From Nature’s daily email update, Nature Briefing. It is never less than an interesting read and reminds me why I took sciences at school in the first place. How the coronavirus infects cells — and why Delta is so dangerous. Scientists are unpicking the life cycle of SARS-CoV-2, the tricks it uses to evade detection and the quirks that make the Delta variant so dangerous. Researchers have discovered key adaptations that help the virus to grab on to human cells with surprising strength and then hide itself once inside. Later, as it leaves cells, SARS-CoV-2 executes a crucial processing step to prepare its particles for infecting even more human cells.
#3. Masks matter, but not for the reason you think. ….only our innate tribalism can turn mask-wearing from a simple, promising precaution into the dividing line between saintly and the damned. Cabinet ministers have boasted about removing their masks as soon as possible, which feels like boasting about farting in a lift: it might be a relief but it’s a strange thing to advertise. Once one realises that this is about signalling tribal loyalty, it makes more sense.
“It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
Senator Robert F. Kennedy, University of Cape Town, 6th June 1966
Kennedy’s Day of Affirmation speech, better known as the “Ripple of Hope Speech”, it is a memorable and much analysed piece of rhetoric which is always worth remembering. Possibly his greatest speech.
I was inspired when I read Silent Spring by Rachel Carson in the mid-70s and have had involvement with groups including Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and some at a more local level. I have tolerated comments like “Saving the whale Al?”, “Isn’t it time you gave up that hippy stuff?” and “How can you be a member of a profession that pollutes on such a large scale?”
The last time that I got (secretly) angry was when a friend, who I had previously respected, made an uncalled for comment about Greta Thunberg.
We all do what we can when we can. I’m sharing this because we all need to think and do more.
I was moved by an article in the FT Weekend Magazine about the terror attack in Utoya, Norway 10 years ago. In it some survivors who had been wounded reflect on what they have learned.
“Do not lose faith in yourself. You are good enough. Skilled enough. Strong enough. Dare to be vulnerable and sad when you need it, because what you have experienced is so incomprehensible and painful. Live in the moment and do not think about everything that did not become as you planned.”
Eiren Kristin Kjaer, now aged 29. Erin was shot in the stomach, arm, right knee and armpit.
The government ignored the pandemic to begin with, ignored the recommendations from Exercise Cygnus, repeatedly ignored the science, had decimated public services, then ignored the cries of those working in the NHS, in social care, and in other crucial services, and as we have heard, ignored the offers of procurement from those working inside the NHS for PPE.
The Government was reluctant to put us into lockdown, because it was feared that the Britishpublic would have lockdown fatigue. By the time this eventually happened on 23rd March 2020, it was too late for many people.
THE IMPORTANCE of PUBLIC SERVICESWe are supposed to have a framework of public services which are in place for a purpose. In times of emergency, it makes sense to allow those existing public assets, in which the staff are the best placed to know what to do to help and support citizens, to be supported to carry out that unprecedented additional work. Instead, the government has chosen at every stage to prefer private contracts.
POLITICAL CHOICE: TO LOOK TO THE PRIVATE SECTOR: NHS capacity, public health,procurement, educationPrivate test and trace, at a staggering cost of £37 billion, has never worked. GP surgeries all over the country would have been best placed to know their patients, their demographics, their health issues, manage language barriers, and rely on established relationships and trust with them. Doctors were not trusted to look after their own patients.
Private hospitals, the capacity for which was bought up for months at the beginning of the firstlockdown, at most only treated between one and 67 Covid patients per day, at a staggering cost which hasn’t been disclosed.
Private contracts for ventilators, when it is clearly better for those who already make ventilators to be asked to create more of them. Just because you manufacture cars doesn’t mean you can be paid to build helicopters overnight.
Private tutors, to help children in education to catch up from the disruption caused by Covid; rather than the teachers who already know the children they teach, now more intimately than before Covid, having seen into their own homes in Zoom classes.
I came across the book “Medicine and Society” recently. Its author, Henry Miller, was Dean of Medicine and later Vice-Chancellor of the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and this book was published in 1973, the year I started as an Undergraduate.
Writing in the preface Miller concisely states that “This book is concerned with the impact of the revolution in biomedical science on society and on current medical practice.” It would be of interest to anyone who wonders how we have reached this point in medicine and if the changes that Miller predicted have come about – and whether they have been for the better.
It is his view of dentistry, of course, that I looked at first and it’s a shame that nobody took any notice of what he had to say, we might not be in the pickle we find ourselves in now. Judge for yourself from these snippets:
The facts about British dental health certainly qualify it as another neglected area of the health service. Our dentists extract 10 million decayed teeth and carry out thirty million fillings.
There can be no doubt that fluoridation of the water supply is the simplest and most effective prophylactic measure.
The (national health) practitioners are grossly overworked and the system encourages fast work and the use of the cheapest materials available.
The fee for full dentures under the NHS is £16.50 – the fee in Germany under the Social Health Insurance service is £120. The German technician receives more that twice as much as the total fee of the British dentist and technician combined, for the same service.
One of the most alarming features of this situation is the low morale of the profession….the financial basis of remuneration might have been specifically designed to produce a cheap and nasty service…
…it also ensures that since dentistry is arduous and physically as well as mentally exhausting, this is the only profession where for the majority of practitioners earnings decline progressively after middle-age.
“Hanging on in quiet desperation, it’s the English way”