The Forever Bug

Remember Bubonic Plague? I know, I know, most responses are going to be ‘Oh come on, that was 400 years ago’. It’s not gone, you know. There are several cases around the world every year. What we have now, of course, are antibiotics, which were only discovered in the 1930s and are already being overused to the point where several of them are now useless. If they had been around in the 1600s they would all be utterly useless by now. We’d be back to leeches and bloodletting.

Polio still exists. Typhus. Leprosy. Rickets (although that one isn’t an infection and really shouldn’t exist now, it’s so easy to fix). People still get measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox… all the diseases our ancestors knew are all still here. The only one that has been eradicated in the wild is smallpox. Think of any 12th century disease, or any from earlier or later periods of history, and apart from smallpox, every one of them is still here. We’re just better at controlling them or curing them.

Not all of them. Rabies is still a tough one. I had a rabies vaccine once and was told it wouldn’t actually stop me getting rabies. It would just give me enough time to get treatment before it killed me – and the treatment is horrible. Fortunately I had that vaccine to visit China, and they’d already eaten anything that would have posed a rabies risk.

So, the Big Scary Story of the day is that Covid-19 will be present forever. (Trigger warning: It’s the Daily Mail, so keep your blood pressure pills handy if you open the link).

Of course it will. SARS, MERS, bird flu, swine flu, all the rest are still here. And there will never be a successful vaccine against any of them.

The current virus is being called ‘Coronavirus’ now. It is not THE coronavirus. It’s just A coronavirus. There are many of them and they mutate all the time. New ones appear but the old ones don’t go away. We just develop immunity to them or find better treatments. Vaccines are not a good bet against coronavirus. They work well against many other types of virus and against a lot of bacterial infections, but coronaviruses change too fast for a successful vaccine. You might make one with 100% effectiveness against this year’s flu but next year’s flu has several new variations and the vaccine won’t work on the new ones.

Many common colds are coronavirus. All the flu variants are coronavirus. They will develop variants all the time. Some of the variants will infect without causing any symptoms. Some will give you a cold. Others will floor you. A few will kill you, especially if you’re already very old and/or sick. And there really is sod all you can do about it. You are not immortal, no matter how clean and Righteous you live your life.

Modern flu vaccines claim around 40% effectiveness. There is no control group. You get the jab, you don’t get sick, you are counted in that 40%. If you hadn’t had the jab, would you have caught flu that year anyway? How many of the 40% wouldn’t have caught it with or without the jab? The real percentage effectiveness could be an awful lot lower. It could even be zero.

It’s the old ‘paper balls on the track’ game. Someone sits in a railway carriage travelling through England and every so often, rolls a peice of paper into a ball and throws it out of the window. Another passenger asks him why he’s doing it.

“It keeps elephants off the tracks,” he says.

Bemused, the other passenger points out there are no elephants here.

“See? It works.”

If you get the jab and don’t get flu, it’s worked. If you get the jab and the jab makes you sick, it’s still worked because you didn’t get the illness in the wild.

A PCR test also won’t work on a coronavirus. It is not a diagnostic test and was never designed to be one. It’s a very powerful technique when used for its intended purpose but as a diagnostic for a single-strand RNA virus it’s no use at all. You can also ramp up the number of cycles to the point where the primers will make the sequence you’re looking for out of DNA or RNA fragments, even if it didn’t exist in the original sample.Yeah, I’ll do a post on it if I can get the technical stuff into layman’s terms. At this point, all you need to know is that it is not intended for this purpose and those using it must surely know that.

Still, money, eh? A lot of money in testing even if the test is useless. As long as the government falls for it and pays up, who cares if an entire population is terrified into penury in the process?

There is also an enormous amount of money to be made in vaccinations. Even if they don’t work. They only have to give the illusion they work. ‘Repeated vaccinations’ is the same as the annual flu jab. It’s a money tree. Treatment, not cure, is where the profit lies. Those various hepatitis jabs I had don’t need to be repeated unless I go to the high risk places again. I won’t need rabies vaccine again unless I go to a high risk place. I shouldn’t need another shot of tuberculosis vaccine. Tetanus… actually I’m overdue for a topup. Considering I’m often elbow deep in something filthy, I’ll have to get that sorted if the NHS ever opens again. Their managers are enjoying all the spare cash at the moment.

Flu? You need a new vaccine every year. It hardly works and it might make you sick but the NHS has paid for it, the Pharmers have pocketed the cash so roll up your sleeve and play Flu Roulette. It might protect you. It might not. It might actually give you flu. Which chamber has the bullet?

I’ve never had a flu vaccine. No point, you can only get flu from other people and I have little to do with them. And while I have accepted all kinds of vaccines, all of them went through years of testing before being released. That’s not possible with any coronavirus vaccine. They change so fast you have, at best, months to come up with a new one. That’s why they are so crap.

This virus looked very scary at first. It is now clearly a severe flu. It is clear that case numbers have been ramped up by putting pretty much any disease in with it. It is clear that many death certificates were faked. It is clear that this is not another Spanish Flu, compared to that one it’s a rank amateur. It is a very bad flu and that’s all it is. It is not the End of Humanity, it’s a very naughty virus.

There have been no deaths from it in most of the UK for weeks. Hospitals are lying mostly empty. There are ‘cases’, these are positive tests and count as a case whether you are sick or not. PCR will give a positive result from bits of a dead virus, you might have had an asymptomatic infection and the test is picking up broken pieces. Nonetheless you are ‘a case’.

We are now all to wear useless masks that won’t stop any virus but which will cause a resurgence in bacterial and fungal respiratory infections. Unfortunately if you have any respiratory infection, the NHS is only testing for coronavirus. If you don’t have it you are unfashionable and will be sent home. If you die you will be marked as a coronavirus death even if it was Legionnaire’s disease.

Wearing a mask in public? I admit to delighting in this. I have some terrifying ones. There is one somewhere that is very gross indeed. I have to find it.

However, the mask goes on when I go into Local Shop (there have been comments on my masks) and comes off as soon as I leave. I don’t go into supermarkets any more, they deliver for less than it would cost me in petrol to get there and the supermarket bills are way down. No impulse buys, you see? I might never go there again.

Why the hype? Money. Of course.

There are now billions invested in finding a vaccine. Nobody needs one, and it won’t work anyway. I am taking zinc and vitamin D supplements, I get vit C from daily orange juice and quinine from daily tonic water. This stops the virus replicating so even if I happen to interact with some filthy disease-ridden human thing, I’m protected. I am also blocking ACE-2 receptors (the one the virus sticks to) with nicotine. All of this comes from science, I am not listening to politicians nor to anyone who stands to profit from a vaccine.

I know, Trump mentioned hydroxychloroquine and that automatically makes it bad. I’m not listening to Trump either. I’m listening to my past, an entire career studying infectious diseases and the knowledge of how to read scientific data. I don’t care whether anyone ‘believes’ me. It is of no consequence. I’m not interested in saving the world. I’m just telling you what I’m doing and why. What you do with this information is entirely up to you. Wrap it in tinfoil and bin it if you like. I don’t care.

Still, look at who is claiming the cheap cure doesn’t work. In America, the main motivation is ‘Trump said it’. There is another motivation that is worldwide.

Many rich and influential people, and many governments, have invested heavily in vaccine production. They lose all that money if there is a cheap and easy cure. So the cheap and easy cure has to be dismissed. Otherwise, who needs the vaccine they’ve spent all that money developing? Oh they know it won’t work, but that’s not the point. The point is profit.

You can help the billionaires get richer if you like. I’ve retired from a career as a microbiologist, I’ve been vaccinated against pretty much anything there’s a reliable vaccine for, and I am not touching this coronavirus vaccine.

What you choose to do is entirely up to you.

Tests and masks and toilet rolls

If it was a song it would be an Ian Dury/Captain Beefheart crossover. Unfortunately it will never happen now.

Tests.

I am seeing calls for more tests and faster turnaround. More testing is futile, if you look at the real numbers, most tests come back negative. This means nothing. It only means you hadn’t caught it by the time you were tested. You might have caught it between getting tested and getting the result. Testing absolutely everyone is just silly. It achieves nothing useful at all.

Current government guidance is to get tested only if you have symptoms. Most people won’t bother. For most people it presents as just a cold or a mild flu. Also, as a commenter pointed out, if you are a self employed taxi driver and you test positive, you have no earnings for the next two weeks. So they will not want to get a test.

On test duration… the last department I worked in had a profitable sideline in food testing. The lab was even accredited as a food testing lab. I did use PCR in my own work for identifying bacteria – it’s very good at that – but we never used it for food testing. Why? It finds DNA fragments. It will find dead bacteria and those are of no relevance to a food test.

If we found a positive, it meant the company had to recall a hell of a lot of product. A positive that was just a dead bacterium was no danger to anyone but would have been a very expensive mistake for the company. We had to find live ones, and we had to be sure. Reporting a negative on a contaminated product was even worse than a false positive. So we made damn sure we were right.

Salmonella is a case in point. We didn’t count how many there were, that was irrelevant. The test was for presence or absence in 25 grams of product. If it was there, even one live bacterium, it was a fail. We only tested 25 grams remember, not the entire thing. One in 25 grams might mean hundreds over the whole product and unlike chemical contamination, bacterial contamination will grow.

The test for Salmonella worked roughly like this: Day 1. Sample arrives, 25g is aseptically removed and placed into a sterile broth that will grow pretty much anything. No selective pressure at this stage.

Day 2. The broth is subcultured into two selective media, RV and Selenite broths. All goes back in the incubator.

Day 3. The broth is subcultured into RV and Selenite again and the broth is discarded (autoclaved first of course). Today’s RV and Selenite are put back in the incubator. Yesterday’s are plated onto agar plates of Salmonella-specific media. Those go back in the incubator.

Day 4. Yesterday’s RV and Selenite are each plated onto selective agar. We used two different ones to be sure we’d catch it. Yesterday’s agars are examined. Suspect colonies are tested. If there is a positive we can report it at this point. We cannot yet report a negative.

Day 5. The plates from yesterday and the day before are examined. If there is nothing, yesterday’s plates go back in the incubator and the rest is autoclaved and discarded.

Day 6. The last set of plates is examined. No sign of Salmonella? Not even suspect colonies tested with an antibody test? Fine. We report ‘not detected in 25g’. We would never say ‘all clear’ because we only tested 25g. There is always the chance that the 25g you cut out was the only clean bit 😉

If the product is meat or fish or salad, it’s already been sent out. The test has taken nearly a week, the product cannot be held back that long. A positive result at that stage means a very expensive and very, very embarrassing recall for the company. You have to be very sure you are absolutely right about this.

The point is, sometimes tests take time. Sometimes, especially when dealing with important pathogens, you just cannot cut corners. If I was a food producer and someone said they could test for Salmonella in two days, I wouldn’t touch them. It’s not even possible to do a reliable test in that time.

PCR testing is faster than that, sure, but it’s not instant. It still takes time, even with modern thermal cyclers. A lot is still manual too, putting the sample onto electrophoresis plates was still a manual job when I did it. If you have a lot of samples and limited equipment it’s going to take longer than usual. It’s also very easy to contaminate this kind of test. You need very well trained staff, and those are expensive and sometimes thin on the ground.

So, demanding faster turnaround on testing means demanding corner-cutting and a hell of a lot more dodgy results than the coronavirus tests already produce. Tests take time. You just have to accept that.

Masks

Surgeons wear masks for two reasons. One, so they don’t breathe germs into the open wound they are working on. Two, so that if there is a spurt of blood, they don’t get it in their mouths. That’s what those masks are for. They do absolutely nothing to protect against a virus. It even states that on the packaging.

Nurses wear masks for the same reasons. They are entirely useless against a virus.

There is a mask that is about 90% effective. As long as it is fitted by an expert who will then spray something stinky at you. If you can smell it, the mask isn’t fitted properly. In a perfectly fitted scenario, the mask lasts about two and a half hours before you have to replace it, and it cannot be re-used. Even if you get those masks, do you really think you can do better than a medically trained mask fitter? You might as well get a bean net from the garden centre and wrap that around your face.

I have ordered a Bane mask from eBay. It will offer me no protection at all. It’s just as good as those surgical masks people are stocking up with now. It is, however, likely to be a lot more fun.

Masks worn by the general public, of whatever type, achieve nothing at all. Not a damn thing. Other than to restrict breathing and act as a damp reservoir of horrible nasties breathed out by the wearer and others around them.

They should be sterilised before disposal since they are now hazardous waste but they won’t be. Those who can afford a whole box will simply dump their used masks, those who cannot will use them over and over until they are sodden, bacteria and virus laden deadly face nappies. You might as well shit in a hanky and tie it to your face.

No point telling them, they won’t listen. They have been told the face masks will save them and they point and scream like Bodysnatchers at anyone who has the sense not to wear one all day.

This virus is on the wane. Now we are told to wear masks? This makes no sense to anyone who stops and thinks for a moment. Sadly, few do, they are so well assimilated they just go with the herd. Even when the herd is clearly insane.

Early advice was to wash your hands often and not touch your face. This made sense. Coronaviruses have an outer coat held together by lipid (fats) and soap will break them. Other viruses with protein coats won’t be affected of course. This one, however, is really killed by hand washing.

The ‘not touching your face’ thing is a bad mix with mask wearing. You’re going to be taking that thing on and off all day. Touching your face every time. With no chance of hand washing in between. If that makes sense to you, then you’re insane.

Face visors, okay, I can go with that. They don’t restrict your breathing and they can be reused a lot. If you plan to sterilise them with anything, check on a corner first in case it clouds the plastic. Visors are available cheaply, the expensive ones are as good as the cheap ones at protecting you from viruses (not at all) and the negative reviews are mostly from those who haven’t figured out you need to take the protective film off first. The visor will protect you from spittle from someone talking to you and it’s a physical barrier that actually stops you touching your face. If you raise it to eat or drink, you only touch the visor. Oh, and it goes a little way to protecting your eyes too. Everyone seems to have forgotten the virus can get into you that way.

The mask narrative changed to ‘ my mask protects you, yours protects me’ to enable mask shaming. The masks do nothing protective, they are merely a means to identify the drones who will do as they are told. More importantly, to identify the ones who will question orders and who must be removed. It’s working very well.

The masks don’t work at all. Well they work perfectly for their real intended purpose. Most people won’t accept what that purpose is. Don’t bother telling them, they have been assimilated and there is no way back for them now. The same quasi-religious zeal that infects the Church of Climatology, Black Lives Matter, and all the rest. They are not going to listen. Stop trying to get through their walls, they are impenetrable. Just be ready to get the hell out of the way.

If I have to go into a shop and they are so terrified of breathing they demand I wear a mask, I will wear one. It looks like this –

because that’s what they are really for.

Unless of course the Bane mask arrives sooner. Or the hat to go with the nice leather plague doctor mask. I know none of them will have any effect at all, but I really cannot be bothered trying to explain that when all I want is a bottle of milk or a loaf of bread. I’ll go along with the silliness for the duration of my visit.

Not that I have been in shops very much since all this started. We’ve been getting supermarket deliveries since late March because going to a supermarket is a dehumanising experience. I’d have to go alone since CStM doesn’t drive, and I don’t much like shopping.

Add to that the interesting fact that the delivery charge is actually less than the petrol it would cost to get there (30 mile round trip to the nearest one) and the money saved by avoiding all impulse-buy opportunities, and we might never visit a supermarket in person again. Nothing to do with masks, it’s turning out to be so much easier and cheaper this way.

Toilet rolls.

Remember the arsepaper panic? Everyone bought up arsewipes until the rest of us had to buy the Guardian to avoid skidmarks.

It was bizarre. If civilisation collapsed there would be no sewage works and no water supply. Well, for those who don’t have a well and a septic tank anyway. Toilet paper would be an irrelevance, you’d be shitting in the woods. Stocking up on dry foods made some kind of sense, flour maybe, if you know how to make use of it. I suppose if they were planning on living on a diet of canned beans and pasta they would need an inordinate amount of toilet paper…

Why toilet paper? There were hints there might be a shortage. There wasn’t really. It looked like a shortage because people bought them faster than the shops could restock. It reached the point where many shops didn’t bother putting toilet roll on the shelves. They just plonked the pallets beside the tills. They didn’t stay on the shelves long enough to be worth any shelf stacker’s time. The shops kept restocking, the idiots kept stockpiling, and eventually the stock stabilised. All those stockpiles were irrelevant. I hope not a single shop gave a refund on anything.

There were videos online showing off their hauls of hand sanitiser, soap, bogroll and food. Not just dried food. At least one idiot had boxes full of fresh fruit. Yeah, that’s going to be a box of stinky apple soup in a few weeks. The bananas on top won’t help.

They showed off as if to say ‘Look at me, I’m ready for the Death Virus!’ while everyone else just thought ‘What a prick’. Well, not quite everyone. I was the one wondering how things would go when the local mice found that stash. We live way out in the country so we do stock up, but never more than can be fitted into our plastic or metal boxes. Stacks of pasta on the bedroom floor will soon be disturbing your sleep with the sound of tiny teeth munching.

It’s all become very silly, especially as this virus has turned out to be no more than a bad flu. Flu kills thousands every year, it leaves some with long term problems every year, and all flu viruses are coronavirus. The really bad flu season of 2018 killed more people than this one and yet suddenly, everyone is terrified.

Now we are told to wear masks that are totally ineffective because that’s how we ‘get the economy moving’. Now, I don’t think Boris is actually malicious. He is not a scientist, he is having to rely on advice from scientists. The trouble is, scientists are a lot like the engineers in the Dilbert cartoon. They have no clue how people actually function.

My bet is that Boris was told ‘If you tell them to wear masks, they’ll feel safe and go back to work’. In reality, mandatory masks tell people that everyone without a mask is a plague carrier and that it is not safe at all to breathe air anywhere.

It’s very, very easy to terrify people. I’ve been doing it for fun for many years. It is extremely difficult to un-terrify them once it all sets in. Not that I’ve ever bothered with that part. Then again, there are those who want them terrified.

There are those looking to profit enormously from a vaccine that isn’t needed and won’t work. Flu vaccines never do. They need you scared enough to not only accept it, but demand it. It’s working.

Then there’s Bill Gates and his dream of microchipping everyone. This is his chance, a chip that says you are clear of this flu virus and without the chip, you cannot buy food or use public transport… we are talking chapter one of Panoptica here. A book which should have been finished by now although I’m still not sure if I should. Am I predicting it or am I making it happen? Well it looks like it’s happening anyway.

COVID-19 is fading. It will never be gone. Swine flu, bird flu, all those things that were going to wipe us out are still around. Several cases of bubonic plague have been reported recently, that one is at least 800 years old and it’s still not eradicated. It never will be.

Viruses tend to become less vicious over time. Always. Not because of any thought on the part of the virus – it cannot think, it’s not even a whole cell – but because the deadlier version always kills its host so its spread is limited. The milder version does not kill so spreads more easily. Eventually, any new flu virus becomes a common cold. All of these are coronaviruses.

Take the test if you want, wear a mask if you want, fill your spare room with bumwipes and pasta if you want. None of this will have the slightest effect on the virus.

It’s going to follow the same pattern as all other coronaviruses no matter what you do. The virus is not what you should be scared of.

It’s the fear that’s been instilled in you that will kill you.

Stop that. It’s silly

Some may remember Graham Chapman’s ‘colonel’ character from Monty Python. Another comedy team that wouldn’t be allowed near the airwaves in this time of political correctness, in which people get offended by tea.

He would have had to shout his line ‘Stop that, it’s silly’ until his throat was raw. The human race has, indeed, descended into a pit of stupidity it might never climb out of. Forget about diseases or crashing economies or wars. Humanity is heading into a race of drooling idiots who are offended by the mere presence of all the drooling idiots around them, never noticing the drool on their own chins.

I was in Local Shop on Saturday. My first visit for a month. I had to post a mug and pick up some minor essentials. This little shop has toilet paper, pasta and flour again. Any kind of flour you want. I can’t remember the last time I saw a not-empty flour shelf in any shop. Somewhere there are people with stacks of flour, pasta and toilet paper, all just waiting for the mice, mould and flies of summer to ruin the lot. We didn’t stock up with anything and didn’t run out of anything – but then we live far away from civilisation so tend to have a few weeks’ worth anyway.

You would think that people, especially the British, would now look at those immense stacks of pointless stocks and think ‘Well, we have been a bit silly. Let’s calm down and try not to do it again’.

No. Now they are arguing over masks. One side says nobody should wear a mask ever, the other says everyone has to wear one all the time. Which side is right? As is always the case, neither. Oh, and there are regular spam emails trying to sell overpriced cloth masks that won’t do a damn thing.

Actually that’s not true. Wearing a cloth mask all day virtually guarantees a repiratory infection. Medical masks have a hydrophobic layer because every exhalation carries a load of water vapour. The hydrophobic layer means the condensation resulting from that breath does not leave you with a damp mask over your face. Also, medics do not keep the mask on all day and they don’t put the same one on all the time.

A cloth mask will gradually get damp as you breathe through it. It won’t stop a virus. You might as well wear a sieve. What it will do is provide a damp environment, warmed by your face, that will delight any airborne bacteria or fungal spores that land on it. Keep that on for hours, let the populations grow, and inhale all those lovely infections. You’re going to feel a bit silly when you’re stuck in hospital with a fungal or bacterial infection caused by your futile attempt to stop a virus.

Those masks are to make you feel better about having other people around. That is all they achieve. They also achieve increased CO2 rebreathing, restricted oxygen intake, and a risk of other kinds of infection. All while doing sod all to stop a virus.

Okay, getting hold of proper medical masks isn’t going to be easy. If everyone stocked up we’d have the flour, pasta and toilet roll situation all over again (which I fully expect is happeneing now). Even the medical masks won’t stop a virus, which is why everyone wants an N95 mask.

However, N95 masks have to be properly fitted and they are, due to their fine pore size, hellish hard to breathe through. Keep that on all day and you’re going to pass out from CO2 toxicity long before you have to worry about any kind of infection.

Right, so let’s say a cloth mask is all you can get. You must get more than one and they must be washable. Minimum 60C wash. Forget about the bloody virus, the detergent will kill that at 30C. What you are trying to kill are the bacteria and fungi that your mask has been collecting while you wear it and you need at least a 60C wash for that. So no masks made of fleece that won’t survive a 60C wash.

Only wear it when you are around other people – and not the people you live with, it’s too late to worry about that now. Take it off whenever you are alone. Do not wear a mask of any kind when driving, there is a real danger of wooziness due to rebreathing CO2 which means you can’t concentrate. The virus cannot penetrate your windshield, trust me on that one.

If I am forced to wear a mask in a shop I will put it on when I go in and it’ll be straight off when I come out. Not that I’m likely to be visiting many shops, since CStM and I cannot shop together at the moment and we’re quite enjoying having the shopping delivered. Supermarkets are not likely to be much fun for a long time yet either.

Put the mask in the wash after ONE day of use. No, it is not okay to use it for three days in a row, those bacteria and fungi are still growing while it’s hung on a hook in your centrally heated home. Next day’s outing will add more. You need at least two masks so you can have one washed and drying and the other ready in case you want to go to the shops again.

If you are in a car alone or with members of your household you do not need a mask. The driver absolutely must not have one on. If you are cycling or running about in the countryside, well away from everyone, you do not need a mask and should not wear one. If you pass out, who’s going to find you?

Look at your memories of being in hospital. Admittedly I don’t have many of those but in the few I do have, none of the medical staff wore masks. Not the doctors, not the nurses and certainly not the patients. Masks were for surgery, and their purpose was to avoid contamination of an open wound by anything breathed out by the surgeon.

Suddenly everyone in hospital is wearing them. There was never any ‘PPE shortage’. Hospitals were stocked on the basis of normal use, not on the basis of every bugger in there wanting one. Stocks were not low. They were depleted rapidly because of a surge in demand. Restocking was hampered by that surge in demand happening in a hundred countries at the same time.

I could make a virus-stopping mask but I’m not really seeing the point any more. Well, I’m a special case I suppose, I have never really interacted with people very much and live where they can’t find me. If you live in a big city you can’t avoid that interaction. You also cannot escape the virus. Many of you have already had it, it can range from a cold to a really bad flu, but not many of you needed hospital treatment.

Not wearing a mask is about to become the New Smoking. They will point and scream at you, some shops will refuse entry, you’ll get nagged and harassed every chance they get, they will try to shame you because you are not one of the herd. You will need one, but do not wear it all the time. Especially if you have asthma or any kind of lung condition or have just recovered from any lung infection of any kind. That mask will restrict your breathing no matter what it’s made of and if your lungs are already struggling it will make that worse.

The mask is futile. Even N95, if you aren’t trained in its use. I note that all the mask wearers wear no eye protection even though we have known from the outset that this virus can get in that way. Yet it’s all about the mask.

There is no mention of taking supplemental vitamins C and D and zinc supplements. Watch it with the zinc, extended use can lead to anaemia but taking it for a few months while this nonsense rages won’t harm you. Vitamin D is cheap, and an orange a day will get you nicely loaded with vitamin C. Oh, I might get some Haliborange. I remember that from childhood, it was the only medicine that tasted like sweets. All these things help against a wide range of viruses and other ailments. As does being a miserable antisocial swine, but that’s just me.

Hydroxychloroquine… well, there are almost no lupus sufferers in the hospitals. That’s the drug routinely used to treat lupus. It does work although I’d only take it under medical supervision. For most people it’s fine but some do get an allergic reaction to it. You can get some quinine into you with a small daily glass of tonic water. Proper tonic water, not this modern trendy ‘no quinine’ shite. That’s why tonic water exists – gin and tonic was originally designed to get quinine into the Brits who had moved in on countries where malaria was endemic.

However, the mask is the new polarisation. Some see it as an oppressive thing, others see it as the only thing that will save humanity. It is neither. It is a fad, a sop to the terrified, a feel good farce. It will not protect you and will not protect anyone around you. And yet, if you are seen without one you will be treated as smokers have been treated for years.

The amusing part is that smokers, like lupus sufferers, are hugely underrepresented in hospitalisations from Flu Manchu. Nicotine is also protective and you don’t even have to smoke it. Several places are trialling nicotine patches as a treatment. I find this hilarious because it’s rather like this…

Smokers are excluded from most places now, places where everyone else gathers to spread their diseases. It’s just the icing on the cake to find that nicotine is the preventative they will all refuse to take.

If I have to go somewhere where masks are compulsory I will wear one, but it will not be a standard medical mask. I have a plague doctor mask and several ‘Are you my mummy?‘ style gas masks. I will only wear one where it is compulsory. While I could potentially make a virus-proof mask I no longer see the need. The virus has turned out to be far less dangerous than it’s been hyped up to be, although it could still be an issue in highly populated cities. It’s all about the percentages. If, say, ten percent need to go to hospital, then ten percent out here is a lot less than ten percent of London.

But still, if I have to wear a mask, it will not be a medical one, it will be outrageous. It will be scary and yes, I will have to hype up the scariness. Can’t help it, it’s what I do. I might even put a pointless posy in that plague doctor mask, just as in the old days. What the hell, they’re already primed for a scare. I just can’t let that pass.

There is no point telling people they are being silly. They are too scared to accept it. They have to be shown just how silly it all is and they have to realise it for themselves. Before it’s too late, before they hand their lives over to total control because there will be no way back from that.

How silly has it all become? Well, this is a modern baptism…

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

I think it needs a clay pigeon launcher. The priest gets one shot and if he misses, the child belongs to Satan. If you’re going to be scared, let’s take it all the way, eh?

Tinfoil at the ready? Then let’s begin

I do like to delve into the tinfoil hattery layers of the internet when it’s late and I can’t sleep. Absolutely masses of story ideas down there. Mostly I can’t sleep tonight because I’ve begun editing another short story collection, this one is by Wandra Nomad and should only take a few days. There’s another possible one in the works by Gastradamus but that needs illustrations so it’ll take longer.

Anyway. A few nights back I came across a rather long video of three guys chatting about all this coronavirus stuff. They had a very interesting take on it and they were able to back it up with actual real world references. Whether they are right or not, it’s an excellent basis for a story. I can’t find the video now but if I do, I’ll post a link.

They showed an animation of the currently known near-Earth-orbit rocks (there are a lot of them, and more are found every day) and a couple of weeks back, the animation showed around ten of those rocks intersecting with the Earth on its orbit. This was an actual animation of actual rocks using actual data, not some gamer-geek’s Sims game.

Now, these animations can’t really be to scale. We are talking rocks a few metres across and the entire planet Earth. So where the animation shows all those rocks bombarding the Earth, there is enough leeway in the scale for them to all miss by maybe a million miles. Still, that was a very risky moment and there would have been astophysicists somewhere trying to work out the actual level of risk of a strike.

In fact there was a strike, in Nigeria. Not a big one but it still made a fairly big hole. Fortunately well away from anywhere populated.

Well, these guys’ thesis was that if astrophysicists were watching this convergence of rocks on their models, they might have considered the risk of a major strike to be pretty large. What can they do though? If governments announced the possibility of an extinction level event there would be mass panic. Uncontrollable rioting. Everything would collapse. Then, if all the rocks missed, fingers would be pointed…

But if they did nothing and there was a big strike, the devastation could be enormous. How would they cope? Again, fingers would point… ‘Why didn’t you warn us?’ It’s a no win scenario.

Ah, but along comes Flu Manchu. Which Trump’s Dr. Faust was initially right about – it’s a bad flu, it will kill people, the elderly and those with serious medical conditions need to take care, but it’s not the end of the world. He later changed his tune. Why?

Well what if there really was an ‘end of the world’ possibility coming along in the shape of a massive space rock? The governments of the world would be informed and they also know they can’t just blurt it out. So, what if they use the virus as a reason to boost up hospital capacity and get people to avoid large and vulnerable gatherings…

Almost none of that extra hospital capacity has been used. Anywhere. Most of that extra capacity was ill-equipped to deal with a respiratory illness, they were just plain old field hospitals. Many of them are now being dismantled. That rock cluster has passed by leaving only a minor hole in Nigeria.

Coronavirus figures have been reported in a way no other flu figures have ever been reported. People are getting Covid-19 on their death certificates when they die from any cause. The virus has all but wiped out deaths from flu, pneumonia, heart attacks, stroke, falling anvils and anything else. Currently, if you don’t get coronavirus you’ll never die. Why? Why ramp up the fear like that?

The NHS put out a call for volunteers. Many people volunteered. As far as I can tell, not one was actually called upon. Around eight thousand people applied to be ‘contact tracers’; not one was hired. NHS nurses have been putting dance videos on TikTok filmed in empty hospitals. Hospital staff have been furloughed because they aren’t needed.

It is true that some hospital staff have died of the virus, in the same proportion as the general population. No massive increase in deaths or infections in the hospital environment.

The gradual rollout of antibody testing is already showing that the virus has spread far more widely than first thought, and many people have had it without showing anything more than symptoms of a cold. Others have had a bad flu, a few have been hospitalised and some of those went on to intensive care – but that happens every year with the flu. It’s horrible when a family member dies – but it’s also inevitable. Nobody lives forever. I’ve had to come to terms with that myself this year.

One thing the tinfoil guys said that caught my interest – Trump shut down America when there were around 250 deaths. In a population the size of America that is not a national emergency. Yet he trashed the economy he had spent three years bragging about building up for a number of deaths that doesn’t even touch the annual flu death toll.

Were the tinfoilers on to something? Was the virus used as an excuse to prepare for a different kind of disaster? I mean, astrophysicists are pretty brilliant people but on the scales they work with, even a tiny statistical deviation can mean the difference between a space rock hitting us and that same rock missing us by a million miles. With a cluster of them arriving at once, they’d be concerned.

They also wouldn’t be able to pinpoint where such a rock would hit, not until it was so close it would be too late to do anything about it. It might land in the sea, in the desert, or in a major city. Although if it’s big enough it probably wouldn’t matter where it landed.

Lockdown was a separate issue. It was based on a model created by Neil ‘Beware the Ides of March’ Ferguson, who has predicted so many disasters that never happened, I wonder that government were still listening to him. They did though, and we are now likely to kill more people with this lockdown than the virus would have. Especially in Scotland and Wales where lockdown continues just to spite the Tories.

Maybe the guys are just plain old tinfoil hatters. Maybe they’ve read this wrong. Or maybe they really have picked up on something. Tinfoil hatters exposed Common Purpose long before anyone else (including me) believed it was real. They do sometimes get it right, it’s just that what they find is so bizarre we don’t readily accept it. At least they didn’t try claiming that some people are lizards. That’s still a red line for me.

Anyway, if it was a risk of collision, it appears to have passed. Now the challenge is to remove the fear of a virus that’s clearly nowhere near as deadly as we’ve been told. That won’t be easy, not least because certain governments are revelling in the new authoritarianism and don’t want it to end.

Whether it’s true or not, it’s a great plot for a novel. Major disaster about to strike Earth, governments need to prepare without letting the people know what’s really happening and thereby avoid mass panic. Disaster averted – but now, how to remove the artificial fear they created?

There will be those in government who don’t even want to. Quite an intriguining potential story there, I think.

The Easy Terror

Okay, first off, I have finally completed Tales From Loch Doon, every author who wanted cash has been paid and books are (slowly) making their way to those who wanted books. Amazon are prioritising ‘essentials’ and print books aren’t essential. They might take a week or so to arrive.

I went with the lighter cover image, did some meddling to sharpen it and (hopefully, I haven’t seen a print copy yet) make it more dramatic. There some little things in there to find, naturally 😉

Okay. I can now get back to Panoptica and the other books waiting in line. I can also stop banging on about Loch Doon. It’s complete.

So what’s the scariest thing I’ve written? What I hear most about is things like ‘The Hand that Feeds’ (goblins in a dishwasher), ‘Telephone Pest’ (demonic spirits spread through silent phone calls) and the preamble stories for Panoptica.

Nobody is scared of stories about wild-eyed demons or ghosts or zombies or vampires. Those are entertainment. It’s when you take the ordinary and everyday stuff and turn it on its head – that’s when people start checking under the bed and behind the sofa, and sleep with the lights on. The ordinary is the place where the easy terrors lurk.

So it is with the Flu Manchu. We now hear that it might be in the water supply. Apparently Boris says so, so all the already-terrified drones will believe it.

Well… no. It is not in the water supply. I am certain. Absolutely definitely certain. If it is anywhere it’s in the bottled water the drones will buy to avoid drinking from the tap, but really it’s not in there either.

That won’t stop me scaring them shitless about it, of course. I haven’t been able to leave the house for nearly a month now and I miss that direct interaction with people, and watching the colour drain from their faces.

The only way it would get into water is through faecal contamination. If your water comes from a reservoir, it had bird shit, fish shit, insect shit and all the fox and badger and everything else shit washed off the surrounding banks going into it. There’ll also be quite a few dead things in there, rotting away nicely and making your drinking water into dead-thing-and-poo soup.That’s why you don’t just dip a cup into a reservoir.

When it comes out of the tap, all the nasties are gone. The processing plant has cleaned them all out. We know this because drinking water is tested. One of those tests is for faecal contamination and that involves looking for Escherichia coli. Why that one? It’s only found in guts so if it’s in the water, there’s shit in the water. If it’s absent then we can be reasonably sure there’s no shit in the water. There are other tests too, quite a few, but if the processing is working correctly the water will pass them all.

So what makes this virus so special that it can withstand processing? Nothing. Nothing at all. It can’t. It’s not the Johnny Bravo of the microbial world. It will not get past the processing plant even if it gets into the water in the first place.

If it did, then so can everything else and you’d already be shitting water through every orifice from all the nasties you’d pick up.

Bottled water is also processed and tested. It’s not bottled by an unwashed hippy dipping bottles into a stream, you know. Any kind of foodstuff/drink on sale has been tested for safety unless you’re into eating raw bats you got from a dodgy blood-soaked madman. No safety tests, no sale. The suppliers want to see and keep documentation of the tests, otherwise they’d be liable too.

A long time ago, I was actually involved in food and drink testing. It’s not something you can be casual about. Wrongly reporting something as safe means an outbreak of food poisoning and it’s your fault. Wrongly reporting something as contaminated means a massively expensive recall operation – and that’s also your fault. Believe me, the labs doing these tests are careful.

Town water is chlorinated to make absolutely sure it’s safe to drink. Out here, it isn’t chlorinated – but it goes through two filters and a sealed UV blaster so it’s safe to drink right from the tap. Without chlorine. That’s because the water treatment plant is in the utility room so the treated water doesn’t have to travel far. If it was my personal well I’d be allowed to risk it, but since the landlord is supplying tenants, he can’t. The filters and UV are changed every year and the water gets tested.

The virus is not in the water supply. If you are still scared, boil the water first. The virus will not survive that. It cannot live inside your kettle either.

I don’t blame Boris for this scare story. He has no background in science, much less in microbiology or water treatment and supply. Someone has fed him this scaremongering bollocks and he probably thinks he’s doing us a favour by passing it on.

All it is doing is adding to the fear. Don’t fall for it.

The Fall of the House of Covid

Many are trying to prevent it, until they can make either capital or political gain out of it, but it’s going to happen anyway.

This virus is going to kill people and it will keep killing people for quite some time. This cannot be prevented, no matter how hard you shout at and villify the current or any future government. It’s a virus. You cannot just make a law against it and expect it to comply.

It now seems that the ‘reinfection’ that has been widely talked about is just false positives. PCR is ‘polymerase chain reaction’, and put simply, if you have a tiny bit of DNA or RNA, the machinery will make many more copies of it until it’s at a high enough concentration to be detected and analysed. I’m not going into the details, if you’re not a microbiologist it’ll just make your eyes cloud over. Science is repetetive and fairly boring most of the time, every scientist knows that.

When I worked in food borne disease, food poisoning and food spoilage, there was often talk of ‘making it modern’ by using PCR. However, PCR has a major flaw in that application. It detects DNA. Sure, it’s more sensitive than our culture methods but our culture methods do not detect dead cells. PCR does. It detects fragments of DNA and RNA, It will detect the remnants of one single Salmonella in a piece of chicken but it will not tell you if the chicken was rife with disease or if there was just a fragment of one dead cell on it. Culture tells you if they are alive.

So it is with a virus. Remaining fragments of dead virus could be hanging around in the mess it’s left behind after it’s gone. After infection (and by all accounts this one makes quite a mess of your airways especially if it gets bad enough to need hospitalisation) there are going to be a lot of your smashed cells, and virus bits, strewn across the battlefield of your airways.

If reinfection happened then those reinfected would get sick again. If they don’t (and it appears they don’t) then it’s probably just battlefield residue the test is picking up. PCR cannot distinguish between active and dead and it will detect extraordinarily tiny amounts..

Think of it like an actual battle where your side has killed every last enemy, but your generals see the prone uniforms and insist the enemy is still there and you have to keep firing. That’s a PCR test. A culture test would ask ‘are they still firing back?’ A PCR test does not.

So currently it is likely that you get immunity after suffering this virus. Well, you might not suffer, you might not even know you had it, but a test will show its presence even if your immune system has already smashed it. Something else to add to the ‘tests are pointless’ list. An antibody test is more useful, it will test whether you have immunity.

There is a treatment. A cheap one. Hydroxychloroquine, antibiotic and zinc. It has been poo-pooed because Trump said it and also because it doesn’t make anyone rich. You really want to stake your life on your ideology? Hydroxychloroquine is an old antimalarial drug that has become a generic. It’s very, very cheap. Many, many people who travel to malaria risk countries use it every year. A few develop side effects, but then some people suffer an allergy to tonic water. Most people are fine.

There is also an expensive treatment, an antiviral that costs $1000 per pill. That’s the one being pushed by those who will profit from it.

Zinc sulphate supplements are very cheap. Zinc is often depleted in older people and worth stocking up on. It helps with wound healing and breaks cytokine storms. Long term use of the supplement can cause anaemia so it’s really only something we old buggers should take when there’s a risk.

With all this, a lot of people will still die. It’s horrible but it will happen, no matter what we do. None of us will live forever, under any government or health regime. Life is a risk every day. If there is no risk, it’s not life. It’s just existing.

The ‘flatten the curve’ idea behind lockdown led many to believe that this would save lives. It will and it won’t. The area under the two curves is the same. Same number of infections from this virus, same number of deaths. Flattening the curve means the medical side won’t get overwhelmed over a short period so they can cope. That means we avoid excess deaths due to an overstretched health service and won’t have to ignore all other diseases while the virus runs its course. Something the NHS has only just started to realise.

There has been much criticism of the Nightingale hospitals having few to no patients. If we had not had the lockdown they would likely be overflowing. This is not touted as a ‘success of lockdown’ but as a ‘failure of government’.

China hid away the virus for so long they had to quickly make emergency hospitals out of stacked portakabins. Italy had no time to prepare so they were overwhelmed. The UK saw it coming and prepared Nightingale hospitals before they were needed (they still might be) and the USA has made the mistake of dismantling some of their temporary hospitals before this is over.

Lockdown, in my view, was done at the right time. Boris didn’t want to do it at all and many people, even those who don’t want to admit it, wish he hadn’t.

If he had done it sooner, as hysterical toddlers like Piers Morgan say, people would have looked around and said ‘Fuck all is happening, this is silly’ and it would have failed in a week. Now he is being villified for doing it too late by people who are already going stir crazy and claiming the lack of mass graves proves they are right.

The lack of mass graves proves Boris was right. This lockdown hits the poorest hardest, those who only get paid when they show up for work. I am astounded that many places are laying off cleaners in a time when cleanliness is vital but then people, especially managers, aren’t too bright. That’s why Boris didn’t want to do it. He was railroaded into it by those who are now complaining about it.

Lockdown cannot be sustained for much longer. I give it another week at most. Boris knew this. The Brits will not be contained for long. The Americans, even less so. However, it has achieved its aim – to slow the spread so there is no massive peak as in China and Italy. When lockdown is relaxed the virus will spread but we now have all those emergency spare hospitals to deal with it. We have had time to stock up on PPE. They have, you know. The Panorama thing was bollocks. It was, like most things on the BBC, a Leftie hate-fest. It’s not even the government’s job to source PPE, it’s the job of the thousands of idiots paid to be NHS procurement managers. Most of whom are lefties too.

People are dying not because of Boris and the Tories (could be a good band name) but because of the lefties who care nothing for lives lost as long as they can make a point. Who would you trust with your life in this situation? Happy to become a statistic so the Lefties can bring down the government?

Then we have nicotine. You know, it’s a good thing ASH and their ilk weren’t around long ago or you would not now have niacin in bread and most of you would be suffering pellagra. I have delighted in telling people that niacin is nicotinic acid and that it’s in bread and other foods to get them addicted. Doing my bit to raise the average IQ of the planet.

It looks like nicotine, an ACE2 blocker, reduces your chances of catching the virus and makes it less bad if you do. It needs research but who would dare? Any research suggesting a positive effect of nicotine and the Puritans will end your career.

We need to know if this is true, we need to know how long nicotine blocks those receptors, do we have to take it hourly or daily? Should we all be vaping or using Snus? Which is best, does it work at all?

I have a feeling we will never know because the Puritans would rather we died than admit they are wrong.

Smoking, and Schrodinger’s Tyrant

Still waiting to hear from one author, who is ill. I’ll get the rest of the contracts out tomorrow anyway and finish assembling the book and cover so it’s all set to go as soon as I hear. Payments go out after contracts – if you want to be paid in books, it could take a while unless I can get Amazon to send them direct. I still don’t have the cable to fix the car so I still can’t go anywhere. Might buy a moped…

So Kim Jong Un might or might not be dead. Only opening the country and taking a look inside will force his current quantum uncertainty into one state or the other. Just what 2020 needed, uncertainty in a nuclear-armed rogue state. I would say things can’t get worse but the universe just takes that as a challenge these days.

If he is dead, it seems likely his sister will take over. Lots of talk about how pretty she is – and she is – but I see a very harsh mouth and eyes. Kim Jong Undead was/is a tyrant but there were often images of him laughing and smiling. I don’t think I’ve ever seen his sister wear any expression other than ‘the teacher who caught you smoking’. I don’t think North Korea will be more open under her rule. I think she’ll lock it down harder.

On smoking, there is increasing evidence that smokers are less likely to catch the Flu Manchu and have less severe symptoms if they do get it. Why? Several theories have been put forward, it seems that nicotine can block ACE2, a cell surface protein that the virus needs to attach to to get into your cells. This protein is all over the surfaces of your lungs and throat and other organs inside you. If it gets into your blood it can infect non-airway organs too.

One place rich in ACE2 is the testicles, so men have an extra breeding ground for the virus that women don’t have. Might be connected to its higher kill rate among men than women – so, sorry guys, off with them.

I had been wondering how I’d make the jump to a female-drone neutered workforce in Panoptica, and here’s the answer. I wonder if the universe is helping me write that book?

I don’t think the French experiment with patches will work. The patches put nicotine in your bloodstream where it could well have a protective effect on your internal organs – but not your nose, throat or lungs.

The ACE2 receptors the virus uses are on the outside (air side) of respiratory tissue. Those receptors do not come in contact with blood. They’re also on the inside of the tissue, where the blood goes past them, but the virus isn’t coming that way. It’s coming from the air side. You need to block those air-side receptors and you can only do that if the nicotine is in inhaled air or at least in saliva. Might be why Sweden isn’t in lockdown – loads of them use snus and they are antisocial buggers at the best of times anyway. Their extreme politeness extends to hardly ever interacting at all. My bet is most of the cases they have are among migrants. Who, as here, will ignore lockdown instructions anyway.

No doctor would dare suggest anyone take up smoking. They’d be struck off. Even suggesting a lifelong nonsmoker take up vaping would get them hounded out of a job. There is a simple solution.

Nicotine in an asthma inhaler. It would be cheap and likely to be effective and yet there will be massive opposition. So many have been brainwashed with lies about nicotine being a carcinogen, a toxin, addictive… none of that is true. Thanks to the antismokers those lies are deeply ingrained now. Many will refuse this treatment, it’ll be hard as hell to even get approval for a trial, and the WHO will not budge from their position on nicotine. Even if it has the potential to save many thousands of lives.

Antismokers really would let people die rather than give up their crusade. Well it won’t be the smokers or vapers dying, nor even the bulk of nonsmokers who just aren’t bothered about smokers. Those antismokers would take the inhalers. It’ll be their own army of zealots who will suffer so it’s hard to give a shit, really.

Actually, nicotine gum would be better than patches but someone in intensive care isn’t likely to be up for a chewing session. They might not even be conscious. In that case, a nebuliser shooting a dose of nicotine vapour into their oxygen mask might be an option – but it would require a consent form. Which would have to be signed before they get that bad. If they refuse it, then it can’t be used.

Hospitals really don’t want a rash of lawsuits from rabid antismokers whose lives they have just saved. The consent form is essential.

I suspect the French patches study will show some effect on the multiple-organ infections in the really bad cases, but little to no effect in the airways. Antismokers will pounce on this as proof that it’s all rubbish. Maybe those French researchers will realise why it doesn’t work on the airways, maybe they won’t. We’ll have to wait and see.

Meanwhile, I’m lighting up another one.

Viral smokiness

I’m seeing a lot of reports that smokers and vapers are very under-represented in cases of the new virus. I haven’t seen solid studies yet, just admissions/deaths numbers but then there really hasn’t been time to study mechanisms in detail.

There are a lot of possible mechanisms. It seems regular intake of nicotine represses a protein called ACE2. I’m not going to bore you with biochemistry, suffice to say that this is a cell surface protein that has a few jobs to do, but it’s also the one Flu Manchu attaches to when attacking cells. So, cells that have a lot of this protein are highly susceptible to the virus.

If it is reduced in nicotine users then those using nicotine patches and gum long term should also show a protective effect. I haven’t seen any data at all on that though. If it does turn out that patches and gum have an effect then nonsmokers don’t need to take up smoking. During flu season, slap on a nicotine patch.

Of course, that route has been effectively blocked by Public Health, who have spent years convincing the gullible that nicotine is harmful, carcinogenic and addictive. It is none of those things but the public won’t believe that now and I have long given up arguing with the indoctrinated. ‘Harmful’ and ‘carcinogenic’ can be applied to other chemicals in smoke just as well as they can be applied to the chemicals in vehicle exhausts. Nicotine plays no role in any of those things.

There are, of course, other, potentially simpler reasons why smokers are under-represented in the current Mao Tse Lung outbreak. Smokers, long term ones anyway, tend to cough quite a bit. Often with phlegm, which will make it harder for a virus to get in. Viruses can’t swim, they have no motive power at all, they just go where the wind takes them. If they get stuck in mucus and coughed back out, they can’t get you. Also, an infected cell releasing new viruses into a layer of phlegm will slow the infection of neighbouring cells and give the immune system a better chance of dealing with it.

Then there is the whole social isolation thing. Smokers have been ostracised harder and harder for many years and really, a lot of people stay well away from us anyway due to the ridiculous fearmongering around second and third and nine hundredth hand smoke. Our social lives have been so curtailed that we must surely be at far lower risk of catching anything at all.

Incidentally, Amnesty International have been on social media to declare that calling it ‘the Chinese virus’ is racist. I’m sure they won’t like the names I’ve been calling it. However, having now seen multiple instances of black people in China being evicted, turned away from shops, turned away from hospitals when in labour, and not a peep from the Champions of Anti-Racism, Amnesty can go in the same bin as the WHO, UN and Public Health. They have all proved themselves as useless as the EU in this outbreak. Just nannying and virtue signalling and pushing agendas. ‘Never mind the sick people, this is our chance to get what we want.’

Quite a few organisations are showing their true faces now. The Masque of the Red Death (I’d make it a competition but can’t get to a post office anyway) did that too, and the title seems appropriate here.

There has been a sudden switch from ‘Ban all face coverings’ to ‘Cover all faces’, hasn’t there? I need a mask with a cigarette sized hole in it, is that allowed? I doubt it. Anyway, if you have to make your own masks, get some hoover bags. The HEPA ones, they look like white cloth, are best although the paper ones will do at a pinch. Cut those up to make a layer in the mask, they are not quite as good as N95 but pretty close. Oh and don’t forget the salt-encrusted cloth layer. It’s in several earlier posts.

If you have a gas mask or spray paint mask or one of those rubber dust masks with filters in it, you can replace the filters with the HEPA layer and salt layer. Make sure there are no gaps.

Oh, and getting back to racism because ma, papa, we’re all racists now (that would have been too easy for a competition), the Mayor of London, Napoleon something, has declared that because BAME people are disproportionally represented in infection rates, there must be something racist going on. It can’t just be that they are ignoring lockdown and social distancing rules, someone has to be to blame. Someone white and male, naturally. Well, viruses have no gender and since they are smaller than the wavelength of visible light, they have no colour either. Good luck accusing them of racism.

Maybe it’s those BAME gatherings that are behind their enhanced infection rate.

Or maybe they just didn’t smoke enough.

The Numbers Game

Work on the anthology is slow. There have been multiple disruptions in life this year – not just the virus, although that has meant that CStM and I no longer do the weekly shopping together. I have to go alone – and unsupervised – so there’s now a lot of whisky in the house. Fortunately, Aldi didn’t have any new power tools last week.

The virus hasn’t affected our lives all that much really. The only bad part is not being able to visit family and later, if the weather gets warm, we’d visit one of the two large castle gardens nearby. Well, we do have a decent garden so we can leave the parks to those who don’t.

Roobeedoo and I are working through the edits for the anthology. I’ll send them all out at once when they’re all done and then send out payments as soon as each author has agreed/modified the edits. It won’t be out for Easter but then this year, neither will Jesus.

Panoptica is something I have to get back into also. Most of what I’ve written so far is well on the way to being reality and I need to stay a little bit ahead. I’m thinking of dropping the first few chapters, start with the lead-in short stories and then start 10538’s story with the interview that sends him to the train. I need to use the flashbacks as his memory recovers but that repeats the beginning – so the answer is, lose the beginning and make the flashbacks more detailed.

Better get moving before they declare books non-essential.

One of the big questions lately is: ‘are they fiddling the death statistics?’ Yes they are, possibly with good reason.

Some countries are putting an underlying condition as cause of death to reduce the terror in the numbers. Others, like China, are simply lying. Yet others are attributing any death to coronavirus and inflating their figures.

Anyone testing positive for Flu Manchu and then dies is counted as a Flu Manchu death even if they died of a stroke or heart attack and had no flu symptoms. It’s a notifiable disease so it has to be on the death certificate but it isn’t necessarily the actual cause of death. Anyone showing symptoms is added to the list even if they aren’t actually tested. Deaths from flu and pneumonia are mysteriously low this year. They’re all counted as the new coronavirus.

The number of total deaths sounds scary, but people die all the time. It’s an inescapable consequence of being alive. Flu has a large death toll every year, usually among the elderly and the already sick, but nobody advocates lockdown every winter. They probably will now.

The kill rate is really not what makes this new one so dangerous. It’s trick is that it spreads so very easily and someone infected can spread it for a long time before they know they have it. Flu does cause a hell of a lot of cases and a lot of death but the symptoms appear in a few days. The new one can be spreading for weeks before it strikes the carrier and there is still the possiblility of long term asymptomatic spreaders. So, today, you might only have a few cases but two weeks from now, you could have a massive spike.

Around 20% of those cases will need hospitalisation and most of them won’t need intensive care. Most will recover with treatment. The thing is, 20% of a million cases is two hundred thousand in hospital. Unlike flu, that’s not spread over months. It’s likely to be spread over weeks. If you’re in there for three weeks recovering then the hospitals are soon full. Then you’re at the stage where doctors have to decide who gets treatment.

Lockdown is a way to avoid that. Limit the spread. There is no way to stop it but you can slow it down. The shrieking harpies of the press love to put out the total number of deaths as if they could have been avoided. The final number of infections and the final number of deaths from this virus will not change whether you let everyone loose or seal them in their homes. That final number, whatever it is, is going to happen no matter what.

The point of the lockdown is to ensure that the timing of that final number is extended. To ensure they don’t all arrive at hospital within a week, but show up over a period of months. Then the medical system can cope. If they all show up at once then the hospitals are overflowing, there aren’t enough medical staff (proper medical staff, not the managers with personal parking places and plush offices) and then the whole system collapses. It’s not just that there aren’t enough beds for coronavirus patients – in that scenario, there are no beds at all for all the other illnesses. So while the final number of deaths from coronavirus will be the same, the deaths from other illnesses will be much higher because they can’t be treated.

It is vitally important that people avoid too much contact at this time. You’re going to get it, no matter what, but I’m sure that if you are in the 20% who need hospital treatment you’d much rather there was space to treat you and you don’t have to die alone in a tent on the hospital lawn.

This is why they are inflating the numbers. They don’t need to in Germany, the German people are very strict and rigid when it comes to rules and will self-enforce them. The British and the Americans are a different matter. We don’t much care about rules. We follow the ones we like but tend to rebel against the ones we don’t like. So tell us to stay home. Week one, fine, we can lounge around and play games and treat it like taking a sickie. Week two, boredom sets in. Now we are at Easter weekend and there are people taking trips and having parties and barbecues…

Boris delayed lockdown as long as he could because he knew what the British are like. Trump isn’t pushing hard on lockdown yet because he knows what Americans are like. Neither country will put up with it for very long. Do it too soon and it will fail too soon. Also if they did it from day one, when it would be most effective, people would look around and say ‘Nothing is happening. This is all bollocks’ and then it will fall apart. And then they will not listen to a second lockdown when the shit hits the fan.

So the inflated figures are scary because they are meant to be. The British and American people will not take it seriously otherwise and then we’ll end up like Italy or Spain (or worse, like the mysteriously unreported Belgium). It’s scaring some sense into people, and while it does involve lying, I think it’s a sensible approach. Because you buggers will shrug it off otherwise.

There have been some mutterings that it is hitting black and Asian people harder and apparently that’s racist. Even viruses are racist now. Well, look at who mostly ignored the lockdown and still does. That’s why it’s hitting them harder. Considering the police are more interested in fining a lone person on a beach than breaking up mass gatherings of minorities, I do wonder if that’s part of the plan…

There are going to be idiots who insist ‘it’s a bank holiday, I’m having a barbecue/party/going to the beach’. There will be other bank holidays. You can skip just one. If you don’t you might have to skip them all.

I can’t even take an Easter egg to my granddaughter. I can’t visit my kids either. I can’t go to Wales to see my mother and brother and the rest of the family. CStM and I cannot visit her family in Denmark. Not that I would get on a plane at the moment anyway. It’s not fun but it is important.

Nothing will change the eventual number of infections, hospitalisations and deaths from this virus. Nothing. The daily death toll is just morbid reporting for clicks and to snipe at the government. In every country. All we can do is slow the rate of getting there so the health systems can cope. Otherwise the deaths from other diseases will be very much higher.

Oh, and this virus isn’t going away. I’m sure most people link the Black Plague with the Great Fire of London in 1666 but it started in the mid 1300s and lasted 400 years. It’s still endemic in a few places now. This virus will, likewise, not just vanish. When most people have at least some immunity it will recede into the background but like flu, it will return to kill more people every year.

So be scared of it. Stay home. Don’t let it surge into an overwhelming number of cases at once. Keep its spread slow, keep it at a level the health services can deal with.

Otherwise there won’t be any point continuing with Panoptica. You’ll be living it.

None of you seem to understand

I’m not locked in here with you. You’re locked in here with me.

Rorschach’s best line from ‘Watchmen’, a good film but a much better graphic novel. You want to hear it in real life, with the rage dial turned up to 11? Take away the tobacco or vape from the smoker/vaper you’re self quarantining with. Take away all alcohol from that heavy (or even moderate but regular) drinker you’re locked in with. Force your somewhat rotund family member to diet.

That’s what the Nannies want you to do. They want to lock you in with people who have nowhere to drive and nothing to do and they want you to take away the last of the things that alleviate their boredom. Does that sound like a good idea to you? Oh they might be a little bit healthier but you’re locked in with them while they go through a forced withdrawal and have nothing to replace it. Better sleep with one eye open and hide all the sharp things.

Actually they won’t be healthier. Their stress levels will increase massively if you remove the booze and smokes/vapes controlling their stress at this time. Same goes for the overweight – try to force them to diet now and you will not only increase their stress but they might well get so angry they lash out.

And I wouldn’t blame them. Not one bit. The link between overweight and coronavirus is tenuous at best. There is no link at all between smoking or vaping or drinking and coronavirus, whether susceptibility to catching it or severity of symptoms. The major risk is underlying conditions, especially diabetes, cancer and heart problems. Those are the ones suffering the worst and dying the most. And you can’t fix those things with rules.

In fact, smokers are under-represented in coronavirus cases in ICU. I have no data to hand on vapers or boozers, which is a pity since I partake in all three hobbies. Nobody, as far as I know, has even mentioned heat-not-burn.

Sudden lifestyle changes, especially when forced upon someone rather than letting them do it by their own choice, is extremely stressful. Stress reduces your immune response. At this time, do you think it’s a good idea to do that? Stress puts pressure on your heart. At this time, do you think it’s a good idea to do that? Having one stressed-out person in a locked-in household will stress everyone else too. Is that a good idea?

Of course not, but then Public Health are hardly famed for having good ideas. In the midst of the biggest threat to public health in a hundred years, they have no ideas at all. Just more nannying.

Donnie Trumpton, Great Orange King of the Oompa-Loompas, has ideas. He is using this to wipe out his opponents’ voter base. By telling them the truth. It’s despicable, it’s evil, he knows what he’s doing, but it’s something even Ian Fleming didn’t think of in a villain.

He mentions chloroquine. Long known to have antiviral properties, long used in treatment of malaria, lupus and other things, very cheap, no side effects worth worrying about with proper dosage. Trump knows nothing of this, he spent his life in business, not medicine nor science. Someone advised him.

The anti-trumpers invent all kinds of side effects and demonise this common and easily obtainable drug. They will not touch it.

Today he mentioned zinc. Again, he won’t know about this from his own past. Someone advised him. Zinc oxide cream is the wound healer of choice for minor wounds, zinc sulphate is the internal version, helps the immune system and can break the cytokine storm that could kill you with this virus. Twitter is full of people calling it shamanism,idiocy, betting he has just bought shares in zinc, relating side effects (from overdose,they don’t mention that part) and generally inducing Trump-haters to have nothing to do with it.

His methods are so evil even I couldn’t have written it. But they are remarkably effective. Trump supporters will be on zinc sulphate supplements, and more, already, while his opponents will scoff at the idea. So if they get the virus, his supporters are already primed for treatment. His opponents are not.

All you need do is read the label and don’t overdose. You can in fact half-dose and increase to full dose when (if) you get sick. Probably best, you don’t want to be on these things long term.

Trump sounds like a bumbling idiot when he speaks. Some of that is because he doesn’t really understand the science he’s been told, some of it is, I think, an act. He (or his advisers) know that his opponents think he’s a complete idiot and he’s playing to that. Tell them the solution and watch them ignore it, even ridicule it.

I think he’ll tell them next that forced respiration is a bad idea and it’s better if patients lie on their stomachs for a while each day. It’s turning out to be true, but they’ll say it’s because he doesn’t want to buy respirators. And they will refuse to do it if they get sick. They will demand forced respiration and refuse to touch Trump’s shamanistic drug regime.

There are some things he will never tell them. Smoking reduces cell surface proteins the virus uses to attach, and gives the smoker a regular dose of virus-killing nitric oxide. There is emerging evidence that propylene glycol, used in vapes, is also antiviral. Trump will never mention those things because he is a rabid antismoker and has recently shown his antivaping credentials.

The alcohol? No idea yet but there is nothing to say it will make things worse.

So I think I’ll have another.

Cheers.