NI Department of Health has already vaccinated at least 50% of care home residents…

This is one reason why I’ve never bought into the slightly daft idea that just because we are on the same island that the north and the south should synchronise public health policies… Great news for Northern Ireland: https://t.co/8eZoCKfma4 pic.twitter.com/6ldxrxENMZ — Mick Fealty (@mickfealty) December 28, 2020 On Christmas Eve, Peter put these figures into proper perspective… So far, just over 50% of Northern Ireland care home residents, 75% of care home staff, and 18% of front line medical staff …

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We’ve All Been Infected With a Covid Side-Effect… And There Is No Cure

In The Comey Rule then-FBI Director James Comey, played by Jeff Daniels, remarks that the Bureau losing the trust of its public is nothing less than “a bell that can never be unrung”. Similarly, the information vacuum created by the NI Executive’s confusion, frequent poor leadership at individual level and – in places – crude self-interest during the Covid crisis created a space now occupied permanently by cranks, conspiracy theorists, attention-clamouring ‘influencers’ and small government hyper-fanatics. In particular, and this …

Read more…We’ve All Been Infected With a Covid Side-Effect… And There Is No Cure

Do we just need to learn to live with Covid-19 or do we need more lockdowns?

Depending on your view of how we should deal with Covid-19 Leo Varadkar is either reckless or a political genius. He was able to get all the kudos for calmly handling the early stage of lockdown; then he was able to offload the leadership mantle to Micheál Martin for him to deal with the sh*tshow stage. Leo has positioned himself as a clear alternative voice to Fianna Fáil dithering. I expect to see Varadkar back in the Taoiseach seat within …

Read more…Do we just need to learn to live with Covid-19 or do we need more lockdowns?

Just when you think things can’t get any stranger, Robin Swann writes for Rolling Stone…

“You can take all the tea in China Put in a big brown bag for me. Sail round the seven oceans, Drop it smack dab into the deep blue sea.” Van Morrison, Tupelo Honey Splat !!!! Following the announcement on Monday 21 September of new NI wide restrictions on both indoor and outdoor social gatherings, I was talking with a friend. A friend who was somewhere between despondent, cynical & despairing. Superficial positivity, however well-intentioned, really is not my thing. …

Read more…Just when you think things can’t get any stranger, Robin Swann writes for Rolling Stone…

#InConversation Podcast with Professor David Rooney from Queen’s about renewable energy and electric cars…

David Rooney is a Professor in the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Queen’s University Belfast. In this podcast, we chat about improvements in battery technology and how this will affect the growth of electric cars. We also discuss Hydrogen as a fuel source for transport. Already nearly 50% of the electricity generated in Northern Ireland comes from renewable sources and this figure will continue to rise. We discuss new ways of generating electric such as anaerobic digestion and …

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Northern Ireland records its first day with zero new COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the outbreak

The Department of Health COVID-19 dashboard has reported that today, the 20th of June, is the first day since the 10th of March with zero new COVID-19 cases. Over the last 7 days, 25 individuals tested positive out of the 5,964 that were tested, giving a positive test rate of 0.42%. This is low in an international context. For comparison, the chart below shows Northern Ireland’s positive test rate compared with the most recent data available for a range of …

Read more…Northern Ireland records its first day with zero new COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the outbreak

Mask wearing rates in the UK are among the lowest in the world – it’s time for #MasksForAll

As social distancing measures are relaxed in Northern Ireland and elsewhere, it is vital that everything possible is done to attempt to prevent a secondary wave of Covid-19 infections. Of the actions that citizens and policymakers can take to mitigate against the risk of another wave of the coronavirus, Northern Ireland and Great Britain are amongst the world’s laggards on what has been found to be the most effective intervention against the virus; the universal wearing of masks. The chart …

Read more…Mask wearing rates in the UK are among the lowest in the world – it’s time for #MasksForAll

With the R number across the UK and Ireland less than one, what lessons can be learned from the United States on re-opening safely?

The Northern Ireland Executive announced that there will be further loosening of lockdown restrictions next week, following the Department of Health announcing that the R number (the average number of people an infected person will pass the virus to) in Northern Ireland is currently between 0.7 and 0.9. It appears that R is holding steady at less than one across the UK and Ireland. The chart above shows estimated values for R across the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, …

Read more…With the R number across the UK and Ireland less than one, what lessons can be learned from the United States on re-opening safely?

The COVID-19 R number in Northern Ireland has drifted back up towards 1 since the partial lifting of the lockdown restrictions

The COVID-19 basic reproduction number, or R, has become the most crucial metric for policymakers as they start to tentatively reopen the economy following the lockdown measures that were implemented in March to halt the spread of the disease. Lockdown measures will only be relaxed when the R value is below one. To attempt to calculate the R value for Northern Ireland, I used Imperial University’s EpiEstim app, which provides estimates for the reproduction number from daily case count data …

Read more…The COVID-19 R number in Northern Ireland has drifted back up towards 1 since the partial lifting of the lockdown restrictions

Bowling For Michael Moore – The tricky business of renewable energy…

The Planet of the Humans, produced/tagged by Michael Moore caused a bit of a stir recently with the criticism ranging from “hmmmm, a bit out of date” to “he’s effectively now a white supremacist” Here’s a Guardian critique of Moore if you think the latter summary is a glib throwaway exaggeration: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/may/07/michael-moore-far-right-climate-crisis-deniers-film-environment-falsehoods My own criticism is reserved not for the clumsiness of the attempt to highlight both corporate involvement and the reality of renewables but for the rash conclusions from …

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Establishment of biosecurity zones could allow different regions of Ireland to safely emerge from lockdown at different speeds

The Northern Ireland Executive announced their roadmap to relaxing coronavirus restrictions today, following similar publications for England and the Republic of Ireland. Unlike the Irish government’s plan, no dates were released with the plan, although there is an aspiration to progress through the plan’s five stages by the end of 2020. Progress on lifting restrictions depends on the all-important R0 figure, the number of people with Covid-19 who subsequently infect others. However, calculating R0 is difficult and necessarily imprecise. An …

Read more…Establishment of biosecurity zones could allow different regions of Ireland to safely emerge from lockdown at different speeds

Covid-19 just part of Darwin’s dangerous idea…

Some years back, the vagaries of cheap air travel and the capriciousness of meetings schedules conspired to place me in central London with a few hours to spare.  So I took that rare opportunity to visit the Gothic cathedral that is the Natural History Museum (NHM) to see a Charles Darwin exhibition.   In my youth, pathetic in the eyes of my peers, Darwin was my hero; his simple, powerful idea excited me sufficiently to make studying science a joy rather …

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Northern Ireland’s mental health crisis

Mental health is a global challenge, but poor mental health is at crisis levels in Northern Ireland. That crisis is in part an ongoing impact from the Troubles, Siobhan O’Neill, professor of mental health science at Ulster University, says in the latest Holywell Trust podcast. “We’re seeing a rise in mental health problems in the Western world,” says Siobhan. “We know that around one in four or one in five people in Europe and the West have a mental health …

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Watch the new Michael Moore movie Planet of the Humans for free…

Today is Earth Day and thanks to Covid-19 the planet has been getting a rest recently from the ravages of human damage. There is a popular theory in computer circles that as Artificial Intelligence gets more clever it will eventually realise that the best way to save the planet is to kill all the humans. As I typed that sentence I realised that is also the plot of the Terminator Movie… Anyway Michael Moore has a new movie out and …

Read more…Watch the new Michael Moore movie Planet of the Humans for free…

The Biopolitics of Covid-19

It’s like that Wizard of Oz moment, when the curtain gets pulled back, and we are confronted with the reality, that systems of social administration and political governance appear to be in want: and political leadership has failed in its primary role, to protect the health of the people. Such is the Potemkin-like nature of many globalised societies now, it’s taken a pandemic to see through this façade, of mediocre management and amateur political leadership driving the global polity. And …

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Day three of #ImagineBelfast’s virtual festival of ideas and politics – finishing at 8pm with an interview with Burned author Sam McBride

Having sold out two nights of Sam McBride in conversation with William Crawley at the close of the planned week of face-to-face events, the virtual Imagine! Belfast Festival of Ideas and Politics broadcast will finish at 8pm this evening with the author of Burned talking about his impressions of the published RHI Inquiry Report. Before that, from 1pm you can watch talks about economic growth and community banking, a reprise of Lord Patten of Barnes’ recent speech in Belfast when he reminisced about his time in Northern Ireland and his reflections on the Patten report into police reform, thoughts on how COVID-19 has challenged the arts sector and may change political culture, as well as comedy from Stand Up, Speak Out and the Democracy Inspector.

What’s in the Coronavirus Bill?

This week the government intends to push its Coronavirus Bill through Parliament. In its “summary of impacts” document, the government states that the bill is “temporary, emergency legislation” which intends to “provide powers needed to respond to the current coronavirus epidemic.” MPs will be expected to grapple with the 300-page bill over the course of a few days. It will, for as long as it is in operation, fundamentally change our way of life. The legislation represents the biggest diminution …

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Eugenics and Scientific Racism…

In early January 2020, Dominic Cummings, the Prime Minister’s chief Special Adviser, wrote a blog piece in which he advertised for advisers to work in No 10. One of the groupings was for “weirdos” and “misfits”. Andrew Sabisky was appointed. The media trawled through Sabisky’s own blog for his thoughts, finding that he’d said, for example: —There are excellent reasons to think the very real racial differences in intelligence are significantly – even mostly – genetic in origin —One way …

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Science and pseudoscience…

The pseudo in pseudoscience means false, or fake, or deceptively resembling; pseudoscience is fake science. What then is ‘real’ science? You can think of it as knowledge found by observation and experimentation in the natural or physical world. It is is a ‘systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe.’ This is done by the scientific method. We are introduced to natural science in school when we study physics, chemistry and biology; geography and geology …

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The rise and rise (and fall?) of CBD oil…

Over the thirty-five years of my career it has been a cherished wish that the public generally, and pharmacy colleagues specifically, would eventually become enlightened to, if not dependent on, the validity and superiority of science in decision making particularly in the choice of medicinal treatments we use.  Sadly, that cherished wish remains unfulfilled and was painfully dashed when I attended the UK Pharmacy Show at the NEC Birmingham at the end of last year. Twenty-three stands featured CBD oil …

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