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Artificial intelligence can help track down invasive plants before they take over verges

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artificial intelligence can help track down invasive plants before they take over verges

Artificial intelligence may soon help track down invasive plants such as Japanese knotweed before they take over verges and cause expensive damage to roads.

The UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and Birmingham-based firm Keen AI are building the system to quickly survey areas like roadsides for invasive plant species.

Plants such as Japanese knotweed can be managed to minimise the damage they cause — but finding and tracking their spread is expensive and time-consuming.

Artificial intelligence may soon help track down invasive plants such as Japanese knotweed, pictured, before they take over verges and cause expensive damage to roads

Artificial intelligence may soon help track down invasive plants such as Japanese knotweed, pictured, before they take over verges and cause expensive damage to roads

Artificial intelligence may soon help track down invasive plants such as Japanese knotweed, pictured, before they take over verges and cause expensive damage to roads

The new scheme will use a high speed cameras mounted atop a vehicle to survey up to 120 miles (193 kilometres) of roadside vegetation a day.

The images will be tagged with their GPS location and uploaded onto an online platform, where ecologists will be able to identify the plants in the photographs.

However, the team aims to teach an AI how to correctly identify such invasive species as Japanese knotweed, rhododendrons, Himalayan balsam and cherry laurel.

They will also teach the system to spot ash trees — which are native to the UK but are at risk from ash dieback, a devastating disease.

It is hoped that once the software has learned to identify such species, its ability to rapidly analyse large numbers of images will make surveying for invasive and potentially-damaging plants both quicker and more cost-effective.

A 10-month pilot project — funded by the Government agency Innovate UK — will survey roads in Birmingham and north Wales, the team said.

‘There’s a huge opportunity for AI to help us learn more about the natural world,’ said computational ecologist Tom August of the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.

‘We’re interested to see if we can develop a cost-effective, rapid way to identify invasive plant species in the UK.’

These species, he explained, ‘tend to grow in corridors — which is why we’re focused on roadside surveys.’

‘If the pilot is successful, this could be scaled up in other countries, or for other species of plants, trees or even insects and animals.’

The UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and Birmingham-based firm Keen AI are building the system to quickly survey areas like roadsides for invasive plant species like knotweed, pictured

The UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and Birmingham-based firm Keen AI are building the system to quickly survey areas like roadsides for invasive plant species like knotweed, pictured

The UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and Birmingham-based firm Keen AI are building the system to quickly survey areas like roadsides for invasive plant species like knotweed, pictured

Plants such as Japanese knotweed, pictured, can be managed to minimise the damage they cause — but finding and tracking their spread is expensive and time-consuming

Plants such as Japanese knotweed, pictured, can be managed to minimise the damage they cause — but finding and tracking their spread is expensive and time-consuming

Plants such as Japanese knotweed, pictured, can be managed to minimise the damage they cause — but finding and tracking their spread is expensive and time-consuming

Plants such as Japanese knotweed, pictured, can be managed to minimise the damage they cause — but finding and tracking their spread is expensive and time-consuming

Plants such as Japanese knotweed, pictured, can be managed to minimise the damage they cause — but finding and tracking their spread is expensive and time-consuming

‘Using AI to rapidly analyse vast amounts of images will mean safety and cost benefits to highways agencies, landowners and decision-makers,’ said Amjad Karim, Keen-AI founder.

‘Currently this work requires temporary closure of roads to ensure the safety of surveyors.’

According to Mr Karim, the AI setup would ‘significantly reduce’ the cost of ecological surveys while simultaneously allowing them to take place at a scale that is not currently possible.

‘If we are successful, we’ll be able to survey the entire UK very cost-effectively, giving a much better understanding of the extent of invasive species,” he added.

JAPANESE KNOTWEED HAS BAMBOO-LIKE STEMS AND SMALL WHITE FLOWERS

Japanese Knotweed is a species of plant that has bamboo-like stems and small white flowers.

Native to Japan, the plant is considered an invasive species. 

The plant, scientific name Fallopia japonica, was brought to Britain by the Victorians as an ornamental garden plant and to line railway tracks to stabilise the soil.

It has no natural enemies in the UK, whereas in Asia it is controlled by fungus and insects.

In the US it is scheduled as an invasive weed in 12 states, and can be found in a further 29.

It is incredibly durable and fast-growing, and can seriously damage buildings and construction sites if left unchecked.

The notorious plant strangles other plants and can kill entire gardens. 

Capable of growing eight inches in one day it deprives other plants of their key nutrients and water. 

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Beauties who had babies for Hitler: Fuhrer ordered German soldiers to impregnate Norwegian girls

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beauties who had babies for hitler fuhrer ordered german soldiers to impregnate norwegian girls

HISTORY

Hitler’s Northern Utopia by Despina Stratigakos (Princeton £25, 328 pp)

Adolf Hitler was mesmerised. In the spring of 1934, he went on holiday, a secret cruise in a German battleship through the fjords of Norway and, for hours on end, stared at the natural beauty around him.

A Norwegian crew member later recalled him being ‘enthused like a little boy over the mountains and the magnificent weather’.

That trip was apparently the beginning of a strange love affair — which comes as a surprise. If you thought (as I did) that, 75 years on from Hitler’s death, there could surely be nothing new to learn about him, then this book by U.S. architectural historian Despina Stratigakos is an eye-opener.

German women carrying children of an alleged 'Aryan purity' in  Lebensborn, during The Second World War

German women carrying children of an alleged 'Aryan purity' in  Lebensborn, during The Second World War

German women carrying children of an alleged ‘Aryan purity’ in  Lebensborn, during The Second World War

It reveals that, after he attacked Norway in 1940, Hitler devised plans for it that went beyond the brutal subjugation he intended for France, Poland and Russia after he’d conquered them.

His grand design was for beautiful Norway to be transformed into a Nazi utopia.

As he reigned supreme over a vanquished Europe, the author explains, Hitler and his Nazis would ‘take root in Norway and create a space for themselves as rulers of a Nordic empire that stretched to the Arctic Circle’.

But Hitler’s fascination with Norway was not just sparked by the magnificence of its fjords. He also admired its genetic history, believing, as he wrote in Mein Kampf, that with their Viking origins, its blond-haired, blue-eyed people had the purest of Aryan bloodlines. They were at the very top of the racial ladder.

Adolf Hitler visiting the Norwegian fjords aboard a war ship, Weimar Republic

Adolf Hitler visiting the Norwegian fjords aboard a war ship, Weimar Republic

Adolf Hitler visiting the Norwegian fjords aboard a war ship, Weimar Republic

Here was a dictator who exterminated millions he considered racially degenerate. But he also encouraged selective breeding, and Norway was a chosen test bed for Nazi eugenics. Under an SS-inspired programme known as Lebensborn (‘Fount of life’), German troops were encouraged to impregnate the best-looking local girls, with the promise that the Nazi state would look after them and their children.

Newspapers back home projected jolly images of sunny Norwegian milkmaids falling in love with Adolf Hitler for saving them from moral and racial degeneration and doing their duty by breeding with his pure-blooded soldiers.

Thousands of expectant mothers judged to be racially valuable were given priority medical care in specially built maternity homes, hotels and orphanages. Pampered Lebensborn mothers were rigidly indoctrinated in Nazi ways.

Lebensborn Nazi maternity hospital, used as a base for German programme opened 1935 was one of the most secret and terrifying Nazi projects

Lebensborn Nazi maternity hospital, used as a base for German programme opened 1935 was one of the most secret and terrifying Nazi projects

Lebensborn Nazi maternity hospital, used as a base for German programme opened 1935 was one of the most secret and terrifying Nazi projects

June 1940: A man runs through wreckage in front of a large house in flames, after Luftwaffe air raids secured the Nazi occupation of Norway. Narvik, Norway, World War II

June 1940: A man runs through wreckage in front of a large house in flames, after Luftwaffe air raids secured the Nazi occupation of Norway. Narvik, Norway, World War II

June 1940: A man runs through wreckage in front of a large house in flames, after Luftwaffe air raids secured the Nazi occupation of Norway. Narvik, Norway, World War II

Inge Viermetz, the only woman defendant being tried before Tribune 1 in RuSHA Nuremberg Trials, pleads 'not guilty' to being responsible for Lebensborn in Nazi Germany, 1947

Inge Viermetz, the only woman defendant being tried before Tribune 1 in RuSHA Nuremberg Trials, pleads 'not guilty' to being responsible for Lebensborn in Nazi Germany, 1947

Inge Viermetz, the only woman defendant being tried before Tribune 1 in RuSHA Nuremberg Trials, pleads ‘not guilty’ to being responsible for Lebensborn in Nazi Germany, 1947

Childcare was strictly Germanic — there was to be no wailing in the nursery. The ‘purest’ babies were often removed from their mothers, forcibly if necessary, and sent to Germany to be raised in approved SS families, though most stayed in Norway.

Over the course of their five-year occupation of Norway, the Germans gave the country special treatment seen nowhere else, using forced labour and prisoners-of-war to build roads, bridges, tunnels, railroads, docks, power stations and facilities for business and industry. Norway soon became ‘the only occupied country in Europe where Nazi Germany invested more resources than it withdrew’.

In Hitler’s plan for his utopia, towns devastated in the brutal two-month invasion would be re-built on radically different National Socialist lines, emphasising the power of the state and the party rather than, say, the church.

German police carry off children in occupied Yugoslavia-part of them will be destined to be taken over by the 'Lebensborn' organisation, 1941 or 1942

German police carry off children in occupied Yugoslavia-part of them will be destined to be taken over by the 'Lebensborn' organisation, 1941 or 1942

German police carry off children in occupied Yugoslavia-part of them will be destined to be taken over by the ‘Lebensborn’ organisation, 1941 or 1942

1754: Lebensborn nursing home. Lebensborn (Fount of Life) was a Nazi organization set up by SS leader Heinrich Himmler, which provided maternity homes and financial assistance to the wives of SS members and to unmarried mothers

1754: Lebensborn nursing home. Lebensborn (Fount of Life) was a Nazi organization set up by SS leader Heinrich Himmler, which provided maternity homes and financial assistance to the wives of SS members and to unmarried mothers

1754: Lebensborn nursing home. Lebensborn (Fount of Life) was a Nazi organization set up by SS leader Heinrich Himmler, which provided maternity homes and financial assistance to the wives of SS members and to unmarried mothers

1940: Nazi troops setting up their big guns on one of the many battle fronts in Norway

1940: Nazi troops setting up their big guns on one of the many battle fronts in Norway

1940: Nazi troops setting up their big guns on one of the many battle fronts in Norway

More grandly, he had a vision for a purpose-built ‘Fuhrer city’, clawed out of the wilderness on a peninsula close to Trondheim in the north of the country — away, as he saw it, from the inter-racial decadence of Oslo, the capital, in the south. With a population of 300,000, Nordstern (meaning North Star) was intended to be one of the jewels of the Third Reich, along with Berlin, Hamburg, Nuremberg, Munich and Linz (Hitler’s home town). It would crown a Greater Germany that ran from the Arctic to the Alps.

Hitler’s mad, messianic imagination went into overdrive. This new Athens of the north, he insisted, would have an opera house, theatres, libraries and art galleries but, also, a stadium and swimming pools — everything necessary for a modern city of cultural importance. There would be extensive green spaces, and homes for its exclusively German citizens would be laid out in terraces on a south-facing slope, so every house had sunlight all day.

German parents with a German allegedly Aryan girl born in a Lebensborn : Center Of Eugenics during The Second World War

German parents with a German allegedly Aryan girl born in a Lebensborn : Center Of Eugenics during The Second World War

German parents with a German allegedly Aryan girl born in a Lebensborn : Center Of Eugenics during The Second World War

Needless to say, his dream Aryan city never materialised, although the vainglorious Hitler, his legacy always foremost in his mind, spent hours closeted with his chief architect, Albert Speer, drawing up plans and making models of what Speer claimed would be ‘the most beautiful German city’.

It was abandoned — though merely postponed in Hitler’s crazed eye — when defeat by the Red Army at Stalingrad on the eastern front in 1943 brought a switch of fortune, putting Nazi Germany on the defensive for the first time and heading for defeat two years later.

What’s more, as the war neared its end, withdrawing German forces followed a scorched-earth policy, destroying much of what they had built.

Included in this destruction were the plans for the Fuhrer’s dream city. Only in recent years have researchers such as Stratigakos been able to piece together the odd map fragments and documents that survived and get a snapshot of the fantasy northern utopia he longed to build.

Circa 1935: Norwegian diplomat and Fascist leader Vidkun Quisling (1887 - 1945) inspects German troops in the Nazi style on a visit to Germany

Circa 1935: Norwegian diplomat and Fascist leader Vidkun Quisling (1887 - 1945) inspects German troops in the Nazi style on a visit to Germany

Circa 1935: Norwegian diplomat and Fascist leader Vidkun Quisling (1887 – 1945) inspects German troops in the Nazi style on a visit to Germany

The human cost was high: those Lebensborn mothers and their children paid a terrible price when the war ended.

Thousands of women were arrested and imprisoned in the summer of 1945 for fraternising with the occupiers. There was no mercy either for their ‘German brats’, who were branded as outcasts and treated accordingly.

In an ironic turning of the tables, the postwar Norwegian authorities ruled that the mothers who’d slept with German soldiers were clearly mentally retarded, and so were their offspring. Children once elevated for their genes were now scorned for them.

Hitler’s dream of a purged and racially ‘pure’ Europe went the same way as his utopia of a shining new legacy city near the Arctic. It ended up in the dustbin of history.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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UK gives £67.9m in foreign aid to China in the last year

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uk gives 67 9m in foreign aid to china in the last year

Britain increased its handouts to China last year as the Government overshot its foreign aid target by almost £100million.

Schemes funded by UK taxpayers included a photography project to understand the country’s past, syphilis tests for gay men and improving cancer screening in rural areas.

Despite a promise a decade ago to stop sending cash to the world’s second largest economy, bilateral aid spending in China soared by £12.3million in a year to £67.9million in 2019.

More cash from the UK will have been given through international bodies such as the United Nations and EU.

Britain increased its handouts to China last year as the Government overshot its foreign aid target by almost £100million. Pictured: Chinese children line up under the supervision of a teacher at a kindergarten playground in Beijing

Britain increased its handouts to China last year as the Government overshot its foreign aid target by almost £100million. Pictured: Chinese children line up under the supervision of a teacher at a kindergarten playground in Beijing

Britain increased its handouts to China last year as the Government overshot its foreign aid target by almost £100million. Pictured: Chinese children line up under the supervision of a teacher at a kindergarten playground in Beijing

Despite a promise a decade ago to stop sending cash to the world¿s second largest economy, bilateral aid spending in China soared by £12.3million in a year to £67.9million in 2019. Pictured: Chinese astronauts Fei Junlong (left) and Nie Haisheng (right) wave as they walk to the launch tower of the Jiuquan Satellite

Despite a promise a decade ago to stop sending cash to the world¿s second largest economy, bilateral aid spending in China soared by £12.3million in a year to £67.9million in 2019. Pictured: Chinese astronauts Fei Junlong (left) and Nie Haisheng (right) wave as they walk to the launch tower of the Jiuquan Satellite

Despite a promise a decade ago to stop sending cash to the world’s second largest economy, bilateral aid spending in China soared by £12.3million in a year to £67.9million in 2019. Pictured: Chinese astronauts Fei Junlong (left) and Nie Haisheng (right) wave as they walk to the launch tower of the Jiuquan Satellite

The Government is legally committed to spending 0.7 per cent of gross national income on developing countries. 

Figures released yesterday showed ministers not only met the target, but exceeded it by £92million.

The total spent on the foreign aid budget rose by £645million to reach £15.2billion for the first time last year.

The top handouts were £305million for Pakistan, £300million for Ethiopia and £292million for Afghanistan.

Where the foreign aid was spent 

  • £30,711 on improving education training for early years teachers.
  • £20,161 on a photography project using archive images to better understand everyday life in pre-communist China.
  • £24,740 on self-testing kits so gay men in China can check for syphilis.
  • £14,531 on networking events aimed at boosting tourism in rural villages in south-west China, where many residents have left to live in cities and towns.
  • £438,795 on low-cost endoscopies for gastric cancer screening in rural areas.
  • £278,047 on the use of handheld microwave scanners to detect and monitor strokes.
  • £851,561 on researching the sources of air pollution, which is causing major health problems in many urban areas.
  • £78,169 on exploring the feasibility of introducing an auto-enrolment mechanism in China for workplace pension schemes.
  • £7,567 on boosting vocational and technical training for workers in manufacturing programmes.

 

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But China and India both saw their aid funding increase, even though they can both afford their own space programmes and ministers have repeatedly promised to stop sending money there.

Beijing has spent billions on its drive to become a leading power in space exploration and it last year became the first nation to successfully land a robotic spacecraft on the far side of the moon.

UK aid spending in China included £851,561 on researching air pollution in cities, £278,047 on portable scanners to detect strokes and £438,795 on gastric cancer screening in rural China. 

Some £20,161 went on a photography project using archive images to document life in pre-communist China, while £24,740 was used to increase the uptake of syphilis tests among gay men.

Another £14,531 was provided for networking events with the aim of boosting tourism in villages that have lost a large number of their residents to urban areas.

A project funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to encourage Chinese shoppers not to buy products made from pangolins was given £33,335 in 2019.

The endangered species is killed for its scales, which are boiled off their bodies for use in Chinese traditional medicine.

The animal’s meat is a high-end delicacy, and its blood is seen as a healing tonic.

UK aid spending in India increased by £12.8million to reach £107.8million.

In India, more than half a million pounds was spent on looking at how algae could be used as non-dairy source of vitamin B12 to improve the diets of vegetarians and vegans.

None of the other G7 nations – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States – met the international target of 0.7 per cent of national income on foreign aid. The UK gave more than double the 0.29 per cent G7 average.

The Government is looking at the aid budget as part of its review of foreign policy, defence, security and international development, due to be completed later this year.

Boris Johnson last week suggested Britain could rip up foreign aid rules.

The Prime Minister suggested the Government could stop following the international definition on what can be counted as aid. 

The rules are set by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. 

Residents receive coronavirus testing in Ruili in China's southwestern Yunnan province on September 15

Residents receive coronavirus testing in Ruili in China's southwestern Yunnan province on September 15

Residents receive coronavirus testing in Ruili in China’s southwestern Yunnan province on September 15

Ministers have previously encountered resistance when seeking to alter aid spending rules as any changes need the support of 30 countries.

Earlier this year, Mr Johnson warned that ‘for too long’ UK overseas aid had been ‘treated as some giant cashpoint in the sky’. 

The foreign aid budget is expected to fall this year because of the reduction in the size of the economy. 

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has earmarked £2.9billion in cuts, but has refused to reveal publicly the details. 

A Government spokesman said: ‘UK aid is focused on responding to humanitarian crises, including lifesaving support to Yemen.’

They added: ‘We ended our traditional bilateral aid programme to China in 2011 and now offer the country expertise and skills to help tackle global issues like climate change, which is firmly in the UK national interest.’ 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Half of Britons with tell-tale Covid-19 symptoms may NOT have the disease, study suggests

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half of britons with tell tale covid 19 symptoms may not have the disease study suggests

Half of Britons with tell-tale coronavirus symptoms such as a fever and persistent cough may not actually have the disease, a study has suggested. 

Public Health England (PHE) researchers looked at 1,000 key workers who thought they had recovered from Covid-19 over summer after suffering the disease’s most common symptoms. 

But 49 per cent of the participants tested negative for antibodies in their blood — proteins that signal a person has previously had the virus.

However, this may be an underestimate of those who had actually infection because there are other parts of the immune system that fight the virus — like T cells — which are not detectable with tests. 

Most people mount an antibody response. But antibodies wane over time, so might not show in tests.

The findings, therefore, suggest a large proportion of people who apply for a test are not actually carrying the coronavirus, which could spell trouble for the winter months when common colds become more prevalent.

But despite this, health chiefs stressed people should still come forward if they have symptoms. 

Half of Britons with tell-tale Covid-19 symptoms such as a fever and persistent cough do not have the disease, a study has suggested (stock)

Half of Britons with tell-tale Covid-19 symptoms such as a fever and persistent cough do not have the disease, a study has suggested (stock)

Half of Britons with tell-tale Covid-19 symptoms such as a fever and persistent cough do not have the disease, a study has suggested (stock)

Ranya Mulchandani, a field epidemiologist fellow at PHE and the study’s lead author, said: ‘In the course of this study, we tested just under a thousand people who thought they had had Covid-19 due to compatible symptoms. 

‘We found that half of them lacked any evidence of having had the infection, testing negative for the presence of antibodies. 

‘This was also true for a substantial number of frontline health workers. 

‘Although these findings are still subject to peer review, it is possible that a large number of people in the general population incorrectly believe that they have already had Covid-19. 

‘It is crucial that people do not get complacent and continue to observe government health advice, including social distancing and good hand hygiene, even if they think they have been infected in the past.’ 

STUDIES REVEAL WHY OLDER PEOPLE AND MEN ARE MORE AT RISK OF COVID-19

Two studies from the Netherlands have today helped reveal why older people and men are more at risk of severe Covid-19, even if they are healthy.

The majority of people who catch Covid-19 will suffer a mild respiratory infection, if they even develop any symptoms, and recover in a few days.

However, the disease can progress and become fatal by causing severe acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) in around 10 to 15 per cent of cases.

The fatality rate of Covid-19 increases sharply with age, with top scientists estimating that it kills more than 20 per cent of patients over 80 years of age.

And men have been shown to die more often than women, accounting for at least two-thirds. But the exact reason for this has remained a mystery.

It’s been discovered over the course of the pandemic that those who become sick more often have a hyper-active immune response. It leads to healthy tissues and organs failing as a result.

But it was not clear whether this was caused by the coronavirus itself, or was related to an underlying set of risk factors in some groups of people. 

To investigate the elderly, experts at Radbound University Medical Center, Netherlands, studied 776 healthy Western European individuals aged between 18 and 75.

They looked for 28 inflammatory markers that have been linked with Covid-19 severity and the levels of immune cells. 

Many of the inflammatory markers were correlated with age in healthy individuals, essentially meaning they increase as a person ages, regardless of their health. 

For example, Interleukin-6, a marker of inflammation and severe Covid-19, increased with age in both cohorts. IL-6 provokes inflammation in the body, and has been shown to be a predictor of which Covid-19 patients end up needing mechanical ventilation.

At the same time, there was a drop in critical immune cells, such as white blood cells, which are crucial for fighting off the virus in the first place.

The authors, led by Professor Mihai Netea, concluded: ‘Our results suggest the severe Covid-19 immunological profile, represented by changes in cell populations and circulating inflammatory proteins, is already partly present in aged healthy individuals. 

‘Therefore, some of these dysregulations might not be a direct result of the infection but rather an underlying profile that is permissive to a more severe form of the disease.’

In the second study, Radbound University Medical Center researchers tried to answer why males are more susceptible to develop severe infections than women.

They compared men and women in two healthy Western European cohorts to see whether immune parameters connected with Covid-19 severity vary between the sexes.

They detected and quantified the levels of 96 circulating proteins, and also the white blood cell population.

Professor Netea said: ‘We identified several circulating inflammatory proteins and cell populations which might be behind the higher susceptibility of males to develop severe infection and Covid-19 disease.’

Certain white blood cells, including total, naïve, memory T and naïve CD4+ T cell counts, which are reported to decrease with Covid-19 severity, were also lower in healthy males. 

It was found that molecules involved in inflammation, including monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1), that were high in healthy males are also more prevalent in patients in the intensive care unit. 

This indicates that immune mediators that contribute to a more severe Covid-19 infection are already intrinsically higher in males.

The authors conclude: ‘Sex is one of the major factors which influence our immune system response. 

‘Our results suggest that differences between the sexes in the baseline characteristics of the immune system… might explain the predisposition of males to develop severe Covid-19 infection.’

Both studies were presented at the virtual ESCMID Conference on Coronavirus Disease today.

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The experts, led by Ms Mulchandani, studied 3,000 key workers in total in three groups.

Some 1,546 healthcare workers at six acute NHS hospitals and 1,147 workers from two police and fire and rescue sites across England were group A and B.

The third group, group C, were 154 healthcare workers who had previously had a positive test for Covid-19. 

They were used as the control group to assess the strength of the antibodies used in the study.

The Roche Elecsys and EUROIMMUN tests had 96.6 per cent and 93.3 per cent sensitivity respectively, meaning between 93 and 96 of 100 people who have the virus get a positive result back, and the rest get a negative one. 

Participants were asked if they thought they had suffered Covid-19 in the past based on their symptoms over the course of three months.

Researchers compared this with the results from antibody testing, considered to be highly accurate. 

Out of 2,847 participants, 943 (33 per cent) said they believe they had had Covid-19 based on their symptoms.

However, the researchers found that 466 (49 per cent) of the 943 individuals tested negative on antibodies, suggesting ‘it is very unlikely they had had Covid-19’.

Their symptoms would have been due to other conditions or viruses. 

But it was summer, when there are fewer respiratory viruses circulating. Therefore, in the winter months, when illnesses due to common bugs increase, including the flu, there may be even more people worried they have Covid-19. 

Those testing negative typically reported that their symptoms started earlier and lasted for a shorter amount of time, compared to those who actually had antibodies.

They also were less likely to report a loss of taste and smell — a symptom of Covid-19 that took several months to be added to the official NHS list. 

Key workers who did test positive for antibodies also tended to report having tell-tale symptoms when crisis in the UK took hold in March. 

Another interesting finding was that of those who had antibodies, only 68 per cent reported having Covid-19 symptoms, meaning 32 per cent showed no signs. 

The findings were presented at the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Conference on Coronavirus Disease (ECCVID).

Ms Mulchandani said there is ‘potentially a high proportion of people who think they have had Covid-19’, which might have ‘significant implications going into the “second wave”.     

The Health Secretary Matt Hancock has previously warned Britons to not get a test unless they have symptoms because the system is strained.

He said increasing numbers of people in England are seeking tests when they don’t have any Covid-19 symptoms, days before NHS Test and Trace lead Baroness Dido Harding said demand was ‘three or four’ times greater than capacity.

Mr Hancock said ‘inappropriate’ use of the system was making it harder for people who needed tests to get one, citing whole school year groups who had tried to get a test or people checking they are virus-free before they went on holiday.

However, it is not known if the test system has the ability to cope with the hundreds of thousands of people who will have a cough each day this winter. 

At the height of the crisis in March and April, testing was restricted only to those who had symptoms and were critically ill in hospital.

Potentially thousands of people who were showing signs of the disease were never tested because of this and self-isolated just in case.

An estimated 100,000 people were being infected each day at the peak, it is estimated, which includes those who were not showing symptoms.

But testing capacity stood at around only 10,000 in the third week of March, which is when the infection rate was thought to have been at its highest.

Now, Mr Hancock believes around 10,000 people are getting infected a day, which would mean testing capacity of around 260,000 per day is generous enough to cover everybody with symptoms. 

However due to the sheer number of people who get tested ‘just in case’ — which was encouraged by the Government during the summer — there are people with symptoms missing out.

The fiasco has led to a prioritisation system which puts  hospital patients, NHS staff, care home staff and residents at the top. 

Today an expert claimed the UK’s coronavirus testing regime may only be picking up a third of cases in the community due to people being asymptomatic — showing no symptoms. 

The symptoms of Covid-19 compared with the flu

The symptoms of Covid-19 compared with the flu

The symptoms of Covid-19 compared with the flu 

Dr Tang suggested there could be up to an additional 12,000 cases not yet being identified because findings from the Real-Time Assessment of Community Transmission (React-1) study. 

The true proportion of Covid-19 carriers who do not show symptoms is not clear, and only this week two published studies estimated it was just 20 per cent of people that were asymptomatic.

Dr Tang also highlighted that the React-2 study of antibody surveillance results up to the end of June indicated there were around 3.4million Covid-19 cases with antibodies to the virus in the community, whereas PCR-based testing showed only around 280,000 cases in the UK. 

Dr Tang said: ‘Hence just based on these React studies alone, there are many more Covid-19 cases in the community, not being tested by PCR acutely, that can be spreading the virus.

‘This is a very worrying trend and it remains to be seen how the BAME (black, Asian, and minority ethnic) populations are going to be affected (though likely in a similar way).

‘So the more people that can comply with the all the restrictions the better we will control the virus.’  

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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