Coronavirus Variants and Us

August 30th, 2021

Well, when all this Coronavirus business first started, they were all going on about this class of virus as being a type that has a high mutation rate, so, it could be tricky to keep on top of it. No kidding, there is now several mutant forms whizzin around the planet, and I suspect, give it another year or so, there will be many more getting themselves involved.
But ah, not all mutations can be bad news for us, as not all provide an advantage for the virus, no, some can be beneficial no doubt, others can give no noticeable difference from its predecessor, with some, actually being highly damaging or even lethal to the virus.
When we talk about lethality for viruses, it’s different from other organisms such as bacteria and our own living cells. For our cells – BOOM, lethality means that the cell is dead, metabolically inactive, withering away to dust. But for a virus (which have 2 distinct lifestyles – one, being inside a cell where they become active, and the second, where they are in-between cells, out in the environment, where they are inactive. Basically, for this mode of life, viruses are known as intracellular parasites), it means that if provided with the ideal circumstances to function and replicate, the virus shows absolutely zero action no matter how much you prod and poke it!
But, at the mo, what we should be worrying more about, is the cost to governments of having to come up with new vaccines all the time (for any new variants that have developed a way to evade arousing a host’s immune response that the earlier, older vaccines were able to do) and boosters to their countryfolk. I mean, this stuff ain’t cheap - we’re talking billions of pounds (GB) for each round of jabbings. So, what are we gonna get? Yip, the usual poop of poorer countries missing out… but, having said that, no country has a bottomless pot of cash, so how long could even the richer ones continue dealing with the cost? Who can say!
Many experts were saying that vaccination of a large chunk of the population could bring about herd immunity, which is great. But this number can vary depending upon the type of microbe you’re dealing with, which can be as low as 65-70% for some.
Typical though, this Coronavirus seems to require that over 90% of us have had to have been vaccinated.
The idea with herd immunity is that for a microbe to infect people, it’s gotta come into contact with susceptible (none-immune to the particular microbe) folks. In a population of susceptible individuals, the microbe can pass easily from one person to another, but ah, if most of the population is resistant (they have an effective immune response to it) to the microbe, then it becomes very difficult for it to get very far in the population as most folks it comes across will not support its replication and transmission.
It’ll prolly turn out that we now find ourselves in a relentless cycle of Lockdown restrictions, Travel Bans, Facemasks, and Social Distancing, interspersed with periods of easing of all these measures. Just sayin!
But what can we do! It seems that humanity and science has defo met its match here, and we just have to accept that as from February 2020 (or thereabouts), the World was gonna change forever.
However, on a plus point, us humans are pretty good at acclimatising to change and finding solutions to complex problems.
We’ll just have to see how it goes.

© Willow Science 2021

Too Good For Its Own Good!

July 24th, 2021

Too Good for its own good!

OK, so the NHS Test ‘n’ Trace Pingymabob App, first brought in to enable close contacts of Coronavirus positive folks to be hunted down and ‘invited’ to self-isolate seems to have led to a ‘pingdemic’, with tons of people now being off work due to getting the ‘ping of death’ from the App.
This rapidly growing void in the workforce culminating in bare supermarket shelves, tumbleweed-filled roads, and, beer-less music festivals has prompted swift action by the UK government, as a result, an extensive list of ‘key workers’ have now been identified who can completely ignore the ‘ping’ and simply go on as normal.
This ‘light pruning’ of the Coronavirus guidance should help to keep key areas such as emergency workers, transport, and, factory staff running. However, they all need to have been double-jabbed, and must be tested daily for Covid-19.
But I think this is the way we’re heading anyway – daily testing for all at very reasonable rates, combined with weekly jabs for newly-emerging, and top ups for current covid variants. Worry not, I’m sure we’ll all get used to it… eventually!

© Willow Science 2021

Evolution: Survival of the Fittest!

July 24th, 2021

So, 14.5 billion years ago was the Big Bang… 10 billion years later our Solar System formed. Life began in a pool of primordial ooze… the dinosaurs came, lived, got squished by an asteroid, leaving the way clear for mammals to thrive. Humans then arrived, killed off most thriving mammals, polluted the atmosphere, and, formed an extensive ring of space junk around the planet. Yet, after all this the dozy humans aren’t quite finished yet as evolution has finally brung us to… wait for it… yes, the deep fried Creme Egg. Seriously, at this rate there’s no hope for us ever surviving long enough for us to see a zombie apocalypse!

© Willow Science 2021

Weather News

July 20th, 2021

OMG - it’s gettin soooo hot in the UK right now, that the Met Office (the weather folks) have now invented a new ‘weather warning’ for heat. This one (an amber alert) is basically sayin that it’s cooking by day… and cooking by night as the temperature is not expected to drop all that much during the overnight period. Also, roads and rails may melt, and don’t be surprised if the floor turns to lava! Here in our area (NW England) we aren’t included in this warning - it’s just central, SE England & S. Wales. For today anyway, as I wouldn’t be surprised to see this area of warning being expanded especially since the high-pressure situation the UK is currently experiencing is forecast to continue for a few days yet. Over this period, the wind will be light, and with thunderstorms expected in some areas, this could be bad news as they won’t be moved on all that quickly thus giving the possibility of some localised flooding.

© Willow Science 2021

Coronavirus – Is the UK moving forward?

July 19th, 2021

So, there we have it, the latest word from the government is that although the number of cases of Coronavirus in the UK is whizzing up, and has been doing so for a week or 2 now, the cases of hospital admissions due to the virus, and related deaths although creeping up, are nowhere near the levels we saw with the first 2 waves of Coronavirus.
This is good news, with politicians attributing this apparent breaking of the link of Coronavirus cases to serious disease and death to the successful rollout of the various Covid-19 vaccines that have so far been given to folks – quite a lot of folks in fact.
Now, I’m not going to get into the ‘should ye, shouldn’t ye have the Covid-19 vaccine’ debate here, as for me, it’s for everyone to make up their own informed minds about the situation. The only thing is to have a good nose-over all the scientific data that’s available.
However, you having been jabbed doesn’t necessary mean that you’re out of the woods as it’s possible to get re-infected with the virus, and also, with newer variants popping up now and again. So, to help handle this, booster jabs may also be required not only to help you deal better with these new variants, but also, to ‘top up’ your immunity to variants you’ve already been jabbed against. Coronavirus is a tricky little scamp that’s prone to developing mutations all along its genome – most of which will prolly make the virus non-viable (basically, it gets killed off), whereas some mutations will make the virus more evil and much more prone to be able to avoid the human immune system, be passed around easier, or, cause serious disease.
As most Covid restrictions have now been lifted in England, there’s the real fear that Covid-19 cases are gonna go astronomical as folks are now free to mingle ‘n’ mooch like it’s 1999, with the need to wear face coverings, and to social distance being legally binned off, it is now up to the people to decide for themselves how they proceed in the coming days and weeks. But early (very early) indications seem to be that most folks are quite happy to just continue much as we’ve been during for the last 15 months or so. Only time will tell what happens here.

© Willow Science 2021

Coronavirus – Spread and control

March 31st, 2020

Spreading quickly across the globe, many countries (around 200) are now experiencing rapidly growing cases of the coronavirus (covid-19). With little human natural resistance to stand in its way, the virus is infecting susceptible populations, producing an alarmingly high rate of fatalities – an average of about 5%, yet some countries, such as Italy, are experiencing death rates as high as 10%.
The staggered wave of infection of coronavirus around the world is allowing newly affected countries to learn important lessons from those already affected.
With such a virulent organism on the loose, it is important to understand its biology and mode of operation as soon as possible.
Early on in the outbreak, the genetic code of Covid-19 was determined and made available to the worlds scientists to study and work on finding a cure and treatment.
Covid-19 was found fairly quickly to have a relatively simple mode of transfer from person to person – similar to how the Influenza virus gets around – through coughs, sneezes, and from picking it up from contaminated surfaces.
This led to the realisation that the spread of the coronavirus could be slowed by simply keeping people apart, encouraging folks to washing their hands regularly, and, if you’re needing to cough or sneeze, then try and do it into a tissue.
But with many people infected and now heading for A&E departments, it is the staff of the NHS that have become the front line in the battle against this virus. Unfortunately, this has taken its toll with some frontline staff becoming infected themselves with the virus, leading to an urgent upscaling in the amount of testing, and delivery of personal protective equipment (PPE) being delivered to hospitals and medical centres nationwide, now often involving military personnel and redeployment of the emergency services to different roles to best support the NHS. We’ve also seen a number of large venues across the country being transformed into dedicated coronavirus treatment hospitals to help deal with the expected influx of patients over the next few months. However, these numbers can be lowered if we all follow the governments advice for us to avoid each other like the plague.
As always folks, please stay safe, protect yourselves and the NHS.

© Willow Science 2020

Coronavirus – Social Distancing

March 26th, 2020

Social distancing - we’re hearing a ton about this recently. The best way to think of it is that your ‘personal space’ just got a tad bit bigger and is now 2m. But this is great as not only will it help to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus, it will also stop you bumping into folks whilst you’re doing your allowed essential shopping, travel to work, or one exercise session a day.
Taken with regular handwashing, the chain of spread of the Coronavirus from person to person can be broken, and the disease slowed.
As always, stay safe folks.

© Willow Science 2020

Coronavirus – A Worldwide Problem

March 23rd, 2020

By far, the biggest health issue facing the world at the moment is the emergence of the Coronavirus. From cancelled sporting events and music festivals to the closure of cinemas and restaurants, nothing, it seems, has failed to become affected.
For humans, viruses are nothing new, we’ve always got tons of the little critters hanging around that like to ‘have a go at us’ – Influenza, Ebola, Varicella, which are bad and can cause severe illness and even death, however, with most common viruses, we do have vaccines and well adopted treatments that we can use in order to prevent infection in the first place, or give infected people a decent chance of a complete recovery.
The thing what’s going on with the Coronavirus is that it’s a new type of virus that we’ve never come across before, this means that we don’t have any pre-tried treatments or vaccines that we can use to halt it. The real problem is amount of Coronavirus-infected people that are actually dying is really quite high, especially for elderly, immunocompromised, and those with certain underlying health conditions.
Because the Coronavirus affects the respiratory system, it can be spread in a similar way (via the air and contaminated surfaces) to the Influenza virus – and we know how much havoc that causes. This is why we are all being urged to remain a distance of 2m from each other, and to self-isolate if you think you may be infected with Coronavirus.
Signs that you are infected by the Coronavirus may include:

(1) A newly occurring dry persistent cough – the type that will defo bug you.
(2) A fever – basically you’re gonna feel really hot and sizzlely.
(3) A headache.

To further protect yourself and others from all this nonsense the advice is to:

(1) Wash your hands regularly for about 20s.
(2) Refrain from touching your face.
(3) Cough and sneeze into a tissue… or into your elbow if you haven’t got a tissue to hand.
(4) Don’t be touching anyone else’s hands… you don’t know where they’ve been.
(5) Try not to congregate in large numbers either inside or out.
(6) Self-isolate immediately if you really do feel like poop!

Hopefully, all this will pass fairly quickly if we all follow the official guidelines. But who can say as we’re dealing with a new virus here, the government and health specialists continue to revise the best measures for us all to take as the pandemic evolves and as we collect more and more data about the current Coronavirus outbreak, so it’s best to keep up with the daily-updated government information as it’s made available to the public.
Stay safe.

© Willow Science 2020

Cancer Awareness - ‘Nutcare’

April 15th, 2015

nuts.bmp

OK nuts - don’t neglect um, they’re there for a reason - mainly for reproduction… and something to do with hormones - great, especially since most of the time, they cause no problems, but occasionally… yes, cancer can happen. However, um being hidden away and stuff means that they often get forgotten about - but regular ‘nutcare’ is important - gentle inspection is a must - try and get used to how they feel - and yeah, go for it - make notes, draw diagrams, take photos… and even, jot down a few measurements just for future comparison. Get to know your way around them, understand their dynamics… their connection with the universe… what makes them tick, then, if owt goes wrong - you’ll be ‘on it’ straight away.
As for the question of ‘when and where’ to carry out a ‘nut inspection’ - well, this is always best done in a quiet place, a spot where you can give them your full attention - the bath, couch, or bed for instance - it doesn’t take long, and hopefully, they’ll be OK each time, but, should a problem arise, then treatment is available… the main thing being to, get in there early as this will often help you with your chances of making a full, and, speedy recovery. :)

© Willow Science 2015

Vicky xx

Cancer Awareness - Watch out!!!

April 14th, 2015

Lumps and bumps are a fact of life - don’t be sitting there acting like you haven’t got any - go on… check it out. I’ll give you a sec.
OK then, so what have you got… bony bits… gristly bits… the odd squidgy bit? It’s always good to know exactly, what you’ve got ‘hanging around’ - yes, make notes, draw diagrams… take photos (especially, if your memory is as rubbish as mine) - cos, if owt changes in the future, then you need to ‘get on it’ - quick - and have some sort of a reference for comparison.
Oh, throughout life, your body alters no doubt… stuff comes and goes - most of this is not too bad, but it’s the stuff that comes, stays and grows that you need to be aware of… or, things that you’ve already got, that, and for no apparent reason, suddenly looks and feels quite different… and not just women - anyone can succumb to cancer - it’s just not that fussy about whose life it invades.
So, you’ve gotta be alert, and get at this thing early… it’s no good leaving it, as, once it’s come… it’s unlikely to go all by itself - it needs a good shove - and the sooner you do this… the better. :)

© Willow Science 2015

Vicky xx