Christians should support the right to life by get vaccinated…

vaccine, coronavirus, medical

Perhaps it’s me, but I just couldn’t see where Jim Wells was coming from in a recent Belfast Telegraph article on his views of Covid vaccines. Here’s Jim as reported in the Tele which might give some sense of why I was confused. “It is not an anti-vaccine issue it is an ethical issue. I have had a large number of Christians who have said to me: ‘Look we are not opposed to vaccines and are not into these conspiracy …

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American Big Pharma and the US opioid epidemic…

With such focus on Covid19, the US opioid pandemic has largely been ignored in the UK yet continues to destroy lives, devastate families and fracture communities and it worsened rather than lessened as Covid19 ravaged the US. The US Centre for Disease Control published provisional data recently showing that 2020 was a record year for drug overdose deaths with 93,331, up 29% from a year earlier. 500,000 deaths between 1999 and 2019 need to be explained so cities, states, counties …

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Fifty Years of Drug Prohibition in the UK…

On 27th May 1971 the UK government brought onto the statute books the Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA) and for the last 50 years this Act has dictated how drugs with a potential for misuse, controlled drugs (CDs), are handled by healthcare professionals and what punishments criminal courts must impose for possession or supplying illegally. The MDA created drug classes and drug schedules and the public often confuse these terms. “Class” determines the level of sanction for possession or supply …

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The tricky business of vaccinating young people…

Wednesday and Saturday for the past 8 weeks have been vaccination days in the pharmacy. The community pharmacy Covid19 vaccination service (CPCV) was launched at the end of March and 340 out of our 525 pharmacies signed-up. It’s a well-planned service and pharmacists have considerable clinical freedom and autonomy to get on with vaccinating the age cohorts, in support of GPs and the bigger vaccination centres, with one key requirement; no wastage of the precious vaccine! We get ten, 4 …

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Questions remain about the origin of Covid 19…

I try to avoid being duped by conspiracies theories. When I read about a cabal of paedophiles in the basement of a Washington pizzeria, I switch off. When Donald J Trump is too quick to say that Coivd19 was made in China, I know better. I always try to keep objectively to the facts convinced I can spot the lunatic fringe at their zany work from a mile off. But sometimes, somehow, a weird story cannot be easily dismissed. Things …

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With an abundance of caution, Ireland shoots itself in the foot by deferred use of the AstraZeneca vaccine…

In the 1960s, US President Johnson was considering mandatory vaccination to eradicate a number of infectious diseases but was advised against it. The move would, he was told, cause 30,000 cancer deaths and 100,000 heart deaths. The President asked how the advisor knew this to which the adviser replied that this was the annual number of deaths from cancer and heart disease in the US but with mandatory vaccination, each one would be causally linked to a vaccine. This was …

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We need to be vigilant against the antivaxers…

Medical scientists are more positive than they have been for months. If the science is right – and we trust it is – twenty-one days after 95% of the most vulnerable have had their first covid-19 vaccine they should have 70% protection against the virus and then there should be a sharp fall in the numbers hospitalized and ending up in ICU. Mission accomplished in protecting the NHS and this should be happening mid-March. The Covid-19 virus will off course …

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Assisted Suicide; is it dying with dignity?

A good friend invited me for dinner where I met his charming elderly mother and when she established my profession she asked if I would be willing to help her “end it all” when that time came. Certainly, I giggled, and we got down to discussing the upfront fee only to find that she wasn’t joking and she had less restraint and a more pragmatic view on assisted-suicide than I. I politely, and I hope sensitively, back-tracked as I realised …

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Sunlight, Vitamin D, Covid-19 and Black Lives Matter…

The data is clear: people in ethnic groups living in the UK are more likely to die if they contract the SARS-Co-2 virus. Public Health England – currently being scraped and scape-goated to protect the government in its handling of the pandemic – concluded (Link 1) that BAME communities are more susceptible due to social deprivation. This certainly fits the current political narrative well but may not explain that poor clinical outcomes could simply be down to a lack of …

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Love in a time of Covid…

It was on then it was off then it was on again; a typical Irish wedding really.  The Bride telephoned from Doha mid-March asking my view on the new pandemic’s potential to upset her summer wedding plans. I dismissed her concerns and reassured her that by mid-August things would be back to normal and that she should keep the date. In mid-May she was less certain so, with full agreement of the venue, the caterer and the church she switched …

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The tricky decision of whether or not to take Statins…

I came to statin treatment in a bizarre way.  I went to my bank to arrange a loan and having agreed to the amount the bank asked for additional life cover.   The life assurance company, in view of my advancing years (I was 48), required a medical and everything came back tip-top except my cholesterol level that weighed in at a handsome yet shocking 9.2 (average is 5.2).   I was put on a statin and a decision on the life …

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Today is the 15th anniversary of the murder of Thomas Devlin…

The bedroom light was flicked on abruptly bringing me up from a deep safe sleep.  Confused, I struggled to understand what my sixteen-year-old son was saying; there had been a fight; his friends were hurt; the police were downstairs; they wanted to speak with me.   I sharply admonish him for going out again; when I went to bed at 10.00 p.m., he and his friends were playing video games in the back bedroom.  It was August 10th 2005. A policewoman …

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Vested interest means Boris has a fat chance of getting us thin…

I am still smarting from a recent suggestion by the highly competent technical boss of this erudite platform. He rightly chastened me for setting out in a post the vexed problems of addiction without offering any solutions. Fair point, I thought but Brian there is nothing new under the Sun only the prevailing ideologies that are neither right nor wrong just what society, at any given point in time, is willing to tolerate. With a lack of political will to …

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Our comfortable hypocrisy with addiction…

Q. What is the similarity between the DUP’s Christopher Stalford, the SDLPs Paul McCusker and the N. Ireland Office. A. An interest in drug addiction services. But there the similarity more or less ends. I feel genuinely sorry for Christopher Stalford for falling into such a simple trap. He was only doing what politicians do, supporting and articulating the concerns of his constituents, in this case, those living in the Donegall Pass and Botanic area. Christopher is concerned that the …

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Searching for a mythical patriarch I found an impressive feminist…

My mother’s grandmother, Mary Agnes, was born on the outskirts of Derry in 1872. Her family, the McKeevers became the McIvors and moved to Quigley’s Point when she was about ten. She married Hugh Harley, ten years her senior, in 1897 and their fourth child, my grandfather Joseph Harley, was born in 1901. I found the young family in the 1901 census living at Tromarty, Co Donegal with three servants, one an Irish speaker, with Hugh head of the family. …

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Sex, drugs and the moral soul…

The human desire to alter mood will always be with us and no amount of effort will eradicate it.  National experiments with drug liberalisation are mostly unsuccessful in the long-term in spite of the initial headline-grabbing claims of reduced harm. Tobacco is a legal drug and where it does not greatly impact mental function it is highly addictive and causes over 2,000 deaths in N. Ireland each year mostly from cancers, heart disease and lung disease.   History gives us some …

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Prescription drugs – The Opium of the People?

Publication of the statistics on General Pharmaceutical Services in N. Ireland is not I suspect a much-anticipated annual event and this might go some way to explain the lack of media attention when the report was released last week except for a brief overview in the Irish News. The report provides the facts and figures on the medicines we used, misused and abused last year and, for me at least, it makes for interesting if not depressing reading. It would …

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Is less medicine a bad thing?

Medical consultants are anxious that too few acute medical cases are being reported at A&E departments during the on-going crisis. This they claim predicts a potential surge in morbidity and mortality from diseases such as; heart disease, lung disease, mental illness and cancers, once Covid-19 is dealt with. It seems a logical conclusion given that there was, for example, in one Health Trust, a 33% reduction in reported heart attacks in March and April. Consultants reason that people are having …

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Normality returns; so why can’t I spend a penny?

Opening up our commercial and social lives we maybe but it’s still not much fun. Walking into town last week I struggled to sense that expected joy from the ending of lockdown. In spite of some hopeful optimism and open shop doors, many aspects of communal life remain shut and as I passed the doors of locked and shuttered pubs I yearned to visit inside, loiter with friends I haven’t seen for months, drink beer and talk rubbish. It will …

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Testing is our most effective Covid-19 intervention not dexamethasone…

Great news indeed that good old dexamethasone has proved so effective in reducing deaths in seriously ill Covid-19 patients. The drug was almost dismissed as a candidate for the Recovery trail since it proved relatively ineffective in treating SARS and MERS but it seems to effectively manage the ”cytokine storm” associated with Covid-19 severe respiratory syndrome. We await the peer-reviewed paper but the numbers need to treat to save one life is 8 for ventilated patients and 25 for patients …

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