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  1. Well, let's just say that this is what they'll be burying her in if she doesn't pull through:
  2. I certainly don't know more about it than anyone, but human risk assessment of microorganisms has been my job for the last 20 years. An understanding of the immune system comes in fairly handy, I find... Apologies if you think I was being an arse, but I posted something way back in this thread about non-scientists pulling random bits of (mis)information off the internet and then thinking genuine scientists are arrogant for putting them straight. I've got no patience for it. But before we return to the more pressing matter of Boris and his hair, here's a little tale about immune responses. A few years ago I dealt with a company who were working on a microorganism that would end up in the food chain, and they were totally convinced of its safety on the basis of a whole raft of Buehler and Magnusson-Kligman tests for skin sensitisation. It didn't elicit any allergic reactions in any of the tests, and on that basis alone they had deemed it safe for human consumption. But an organism that doesn't elicit an allergic reaction has the potential to evade the host immune system, and thus become pathogenic. We scheduled some pulmonary tox studies in rats, and sure enough it was horrendous - reproducing in the lungs nearly as rapidly as it grew on agar.
  3. Our next door neighbour told us today that she has just tested positive. Expecting huge spike in cases among local married men in the next few days...
  4. Yup - many factors determine the outcome, from the relative contribution of the innate and adaptive immune responses and how quickly they clear the viral load to the overall level of the immune response: too little is ineffective, but too much can be fatal - what's called the 'cytokine storm'. It was just the 'boosting your immune system to fight it' twaddle I was taking issue with.
  5. Have you considered adding Goji berries to your diet?
  6. If you have led a life of drug-fuelled, drink-sodden sloth and gluttony your immune system is likely to be more depressed than that of someone who has led a healthy, active life. That is not at issue. What you seem to be saying is that beyond that it is possible to boost the immune system to better fight Covid; what I am saying is that the notion of 'boosting' your immune system is (a) pretty meaningless and (b) generally undesirable. Perhaps it would help me to better answer you if you explained exactly what you mean when you say diet and exercise boosts the immune system. Does it boost T cell numbers, and if so what benefit are you suggesting follows from that? Does it enhance antigen recognition? Does it help mediate the antiviral response -perhaps by affecting interferon gamma or interleukin production? Does it enhance the production or pathogen-specificity of immunoglobulin, or antibodies? Does it improve the 'memory' or longevity of T and B cells? What exactly do you mean, beyond some vague notion that eating vegetables makes us healthier? Then you said this: If all old people couldn't fight coronavirus just due to being old, the 90 year old who survived it, wouldn't have. Just walk me through the thought process that led you to that statement from what I have said in my previous few posts, because I'll be buggered if I can follow it.
  7. Are you being deliberately obtuse just to annoy me?
  8. It was getting older that I said nothing can be done about, not maintaining a healthy immune system in old age. Your point that a physically active pensioner who eats healthily will have a more efficient immune system than one who sits in front of the TV all day eating junk food is I believe exactly the point I made in the very first sentence of my previous post. Senescence of the adaptive immune system is a natural and complex part of the aging process, and the idea that OAPs are going to boost their immune system to better fight off coronavirus by eating broccoli or digging the garden is one of those things that sounds plausible to people who don't know anything about immunology. And don't forget that immune status is far from the only thing that determines how susceptible someone is to Covid.
  9. Yup, I saw that too. According to Derbyshire Police there's nothing in the legislation about what constitutes 'reasonable travel' to exercise, so they are making it up as they go along and handing out fines on the whim of the individual officer.
  10. When people talk about 'boosting' their immune system what they usually mean is avoiding the sort sorts of things that actively degrade it, such as poor diet, excessive alcohol consumption and lack of exercise. Getting older also degrades the immune system, but sadly there's nothing we can do about that. But the idea that the immune system can be 'boosted' beyond a non-degraded state by magic pills or potions, the latest trendy superfoods or exercise craze is pretty meaningless. What exactly are you boosting? The immune system is a highly complex interdependent system - not the collection of discreet components that most people seem to assume when measuring the 'effect' of the latest immune-boosting fad. You can certainly increase the titre of certain immune components in your body by eating particular foods or stressing your body in various ways (exercise being the usual choice) but what does that actually mean in terms of immunity? Lymphocytes are always a firm favourite in these examples - especially T cells: "I took my T-cell count before and after eating a bowl of turmeric, ginseng and powdered elk antler, and look how much it went up!" Your body already produces far more lymphocytes than it needs, and is continually culling them through apoptosis (programmed cell death). Quite what the benefit is of having even more than more than you need I really can't say. And an immune system that functions more efficiently than it is supposed to is what causes allergies.
  11. A few years ago my wife and I were having a clear out and came across our old bank statements from when we first started work. We sat there flicking through them thinking 'How the hell did we survive?' Neither of us had good salaries then, and with student loans to repay on top of renting in a pretty expensive part of the country we were both overdrawn all the time. We got a joint account at first just to halve the bank charges! We've had it ever since, and it works brilliantly for us.
  12. It did my head in last time round - everyone in the street standing on their doorstep banging f*cking saucepans together like the percussion section in one of those special needs orchestras. One family a few doors down from us fondly imagine that they are musical, and the mother would get the keyboard out whilst her husband strummed his guitar and the son tested the elasticity coefficient of the heads on his drum kit as they murdered 'Let it Be' for the umpteenth time...
  13. Oh dear God, no... https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-55561108
  14. The weighted Case Fatality Rate for Marburg is 54% with strain-specific fatality well over 80%. I'm certainly not afraid of SARS-CoV-2, either inside our laboratory or out. In the lab it gets treated with the same respect as everything else in our human pathogen store, and outside it I continue to manage the risk, albeit in different ways. I'd certainly prefer not to contract Covid-19, but I can't say that the possibility of it weighs particularly heavily on my mind. The point - to return to it - is in my very first email on this earlier today. The government has only 'got away' with the sheer incompetence with which they have handled this pandemic by virtue of the fact that the mortality rate for Covid-19 is pretty low - regardless of how it compares to flu. Had the pandemic been caused by something a bit more lively, then this level of ineptitude would have had very much more serious consequences.
  15. That's not the point.
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