Previously this site was wholly focussed on COVID-19, but now, with so much negative news in the world we want to help showcase some of the more positive traits in humans and how humans can come together in times of despair and heartbreak to help each other. We believe in a more positive World and this is a starting point to help showcase that.
In Chris Perez, Steve Sanders found a kidney donor — and a friend.
Sanders has a rare genetic disease that caused his kidneys to slowly start failing, and doctors told him he would either need to start dialysis or undergo a kidney transplant. Several friends and family members were tested to see if they could donate a kidney to Sanders, but no one was a match. Last July, Sanders turned to social media, posting about his his need for a donor to a wider audience.
That’s how Chris Perez, director of volunteer services at Atrium Health Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, learned about Sanders’ story. After reading the post and finding out Sanders had two children, Perez, a father of three, felt compelled to help. “I didn’t know him but thought, let’s give this a try — I would want someone to do this for me,” Perez said in a statement.
After going through testing, Perez was found to be a match for Sanders, and the two spoke on the phone for the first time. “We hit it off right away,” Sanders said, with the men bonding over their similar educational backgrounds and fatherhood. Soon, they were regularly spending time together and with their families.
Their surgeries were in January, and both Sanders and Perez recovered well. Sanders said it “means everything to me” that a stranger donated their kidney to him, and it’s a gift for his entire family. “It’s a chance at continuing to have a normal life with my kids,” he said. “It shows Chris’ commitment to being a father and allowing me the same chance.”
Russia and Ukraine have reportedly drawn up a 15-point peace deal that would bring a ceasefire and the withdrawal of Russian troops – in return for commitments from Kyiv to become a “neutral” country and accept limits on the size of its army.
The deal would allow Ukraine to keep a standing army, but prevent it from ever joining Nato or hosting foreign military bases, sources familiar with the negotiations told the Financial Times.
A similar 1955 pledge convinced the Soviet Union to end the decade-long occupation of Austria after the Second World War.
Austria declared itself permanently neutral that year, leading to the Soviet Union agreeing to an end to its occupation. It promised not to join any military alliance, such as Nato, and to never host foreign military bases on its soil.
The compromise has the potential to meet one of Vladimir Putin’s key demands: that Ukraine never joins Nato. However, other Russian demands will prove hugely problematic for Kyiv.
Russian and Ukrainian negotiators were considering a plan involving a constitutional commitment to neutrality, the Kremlin said on a third day of heavy shelling of Ukrainian cities.
NEW: for the first time in the pandemic, a Covid infection now carries less mortality risk than a flu infection in England, the result of widespread immunity and the emergence of a less virulent variant in Omicron.
In England, a Covid infection is around 40x less likely to result in death now than it was in January 2021 at the height of the Alpha wave before vaccines.
Mass vaccination reduced the infection fatality ratio (IFR) by 11x, boosters did some more, then Omicron cut it another 4x.
To be clear, infection-acquired immunity has also played an important role in building immunity, but by overlaying cumulative vaccination and infection rates onto IFR, we can see that vaccination was by far the biggest driver of the reduction in lethality.
Science: it’s good!
Most significantly, we can now show for the first time that not only is a Covid infection less lethal than flu at the population level, it is slightly lower *even for the elderly* (and significantly less lethal for young adults).
But of course, if we want to know the total toll Covid is having on mortality, IFR is only half of the equation.
A virus can be less lethal on a *per-infection* basis but still cause more deaths overall if it infects more people.
So in our story we explore exactly this point.
We looked at total deaths caused by major respiratory diseases — flu, pneumonia & Covid — over the last 8 years.
Last winter, Covid increased mortality risk enormously. 7x more deaths than in a typical flu season, far more than even a bad flu season.
But what about one year on?
In Jan/Feb 2022, Covid is still increasing the winter respiratory death toll by around 50% compared to a typical year.
As we know, vaccines and Omicron have made Covid far less lethal on a per-infection basis, but sheer volume of infections means *risk of death remains elevated*
And there are more caveats to the "Covid is now no worse than flu" line:
First, we know Covid is not only a threat during winter. If that red line bumps upwards again in the coming months (more on this in a moment…), that would further increase mortality risk relative to flu.
And second, I think a lot of people still fail to appreciate quite how much work reduced social mixing has continued to do…
Total mortality from major respiratory diseases has actually been *lower* this winter than a typical flu season for young adults and children.
That’s because of less flu/pneumonia than if we were all mixing at pre-pandemic levels.
Now, back to Covid’s threat extending beyond winter:
Whereas flu is typically waning by March, the number of Covid-positive patients in English hospitals has been rising again in the last couple of weeks.
So do we need to worry again?
Well, if we dig deeper into today’s data, we see that in almost all regions — especially those with the biggest rises — more of the increase is coming from people who are not being treated primarily for Covid, i.e those who have mild or no symptoms, and do not have severe Covid.
As always, this does not mean they "don’t count", but it does mean that we should interpret this not as a big new wave of disease, but as what happens when we have a highly transmissible virus circulating in a population that is gradually increasing its social mixing.
Pandemic precautions such as avoiding public transport, working remotely, staying away from big social gatherings and mass events, are all now at their lowest point since March 2020, and still falling.
The result is we now have more close contacts than at any time in the last two years, and we’re also taking fewer precautions with those contacts.
So we shouldn’t be surprised that the virus is still getting around!
But good news is, as we’ve shown, it’s less lethal than ever.
So to summarise Covid in England in March 2022: • 40x less lethal than Jan 2021, now less lethal than flu • But spreads very efficiently, and we’re also doing more mixing • So Covid still adding to overall mortality risk, but it’s now only adding marginally rather than 7-fold