Tag Archives: Covid-19

Let the sunshine, let the sunshine in….

The lyrics come from a very famous Fifth Dimension song, but this is not a post about music.

The Fifth Dimension

It’s a post about Covid-19 and an update on its spread, and how to live with it. And guess what? Sunshine really does make a difference, in ways that are not immediately obvious.

First up I’m going to start with some research conducted by the Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness, Geelong, VIC, Australia. As some of you know, my state of Victoria is at the centre of the largest outbreak in Australia. And we’re not over it [completely] yet.

What the Australian study did was to measure the infectiveness of the virus – ON SURFACES – in a rather unusual way. As the UV in light is known to kill viruses, the researchers conducted their study on the virus in the dark. They also controlled the temperature of the environment in which the virus was studied. Their results are interesting to say the least.

The following is a direct quote taken from those results :

‘viable virus was isolated for up to 28 days at 20 °C from common surfaces such as glass, stainless steel and both paper and polymer banknotes. Conversely, infectious virus survived less than 24 h at 40 °C on some surfaces.’

https://virologyj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12985-020-01418-7

For a more in-depth explanation of the study and what it found, please check out Dr John’s video.

For me, personally, these results are both good news and bad because we’ve been ‘isolating’ dry goods bought from the supermarket in the boot of the Offspring’s car. As the boot is dark, I immediately worried about how effective this isolation had been, especially as it’s been a cold winter here in Melbourne.

Then I realised that as neither one of us has become sick, the decon in the boot probably worked. A little later I realised why. The car is parked in the open so, although dark, the temperature in the boot would probably drop to about 5C at night and heat up past 20C during most of the day [the virus dislikes extremes of heat and cold]. Phew. Plus…masks have been mandated for most of this second wave so the chance of someone sneezing on my shopping before it arrives is that much less.

Keep all of that in mind as I tell you about the pandemic in Japan. A study conducted on working people in Tokyo found that despite the tiny death toll – under 2000 for the whole of Japan – close to 50% of those tested may have already been infected by the virus. For more on this please see Dr John’s video here or you can go direct to the study here.

There’s a lot to explain so I’ll try to keep it to the most important details. Firstly, the study was conducted during the summer months and the low death rate is partially backed up by data from the Western world where infection rates have also increased but without a corresponding increase in the death rate.

Doesn’t make sense, or does it?

If dark and temperate conditions keep the virus alive, the conditions in summer would do the exact opposite because people spend much more time outdoors…in the sunshine…with good ventilation. So even when they are exposed to the virus, their VIRAL LOAD is likely to be much less. And viral load determines how sick you’re likely to get.

But still, even taking the sunshine and heat and ventilation and viral load into consideration, why would the Japanese results be so extremely good despite no major lockdowns?

In Japan, the answer seems to be mostly cultural:

  • Wearing masks is normal.
  • Bowing instead of hugging or shaking hands is normal.
  • Not shouting and speaking quietly is normal.
  • Opening windows [good ventilation] is normal.
  • Supervised 14 day quarantine is strictly enforced.
  • And finally, obesity is very low in Japan. Obesity has been shown to be a major co-morbidity with the virus – i.e. you’re likely to get much sicker if you get the virus and you’re obese.

Putting it all together, cultural good practice means that the viral load is kept very low. And that means that the people who are infected are far more likely to have few symptoms, or no symptoms at all. Thus, lots of spread, but most people do not actually get sick, and those who do are much less likely to die.

If this is all true, and I think it is, then we here in Australia are going to get a reprieve over the summer months. Unfortunately, it also means that the northern hemisphere is going to be hit hard, again, especially as Western cultural practices make the virus so happy.

I can’t do anything about the northern hemisphere, but I can ask the people here in Melbourne two very simple questions:

  1. Even if you don’t believe the pandemic is real, would it really kill you to wear a mask? Not just now, when the State government has mandated that all of us must wear one in public, but after? Couldn’t you err on the side of caution, if not for yourself, then for the sick, the elderly and the disabled?
  2. Could you really live with yourself if someone you loved died, or developed a long term health problem because you put your convenience ahead of everything and everyone else?

Wearing a mask is such a small thing when compared to the horror of watching someone die.

love,
Meeks


Covid-19 and the ‘Protect Scotland’ app

This post is primarily for Australians because the Protect Scotland app does exactly what our own CovidSafe app was supposed to do… and doesn’t.

A trailer explaining how the app works and what protections it offers

How do we know the Protect Scotland app works?

We know it works because it was developed by Apple and Google [at the 1:00 minute mark] together. This means that the relevant bits of both operating systems that are needed to make the app work, actually talk to each other.

The Australian CovidSafe app failed so spectacularly in the Victorian outbreak because Apple and Android [Google] couldn’t be made to play nice with each other. The media have been silent about this failure, despite the fact that the Federal government’s whole recovery plan post-March was based on the app being able to contact-trace infections without human intervention.

Do I trust Apple and Google to be honest about how much of our privacy they retain? Ordinarily no, not it a month of Sundays. But with this app? I suspect that the rivalry between these two companies is what will ensure that they keep each other honest. After all, if one company manages to sneak something in that gives them a long term financial advantage, that could spell disaster for the other company.

So, if mobile phones can be used to track and trace people infected with Covid-19, then it might just be possible to ‘live with’ the virus. Maybe. Technology aside, though, just because the app alerts people to the fact that they may have been infected, that’s no guarantee that said people will do the right thing and self isolate.

Human nature is the big unknown, and given what we’ve seen conspiracy theorists doing already, I don’t like our chances of getting 100% voluntary compliance. I fear that things will have to get a great deal worse before the knuckleheads acknowledge that there is a problem, and that they are it.

In the meantime? Maybe Australia should buy the Protect Scotland app for those who actually give a flying fruit bat about their fellow human beings.

Meeks
[My thanks to Dr John Campbell for alerting me to the existence of the Protect Scotland app].


Masks – how NOT to fog up

Yes, I admit it, I wear glasses, and yes they do fog up when I’m wearing a mask, so I thought this method looked promising. I haven’t tried it, yet, so I’d love some feedback:

cheers
Meeks


I love you Warrandyte!!!

Almost exactly a month ago, I drove in to Warrandyte to pick up some necessary prescriptions from the chemist. A month ago I was the only person wearing a mask.

Today…every. single. person. I. saw. was. wearing. a. MASK!

Thank you, just…thanks 🙂

love
Meeks


For Victorians Only

If you thought you were safe from Covid-19 because you live in the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne, or out bush somewhere, think again. DHHS publishes a table of case numbers by local government area, but the table is waaaaay down the very bottom of the daily report. I’m ashamed to say I only found it today myself, so I thought it might help if everyone could check their own area.

[Note: On the DHHS website, the table is sorted by number of cases. I copied the DHHS table and sorted it by locality to make it easier to find your own area]

New cases of Covid-19 by locality name

LGAConfirmed cases (ever)Active cases (current)
ALPINE10
ARARAT50
BALLARAT2411
BANYULE288147
BASS COAST61
BAW BAW93
BAYSIDE6326
BENALLA30
BOROONDARA15152
BRIMBANK730481
BULOKE00
CAMPASPE50
CARDINIA5324
CASEY296149
CENTRAL GOLDFIELDS10
COLAC OTWAY4646
CORANGAMITE10
DAREBIN19391
EAST GIPPSLAND21
FRANKSTON6218
GANNAWARRA20
GLEN EIRA9028
GLENELG65
GOLDEN PLAINS96
GREATER BENDIGO144
GREATER DANDENONG11884
GREATER GEELONG10429
GREATER SHEPPARTON171
HEPBURN20
HINDMARSH00
HOBSONS BAY13373
HORSHAM107
HUME728338
INDIGO00
INTERSTATE857
KINGSTON8242
KNOX5526
LATROBE134
LODDON41
MACEDON RANGES188
MANNINGHAM9340
MANSFIELD41
MARIBYRNONG205117
MAROONDAH4020
MELBOURNE542281
MELTON318195
MILDURA50
MITCHELL349
MOIRA110
MONASH11849
MOONEE VALLEY473227
MOORABOOL129
MORELAND429238
MORNINGTON PENINSULA8014
MOUNT ALEXANDER71
MOYNE10
MURRINDINDI20
NILLUMBIK5524
NORTHERN GRAMPIANS30
OVERSEAS50
PORT PHILLIP11142
PYRENEES00
QUEENSCLIFFE00
SOUTH GIPPSLAND94
SOUTHERN GRAMPIANS20
STONNINGTON15539
STRATHBOGIE20
SURF COAST144
SWAN HILL62
TOTAL77443995
TOWONG00
UNKNOWN4946
WANGARATTA20
WARRNAMBOOL50
WELLINGTON130
WEST WIMMERA10
WHITEHORSE9749
WHITTLESEA379245
WODONGA10
WYNDHAM756474
YARRA218126
YARRA RANGES5726
YARRIAMBIACK10

I live in the Shire of Nillumbik, and guess what? Yup, we have 24 active cases. I was shocked. This virus is spreading like a grass fire.

And now a basic little chart of how the new cases have been rising since May 1, 2020 [that’s when I started recording daily cases on my spreadsheet].

This is a link to the Daniel Andrews update posted 2 hours ago. In that update he confirms that one of the men who succumbed to Covid-19 overnight was in his 40s. Bear that in mind as you read the rest of this post.

And finally a plea : if you won’t wear a mask to protect others, please wear one to protect yourself.

Quite apart from the threat of fines, evidence is growing of long term health problems in many of those who get Covid-19 and recover. According to data from Italy, 87% of recovered patients in the study had some symptoms/health problems for up to 2 months afterwards. Only 13% reported no symptoms/problems at all.

The following graphic is a screenshot taken from the Med Cram video on ‘Long Haulers’ – i.e. those who continue to have symptoms after the virus is gone:

The next graphic is from the same Med Cram video:

Breakdown of data regarding Covid-19 ‘Long Haulers’

What the graphic shows is the breakdown of the data. These are the important bits:

  • 143 recovered patients were studied
  • all of the patients were sick enough to be admitted to hospital
  • the median age of the patients in the study was 56 [median means that there were just as many patients younger than 56 as there were older than 56. So it’s not an ‘average’]
  • 13% of patients studied had no symptoms/health problems after recovering from the virus
  • 32% had 1-2 symptoms/health problems for up to 2 months after recovering from the virus
  • 55% had 3 or more symptoms/health problems for up to 2 months after recovering from the virus.

So, if you get sick enough to be hospitalised, you’re going to feel pretty awful for quite some time afterwards. But who is this ‘you’?

To find out, I searched for ‘long haulers’ and ‘covid-19’ on Youtube. I found so much more than I ever expected. This video is about a 38 year old woman who’s been battling the after effects of Covid-19 for months:

This next video gives some info about how many ‘long haulers’ there are:

We have to rethink our response to Covid-19. It is not just a danger to ‘oldies’. It is not just a danger to people with co-morbidities. It is a danger to all of us, of any age.

Next time you go out, ask yourself if you want to become one of the ‘long haulers’. If the answer is no, wear a mask and stay away from those who don’t.

cheers
Meeks


Covid-19 and Proud to be a Victorian!

I know we’re all worried, and overloaded with bad news about this damn virus but…please read this first hand article by a nurse doing testing at ‘the Towers’: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-07-11/testing-residents-in-melbournes-public-housing-nurse/12443060

If you only have time for a few snippets, this warmed my heart:

‘I left that day with a full heart thanks to all the “thank yous” and “I love yous” from the residents.
We were invited into many homes, and even offered tea and coffee. I went into a few rooms with elderly, frail people and young children (this was optional and only if we felt safe).
We felt like guests. ‘

Near the end the nurse writes:

‘I have so many wonderful memories of the past few days, all positive. I’d like the broader community to understand that sometimes media portrayals of what goes on are not necessarily true.’

For a very long time now, I’ve noticed that 9 out of 10 news stories are about people who are not infected by the virus ‘doing it tough’. I don’t deny that a lot of people are doing it tough; a massive drop in weekly income will do that to you. But where are the stories about our local heroes? The doctors and nurses and paramedics and yes, police officers who are risking their own lives to keep everyone safe?

And how about the heroes who keep our cities alive? The jobs they do are poorly paid but vital. Can you imagine what would happen if our rubbish were not collected? Or if the power went off and there was no one there to turn it back on again? Or how about food? It doesn’t just appear magically in supermarkets.

We owe every one of these heroes a huge vote of thanks, yet the media ignores them.

And last but not least there are those who have been infected. Why aren’t we hearing their stories? I’ve heard one story about a 23 year old man with Type I diabetes. He came down with Covid-19 and survived, but it wasn’t fun, not be a long, long stretch of the imagination.

If governments want us to co-operate then we need to be told the full story, the good, the sad, and the scary, not just the stories that confirm that life is not ‘fun’ at the moment. If we are to have any kind of life during this pandemic, we all need to rediscover what it means to be socially responsible. We all have to become heroes.

Stay well,
Meeks


The Corona Virus Song :)

The Offspring and I have different tastes in music, but sometimes a song comes along that’s so much fun, well….

Have a great weekend and stay well!
Meeks


Vitamin D – why you want it and how to get it

The first part of this video is a little bit technical, but don’t be put off by all the scientific names. Keep watching and you’ll learn why Vitamin D may be useful against our favourite virus. You’ll also learn about its importance for other conditions, such as osteoporosis. I most definitely did not know that.

The thing I found most interesting was the explanation about why people in different geographic locations may be Vitamin D deficient. Apparently, it’s all due to the season, the angle of the sun as it hits the earth, and a country’s distance from the equator.

The video talks about the USA, but I was interested in Australia, so I went looking for a map of the world showing the equator. Then I copied the area from the equator to roughly the middle of the USA. This was the distance from the equator that gets sufficient Vitamin D in summer and winter.

Next, I placed the copy next to Australia. This is what it looks like:

World map taken from : https://mapuniversal.com/equator-line-countries-on-the-equator/

Zooming in on my home town of Melbourne, we get this:

Close up of Australia from https://mapuniversal.com/equator-line-countries-on-the-equator/

I drew the green line across from the subset map to see if Melbourne does, in fact, fall within the area that receives enough Vitamin D in winter. It does, but only just, and Tasmania seems to miss out entirely.

So yes, we all need Vitamin D, for a variety of health reasons, but no, not all of us can get it from the sun during winter. And if we go from house to car to office and back again, then there’s a good chance we won’t be getting enough Vitamin D, even in summer.

If Covid-19 has taught us anything, apart from how to bake bread, it’s that we can’t rely on technology to save us from everything. Sometimes, living an old fashioned, healthy lifestyle really is the best medicine.

cheers
Meeks


Covid-19 – To mask or not to mask?

I had no intention of posting today, but I believe this video by Dr John Campbell is so important, everyone should see it. And then perhaps we should demand that our governments do something useful to reduce the rate of Covid-19 infection. But first the video:

If you don’t want to watch the video, I’ve cherry picked what I believe are the most important points. First up, a study that shows we’ve been under estimating the distance the virus can spread:

According to this data, the 1.5 metres advocated by most governments is not enough, even just for breathing, especially in confined spaces like public transport.

Next up is a study using hamsters. And yes, they can get Covid-19 just like us. What the researchers did was to set up two cages, side by side. One cage was ‘masked’ and infected hamsters were placed inside [cage on the left]. Non-infected hamsters were placed in the second cage [cage on the right]. Then, a fan was used to blow air from the infected [but masked] cage across to the uninfected cage. This is what you see in the top row of the dinky graphic below:

The result was that only 15% of uninfected hamsters became infected. Remember that their cage was not masked.

The second row of the graphic shows a similar setup, except that this time, only the cage of uninfected hamsters is masked. The result is that 33% – i.e. more than double the previous number – of the hamsters were infected, despit their cage being masked.

The reason? Because ordinary masks aren’t fine enough to filter out the tiny droplets of the infection.

Now let’s extrapolate to you and me. If I’m infected and you’re not, but you are wearing a mask, there’s still a 33% chance that I’ll infect you just by talking to you, or by leaving droplets of infection on surfaces you may touch. But if I’m the one wearing the mask, almost all of the virus I breathe out will be trapped inside my mask, so it can’t reach you.

Now, if both you and I are wearing masks, the likelihood of infection plummets. You can find Dr John’s very good explanation at 13:26 of the video.

Still not convinced? Then look at the countries that have done best during this pandemic. Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Thailand etc have all managed to protect both their people and their economies from the ravages of Covid-19, yet they don’t have vaccines or special treatments. All they have is what is available to us as well – good hygiene, social distancing, and a culture that’s okay with wearing masks in public.

If 80% of people wore masks [of any sort, even home made ones] in public, we could stop this pandemic in its tracks and reopen our countries safely. Instead, here in the West, we’re reopening on a wing and a prayer. We hope that people will continue social distancing and doing the right thing…pfffft.

Just last night I heard a really loud party going on here in Warrandyte. If the volume of screams and laughter were anything to go by, the party goers were drunk, and having a very good time indeed. Of course they were social distancing…yeah, right.

We’ve proved, time and time again, that we can’t be trusted to do the right thing. Yet governments are basing their hopes on us, and a dinky app that will, supposedly, make it easier to track infected contacts? Puleeze.

I believe that mask wearing has not been mandated because:

  • making self indulgent people wear masks would be like herding cats, and
  • the governments of our countries actually want us to keep infecting each other…just not too much. They don’t want our hospitals overwhelmed, they just want enough of us to get sick so we develop ‘herd immunity’.

But…

‘Researchers think that the R0 for COVID-19 is between 2 and 3. This means that one person can infect two to three other people. It also means 50% to 67% of the population would need to be resistant before herd immunity kicks in and the infection rates start to go down.’

https://www.webmd.com/lung/what-is-herd-immunity#1

The trouble is, even the places with the highest rates of infection so far, the so called ‘hot spots’, have nowhere near the 50-67% infection rate needed for herd immunity. For example, New York has an estimated infection rate of only 13.9%. https://www.chron.com/news/article/Cuomo-13-9-percent-tested-positive-COVID-19-15221278.php

This means that people will have to be infected for years in order to reach herd immunity. Years of continued deaths, years of the vulnerable having to live in a bubble because every single person they meet could be a spreader. Years of the hospital systems having to cope with an ongoing pandemic…and that’s the best case scenario.

The worst case scenario is that the virus will quickly slip its leash and spread like wildfire through the uninfected parts of our populations. Given how little immunity those populations currently have, that means pretty much everyone. At once. As Italy proved, no health care system can cope with such a demand.

But it doesn’t have to be like this. We could follow the example of our Asian neighbours and wear masks until an effective vaccine can be developed. Once there is a vaccine, reaching that magical 50-67% required for herd immunity would be a snap. We could all be protected, and no one would have to be sacrificed ‘for the economy’. This is the Plan B our governments want to ignore.

So the question is this, are we okay with the arrogant assumption of government that they can ‘control’ this virus? Or would we prefer to wear masks until plan B can take effect? I know which plan I prefer.

Meeks


A song for these times… lol

It’s late. I have to go to bed. But first…listen and laugh. 😀

night night
Meeks


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