Coronavirus Pandemic




26th April 2021


Few things demonstrate more plainly than the Covid-19 that the reality and benefits of our interconnected world come with a price. We no longer live in separate pockets but create a complex that grows into one society network, which has some particular implications. The sooner we work out not only the benefits this gives, but also the weight and consequences of the fact itself, the more functional that network will become. This concerns the Covid or environmental emergencies that we face now and perhaps in the future.

In this light, we need to think differently when India is on Covid fire. The economically strong regions and states are more used to take action and share the responsibility, and it is impressive even moving to see them respond while their people are going through their struggles. But in these global instances, we need all to change our way of thinking, take part and help with whatever we have.

The variants of the virus are highly infectious and have led to the unprecedented scale of contagion worldwide. Limiting their concentrations has to be a concurrent process if the vaccination is to be effective. As soon as we manage the fire in our backyard, we want to pass the buckets we don’t directly need to the neighbour. One, two or a thousand, we should think this way as, if nothing else, there are situations when everyone’s help can save all from the next disaster while a few saved pennies can lead to it.



2nd April 2021


The AZ vaccine ITP syndrome link (blood clotting disorder): Recorded cases of the syndrome per specific time intervals need to be evaluated to determine the current risk level. Possibly, the risk could be lowered if means are available. Data so far range from 1 case/20 000 rate in Norway (1/87 000 in Germany) to our rough estimate of 1/180 000 for the latest period in the UK.

(MMR vaccine ITP incidence is at 1/40 000.)




*21st March 2021


We are in a very different place now with the vaccinations underway despite the varying speeds of the rollout among many countries. And despite the EU bad luck in the early stages and problems with makers when securing high-quality vaccines for the whole region. Solidarity and cooperation when things get very painful, for whatever reasons, is gain from this pandemic for the continent. There is hope the EU can hold its nerve as vaccinations gather pace and the states are moving to protect the vulnerable part of the population.



15th March 2021


Adding on a more personal note to this temporary entry that I believe will be far less actual after this year. Recent debates in our family are reflected in my previous thought - that there is always a shortage of time for the vaccine and epidemics of this type. And that it is about minimising the effects of that shortage (and then spreading them the safest way possible). I think there won’t be many who will fault the bracketed part in this pandemic, but we need to get faster at getting the candidates/vaccines done to do it better.


The actual debate was about the vaccination of Zlatka’s mother, who fell into the second group being one year short to be included in the first one. This gave us a very good picture of the vaccines. Zlatka’s sister was still very cautious when the time came, as, by definition, these weren’t mid and long-term data. The definition makes sense because we can’t predict these as there are always appearing gaps in our knowledge with new or unique applications.

The sister’s view was influenced by her experience with the swine flu vaccine against which she advised and was unfortunately proven correct. Fortunately, the current situation, including the scale of the programme and the data available, got them to agree on a joint line so it turned out to be more about caution and professional rigour (the sister and her husband work as professors of neuroimmunology at Gothenburg University, both Czechs). There was also a twist as to which vaccine to get when it turned out there is a good chance of getting the Pfizer jab 14 km away from her home town for which another sister arranged a taxi. The new type of mRNA vaccine added to the complexity of these feelings, but given the record and all the things considered, we opted for it as there is evidence that it handles the variants better. So, these instincts didn’t stand in the way of moving from theory to practice.

Zlatka’s other sister who got Covid had very mild symptoms (working as a nurse in the Czech Republic on the Covid front line).
Here in the UK, we could be vaccinated by the end of April in our group. I can close the thoughts by observing that the unprecedented campaign is characterised by so much focus and attention that the side effects are also central to it and under extreme scrutiny.


This virus confronted our experience with unusual patterns to which we are now getting more used. Many people experience minor problems after being infected while for many others this is a lethal disease. And so the premise about the speed where this is more deliverable as opposed to where it is less feasible is as valid as is the fact that our world has changed in its very foundations because of modern interconnection and its speeds, and that has real-world consequences to which we want to adapt.


As for the current Astra Zeneca vaccine, it’s not difficult to see that this vaccine has been playing a massive role in the fight against the virus. Its effectiveness against severe Covid-19 caused by new variants is being proven further each day and is backed by the growing data. Regarding the side effects, there need to be effective lines between a rumour, indication, link and its significances in a given context. In the current setting, we need to act responsibly and in proportion to this challenge globally. The lack of valid signals doesn’t permit sending out the wrong ones, as said, in the pandemic, they have equal importance. We need to keep in mind that any unsubstantiated argument caused slowdown can cost lives and that most people aren’t academics to figure out for themselves. Let’s remember, the sheer amount of data to date creates its own part of scrutiny.



Photography


A certain point also here when speaking of the instincts. There is another, possibly unusual shade in us considering the matters of photography during these times. The grim mood this pandemic brought into our lives made us not posting images that evoke stronger associations in this sense, be it on a subconscious level. Images of snakes, vultures, gloomy bogs and similar could bear wafts of this kind and we tried to hold off adding them to the India collections. As time passes and the outlook improves markedly*, we slowly move to including valuable shots regardless of these considerations.








26th February 2021

*1st March


The Covid-19 event showed us things in broader contexts. It is also apparent that the pandemic could have been worse if this was a more severe infection, and in that sense, the event is a warning to our changing world, that also with prevention in mind.

It’s also apparent that more efficient and faster vaccine developments allow slower (earlier) rollouts for at least the same effect. That this gives us mid-term and long-term data (*side effects) crucial in global campaigns, the likelihood of which is increasing in today’s single network environment, not decreasing (it is difficult to place value on half of a year worth of data). This lessens and removes compromises we may be forced to accept in the future again. It seems that tackling the possible, although very difficult, to limit what in principle is out of our hands, as any level of applied knowledge and failure are communicating vessels, is the only way of adjusting to the changing potential of exposure and frequency of disruptive epidemics.







25th January 2021


Rapid vaccination programme should have a similar character to the initial explosive spread of the infection at the start but in reverse, positive way. The difference is that it can’t nearly be as rapid as the early expansion of the virus into the virtually empty niche where only a fraction of cases could be known and monitored whereas we know of all vaccinations. Still, the effect is similar to the chain reaction in its character and the relatively rapid campaigns that we can see in some countries, including the UK, will save more lives both directly and indirectly. The ANSM report based on 400 thousand Pfizer vaccinations is positive regarding the side effects. The transparent reports are of key importance with programmes of this kind.







22nd December 2020


Jabs and Appreciation



Before we travelled the last time, we found out that one component was likely missing in Zlatka’s MMR (done some way back in the previous century), and we better redid mine MMR as well. It only began to be part of compulsory vaccination when we were born. At the same time, we renew Typhoid that expired and took a third Rabies and flu jabs and washed it down with (another) Ducoral. Other vaccinations taken recently include Diphtheria, Polio, Tetanus, three rounds of Twinrix and Yellow Fever. If we were to move to or be often in an area with a high population density of tick, we would seek a Lyme disease vaccine. I was treated for a suspected infection in a Czech hospital decades ago (not much known was about the disease at that time). Then another time in London, as an exotic case at that time, but with emergency penicillin jabs. I first mistook the symptoms with insect bite after-effects (been also in the tropics) and ignored it. Not sure though the vaccine is available for humans at last. Should someone be the particular rare case and had a susceptibility (allergic reaction) to some vaccine the medicine knows how to respond. Nothing is 101% guaranteed in real life; we use common sense caution within reason.


All of these vaccines were a routine we didn’t pay any attention to, with no signs of problems except for occasional local reaction (a sore shoulder with some movements). As for our condition, we are physically as fast as we were in our 20s, and our stamina is better than that developed during our 30s (except a period after Zlatka’s racing at a young age). Not that it is anything remotely special. As we are over 50, this won’t last long, but gives an idea. We are used to observations of this kind, to spot minor changes, adaptations, etc. One exception was the Yellow fever vaccine, where, if you are over 50, I would suggest thinking more critically about taking the shot. It is known to be problematic specifically with this age. To our surprise, we both experienced the exact same side effects (flu-like symptoms, though not quite the same) that although nothing serious, were dragging for unexpectedly long. We passed the period we were supposed to report it to a doctor by a few days before it went away. The vaccine was necessary for travel we couldn’t even get insurance for in the UK (had to insure in the Czech Republic).


Vaccination is to save lives. One takes it when needed. The health, as with many other things, is taken for granted these days. It is not. Virtual realities don’t change facts.


Some vaccines are made compulsory, and the Covid 19 may well fall among them, if only for a limited time, and after countless of routine applications have created a massive database of side effects. Though unlikely that will be needed, it can’t be ruled out.





8th Oct


* The symptoms of the infection, whether severe, mild or unnoticeable are linked genetically, which is the base to which other conditions and factors add. For example, the recently discovered genetic vulnerability (OIST, Nature) that makes people up to three times more likely to develop severe symptoms has southern Europe Neanderthal origin. This specific chromosome group responsible for the particular susceptibility varies from person to person and is more frequent in some parts of the world than in others.




6th October


This is the most telling statistic (deaths per million) on how severe effect the Covid-19 has on countries (by contrast, the deaths against the confirmed cases comparisons across the board are just fluid data about many things and variables - with some pairs much less relevant than others, and in various respects).


The US is climbing this table of 191 countries at the moment. It is because of ‘messages’ of strength that are truly misplaced when it comes to epidemics of this kind (and pretty much any time except for perhaps human most pristine efforts in a moral sense - on a rare occasion; our wars and similar manifestations are testimony to that). If false rhetoric hampers the fight to save lives in a meaningful way, it leads to needless deaths and tragedies (!).

In Europe, the second wave situation is currently much better, with some ugly spikes that need attention because the disease is still too lethal, but some way from needs for widespread and automatic lockdowns – which have dangerous and fatal impacts as well, in a similar way the Covid-19 has, it just isn’t in the statistics yet. The balance that we must determine every day with the counteractions taken.






11th September


Unfortunately, the trial procedure to face threats like new infectious diseases is hopelessly slow – without compromising the vaccine performance (which is necessary).


It is apparent that the global disruptions caused by the coronavirus would be significant even with an effective vaccine.

The warning about the increase of use of antibiotics worldwide in relation to the pandemic (secondary infections) from WHO is spot on about a far greater danger that comes from antibiotics resistant infections than that of the SARS-CoV-2. So far the humanity’s luck held but the weakness in this ecosystem, long known and wider than the cheap pork/lamb, could become a centre of imminent danger that makes the current coronavirus pandemic a child’s play.


So it is likely that, in our changing world, we will find the old routine methods in medical research for these applications not fit for the 21st century. We should look for faster ways to deal with the relatively easy threats to face more deadly pandemics effectively, and above all, to avoid snowballing problems where we indeed are vulnerable.




27th August 2020


The new wave of infections should tell us more about health risk and the drop in the mortality rate of the adapted virus in the upcoming weeks. Regional context (continents) analyses focused on further data would be fundamental for assessing current risks to the public and for adapting further steps of response, particularly in the large states.

Europe, slow at this approach at the start of the pandemic (that is, prevention at the risk of overreaction because of lack of such data for at that time young, unknown virus), shouldn’t be slow again when the data are available.

Important, even fundamental to balancing the whole system, social life, economy and the public safety as the vaccination is still some way off.






19th July 2020


It is clear that dismissing the demand to participate in experimental, direct transmission of the virus during the vaccine trial would be ethically seriously irresponsible.

Vast numbers of people will die directly and indirectly as a result of the ongoing pandemic and lack of effective protection. Relevant bodies and related organisations should make their stance clear to validate (or not) the approach to the researchers. The experts in the field would make sure that strictly required number of carefully chosen applicants would take part and the risks of potentially catastrophic outcomes would be minimal.

Here, by not acting, we act, so it is the case that we either act consciously and collectively or we take a passive approach, both will result in distinct action.






25th April 2020


From time to time, it becomes evident that the artificial society’s ability to face real threats decreases. While there is nothing that we can do about the law, we can build a sophisticated society rather than the artificial one. The problem is that the people in general (and those brought up by the artificial society) inherently adhere to it and mistake it, along with the way by which it is built, for the sophisticated one. The term ‘inherent’ describes a key element in this and other progresses because ‘experience’ comes as a result of a dynamic process. It is not a given in any context, including this one.


Let’s remember that the fatality of coronavirus with certain groups surprised everyone. Unfortunately, larger states (herds) have natural inclination to overlook danger, and particularly this type of danger to which (paradoxically) larger societies are more vulnerable on the individual level. Europe also subconsciously believed we would deal better with it than China, or anybody else. But variables and factors that were overlooked or unknown occurred. There also are three distinctly different populations (versions) of the virus interacting with the Chinese, European and USA populations which formed through mutation process of a number of versions of the new virus.


- The time was and is working against the virus that enters the niche as a chain reaction. The states will have to start to try and ease the restrictions imposed on the normal course of society. Each state situation is more or less different so these have to be tailored, monitored measures. It is critical that they mutually cooperate.


- The public needs to be educated about the ways how to limit the transmissions by programmes targeting various concrete scenarios. As the mass travelling, transport and gathering restrictions are eased, adjusted or reintroduced, people need to accept more responsibility for their actions. They also need instant access to equipment that enables them to exercise such actions.

Elderly and vulnerable need information that helps them sufficiently isolate themselves from the individual (personal environment) and collective risks. These are temporary measures so they can be practised consistently.


- The observations suggest there is susceptibility to severe Covid-19 induced by genetic variations. Conclusive results of studies (or prospects on that) would be extremely helpful. They could show whether specific alleles responsible for immune system incapability to respond to SARS-CoV-2 in healthy individuals exist. Antigen mass typing is a matter of organising and distribution through existing and temporary facilities and is cheap. A major part of the Covid-19 agonising situation is seeing the lives of those healthy unsuspecting people serving public taken. These would be the most vulnerable group that should be separated from the risk and helped from the impacts of the separation before it is given priority when the vaccination is available.


- Anything that encourages getting better at treatment of severe cases of Covid-19 and international cooperation in that sense.









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