Archive for March 3, 2020

Influenza in England – Updated

Posted in Biographical with tags , on March 3, 2020 by telescoper

With all the concern about coronavirus going around this days I was reading an interesting document from Public Health England about seasonal influenza in the UK. This is not the same thing as Covid-19, and it is important not to confuse the two, but there are interesting parallels. I certainly recommend reading the document, which you can find here (PDF, 57 pages).

Here is a particularly interesting (and scary) table about mortality associated with influenza over the last few years:

(The final year 2018/18 is incomplete, hence the lower figures.)

Three things struck me looking at this:

  1. The death rate from seasonal lnfluenza is much higher than I had imagined;
  2. The death rate is highly variable from year to year;
  3. The death rate is dominated by persons over the age of 65.

About a month ago I wrote a post in which I stated that I’d never had a ‘flu jab. After having people describe to me what `normal’ seasonal influenza is like I am bound to say that I don’t think I’ve ever actually had it. I’ve had the odd cold, and things I thought were ‘flu, but nothing with symptoms approaching the severity that people have told me about.

Anyway, back to Covid-19. Mortality so far seems largely to be confined to the elderly, but other than that its parameters are understood far less well and, above all, there is no vaccine (and won’t be for some time). Although people under the age of 65 have a relatively low risk of dying from coronavirus they can still act as vectors that can come into contact with and expose higher risk groups. Covid-19 may not threaten your own life if you’re a healthy 35 year old, but if you get it you could easily become a threat to older folk, or people with pre-existing medical conditions, around you.

In principle, therefore, reducing the rate of transmission through social contact is eminently sensible, although I remain unconvinced about some of the decisions that have been taken recently.

We’ll just have to wait and see.


Update: You might find it interesting to read the joint World Health Organization – China report on Coronavirus you can find here.

Competition set to bristle in Beard of Ireland 2020 poll

Posted in Beards, Biographical on March 3, 2020 by telescoper

The poll for Beard of Ireland 2020 has opened and the winner will be announced on St Patrick’s Day (March 17th).

Owing to an administrative error I am among those nominated and was even in the lead in early voting (I mean after about 5 votes). Now I have fallen back so I fear I may have peaked too soon!

Anyway, please feel free to vote!


P.S. That’s not me in the picture.

Kmflett's Blog

Beard Liberation Front

Press release 2nd March

Contact Keith Flett 07803 167266


2019 winner Lee Reynolds

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has said that competition for the Irish Beard of the Year 2020 is officially open

The 2017 winner was politician Colum Eastwood who bearded broadcaster William Crawley for the annual Award.

In 2018 the DUP’s Lee Reynolds shaved writer Dominic O’Reilly for the honour with Colum Eastwood in a steady third place.

In 2019 Lee Reynolds retained the title

The 2020 winner will be announced to mark St Patrick Day on 17th March

The BLF says that while traditionally a land of predominantly clean-shaven cultures, Ireland has in recent times become something of a centre for stylish and trendy beards.

Contenders for the title in 2020 include a diverse range of the hirsute- footballers, political activists…

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