Good morning people, what a beautiful morning, clear blue sky and warm. It was the same yesterday, I had a lovely snooze in the sun. I hope this sun lasts all day so I can have another snooze today.
More fun in Scottishland today. So far the SNP Government has refused to hand over to the Holyrood inquiry the legal advice they received as to the action against Alex Salmond. This important because Salmond claims that the advice was that the Scottishland Government had a very poor legal case and would probably lose in court. In the event, the SNP Government pressed ahead and it cost the taxpayers a lot of money. The Scottishland Parliament has already voted twice to hand over advice but John Swinney, the SNP Deputy First Minister, has so far failed to do so. Swinney heads the Scottishland Government response to the enquiry and has so far refused to publish the advice. The Scottishland Tories have given him until this afternoon to change his mind or they will table a motion of no confidence in Swinney. This stands a good chance of succeeding as the SNP only govern in a coalition and it is quite likely their partners will vote against them. It’s never a dull day in the SNP.
I see Phil the Greek has been moved from his private hospital to the NHS St Bartholomew’s Hospital for further treatment. But the surprise was that it is not for his “infection” it is for an “existing heart problem”. St Bartholomew’s is a specialist heart hospital. The Palace has kept the problem a bit quiet. It was common knowledge that he had a stent fitted 10 years ago but it was believed he had fully recovered.
Health officials are looking for someone who has the Brazilian (P1) variant of Covid. 5 people arrived in the UK at the end of last month and 3 who flown on to Scotland and one who went to Gloucestershire all self-isolated, have now developed the virus. The one in Gloucestershire seems to have passed it on to another member of their household. It is thought that these 5 have not likely to have passed the virus on. But one other person seems to have tested positive for this variant but not filled in the paperwork so the tracers are looking for him or her.
AstraZeneca has pocketed a nice little profit today. They had invested in the US pharmaceutical company Moderna some time ago and held 7.7% of the shares. Unlike AZ, Moderna are selling their vaccine at a profit and consequently their shares have rocketed. AZ have decided to sell off their holding for $1.2 billion and will be re-investing the money in future developments.
Two bits of coronavirus vaccine information have been emerging over the last few days. One is that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine looks to be more effective in older people than the Pfizer one and that the Pfizer vaccine may not work very well in fat people. This is excellent news as it is one in the eye for President Macaroon and all those fat Germans who have been insisting on the Pfizer jab. A separate study in Brazil has suggested that fat people are also more likely to suffer from catching Covid a second time as their antibody count is low
I have been reading about the Roomba robot vacuum cleaners, you know the circular machines that wander about the floor cleaning it. The machines aren’t cheap costing around £600 and come with a docking point that it pops into when it has finished a room to recharge. For that kind of money, you would expect something pretty good and until recently I hear that is what customers got. However a recent, over the air, software upgrade has sent some of them mad. There are reports of them suddenly spinning on the spot, wandering around the room “like a drunken sailor”, not being able to locate its charging station or popping in for a recharge 3 times in 10 minutes. The makers, iRobot, have admitted that some models have a problem with the software update and say it will be a few weeks before the can release a fix.
Re my earlier story, it looks like the SNP are going to release the legal advice tomorrow after they realised they couldn’t stop Swinney losing a motion of no confidence. Will it happen?
Sunny again this morning but not quite as warm as yesterday. I hear this is the last sunny day for a while, so I will definitely have to make the most of it and get out into the garden. I think another snooze on the window sill is also called for as yesterday’s went so well.
Bozzie dropped the Telegraph on the floor this morning giving me the chance to read an article by a German who was the UK correspondent for the German daily Die Welt. He says that before Covid the German people just could not understand why Britons voted to leave the EU. Now after Covid, they are changing their mind. They now envy Britain’s ability to move nimbly and not be tied down by a communal vaccination program. They have seen a failed German politician promoted to the top job in the EU failing again when didn’t order sufficient vaccine supplies because she was trying to save money and not lives. Germany is a federation made up of 18 regional governments and one federal one. The regions have powers similar to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and the discussion in Germany that as this makes governing Germany extremely difficult, should regional government be scrapped and have just one central government. I can hear the screaming of the SNP if that were suggested here.
I hear that Jenssen (Johnson & Johnson in Europe) applied for formal conditional marketing authorisation from the MRHA late last week for their one Jab vaccine. They had been talking to the MRHA for some time but had been missing some vital documentation. I understand that the MRHA started to look at the application yesterday. Jenssen already had applied to the EMA on 16th February and the first opportunity for them to give permission is a meeting on 11th March. If the previous British approvals are anything to go by, where the MRHA took around 10 days we could approve it about the same day. We have 30 million doses on order, enough to treat 30 million people. We also have an option for a further 22 million. No wonder Bozzie is confident of hitting vaccination targets.
The ONS numbers out this morning suggest that the vaccine is getting a grip on the coronavirus. The total number of Covid deaths fell by 25% last week alone. But is the effect on the older people who have all now had the offer of a vaccination that is really interesting. Hospital admissions for the older age groups have fallen by more than 80% and fewer than 10 over 80’s are being admitted to intensive care each day now. Now all this data is pouring in, showing that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is probably a bit more effective than the Pfizer, one the French authorities have backed and will now give the vaccine to the over 65’s. It looks like the Germans are heading that way too.
The Test and Trace people are closing in on the person with the Brazil variant of Covid 19 who failed to fill in the details on their data card for the test. It has been established that the test was one of a batch of 379 home test kits issued in southeast England. The DHSS had already called for anyone who had a test on two specific days and not got the results back yet to contact them. It appears a number have and were part of this batch of 379 but not the person being looked for. Each home is being contacted so it’s only a matter of time now before they are located.
The BBC are really strange. They have announced that they want to return BBC3 to our airwaves after making it a streaming service only some six years ago. The plan is for it use the wavelengths used by CBBC after 19:00 hrs each day. Now we are being told that online streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Plus and Disney are the way forward. So why are the BBC moving a channel, which they claim has been highly successful online, back to the airwaves? I know a number of programs originally made for BBC3 have been hits when shown on traditional TV can it be that BBC3 was just not a success online? The other question is if it had to be cut to save money, where is the money coming from now?
Pontins Holidays are to change their working practices after it was revealed that they had an illegal blacklist of what they considered to undesirable Irish, gipsy and traveller names who they banned from making bookings. The site rules also banned what were considered to be gipsy or traveller’s vehicles. So if you called up to place a booking and your surname was Smith or Jones you were OK but if it was O’Sullivan or Murphy you would be told they had no vacancies. At least you wouldn’t have to put up with James O’Brian in the cabin next door to you.
Well, the weather forecast was right, the sun has gone, it’s not so pleasant out and it looks as if it could rain. It looks like there will be no window sill snooze for me today. Two big events today, Wee Krankie appears before the Salmond enquiry and Rishi Nik-Nak makes his budget statement.
I walked into the office and they had Wee Krankie on the TV. I watched a bit and I must say I didn’t warm to her. I usually like women a lot more than men but I must say there are exceptions. I got the idea she not a very nice person. She didn’t admit to anything, she either wasn’t at that meeting, didn’t know what they were talking about or Alex Salmond’s account was wrong and so were all his supporting witnesses. You had to believe every word she said because she was right and everyone was wrong.
Next up was Richie Nik-Nak, I haven’t the slightest idea about most of the thing that was talking about, it was all about something called money. Now if he had been talking about Felix Chicken or cat treats I would have hung around but I couldn’t be bothered so I headed for the garden. When I got to the door it was horrible all misty and rainy, so I went to see if the Dreamies Girl was in. She gave me a few cat treats which I crunched up and wandered off looking for a comfy chair. Walking through the office it was Keir Stoma’s turn to be on, God he is boring.
The EU is talking about having a digital coronavirus pass on your phone to allow people to go on holiday. The idea is that those people who have been fully vaccinated will get a code to allow them to download a green pass. If you have not been vaccinated but have had a negative test you will also get a green pass. I have heard that we are talking about joining the scheme. Mind I don’t know what happens if you don’t have a smartphone.
The French are an odd lot. They have so far received 7.9 million doses of the 3 approved coronavirus vaccines from the EU central purchase organisation. But only 4.6 million have been administered, 3 million first doses and 1.6 million second doses. So they have 3.3 million doses currently sitting on the shelf. OK, they have reserved some of that for second doses as they are sticking to the 3 weeks between jabs that was originally the rule here. But even so, they have nearly 2 million unused doses in storage somewhere. Why? Is it because the general population don’t want it? The answer seems to be that they have not managed to set up a distribution system like ours. Their appointment booking system is not very good and causes users confusion consequently they have never managed more than 120,000 in a day and often very much less. They had chosen not to give the AstraZeneca jab to over 64’s (now changed to over 75’s) when then main group being vaccinated was over 75. They have managed to get a first vaccination into only 4.5% of the adult population despite starting the programme back near the end of December. In a couple of weeks more we have now protected 39% of our adult population. Perhaps they need to borrow some of our soldiers from the Logistics Corp, they seem to know how to do things properly.
I see one of my relatives caused a bit of a problem at Euston Station yesterday evening. The 21:00 to Manchester was all ready to go when someone spotted a tabby cousin of mine sitting on the roof of the train. Staff tried to encourage him down but he was more than happy to just stay there. The passengers were transferred to a replacement service and the 25,000 volt overhead line turned off. But he just sat there. Two and a half hours later someone had the idea of putting a large wheely-bin beside the train and the tabby immediately used it to jump down onto and he just strolled away.
Morning everyone, Bozzie was busy reading the papers while eating his breakfast boiled egg and soldiers. He was reading all the reports on the budget and occasionally grunting, but he got a bit annoyed with the Mirror and the Mail because they lead on Ginge and Winge. They say that she had been bullying staff and some left because it got a bit heavy. I did hear a story, I do know if it is true, that while still living in Britain, Winge was rude to some of Kate servants and Kate had words with her, which led to bad blood between them. Winge says it’s all a plot and the Palace is plotting against her. The Palace say they are investigating bullying report. I guess we will see.
A bit back, the Government asked for councils to volunteer to house an experimental fusion reactor power station. I read that several have come forward and the favourite is the old coal-fired power station site at Ratcliffe-on-Soar in Nottinghamshire. The coal station is currently being demolished and the site cleared. As a brownfield site, this would be good but it also has other advantages such as a rail spur and existing links to the national grid. It looks to be a good choice.
Yesterday, I told you about the disaster that is the French coronavirus roll out. Today I hear that they really need to speed up the rollout because there is a huge fear in France of another wave of Covid 19. In some French departments, the Brazilian and South African make up over 10% of cases, while in Moselle it is 54%. Rather than have a program for coming out of lockdown they are moving in the opposite direction with an increase in the nightly curfew with it now starting a six each evening. This has led to supermarkets being packed between five when work finishes to six when the curfew starts. Dunkirk and Nice have implanted weekend lockdowns with Paris and 20 other departments likely to follow very soon. It’s beginning to look like another full-blown lockdown for France is coming and still Macaroon blames AstraZeneca.
Unlike the French, the Germans have seen the light and are to switch their recommendations for vaccination age and remove the limit of under 65-year-olds only. Mrs Merkin has bowed to the inevitable and accepted the data from the British and Scottishland reports that show that the AZ vaccine is more effective than the Pfizer one in the over 70s. In addition, the Germans are going adopting the British 12 weeks between doses strategy as it has been seen to be effective. Pity the French are such stick in the muds.
A bit more about vaccinations this time from much further afield, Peru. They have just received their first shipment of 300,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine from China. The president was shown live on TV being vaccinated and it was promised that all the remaining doses would go to healthcare workers. It has now emerged that some 200 doses were siphoned off and went to high ranking politicians and the well connected. Among those vaccinated were the ex-president, his wife and brother; the Health and Foreign Ministers; a senior businessman and a lobbyist in pharmaceuticals; the Vatican’s ambassador to the country; two university heads; and a member of the committee of experts appointed by the Ministry of Health to oversee the trial. All this has caused a huge stink and several Government ministers resigning.
I see that new versions of the already approved vaccines in the UK are in future going to benefit from fast track approval. This is aimed at tackling new variants like the Brazilian one now marching through France. The fast track approval is similar to the one already used to approve the annual flu vaccine update. It looks the testing will only need a couple of thousand testers and could reduce testing time to a few weeks. It might be needed.
More fun with the SpaceX’s Starship 10 rocket test. The last two rockets took off OK and seemed to descend back to earth correctly flipping over and coming down but both crashed into the ground spectacularly. Things looked much better for this third test. The rocket shot up to six miles high before coming back down flipping over and seemingly landing perfectly. However, after sitting on the ground for a few seconds it suddenly seemed to fire its main engine again and leap in the air 30 or 40 feet before crashing to the ground and exploding. SpaceX have yet to say what the problem was, but at the moment I don’t think people would be happy going to the Moon or Mars on it as planned.
Morning folks, well at least it’s dry today. It’s getting a bit cooler again so I guess spring hasn’t sprung quite yet. This morning’s news about the Italians blocking a shipment of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine from an Italian manufacturing plant to Australia. I find this unbelievable, only a few days ago the EU were calling the vaccine useless and virtually encouraging the citizens of the EU not to take it. Now the vaccine is so valuable they can’t let it go to Australia. This is another clear example of just how useless and petty the EU are. I bet those 250,000 doses stopped from being exported sit on a shelf and spoil.
Transport for the North put out their final scheme for the Northern Powerhouse rail route and links to HS2 earlier this week. But today I see new ideas from two other groups that are quite different. One firm of consultants wants to change half the routes, including that of part of HS2. The other wants to put the trains in tunnels under Manchester. I thought TftN were in charge so isn’t it a bit late for other radical schemes to be thrown into the pot. At this rate, it will never get built.
I understand that from Monday all you humans will have to complete a declaration to travel document before you are allowed to go abroad. The three-page form can be filled in online and downloaded to sign. If you are thinking of travelling you must carry it with you and show it to the police when requested. If you break the rules it’s a two hundred pounds fine, and banned from travelling and the loss of your ticket(s).
I hear that they have found the sixth man. The missing person with the positive test for the Brazilian variant of Covid has been found at his family home in Croydon. He and his family were recently arrived back from Brazil and all had been following the rules and self-isolating at home. So we are all saved, but people living nearby are to be tested anyway, just to be on the safe side.
Good news for all you ‘Spoon’ fans and from your comments, that I don’t read, I know that’s a lot of you. They are planning to reopen nearly 400 of their pubs on 12th April, the first possible opportunity.
A zoo in China has been shown have been trying to fool the public by replacing the zoo’s wolf with a dog. The dog was in fact a guard dog who had lived all his life at the zoo. The deception started when the zoo’s last wolf died of old age and they couldn’t afford to get a replacement so the Rottweiler watchdog was shoved in the cage. You would have thought they would at least have got a dog that looked like a wolf. An Alsatian would have made a better imitation.
Chilly today. I popped out to the garden before breakfast and although it looked lovely with a clear blue sky and the sun out it wasn’t very warm so I was back pretty quickly. Someone has been experimenting with my grub this morning and had mixed some dry cat food in with my normal Felix. I tried a bit and it was fishy. Now it was OK but I didn’t like the idea of mixing fish with nice meaty Felix so I picked out all the fishy bits and left them in the bowl as a hint to my human slaves.
I meant to mention it yesterday, but I forgot, I have been noticing the increasing number of people each day who are getting a second dose of vaccine. I suppose it’s only to be expected that as time goes by more and more people will be due a second dose but it never gets mentioned on the TV when the daily numbers are read out. The number who have had a second dose has now passed 1,000,000 and has been going up over 50,000 a day recently. It will have to go up by more soon to match those day numbers from 11 weeks ago.
France has announced their vaccination timetable. 10 million by mid-April, 20 million by mid-May and 30 million by the summer which I suppose means mid-June. That is less than half the population. By mid-April, we should have vaccinated 32 million first doses and many million with both doses. Interestingly the coronavirus numbers in France are still going up and more weekend lockdowns are being introduced.
I have been reading about Gliese 486 b, a recently found planet “only” 26.3 light-years away. For some reason, scientists are getting very excited by it claiming it is “Earth-like”. Well if having a surface temperature of 460°C, having rivers of lava flowing over the surface, being bathed in radiation and having gravity nearly twice that of Earth is “Earth-like” I’m a monkey’s uncle. Those scientists can go and live there but I don’t think I’ll bother.
If you own an electric car it looks like it is essential to have your own charger point. It has been calculated that for those people who have to rely on public charging points the cost and be equal to or even more expensive than running a petrol or diesel car. Surely this is crazy, there must be millions of people who will never be in a position to have their own charging point. If you live in a flat or in a house without a drive or garage you will need to charge at a rip-off public point. No wonder supermarkets are rushing to install charging points, more profit for them.
It hasn’t been officially announced yet but I have heard that if you are 56 or over you can now use the NHS website to book a jab. Mind I have heard people talking and moaning about the app sending them to one of the big centres which can be miles away. People who wait for an invite from their own GP tend to get local appointments. I heard of two next-door neighbours one booked using the NHS app and had to drive 20 miles in either direction to get his jab while the neighbour waited a couple of days and was invited to a local GP’s Surgery in walking distance.
If you were awake at 1 o’clock this morning (I wasn’t) a giant asteroid passed the earth and could have been seen with a telescope or binoculars. It was the size of 3.5 football pitches but the nearest Apophis came was 10.5 million miles. If you missed it, don’t worry as it will be back as it orbits the sun in a big elliptical orbit and will come back past us in April 2029, when should only be 19,400 miles away, heading to go back around the Sun. I doubt I’ll see it as I would be the worlds oldest cat by then.
Night, night folks I’m off to eat and sleep. I wonder if I can get a spot on the inside sill of Bozzie’s office window tomorrow, the sun is lovely through the glass! Chat to you all again on Monday.
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file