Friday, September 09, 2022


That was my immediate and proper response when I was told that Her Majesty the Queen had died. Britain is never without a monarch. When one passes the successor is immediately known and recognized.

Like untold millions worldwide I was upset to hear of her death and shed a tear over it. Australia is a monarchy and I think you have to be a citizen of a monarchy to understand the emotional significance of that.

I also shed a tear when the previous monarch died. I was only nine when King George VI died but even then I felt the significance of the occasion.

Aside from Britain itself there are two other great monarchies where the Queen will be widely mourned: Australia and Canada. Each occupies around 3 million square miles of territory and their collective populations exceed that of all European countries except Russia and Germany. Our courageous English forebears in their little wooden ships did an amazing job of spreading their civilization far and wide across the globe.

I have family members presently living in both Scotland and New Zealand -- two countries that are about as oppositely located on the face of the earth as you can get. Yet both speak every day the English language that they learnt in their Australian childhoods. And they are perfectly understood in both locations. Such is the miracle that our English forebears created.

There were a few uncomprehending people who spoke ill of the Queen after hearing of her death. I wonder how many people will shed a tear over their deaths? If they were wise they might reflect on that

The Queen's loyal public are gathering outside Balmoral Castle, Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace as they pay emotional tributes to the Monarch who has died today aged 96.

Thousands of well-wishers flocked to Buckingham Palace this evening as news broke of the Queen's death.

Tourists and concerned Britons headed to the iconic London landmark, while people also congregated outside the royal castle in Aberdeenshire to mourn for Her Majesty.

Her son Charles, the former Prince of Wales, is now King. The Queen's children and grandchildren travelled to be with her this afternoon after doctors said they were 'concerned' for her health.

Around 100,000 people are expecting to line the streets outside Buckingham Palace this evening. Already crowds now stretch for more than a mile to Trafalgar Square.

At 6.30pm a Union flag atop Buckingham Palace lowered. It drew gasps from the crowd who knew what the symbolic gesture meant.

The sad news of Queen Elizabeth II death was then announced officially. Some people in the crowd wept as others gave an impromptu rendition of God Save The Queen.

Two members of the Queens household emerged and placed a notice of the Queen’s passing on the gates of Buckingham Palace.

The crowd surged to the gates as the notice announcing the death of the only monarch most Britons have ever known was attached to the black iron gates.


Do you REALLY need another Covid jab? Experts give their verdicts as a major new booster campaign begins - but AstraZeneca's boss says a fourth jab ISN'T necessary

Covid is still officially a pandemic, but many experts would now describe it as endemic (something that’s constantly present in the population).

More than 24,000 people in England tested positive for the virus in the last week of August, but thousands more are likely to have it as many people don’t have symptoms.

While this is much lower than its peak (there were almost 235,000 cases a day on January 4 this year), cases are expected to rise in the coming months as we spend more time indoors. (The virus is mainly spread in close proximity, in tiny droplets when we speak.)

Around half the population — 33.5 million — has now had three doses of Covid vaccine (the two-part initial course, plus a booster), while 42.6 million have had only two doses.

‘For many, Covid is now a relatively mild respiratory disease,’ says Andrew Preston, a professor of microbial pathogenesis at the University of Bath. ‘That’s largely due to most of us being able to mount a robust immune response to the virus, having now been vaccinated, infected or both.

‘Protection against SARS-CoV-2 [which causes Covid] is associated with high levels of antibodies. These levels are greatly boosted by vaccination, but they drop over time, meaning we can become susceptible to infection once the levels drop.’

But I’ve already had the other three jabs?

Professor Preston says: ‘As many people have experienced, three jabs haven’t prevented infection with one of the Omicron strains, but they have kept it to a generally tolerable mild infection.

‘The problem is that we don’t know how long that protection will last, particularly if new variants arise.

‘Vaccines stimulate greater magnitude immune responses than even natural infection, so provide greater levels of protection. Boosters reduce your chances of suffering from any type of disease, at least for a while.

‘And the more people who are protected, the less Covid will circulate. The theory is that this reduces the risk of new strains developing.

‘Boosters are also important for those who’ve never tested positive for Covid. Given the levels of infection over the past year, if you’ve never had Covid, then it’s very likely down to the protection you’ve got from vaccination.’

But others have questioned the benefits of the booster campaign. Last month, Pascal Soriot, chief executive of AstraZeneca, said boosting healthy people again was not ‘good use of money’ as vaccines protect healthy people for a ‘long time’. (AstraZeneca’s jab will not be used in the campaign.)

Will Irving, a professor of virology at Nottingham University, told Good Health: ‘Many people have now had three doses of vaccine, as well as two or three bouts of real infection, and you would imagine that would provide them with enough immune memory to protect them for a while.

‘The issue is we don’t know how long the immune memory lasts, so a top-up dose is a good idea for those advised to have one.’

So am I eligible for the new jab?

Around 26 million people in England are eligible. They are: adults aged 50 and over; those aged five to 49 with underlying health problems such as auto- immune conditions that put them at risk; those aged 16 to 49 who are carers or who live with someone who is immuno-suppressed; pregnant women; care home residents; care home workers; social care workers and frontline health workers.These people can have a booster jab three months or more after their last Covid vaccination.

Healthy children and adults under the age of 50 ‘continue to have good protection from their first two vaccinations and their first booster jab,’ says the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).

Which vaccines are being used for the booster?

The jabs will be one of the mRNA vaccines: the new bivalent version of the Moderna (Spikevax) and Pfizer jabs, which protect against two strains of Covid, the Delta variant and Omicron; the original single-strain Moderna jab (Spikevax); and the Pfizer vaccine (Comirnaty).

The Novavax (Nuvaxovid) jab, which works differently, will be offered to those for whom the mRNA vaccine is unsuitable.

‘These mRNA vaccines are a new type of vaccine which deliver the genetic code for the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein directly into our cells,’ explains Professor Preston. The spike protein binds the virus to our cells to start infection.

‘The natural protein-making machinery in the cell interprets this [spike protein] code, produces the spike protein and presents it to our immune cells to stimulate the immune response, which will help your body fight off Covid if you come into contact with the virus.’

In very rare circumstances, such as a severe allergy, none of the approved mRNA vaccines will be suitable, says the UKHSA. In these circumstances, the Nuvaxovid vaccine should be offered. For some, such as many immunosuppressed people, vaccination is not possible at all.

Last month, the Government decided not to buy Evusheld, a potentially life-saving treatment for the 500,000 high-risk patients who are not able to have a vaccine because they have weakened immune systems. Evusheld, which costs £1,500 per person a year, is taken as a preventative treatment. Data from Israel shows immunocompromised people who get it are half as likely to become infected with Covid and 92 per cent less likely to be hospitalised and/or die.

Why aren’t we getting the AstraZeneca vaccine?

‘The concern over the very rare clotting disorders observed with the AstraZeneca jab led to the decision to use the Moderna/Pfizer RNA vaccines for boosters,’ Professor Preston says.

The UKHSA points to evidence from a trial of seven different vaccines given as a third dose by University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, which found mRNA vaccines were ‘the most effective’.

How good is the new vaccine?

Vaccines are very effective at preventing people from dying or becoming seriously ill with Covid; a booster of the Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccines is still more than 85 per cent effective at preventing death three months after being administered, and around 60 per cent effective at preventing hospitalisation.

However, this wanes and by six months, protection against symptomatic infection drops to zero. How long booster protection lasts is as yet unclear.

Last month, Dame Kate Bingham, the architect of Britain’s successful vaccination campaign, accused civil servants of ‘taking their foot off the gas’ in finding new jabs. She said the current jabs are ‘not good enough’ because they ‘don’t block transmission, they don’t protect for very long’.

She is concerned that the Government drive to find new vaccines has fallen away.

Scientists are working on new Covid vaccines, the ultimate goal being a universal version that protects against all variants.




No comments: