) is a "human number", definition
"generically, to include all human individuals".
Might this be the identification of the beast, the number of its
name? The one-world beast system that is recognized by 18 characters?
This may match the scriptures that speaks of a mark that we ought to
have to buy or sell in our right-hand or forehead, and that it also
incorporates the number of the beast, throughout a future cashless
money society.
Go to: 

{There follows a list of URL, each of which will record your IP address}

 to see all the proof!
The Holy scriptures warns us in the end times that a false prophet
will rise up doing miracles to deceive many to receive the beasts
...."And the beast (Antichrist) was seized and overpowered, and with
him the false prophet who, in his presence, had performed miraculous
signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the
beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were hurled alive
into the lake of fire which blazes with brimstone" (Revelation 19:20
At all costs, DO NOT TAKE IT!
"Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, "If
anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his
forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of
the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of
His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the
presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the
smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest
day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever
receives the mark of his name" (Revelation 14:9-11).
We're living in very prophetic times with very important Biblical
prophecies coming to pass.
When Donald Trump acknowledged Jerusalem as capital of Israel in
December of 2017, this was a massive step to bring about the Third
Temple foretold in the word of God.
God's word alerts us that the Antichrist will seat himself in this
"...and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes
and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped,
so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he
is God" (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).
In the Islamic faith, they have a figure referred to as the Mahdi,
known as their messiah who they are awaiting to be revealed. There are
various testimonies from people on the internet who believe this man
shall be Barack Obama who may be the biblical Antichrist. I personally
have had strange dreams concerning him. He got on stage proclaiming
himself to be a follower of Jesus with no affiliation to the Muslim
faith, however it was later revealed by his family that he certainly
is a devout Muslim.
So what's in the name? The meaning of someones name can say a lot
about a person. God throughout history has given names to people that
have a specific meaning tied to their lives. How about the name Barack
Obama? Let us take a look at what may be hiding beneath the surface...
Jesus says, "And He said to them, 'I saw Satan fall like lightning
from heaven'" (Luke 10:18).
In Hebrew, the word "Barack" means "lighting", and the use of "Bama"
(Strongs Hebrew phrase 1116) is used to mean the "heights" of heaven.

The day after the election of Barack Obama (11/04/08), the triumphing
pick three lotto numbers in Illinois (Obama’s domestic state) for
11/5/08 were 666.
Obama had been U.S. senator for Illinois, and his zip code was 60606.
Regardless, whoever seats themselves in the future Third Temple that
is to be built in Jerusalem, declaring themselves to be God IS THE
Why do we need Jesus?
"for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans
"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life
in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23).
Our own works cannot save our souls from the wrong we've committed.
If we step in front of a judge, being responsible for breaking the
law, the judge won't judge us by the good that we've carried out,
rather the crimes we've committed. If we as fallen humanity, created
in God's image, pose this kind of moral justice, how much more a
perfect, righteous, and Holy God?
God has brought down to us His moral regulation's by the 10
commandments given to Moses at Mt. Siani. These legal guidelines were
not given so we can be justified, however so that we may see the need
for the savior. They are the mirror of God's character of what He has
put in every one of us, with our conscious bearing witness that we all
know that it's an offense to steal, lie, dishonor our mother and
father, and so forth.
We can try to follow all the moral laws of the 10 commandments,
however we will never catch up to them to be justified before a Holy
God. The same word of the law given to Moses manifested as flesh over
2000 years ago in the body of Jesus Christ. He came to be our
justification by perfectly fulfilling the law, living a sinless life
that solely God may accomplish.
The distance between us and the law can never be reconciled by our
own merit, but the arm of Jesus is stretched out by the grace and
mercy of God. And if we're to seize hold of, by faith in Him, He'll
pull us up being the one to justify us. As in the court of law, if
someone steps in and pays your fine, even though you're guilty, the
judge can do what's legal and just and let you go free. That is what
Jesus did nearly 2000 years in the past on the cross. It was a legal
transaction being fulfilled in the spiritual realm by the shedding of
His blood, with His final words being, "...It is finished!..." (John
Now why did Jesus have to die for us?
Because God is Holy and just, the wrath that we deserve could not be
brushed away. Because of the perfect righteousness and justice of
God's character, it ought to be dealt with, it ought to be quenched
and satisfied.
For God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 18:23).
That is why in Isaiah chapter 53, the place it speaks of the coming
Messiah and His soul being a sacrifice for our sins, why it says it
satisfied God to crush His only begotten Son.
That is due to the fact the wrath that we deserve was justified by
being poured out upon His Son. For if it was poured out upon us who
have earned it, we'd all die and go to hell. God created a means of
escape by pouring it out on His Son who's soul could not stay in
Hades, however was raised and seated on the right hand of God in
So now once we put on the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 13:14), God no
longer see's the individual who deserves His wrath, but the glorious
image of His perfect Son residing inside of us, justifying us as if we
obtained the wrath we deserve, making a means of escape from the curse
of death.
Now what we ought to do is turn from our sins and trust in the
savior, confessing and forsaking our sins. That is not just a head
knowledge of believing in Jesus, instead receiving His words, taking
them to heart. In which we no longer live to practice sin, however
turn from our sins and practice righteousness:
"Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of
God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor
adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous,
nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom
of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were
sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and
by the Spirit of our God" (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
By doing so we may come to be transformed into the image of God by
faith in His Son Christ Jesus Who's inclined to present the Holy
Spirit to those who ask of Him:
"Most assuredly, I (Jesus) say to you, unless one is born of water
and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born
of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' (John
"But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit
of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of
Christ, he is not His" (Romans 8:9).
What are you waiting for? Our Father in heaven only wants the best
for us all, restoring every part this world has stolen from us. That
is what it means to be "holy". To be made whole.
He is waiting to hear from you. That God given tongue to speak
language, by means of faith, pray to Him, ask Him to forgive you by
confessing to Him your sins and be willing to forsake them; that you
receive the sacrifice of His Son Jesus on the cross, and that you want
His Holy Spirit living inside you transforming you into a child of
Jesus says, "but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him
(the Holy Spirit) will never thirst. But the water that I shall give
him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into
everlasting life."
Did you realize that Jesus spoke more about hell than any individual
in the holy scriptures, even more than He spoke about heaven?! For
this very reason He came to die for us, to rescue us from this place
that we earned by our sins.
He describes hell as a real place where,
"Their worm does not die
And the fire is not quenched" (Mark 9:44).
And where,
"There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth..." (Luke 13:28).
Jesus tells us who to fear,
"And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.
But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell"
(Matthew 10:28).
"Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the
first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John,
saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,
prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice
from heaven saying, 'Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He
will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will
be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from
their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.
There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.'
Then He who sat on the throne said, 'Behold, I make all things new.'
And He said to me, 'Write, for these words are true and faithful.'
And He said to me, 'It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the
Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of
life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all
things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the
cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral,
sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake
which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.'"
(Revelation 21:1-8).
With all the world religions, how can we make sure the Bible has it
all right? The scientific information has established and continues to
support that the universe once had a starting point wherein space,
time and matter had been created. Many know this as the big bang.
"The non-biblical religions tell us that god or god's create within
space and time that eternally exist. The Bible stands alone and says
that time and space don't exist until God creates the universe." -
Astronomer (Phd) Hugh Ross
The Bible not only got it all right that space, time and matter all
came into existence at the start of the universe, it also states in 7
different places that the universe is expanding 1000's of years before
scientists learned these things.
Did you know that the real Noah's Ark was discovered where the
scriptures informed us it'd be with the right dimensions? As well as
proof for the destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and the
Exodus account of the Red Sea crossing?
The Bible is by far the most translated and studied document in the
history of the world, full of predictive prophecies, matching what we
discover in the book of nature. Would not you expect God's word to be
Jesus is calling you!

Day 69 of self-isolation - The Masked Hamsters

The masked hamsters

Fox News have reported an important test done on the question of masking and Covid-19
For this, they used hamsters. Hamsters can also catch Covid-19, and  it's easier to use hamsters for a potentially lethal test, than humans.

So here's what they did.

They set up two cages of hamsters. One cage with infected hamsters, and  one cage uninfected. They set up a fan to blow air from the infected  cage, to the uninfected.
Covid-19 is very infections, so they  found that at the end of the test, 2/3 of the clean hamsters, were now  infected. That is just from breathing in the air that the infected  hamsters had breathed out.

The next test, used more hamsters.

They put masking over the clean hamsters cage. At the end of the test,  33% of the hamsters had become infected. So wearing a mask halved the infection rate. Also, the newly infected hamsters had a lower viral  load. Less viruses. Meaning they weren't so badly infected.

The third test used more hamsters

The put masking over the infected hamsters cage. At the end of the test, 15% of the clean hamsters were infected.

What does this show?

It shows that for hamsters, masking infected hamsters reduces the infection rate to a quarter that you get without masking. Masking uninfected hamsters reduces the infection rate to a half that you get without masking.

It would be very unethical to try the same experiment with humans, but we can expect that the results would be similar. And we can expect that if both the infected, and the uninfected hamsters were masked, the infection rate would be even less than 15%.

The counter-attack on the coronavirus (until we have a vaccine) is to reduce the transmission rate (R0) between people. The transmission rate of Covid-19 is about 3, meaning that each infected person, infects an average of three people. That's why it spreads so fast.

If the R0 could be reduced to a quarter of that, down to 0.75, then the virus will die out. We're getting that effect via the "stay home, wash hands, social distance" system.

But suppose everyone would be persuaded to wear masks. We would get the R0 down to the necessary level, without the economic damage of the lock down.

And that is possible - in South Korea, Japan and Taiwan, it has been standard for a long time, if a person has a cold or flu or similar symptoms, to wear a mask in public. Why?

When you sneeze, you blast out a vortex of droplets (containing the virus) for 23 to 26 feet. Coughing reaches 19 feet, and just breathing and talking, 7 feet (hence the six foot rule). Some of those droplets are large, and fall onto nearby surfaces, waiting for someone to touch them. Some are tiny, and stay in the air for minutes. Some droplets are so small, they evaporate quickly, leaving the virus particles floating in the air for hours.

But if you wear a mask, that interferes with the blast, and stops it reaching out. The sneeze or cough is trapped by the mask, and doesn't infect so many other people.

People in South Korea, Japan and Taiwan are patriotic, and care about their fellow citizens, and are keen to pretect them from disease. In the case of Covid-19, half the people who get infected, don't have symptoms, but are still infectious.  And those that do get symptoms, are infectious for a few days before the symptoms appear. So if you don't know that you're clear, you can't assume that you are.

So why won't this work in the USA? Why was the lock down necessary? I think it's obvious that a large number of Americans are unwilling to mask (for example, Trump is clearly unwilling), and they say so, often loudly, and pretend that this is something to do with freedom (do they also claim the right to drive while drunk?). The same might be true in the UK and other European countries, but I'm not so sure - we're a lot more patriotic than Americans.

So I think that, when the lock downs are eased in Europe, governments should strongly encourage, or even mandate, the wearing of masks in public.

Because if we were willing to endure the MAJOR inconvenience of staying home and closing so many businesses, we should be willing to put up with the very minor inconvenience of masking in public.

Saturday 23 May 2020

Day 68 of self-isolation - hello, I'm Karen from contact tracing

You get a call from someone you don't know. "Hello, I'm Karen from contact tracing" and your blood runs cold.

Karen tells you that someone (she can't tell you who, for Data Protection reasons) has tested positive for Covid-19, and has been in contact with you.

"So you might be infected, and you need to be quarantined."

And now your head is spinning - this virus could be deadly. "Quarantined?" you ask, querulously? "Yes," says Karen, you have to take two weeks off work and self-qurantine."

"Two weeks off work? I can't. Our savings are already gone, I won't be able to pay rent, or ..." Karen interrupts. "Listen carefully. You are probably infected with Covid-19, and until you are proven uninfected, the law requires you to self-isolate. If you don't, then the maximum fine is £1000, and/or up to 30 days in prison."

"£1000? I haven't even for £100! And I can't afford to take time off work."

"There is an alternative," says Karen.

"What, what?" you ask eagerly.

"If you get tested and come up clean, then you can go straight back to work."

"How do I get tested?" you ask.

"It's quite simple," says Karen.  "I can send you a test kit, and you can self-test. Just give me your address."

You give your address.

"And what credit card will you be using?"

"What will this cost?" you ask.  "£25", says Karen, "but you can claim it back from your usual GP by handing in the test kit."

You give your credit card number, expiration date and three digit security code.

"Thank you," says Karen, "your test kit should arrive within 24 hours."

And of course, it doesn't.

Friday 22 May 2020

Day 67 of self-isolation - email problems

Email problems

Life goes on. And version 32 of Fedora linux is now available. So I've downloaded it and burned it to DVD. and then I started to upgrade my servers from 31 to 32.

And my email stopped working.

I have a fairly complicated email system, because I run my own mail servers, also have aol and gmail addresses, and use a homebrew despamming system, all of which works very well. Until it stopped working.

The way it works is, on my own server I run a program called "fetchmail" which talks to each of my mail servers, and to gmail, and aol, and whatever else, and collect the mail to itself, then sorts it into spam and not-spam (and other categories), and then I can read the mail using a text-only mail reader (text only means I don't have to worry about possible html or javascript traps in incoming email. I use alpine, which is a clone of pine, and I've been using that for 25 years. The only drawback is when I phone someone for tech support of something, and they send me an email and tell me to click on a link. Which I can't do. I think everyone assumes that everyone else is using a web-based mail reader. No - nearly everyone is, but not me.

Fetchmail wasn't fetching from my mail server.

Initially, the only clue I had was that I wasn't getting any email. And that's pretty much impossible, I get several emails per hour (mostly spam), so obviously there was a blockage somewhere in my systems. So I checked my main mail server, and the mail was getting as far as that, but then the thing that grabbed it (called fetchmail) wasn't grabbing. And the only thing that I'd changed was, of course, the linux upgrade.

So first, I logged into th email server, and deleted all the obvious spam, because I knew that it would clog up if I unblocked whatever was the probem. I got the outstanding email down to 25 messages.

Then I ran

env LC_ALL=C fetchmail -vvv  --nodetach --nosyslog

What that does, is show me the messages from fetchmail as it goes about trying to fetch mail, and it was immediately clear that it didn't like the SSL security certificate that it found on dovecot (which is the program that runs on the mail server that lets fetchmail fetch the messages). So I looked that the dovecot configuration file for the mail server, and the certificate it referenced, was the one that fetchmail didn't like. That's probably because I installed it five years ago, and it's well out of date.

But I use to make all my security certs (a few dozen of them!), and I already have a good and valid cert. All I had to do was copy that to the mail server, tell dovecot where it was, restart dovecot, and the mail started to flow again.

Then I did the same for all my other mail servers, and changed the cert update system so that the mail servers would be automatically updated when I update the cert.

And now my email system works again.

Thursday 21 May 2020

Day 66 of self-isolation - Cambridge online

 Cambridge online

At this time of year, about half a century ago, I was looking forward to taking my A levels. Yes, really looking forward, because I had an offer from Cambridge that only needed two grade E passes. And I was about to take four A levels in one subject (maths) and wound up with three As and a B (let down by my physics practical).

And I was really looking forward to three years away from home at the sacred place of learning, where I would scale the dizzy heights of quantum theory, general relativity, electromagnetism, aerodynamics, algebra, analysis, number theory, numerical methods and maybe even computing using the university Atlas!

This was all going to be free. No, better than free; the government was going to give me £370 per year for digs, food, books and beer. And with the digs costing only £60 for the year, and with me not being a heavy drinker, the outlook was rosy.

But today? Students are having to find £9250 per year for tuition fees, and then digs, food, books and beer. And therefore many have to take out a student loan; I would have needed £9000 maintenance. So  would have left university owing  some £50,000. And even though this is only repaid after your income reaches a certain level, it would have weighed heavily on me.

And so I strongly oppose the imposition of university fees. I feel as if I climbed up the ladder provided for me, and then the ladder was burned.

When I got to university, my first purchase was a £5 bicycle, which I learned to ride on my way back from the cattle market to my digs. And from there on, my life was one mad social whirl for the next three years. Including the memorable moment when I fell into the Cam from a punt fully clothed, and thereby qualified to join the Dampers club.

But today? Cambridge has just announced that all courses will be online for the academic year 2020/21. So students don't need to leave their parents' home and get into the late teenage transition from child to adult, and instead of a bicycle, they'll need a computer. Instead of mingling with the opposite sex, they'll use Facebook (or whatever the kids use these days).

I didn't learn much from lectures. The point of a lecture was to transfer words from the lecturers script to the students  notebook, without going through the minds of either. But the weekly tutorials (we called them "supervisions") were where you and maybe one other student, got the full attention of a post graduate, who was able to explain things to us, and give us exercises to do, and recommend books to buy.

My "best" lecturer was Professor Dirac, a Nobel prizewinner. We couldn't hear what he was mumbling, and we couldn't read his handwriting on the blackboard. But we were aware that we were in the presence of a legend, and that had to be enough.  I got most of my learning from the Schaum Outline series of books, which I would still recommend.

Next year will be a totally different experience.

You can't punt slowly up the Cam to Grantchester, where there still is honey for tea. No winter gathering round the gas fire to toast crumpets and soak them in butter. No meetings of the Puzzles and Games Ring, where we played Eleusis, and where Life was first announced by John Conway. No weekly bridge tournament, no Science Fiction Book Club. No practical jokes played on other students.  No having to wear your gown when out after dusk, and if you didn't, the bulldogs would get you. No missing the midnight curfew deadline, and having to climb out of Trinity with your bicycle, because you needed it to get back to your digs. No leaving your lecture at the top of the hour, and joining the torrent of bicycles to the next appointment. No Rag week. And no early experiences with the opposite sex.

Online is going to be nothing like the real thing. And yet they will still extract £9250 per year from the students.

I can't blame Cambridge for taking this measure. I just think that it's terribly, terribly sad.

Wednesday 20 May 2020

Day 65 of self-isolation - a modest proposal

A modest proposal

There seems to be quite a few people who don't seem to care that there's a pandemic going on, with five million tested cases worldwide (and maybe ten times as many untested) and 325 thousand deaths (rising to half a million if you use the excess deaths numbers).

And there are some people who seem to be actively seeking their own funeral. So, I thought I'd write a post for them, to help them achieve their goal.

So, let's start at the beginning. You want to be male, because males have a much higher death rate than females, and if you're not male, start changing now. I don't have statistics for trans men (because the government has, in its bigoted way, failed to ask dying patients whether they identify as the same sex they were when they were born, or not).

Next - take up smoking. That gives an excellent boost to your chances of dying when you get infected. Also, get fat. Ideally, you want to be even fatter than President Trump. Aim for morbidly obese. And it's better if you're elderly; over 70 is ideal. You've had a good innings, it's time to go to the pavilion..

If you have heart problems or diabetes, that's a bonus, because it's not easy or quick to add these to your characteristics. But there is a way! Hydroxychloroquine lists, amongst its side effects, "fast, pounding, uneven heartbeat". But make sure you don't take an overdose - that could be fatal, and this isn't your preferred route of exit.

Avoid the sun. Cover yourself up, because you want to depress your vitamin D, which will choke down your immune system. If you have dark or black skin, great. If you don't, use plenty of high factor sun screen.

OK, so now you're as ready as you can be - time to get infected.

The obvious way is to do what Boris did - visit a hospital and shake hands with all the patients, especially the ones on ventilators. Obvious - but you probably won't be allowed to do it. I don't actually understand why they let Bojo the Clown do it. Another good way would be to get close to Boris while he was ill, but it's probably too late now. So you'll have to do this the hard way.

The route to take, is crowds. Especially crowds that don't care about social distancing, don't wear masks and sneer at namby-pamby hand washing. Mingle. Hug if you think you can get away with it; if you can't, shake hands, as many as possible. If they open up the pubs, find a crowded one. If you find a crowded shop, push your way in. Get onto busses and trains, and shake hands with your fellow passengers; even better, if the train is nicely crowded, make sure you're pressed up close to anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

Air travel will be another good way, because the same air that everyone breathed out, is circulated back to the cabin for you to breathe in. Cruises are also great places to pick up an infection. If you're unlucky, you'll get norovirus which gives you nausea, diarrhea and vomiting for a few days, and you recover. But if you get lucky, then at least one of your fellow passengers will be spreading Covid-19, and by touching the surfaces that he touched, or breathing in the air he breathed out (yes, it gets recirculated), you'll achoeve your goal.

Once you're infected, you can't just go with the flow. If you're unlucky, you'll recover, but if it hits you hard (and your poor state of condition as a morbidly obese male smoker will help that) then you'll start to have trouble breathing. You'll breathe in, but it won't be enough. You'll cough, and that will make you feel worse. You might also lose your sense of smell. You'll feel dreadful, but tell everyone "It's just a summer cold", and grin bravely. If they insist on you taking a cure, ask for an onion to be placed in the room. What have you got to lose?

Some interfering busybody might call an ambulance for you. That's bad news, if you get to hospital, that's going to reduce your chances of dying. But don't worry, you've still got a good chance, and if you can get yourself put into a ventilator (because you really can't breathe for yourself, and it's that or death) then even with the huge tube shoved down your throat and oxygen pumped it, you still stand an excellent chance of leaving in a coffin.

But by that time, you won't care, because they have to severely sedate you to stop you from trying to pull the tube out. And by that time, you won't really know what's going on, as you gasp out the last few minutes of your life. Alone, because your loved ones won't be allowed in to see you.

You will have the satisfaction of being buried in a real plywood coffin (they  haven't started using the cardboard ones yet) in a single-occupancy grave (except in some areas, where they just dig a trench and line up the coffins side by side) with only five people allowed at the funeral.

But you will have the satisfaction of being able to sing "I did it my way".

Tuesday 19 May 2020

Day 64 of self-isolation - dead heroes.

Dead heroes

There have been 171 dead healthcare workers in the UK - so far. This puts us in the top slot in Europe, and possibly in the world.

In Italy, 108 - but Italy is a few weeks ahead of the UK in the progression of the virus, and has less population in total. Spain and the USA have a third as many (per million population).

But Sweden, Germany, Holland - none (or nearly none). Why is this?

Are German healthcare workers better able to see the virus and dodge? Is it because very few British healthcare workers can speak German, whereas all the German ones can? Does Covid-19 have respect for Germans and contempt for Brits?


It's more likely to be the lack of provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, face shields, gloves and bodywear. This has been a UK national scandal since this pandemic began. And has it now, at last, been sorted?  I don't know, but I still remember the pictures of the nurses in Northwick Park Hospital that had to make their own PPE out of bin liners.

A round of applause each Thursday doesn't make up for the fact that these three nurses were later diagnosed with Covid-19.

But it wasn't just three nurses. About 2/3 of UK doctors still feel only partly, or not at all, protected in the course of their work. Can you imagine going to work each day, knowing the risks that you are running?

When this situation is over, we need to take a good hard look at the way the NHS is funded, organised, staffed and prepared for emergencies. The loss of NHS staff due to Brexit has to be made up by offering considerably better pay and conditions - and also by recategorising more healthcare workers as "skilled" so that we can, in future, continue to recruit abroad. But the vast majority of our healthcare workers should be locally sourced, and if that means offering free tuition for doctors and nurses, then that's part of the price we have to pay for Brexit.

Monday 18 May 2020

Day 63 of self-isolation - a long phone call

Three weeks ago, I paid the credit card bill. Or so I thought. Yesterday, I discovered that I hadn't, because it stopped working. On investigation, I found what the problem was.

Because of the virus, we didn't pay it the usual way. Instead, I went online to HSBC and paid it via online banking, for the first time. I carefully put in the right sort code and account to pay it to, but under "Customer reference" I just put "Barclaycard" and the last four digits of the card. It accepted that, and paid it to Barclaycard. I should have put in all 16 digits of the card number; I just wasn't thinking clearly.

Of course, when it arrived, the Barclays computer looked at it, and didn't know what to do with it. So it put the money into a "suspense" acccount, and a week later, it refunded the money back to my HSBC account. But I didn't know that, because I didn't look at the transactions (until today).

So I phoned Barclaycard last night, to try to sort it out. No chance; they close at night, because of the virus, they're short staffed.

So I phoned them today, at 1pm, and I sat on hold for an hour and a half! Covid-19, short staffed. And there must be a lot of people with real financial problems, not caused by a simple blunder like mine. After 1 1/2 hours, I got through to a nice lady who told me that she couldn't help sort it out, I'd have to phone customer service, on another number, so I did.

Two hours went by as I held on. Covid-19, short staffed. Eventually, I was able to talk to Mark, who checked things for me, and told me that the amount I'd paid had already bounced back to my HSBC account (I checked, he was right, I just hadn't noticed it). And he offered to pay the credit card bill from my debit card, which I did, and now everything is OK.

Except that I could have saved 3 1/2 hours if I'd noticed that the payment had bounced, because I could have just paid it again, but without making the mistake.

Or if I hadn't blundered in the first place.

Sunday 17 May 2020

Day 62 of self-isolation - the Waitrose van, and a vaccine

The Waitrose van, and a vaccine

The Waitrose van came again today. From now on, that will be weekly. We can't really have it less often, because of fresh fruit and vegetables.

As a nice bonus, we got a Radio Times, although we've been watching very little TV.

I also ordered ten half-litre bottles of olive oil soap. We're getting through soap very quickly, because of the frequent hand washing.

The Oxford University vaccine trials are now well under way, with the possibility of some preliminary results by mid June. The first tests are on healthy young adult volunteers, and will be followed by tests on older age groups.

Professor Pollard and his team said they expected to produce a million doses of their vaccine "ChAdOx1 nCoV-19" as early as September, and if all goes well, there could be 30 million doses by October. That would be enough to vaccinate everyone in the UK who wants to be vaccinated and has not already become immune to Covid-19 by infection.

The Oxford University vaccine uses an interesting technology, which they've been working on since last year. It isn't simply a vaccine for one virus, it's a platform that makes it possible to develop vaccines for new viruses much more rapidly. In computer terms, they have a search engine, and just need to tell that engine the specifics of a virus, to adapt it to search for that virus and stimulate the antibody system. And if a new virus comes along (or a variant of Covid-19), they can just change the search terms to adapt their engine for the new virus. What a good idea! That's exactly how the best computer antivirus programs work. I came up with that idea 32 years ago.

Obviously, going into production before the test results are completed, is a large financial risk (which will be carried by the UK government), but it's a risk worth taking. On the downside, we would have to incinerate 30 million inoculations, but on the upside (if the trials are successful), we'll have the vaccine months earlier, and will be able to come out of lock down completely once the vaccination program is completed.

A few months later, there could be 100 million doses, which would be shared amongst our European friends. But why not the USA? If only. Sadly, the USA has withdrawn from the WHO, under whose auspices this vaccine (and several others) are being developed.

Perhaps this would persuade the USA to rejoin the WHO? Maybe Trump was only being sarcastic when he said he was pulling out prematurely.

 By that time, the Trump initiative (code name "Warp Speed", although it isn't clear to me why this code name will help keep it secret, but perhaps the intention is that the name will make it happen faster)  will, hopefully, have begun to show results. If not, we'll be in a position to donate millions of doses to the USA soon after that. Obviously all the anti-vaxxers in America will decline, but that just means more for the rest of America.

Saturday 16 May 2020

Day 61 of self-isolation - the USA economy

Will the USA economy bounce back?

There is an unspoken assumption that ending the lock down will quickly restore the economy.

I haven't seen any evidence for this, but there's good evidence against.

Certainly the politicians are quick to assert this, but politicians have always believed that they can end a recession by saying that it's ended.

In 1933, Roosevelt said "There is nothing to fear but fear itself". The Great Depression ended six years later, 10 years after it started.

During that time, unemployment in the USA was 15 to 20%. In 1939, for example, unemployment was still 15%, and it was only the stimulus of WW2 that finally brought full employment.

If the USA were to completely abolish all lock down rules (an insane possibility) then would people go back to work as normal? Some would. Many won't.

Some people won't go back to work, because their jobs have vanished. It will be a LONG time before air travel gets back to 2019 levels, before hotel occupancy goes back to normal (and people who own large numbers of hotels are FRANTIC to end the restrictions).

And 85% of people oppose reopening schools, so if schools reopen, will they send their kids to become infected? 86% of people agree with the stay-home order, so if it's suddenly lifted, they will still stay at home.

What is most valuable to you? Your children, and your health. Most people aren't stupid. The noisy minority will frolic in their reopened tattoo parlours, but the vast majority will avoid crowded places. No-one NEEDS to go to a restaurant, or a crowded beach, or a ball game. If the noisy minority are maskless, the sensible majority will avoid places where the maskless are.

The economy will not "immediately bounce back" as some politicians assert. 
The 2008 recession had a peak unemployment rate of 10%, getting back to a more normal level in 2016. Eight years.

The 1929 depression had a peak unemployment rate of 20%, and only returned to normal in 1939. Ten years.

In 2020, unemployment reached 15% and is still rising. If you think that it will bounce back to normal in 2021, then you just haven't looked at history.