The story so far. As most European countries are moving towards lock-down – Eurpoe is officially the epicentre for the world pandemic having taken this role on from China – the UK government is following its own path despite massive criticism from 100s of doctors and experts. We are not trying to contain the disease. We are trying to roll it out across the population in a controlled way so that it is eventually defeated by ‘herd’ immunity. There is no vaccine and one wont come along in time anyway so we will be vaccinating our population by giving them the disease. Most will recover (the death rate is estimated between 1% and 3%) and develop the required antibodies.

In order for there not to be massive death and the total inundation and collapse of the NHS, the vulnerable, particularly the elderly over 70s, will be kept in isolation mainly at home for as many months as it takes. When they are eventually let out the disease will have been eradicated as there will be no hosts or infected people to pass it on.

This is a risky strategy. The NHS may still be unable to cope and the death toll will still be massive. The disease may not be eradicated by this strategy of herd immunisation and when the elderly are let out the virus will have a field day.The virus can evolve and mutate and visit us i a different form. Maybe in the long term we will have a flu vaccine that will deal with it but this will be too late for 100s of thousands, possibly millions.

I’m not sure of an accurate figure for the percentage of the population who are 70 and over but it is at least 12%. The vast majority of these are designated economically inactive but none the less they make a significant contribution to the economy in two ways – their unpaid work in the voluntary sector and child care and their role as consumers of goods and services. Just one example: many grandparents look after their grandchildren while their children go to work. If and when schools are closed, as is happening across Europe, parents will have their ability to work seriously compromised.

Of course the alternative to the UK policy would be to follow what the rest of Europe is doing – general social exclusion and closure. The problem with this, one the government is trying to avoid, is economic meltdown. The plus side is that it has been shown to save lives. The government is weighing up what balance it wants to achieve between the extent of the death toll and the extent of economic damage. Critics say they are prioritising the economy.

Prostate and Beyond

This blog, initially, was not intended to be a diary about prostate cancer but that is what it has become. The last post was in January, just over two years ago which probably shows that not much has happened on that front. So it’s time to move on and put this blog back on the track originally intended although that is quite difficult to define. This post brings the prostate cancer story up-to-date and, hopefully, close it. Then it will be back to contemporary issues – brexit, the current Tory government and its policies, the coronavirus pandemic, my life in writing (!) and so on….

After 2 years of 6 monthly PSA tests to check for any recurrence of cancer from any stray cells post operation, all being well the blood rests become 6 monthly. It is now 3 and a half years since the operation and have had three 6 monthly blood tests all reporting 0 PSA. If this remains the case for 5 years I’m given the all clear. That’s not to say I will not get cancer in the future but that it will be, in all probability, unrelated to the previous prostate cancer. So, unless one of my remaining blood tests gives cause for alarm, that’s the end of my prostate story.

Health-wise, I have other problems now as it happens! I have a worn right hip and may have to have a replacement. It makes walking quite painful and I can no longer play competitive racketball. Just to add insult to injury I was diagnosed with a DVT a few days ago and am having to take anticoagulants while waiting for a blood test and scan. This may all be down to me having a bad chest infection for most of February and lack of exercise.

If I do need a hip replacement it is likely to be delayed as the whole health service is creaking under the pressure of the coronavirus pandemic. We have learnt today that the government is preparing to tell all over 70 year olds to self-isolate for 4 months. The logic of this and the government’s policy to combat this new strand of flu is worth a post to itself. Due any time soon.