Peter Rhodes on new Covid research, boosting your immunity and the small print at Glasgow

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

Read the small print too
Read the small print too

An old friend congratulated me on “increasing your resistance” by catching a couple of nasty colds in quick succession.

I understand his logic. If we repeatedly get infections, our immune system is tickled up and ready to fight future infections.

But the question nobody seems to be able to answer is whether the future infections would be worse or better than today’s colds? It seems you can spend an awful lot of time being sick in order to avoid being sick.

In the early days of the Covid pandemic, a shocking number of black and Asian patients died. Was there some sort of racial or hereditary issue?

Any suggestion of a genetic link was quickly stamped on. The only acceptable explanation was that black and Asian people were more likely to be in public-facing jobs and to live in overcrowded accommodation. How well that fitted the woke image of Britain as a deeply unfair country.

And then, a few days ago, the BBC reported this: “University of Oxford scientists have uncovered a gene that doubles the risk of lung failure and death from Covid.” Apparently about 60 per cent of people from South Asian backgrounds and 15 per cent of people of European ancestry carry the high-risk version of the gene. Although genes are not the full explanation, they may be part of the risk-cocktail that makes the difference between surviving and dying. This discovery may pave the way for more effective treatment for those at higher risk. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t make big headlines.

The pitiful hordes of refugees on the Polish border are being used as human pawns by the Belarus dictator Alexander Lukashenko and many of them are fleeing Assad’s Syria. It’s a reminder that throughout human history most of the wickedness and trauma endured by millions is caused by no more than a handful of dictators.

The great declarations from COP26 are made and at first sight look mighty impressive. But the devil is always in the detail, so study the small print, the stuff in brackets. This sort of thing: “We will strive to eliminate methane” (but only when the Yanks stop pronouncing it meth-ane). “We totally renounce coal mining in every country” (except our own country). “We will cease all tree felling in the Amazon” (once we’ve chopped down all the trees).

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