June was a very busy month for me. I finished my course at Oxford and had two exams. I loved the course, the tutors, and the colleagues, it was such a great place to study. Besides that we went out a few times, we visited a local tourist attraction, underground tunnels from the 19th century which is not clear how far they go and neither why these were made in the first place; the tour was great. I also did quite a lot of gardening and got a new pear tree, that fits in a small pot. I am really pleased with the garden and I relax there daily, unless it rains, when I stay in the conservatory instead. Also… England is now in the quarter finals of Euro 2020; what a fantastic game last night, with England beating Germany. I watched about half of the round-of-16 games and it was great.
Until we get to the serious stuff, let’s see a picture with Festus, unimpressed by the lawnmower.
I mentioned in the round-up from last month that I will continue to blog about vaccines until 90% of adults in UK had their jabs. Well, we are at 85% at the moment, so this month I will talk about variants. In May I talked about excess mortality, in April I talked about the morality of getting vaccinated before others, in March I talked about Oxford-AZ vaccine and its safety, while in February I talked about EU’s poor vaccine rollout, and it is still lagging behind.
As I said, this time I will talk about variants. Australia was shown as an example for their covid management, they closed their borders fast and almost everyone had to quarantine in a hotel. With the Wuhan virus or the following variants, this was enough and contact tracking was working. But, viruses evolve and mutate and the ones that are more transmissible have an evolutionary advantage. This is why now Australia is pretty much in a strict lockdown, after there were cases of people in quarantine who caught the virus from someone who was staying in a separate room. The low vaccination programme made the situation very dangerous in Australia, as people get sick quicker and their health system can be overwhelmed in a short period.
In Europe, Reuters reported yesterday that the Delta variant represents 20% of cases in France, when last week was less than 10%. The same happened in UK, from a few cases to over 90% of the cases in the country.
Even if we go past this new variant, new ones will emerge and this is not talked about as much as it should be on the TV news channels. The Delta/Indian variant was only 1 of the 3 to be identified from India, B.1.617.2, with B.1.617 and B.1.617.3 being present in UK, but they were not as problematic. Delta is much more transmissible than Alpha (Kent), which was much more transmissible than the original one.
In UK the sequencing is amazing, about half of the world’s is being done here. But this is also a problem, as there are dozens of countries where there is little to no sequencing and new variants can start there. We just don’t know if a new variant, which might be even more transmissible and/or deadlier is now evolving in a village in Africa or in South America and we will find about it in a month or two. All the vaccines used in the UK are efficacious against these known variants, even if their efficiency is slightly lower, they still offer a great protection against the serious effects of COVID. So, please take the jab if you haven’t, if someone you know is reluctant tell them to talk to their GP or look online on reputable sites, like the NHS. I shared links to articles on NHS with people who are not living in UK because it’s helpful.
As we can see, the only way to get out of this is to get vaccinated, but enough people need to get vaccinated to work, and even at 85% of adults vaccinated with a dose and 62% fully vaccinated, we are still a long way, because there are teenagers and children who are not vaccinated and they can catch and spread the virus. On Monday Public Health England released the data, gathered in partnership with the University of Cambridge, which shows that the vaccinations prevented, in England, a staggering 7.2 million infections and up to 27,000 deaths.
Everybody has the choice of taking the jab or not, but if they are influenced by conspiracy theories and trolls and bots on social media, we all have a duty to explain to them that the reality is different, to show them the data. In the end this is what we can do. Hopefully some of them will change their minds.
1. Smores on the BBQ. 2. Old picture from Indigo Greens, as I forgot to take the picture on the day. 3. Celebratory burger, at home, for lunch. 4. Burger at Planet Vegan, a new restaurant on Lark Lane. 5. Desserts at Planet Vegan. 6. New Dahlia for the garden. 7. Festus with long hair. 8. Knowsley Safari Park. 9. Peonies from my husband. 10. Book on Prince Philip’s childhood and the Greek succession. 11. Reading in the garden. 12. Roses in the park. 13. England’s first game and win at Euro 2020. 14. Festus having a roll. 15. Bees are really keen on the allium. 16. Last exam as I finished Trinity Term. 17. Cocktails with the colleagues and tutors at the end of the term. 18. Vegan Kind subscription boxes. 19. “our” magpie, one of two who are having their meals in our garden had a bit of water from Festus’ bowl while Festus was keeping a close eye on him. 20. Another Verstappen win, another glass of Champagne to celebrate. 21. Festus was watching cartoons. 22. England won to get into the Round of 16 as Group leaders. 23. Celebrating with English Sparkling Wine. 24. My garden. 25. Williamson Tunnels. 26. Harvest. 27. Max won again, so we had Champagne again. 28. Walk, from the previous day though. 29. England won!!!! 30. Books I read in June.
I finished only 6 books in June. As usual, most of them are either history or memoirs/biography. I loved all the 5 stars books in the list and I would highly recommend them. I almost finished two more books, but didn’t. I liked Captain Tom’s book so much, it is lovely and worth reading. The book on Rowntree’s is fascinating, the author also talks about their competition, how they were treating their employees, and so on.
The book on Prince Philip was interesting, dealing with his family, his childhood, and, of course, his claim to the Greek crown, with lots of details about Greek history.
Books I read in June:
The Spanish Civil War by Helen Graham – 3 stars
Philip, Prince of Greece by John Carr, Constantinos Lagos – 5 stars
Tomorrow Will Be A Good Day by Tom Moore – 5 stars
The Silk Merchant’s Convenient Wife by Elisabeth Hobbes – 5 stars
Zucked by Roger McNamee – 3 stars
Rowntree’s by Paul Chrystal – 5 stars