Why is the ICU survival rate so low in England, Wales and Northern Ireland?

Why is the ICU survival rate so low in England, Wales and Northern Ireland?

It’s been reported as 50%, here: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/mar/28/coronavirus-intensive-care-uk-patients-50-per-cent-survival-rate

It was amended on 30 March, saying that it may not be accurate, however.

Dr. David Price at the Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City – which currently takes in almost exclusively Covid-19 patients – reported a week ago that the majority of the ICU patients there get to go home, here:
https://vimeo.com/399733860

What does the difference reflect?

  • The difference in socio-economics between these three countries in the UK (extensive poverty) on the one hand and NYC on the other hand?
  • That only the most serious cases  are going to the ICU over here?
  • A higher level of specialization at that hospital in New York? (Better doctors or better practices at the hospital.)
  • Dr. Price not having the actual numbers for his hospital?

Something else? If so, what?

Let’s take a look at what the Weill Cornell Medical Center is.

How I can help

So, a few days ago, I thought I would contact my GP office and ask if it would be helpful if I hung around to disinfect surfaces in the reception/waiting area every hour or so. So that they can concentrate a bit more on their usual tasks.

Today, I thought that maybe I should walk over to my local Aldi or some other shop and offer to help them stock shelves. (I grew up with this kind of business and I also stocked shelves as a student.)

Would that be silly or not? I have no idea.

Would that mean that I would be pushing someone else out of earnings??? If so, then I wouldn’t want to do that.

I was a little tired today, but tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, I may make some calls and simply ask. I can offer to sign a liability waiver and I can wear a mask.

Phase 2

Now we need to start thinking about the next phase (and keep a good eye on what governments are doing and stop some of them from grabbing totalitarian powers). There is a point at which extreme safety measures to shield against the virus will start to cause health problems themselves.

When people run out of food, lose jobs or even homes.

Poverty (deprivation) causes health problems too, though they are smeared out over a longer time period. There is some protection against that in the UK but not enough and not for everyone. Hard to realize.

(Not to mention that our world has to keep running.)

So it is important to find a healthy balance at some point and swing back toward the middle of the road.

Services will slowly have to start up again, in compromises, such as one day per week, maybe for one person or just a few people at a time.

Will start doing some thinking about that. Brian Earp tweeted about an article that may have some good ideas, but I haven’t read it yet as I wanted to track down some food for myself first. Succeeded! The first three tries backfired and made me feel a bit deflated, but then I ate something first, after which I headed in a different direction in town.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Also, I just heard that some of the British changes made for people who are ill or disabled may be a very good thing to continue, but I have no good overview on what those changes are. (DWP accepting online learning and remote/working from home, which apparently it didn’t use to? Nope, was about this: https://rootedinrights.org/working-and-studying-at-home-shouldnt-be-pandemic-only-accommodations/)

 

Inclusive solidarity

Wow.

Covid-19 may not only be teaching us to respect non-human animals – because if we had done that, the disease would not have crossed over to humans – it may also force inclusive solidarity on us.

Because the disease does not care whether you have 5 pounds in the bank or 50 million.

It may turn into a whopping a Zen teacher that shows us that we all have the same needs underneath our appearances and in spite of our accoutrements or lack thereof.

And it’s also accomplished a whopping temporary reduction in air pollution and emissions. There’s gotta be a lesson in that as well, not only because air pollution makes people more vulnerable to this disease.

“Save the children”

But abuse the women?

This morning, I responded to an action call from PETA regarding an organization that wants to support polar bears but does so by selling down coats with fur collars, among other things. Abuse of non-human animals lies at the basis of both the down and the fur.

‘Coyote’ to Protest Polar Bears International’s Canada Goose Coats

Just now, I received something from OpenDemocracy in my inbox, about its apparently still ongoing struggle with Save the Children concerning this:

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/feb/20/save-the-children-apologises-to-female-employees-over-ex-boss

https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/transformation/at-what-cost-reflection-on-crisis-at-save-children-uk/

https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/transformation/courage-of-difficult-women/

9 out of 10 believe that women are defective humans

The Guardian had an article this morning revealing that only in six countries in the world, most people consider women to be defective humans.

The UK – the world’s most openly sexist country – certainly is not among those six (and the UK is not a strong believer in human rights overall anyway).

My small home country is one of the six. So is Andorra. Even in those six countries, the situation is not entirely positive.

Globally, 9 out of 10 women and men see women as defective.
Almost a third of all women and men think that it is OK for a man to beat his wife. 😤😔😞😖😢

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/mar/05/nine-out-of-10-people-found-to-be-biased-against-women

 

Non-human rights: Update on Happy’s case

This is straight from the e-mail I received:

Today, Justice Alison Y. Tuitt of the Bronx Supreme Court today issued a decision in the Nonhuman Rights Project’s New York elephant rights case that is powerfully supportive of our legal arguments to free Happy from the Bronx Zoo to a sanctuary.

While Justice Tuitt “regretfully” denied the habeas corpus relief the NhRP had demanded because she felt bound by prior appellate court decisions in the NhRP’s chimpanzee rights cases, she essentially vindicated the legal arguments and factual claims about the nature of nonhuman animals such as Happy that the NhRP has been making during the first six years of our rights litigation.

Deeply encouraged by Justice Tuitt’s embrace of the merits of the NhRP’s case following 13 hours of oral argument over three days, we already begun working on our appeal.

In her analysis and conclusion, Justice Tuitt agreed with New York Court of Appeals Justice Eugene M. Fahey’s conclusion that an elephant, like a chimpanzee, is not merely a “thing.” Instead, Happy “is an intelligent, autonomous being who should be treated with respect and dignity, and who may be entitled to liberty.” Further, Justice Tuitt rejected the Bronx Zoo’s claim that its continued imprisonment of Happy is good for her, stating that “the arguments advanced by the NhRP are extremely persuasive for transferring Happy from her solitary, lonely one-acre exhibit at the Bronx Zoo” to The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee.

In late 2018, Happy—currently held alone in an industrial cement structure lined with windowless, barred cages (the zoo’s “elephant barn”) while the elephant exhibit is closed for the winter—became the first elephant in the world to win a habeas corpus hearing intended to determine the lawfulness of her imprisonment after the NhRP filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus on Happy’s behalf. Such world-renowned elephant experts as Dr. Joyce Poole and Dr. Cynthia Moss supported Happy’s rights case while making clear that the Bronx Zoo cannot meet the needs of Happy or any elephant.

While we lament Happy’s continued imprisonment, we thank Justice Tuitt for breaking ground on the long road to securing liberty and justice for Happy and other autonomous nonhuman animals. Happy’s freedom matters as much to her as ours does to us, and we won’t stop fighting in and out of court until she has it.

Anyone who’s become curious should look into the story of Guida, who’d become so severely mentally ill in her confinement that there were serious doubts about the potential for recovery.

Upon release to the Global Elephant Sanctuary in Brazil (sister of that in Tennessee), Guida bounced back remarkably. When having the choice of taking an easy path toward food or picking a difficult one, she was often observed selecting the more challenging path, which required her to climb up an edge (a small straight cliff), which took some effort.

She rejoiced in having the choice and in being able to conquer the cliff.

(I have seen something similar in a pigeon, to my utter astonishment, the animal setting herself a goal, a challenge. Also, pigeons are able to recognize individual human faces, whereas humans generally have a very hard time recognizing individual pigeons.)

Sadly, Guida is no longer with us, but at least she lived the last part of her life in friendship with another elephant and doing the kinds of things that she enjoyed doing.

In defence of Dominic Cummings…

I never expected to write the above words as I don’t particularly hold Tory sympathies, but The Guardian did such a stupid disappointing mud-slinging job with this article that I feel I have no choice but to speak up.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/feb/19/sabisky-row-dominic-cummings-criticised-over-designer-babies-post

 

First of all, Cummings was thinking out loud. More people should do that as it’s very useful and it’s impossible to have good ideas if you don’t allow yourself to have bad ideas as well. He’d been to an event, in 2014, and he rambled on about what he had heard and what he thought. There is nothing wrong with that per se.

People object to (talking about) “designer babies” but nobody defines it.

I define a designer baby as any baby that is chosen over any other baby or embryo or zygote that would have been viable and would have been able to live into adulthood.

We’ve been making designer babies for decades!

In some countries, people with Down syndrome no longer occur because they’ve been eradicated from the population while they become city councillors and get degrees in other countries.

We used to lock people up and deprive them of normal life experiences because they were different (and we still do, in fact, also in the UK). That kind of treatment would hold anyone back.

“Treat people as if they were what they should be, and you help them become what they are capable of becoming,” Goethe is supposed to have said or, more likely, written a long time ago. Hold someone back and you condemn the person to a life of limitations.

We’ve also seen this happen for women. One of the two founders of the British-born philosophy of utilitarianism considered women “disabled” by society.

Not that long ago, women were not allowed to go to university and not allowed to do many other things, such as have a bank account, own property or run a business.

In March 2017, expert Wendy Savage (a gynaecologist and professor at Cambridge University) allegedly stated in an interview with the Daily Mail that a pregnant woman should always be told the sex of the fetus and should be allowed to abort the fetus if she does not like the baby’s sex.

That too is about designer babies, about picking the pink handbag, not the blue one.

The British celeb who flew to Cyprus because she could pick her baby’s sex (gender) there and was not allowed to do that in the UK, she wanted a designer baby on the basis of her mistaken belief that sex is an either/or switch.

There are several countries in the world in which male children are currently preferably allowed to come into the world at the expense of female children and it’s already changing these countries’ populations too. (That is how we know it is happening.)

Back to Cummings.

At one point in that blog post, he wrote very clearly that he did not have the required knowledge to be able to assess some of what he was writing about:

“There is a great deal of Hsu’s paper – and the subject of IQ and heritability generally – that I do not have the mathematical skills to understand.”

He wrote the word “egg” when he clearly meant “zygote” or “embryo”, and he did not mention that IQ is a relative measure.

But he did mention “junk DNA” which was once mistakenly believed to be just that. Useless junk.

And he also wrote:

“If the poor cannot do the same, then the rich could quickly embed advantages and society could become not only more unequal but also based on biological classes. One response is that if this sort of thing does become possible, then a national health system should fund everybody to do this. (I.e. It would not mandate such a process but it would give everybody a choice of whether to make use of it.)”

He did write:

“The latter will rightly make people deeply worried, given our history, and clearly require extremely serious public debate. One of the reasons I wrote my essay was to try to stimulate such debate on the biggest – and potentially most dangerous – scientific issues. By largely ignoring such issues, Westminster, Whitehall, and the political media are wasting the time we have to discuss them so technological breakthroughs will be unnecessarily  shocking when they come.”

I am sure that there is a lot about Cummings’ thinking that I don’t agree with, but neither am I pleased with this childish article in The Guardian.

All over the world, bioethicists are talking about these kinds of topics and you can’t do that effectively if you don’t consider all the angles.

The old eugenics is still continuing. The new eugenics has been with us for a while but is really accelerating now with CRISPR.

I participated in an EDX course by Harvard Law School professor Glenn Cohen who also heads the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics, in which we all (about 200 of us) thought hard about these difficult matters.

I have a course on Udemy in which I also challenge people to come up with positive effects of doing something as well as negative effects, in terms of the new eugenics.

If you want an example of this kind of thinking exercise, then consider that eradicating all women from society would eradicate menstrual pain and the majority of breast cancers whereas others might say that women are defective humans anyway, hence that society doesn’t need women and if you couple the latter with continued technological progress, which would make even the biological requirement for having women drop away, you can see a world without women in the future.

If you find this upsetting, then maybe you should remind yourself that we have had no problem applying the same kind of logic with regard to for example people with Down syndrome.

We need to talk about this because we are all biased by definition and unless we are all willing to ponder and discuss these very difficult topics and from all possible angles and reach a consensus, a handful of highly biased people will make up our minds for us.

That could be people like Julian Savulescu at the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, whose ideas may even be more extreme than those of Cummings (which sadly sometimes obscures the fact that Savulescu also occasionally has brilliant ideas that are much more in line with Michael Sandel’s take on these issues).

It’s why I wrote a book about this stuff. Not because I have all the answers but because I don’t.

Instead of criticizing Cummings over this post, people should follow the example of Cummings and start thinking about this stuff and weighing in.

 

Dammit

Read this:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/feb/16/they-yelled-coronavirus-first-british-attack-victim-east-asian-man

He must be in so much pain!

He plays alto saxophone, by the way. Won’t be able to do that for a while. He also plays the piano, but as he was lead alto in a jazz band, he probably focuses on that.

I’ve already posted updates to the petitions, have e-mailed Matt Hancock again. I also just contacted Sadiq Khan, but he’s probably already taken some action.

Update: no, he plays mainly piano these days.

Is Covid-19 a biological defence mechanism?

If you consider that toxicity in plants and animals is either a defence mechanism or an attack mechanism, and if you consider that our over-the-top attempts to kill certain bacteria have made them resistant and led to superbugs, and consider that many of the new diseases we’re seeing have either an overlap with habitat destruction of another species (us infringing) or with the ruthless exploitation of sometimes quite rare or unusual animals (trading of live animals), you can’t escape the thought that diseases like the Covid-19 virus – for which humans have no immunity yet – could be a biological (natural) defence mechanism.

If so, then there are important lessons to be learned.

The immunity that develops in the animals could then render the combination of such a virus and the animal into a defensive symbiosis.

What may be lacking in the UK’s response to Covid-19?

The public’s perspective.

By that, I mean that it sounds as if the response is mainly along the lines of “What do WE need to do when someone shows up at the right door at the right hospital and says that he or she may have the virus?” and “Do we have enough face masks and other supplies?”

It sounds like they forgot to signpost at (some) hospitals where people should go if they think they have the virus, for example.

You need to put yourself in the shoes of the public.

I searched “what to do if you suspect you have the coronavirus”?

You’re supposed to self-isolate for 14 days if you’ve just been to China and/or other areas with a higher incidence of the virus.

But when you’ve just come home from abroad, you’re not likely to have much food in the house.

So unless this recommendation to self-isolate goes with a dedicated service that brings people whatever products they need, putting self-isolation in practice is not necessarily as simple as it sounds.

What if you’re a young woman and your period arrives and you’re cramping and you have run out of painkillers and tampons?

Just one scenario.

Not everyone will have the funds to order deliveries from services like Ocado.

This temporary dedicated service to help people in quarantine in their own homes would need to be free, with payment for only the products. You can simply leave a box at the door so that you don’t have to come in contact with the person in question and you can contact him or her by mobile phone.

It would have to be a dedicated service, also to ensure that all deliverers stick to hand-washing etc.

Communities should set this up for their own, with volunteers. Heck, why not?

The Chinese are volunteering to look after pets in Wuhan:
https://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2020/feb/14/catman-of-wuhan-the-man-rescuing-pets-abandoned-amid-coronavirus-outbreak-video

Will we have a dedicated phone number for anyone with questions to do with this virus?

Is there an option to choose right now as in “Press 4 if you think you may have the Covid-19 virus”?

Passport rendered invalid, allowed to leave the country, not allowed to return?

Passport silently rendered invalid, allowed to leave the country without a word, not allowed to return:

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/british-man-blocked-uk-home-office-passport-brussels-a9332311.html (with video)

But I, an EU citizen, am supposed to trust that the UK will let me in again if I go abroad, even though UK Customs already made clear it had a problem with me on my previous two returns?

Advantages of being tracked in the digital era

If you know me well, you know that I am not too keen on companies like Amazon tracking and recording every minute of our lives and now adding facial recognition software to that arsenal, wanting to become our bank, our doctor, our police and our insurance company, on top of selling us food, home security and anything else we can think of.

I am even more opposed to the lack of ethics displayed in the ruthless operation of Facebook (read this for details) and I am not too happy with Google and YouTube either.

Yesterday, however, while I attended a webinar on the use of AI in the medical practice, I had to admit that if you were able to track everyone’s whereabouts, you might be able to identify individuals at risk for having encountered the Covid-19 virus much quicker.

Covid-19 was also mentioned at the end of the webinar. (If you want to know more, you’ll need to get in touch with Jon Braun at Children’s Hospital Boston.)

This would need very rigorous legislation, to avoid stigmatization, for example. Don’t balk instantly. Yes, there are obvious downsides to the loss of privacy but there are also upsides. The problem with privacy issues lies in those doing the tracking and using our data having to be 100% transparent.

Openness – loss of privacy – also protects against abuse, but only if it’s 100% (not one-sided).

PS
With regard to AI being unable to replace empathy, it can make up for a lack of empathy (stigmatization and ridicule) coming from certain health care professionals and it also will not molest or abuse you the way a handful of medical professionals have done. (There’s a current case in the UK of a doctor who not only molested some patients, but also told some they had cancer when they didn’t and amputated their breasts and, in other cases, deliberately left tissue behind that led to reoccurrence of breast cancer.)

 

Cultural differences

After I moved back from the US, a long time ago, someone in the Netherlands – a female friend – got really annoyed with me one day and accused me of having adopted the American way of kissing people on the cheek.

It thoroughly confused me, having no idea what she was talking about.

I ended up wondering for a while if I subsequently made a fool of myself when I tried to “correct” my ways.

Fortunately, nobody’s ever complained since then.

Challenges of (some areas of) neurological diversity

A few days ago, I saw a neuroscientist whose name I won’t mention tweet about the “dark triad”, which is not an existing condition but an old-fashioned police term that works well in books and films.

He followed it up with a tweet on “snakes in suits”.

If he was someone’s abused husband, I would have understood, but coming from a scientist who is supposed to be working toward greater understanding and solutions, it was disappointing.

And I haven’t even mentioned yet that he was talking within the context of women and attraction, (not in a scientific way).

“Hollywood here I come” he may have been thinking?

Neurodiversity is a multidimensional space. It includes autism, dyslexia and synesthesia, but also whether you are good at languages or music or maths.

The videos below give you an idea of some of the more challenging aspects of neurodiversity.

There is a TED talk in which a neuroscientist mentions that psychopathy can result from being exposed to too much of certain chemicals (hormones) during pregnancy (in utero). (If someone can tell me which TED talk it is, I’d be grateful. I’ve been trying to find it again. I think it may have had a New Zealand connection or something like that. It was a talk by a man.)

There are also indications that psychopathy can result from severe child abuse.

Some people will read this as an “excuse” and will say that not everyone who has a horrific childhood will go on to do terrible things, which is true, of course.

Repetitive horrific abuse – cruelty – can affect a very young, developing brain. Does not have to.

It is also true that some psychopaths make up that they were abused, scientists who know about this stuff say.

The good news is that we used to think that neurons were not capable of healing or even forming after a certain age (young adulthood). That is not true.

The science and medical knowledge of the brain have lagged behind on the science and medicine of other organs, but are catching up.

That the brain has much greater plasticity than we were aware of may mean that one day we will be able to fix broken brains. Not by stuffing people with pills but by stimulating the brain to do things differently.

We are all our biology. I cannot even order my brain to become a speaker of fluent French or Spanish overnight or turn myself into a composer. I am fairly neurotypical (boring, yes) and I cannot order myself to wake up with a psychopathic brain. So why do we keep expecting the reverse?

There is, however, a lot of great stuff we will learn and be able to do with the brain in the future and that will be good news for all of us.

Warning: These videos contain triggers, notably the fourth one.

This last guy, he intuitively and instantly gives me the creeps. That is not the kind of guy I would ever want to encounter anywhere. That is the kind of condition we clearly urgently need to find solutions for.

Perhaps we will one day be able to diagnose those particular children at birth and coax their brains into forming the parts that contain compassion and “brakes” in neurotypicals.

If you wonder why I talk about this kind of stuff, well, I learned a few things the hard way after I came to the U.K. and I am still learning a lot the hard way, not necessarily always because I choose to but because I have to.

In addition, I’m often driven by scientific curiosity and I like learning more. The more you learn, the more questions you have.

I found that a lot of the problems with some forms of neurodiversity seem to be created by neurotypicals, just like society has created many hindrances for people who use wheelchairs and mobility scooters but also because we have bad mental health hygiene.

We brush our teeth obediently, but we don’t do much for our mental health. If people with narcissistic personality disorders (NPD, which is not the same as being called a narcissist) can knock us off our feet so easily, maybe we neurotypicals could look into how we could become a bit more stable.

People with NPD are always on an emotional seesaw, as far as I can tell. One little thing we say or do can cause them to start lashing out at us verbally because what we did or said undermines their sense of security.

We neurotypicals could learn how not to get flustered by someone else’s verbal torrents, perhaps. We could learn how to observe those verbal torrents as if it were the tide rolling in or out or the breeze making the leaves of a tree rustle.

Instead, we feed the torrent and sustain it and reinforce it.

(You can see this in “I, psychopath”.)

I know that these are very easy words to write but hard to put into practice for most people.

A second type of problem is also created by neurotypicals. If you watch “I, psychopath”, you will eventually get to a section in which Sam Vaknin explains what he did to the son of a holocaust survivor. A child. It was a form of what is known as sadistic stalking.

Even if you’re an adult victim, if you try to explain this kind of experience, you are the one who will be considered the problem. That way, society victimises the victims further and rewards and supports psychopathic behaviours.

Now you may need to watch this:

Experiences are personal

It is easy to think that many males may have a habit of invalidating women’s experiences.

But what also sometimes happens is that some takes another person’s experience and wants to own it, define it, take it away and completely bulldozers over the other person’s experience.

A few days ago, I saw a post online about some confusion about children who are merely young being “diagnosed” as having ADHD.

Another one of these “FFS!” moments.

Those naughty naughty kids! How dare they and oh, how incredibly SMART of the researchers in question to see that young children were  being put in boxes and being accused of having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.</sarcasm>

In the same discussion, I saw an educational psychologist moan about the difficulty of properly diagnosing children in a way that really annoyed me, but mostly in hindsight (as went for the topic of the discussion).

I have meanwhile identified why the comment annoyed me so much.

There was zero attention for the children, or even for only one child, in the comment. It was all about this psychologist’s need to be able to put children in the appropriate boxes.

If you do that, you steal a child’s experience and make it your own, to serve you. It focuses on what you need, not on what the child needs.

In doing so, you deny the child its own experiences, don’t you? You tell the child that his or her experiences don’t matter, as long as people get to put the child into a box, that that is all that matters.

To some degree, you are robbing the child of its own childhood.

The fact that children are being misdiagnosed as having “ADHD” because they are young almost seems to indicate that there is no such thing as ADHD and that people (psychologists?) are looking for problems that aren’t there.

Maybe they do that so that they can ignore more difficult problems that do exist. Why else would adults, and notably psychologists, do something as bonkers as this?

Or maybe it means that psychology is an utterly useless profession.

Maybe it means that standardized designer babies really are around the corner, with the option of creating children who never fidget and never run around and never dance or jump or scream.

(Just tossin’ a few options around.)