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Covid-19 patient receiving treatment. When the writer contracted the disease, he did not require hospitalisation but suffered severely for the duration (photo: Mufid Majnun/unsplash.com).

Surviving Covid – and learning the lessons

When he recently contributed a piece on why we should avoid hospitals, hospital worker Brian Bostock confided that he had no direct experience of Covid-19. Now he has, and it was not an experience he wants to repeat.

Imagine being so cold that it hurts. Imagine every movement causing pain. Imagine having a very-bad-hangover headache that won’t go away no matter how much water you drink.

Now imagine having them all together.

Some of you may remember my piece at the end of December, proudly stating that I had not had Covid and didn’t know anyone that had had it either; well, the chickens came home to roost just five days later when my son tested positive for coronavirus, and I tested positive on New Year’s Day, six days after that.

Now, I have had my fair share of infections – salmonella will never be forgotten – but nothing like the unremitting pain and fever of a coronavirus infection. All of the standard remedies for a fever failed me – paracetamol and ibuprofen did work, insofar as they kept my temperature down to “only” two or three degrees above normal, though still well into the range of fever territory – even as a nurse religiously alternating timed doses, it was tough going.

The writer urges us to continue being cautious.

Especially at night, although I knew I was burning up, I had to have three duvets on to stop feeling so terribly cold that I would have pain, and should a limb fall out of the covers whilst I was asleep it was the pain that would wake me up. The relief when the fever broke after about ten days and I woke up soaked in sweat from head to toe felt like the end of purgatory.

Deadly and debilitating

I am free from the infection now but have been left with an ongoing niggling cough – which my excellent GP tells me they can do nothing about. Fortunately, I did not have any pre-existing health conditions, and as a friend of mine rather generously described me as a “young, fit man” (one out of those three is correct), that it was such a tough time, required a little self-nursing knowledge and has left its mark, shows why this virus is as deadly and debilitating as it is.

So, I am very pleased to see the roll-out of the vaccine going so well, and it is no surprise to me that it is going so well bearing in mind the Government have nothing to do with it – yes, you read that right. On this occasion the NHS has been left alone to do its job, rather than outsourcing it, as in the case of Test & Trace, to the private sector at a cost possibly as high as £22bn this financial year.

Thanks to an effective lockdown we are seeing the number of cases falling and, importantly, the number of hospital admissions falling too – but this does not mean that the risks are significantly less. Vaccination is just one strand and so far has only fully covered 1% of the population – yes, you read that right – because whilst a first vaccination has been given to over 17m people it is only once they have received a second dose that they can reasonably and clinically be considered vaccinated.

Vaccinations are not magic bullets that will make you immune as soon as you have had the jab because the body takes times to analyse and react to the vaccine and to produce antibodies in the right numbers to provide protection.

I read a range of comments from people either praising the vaccine because of its minimal if not absent side effects to complaining about the severity of the side effects. It is an interesting (if you’re a clinical nerd like me, anyway) outcome of having the vaccine that demonstrates this point about antibodies quite nicely – if you do not react to the vaccine this demonstrates that you had no immunity to the virus. None. Nada.

Conversely, those who have a strong reaction likely already have the antibodies circulating and ready to go to war – either that or their immune systems are already highly tuned. You might recall my last article saying about the body’s reaction to the virus being the cause of a good deal of the more dangerous symptoms but that it takes time for the system to recognise that there is a problem.

Slow release

I am saying this because it is important to remember that immunity is not assured by one dose of the vaccine and that it is not immediate, it takes time, and so, in a rare departure from my usual state, I find that I am fully supportive of the Government stance of slowly releasing us all from lockdown and assuring us that the gateways to further relaxing will be data driven.

We have to be cautious. We have to be guided by what the data is telling us, not what is popular or good for shopping, pubs or walks in the park. We have to take our time and ease out of lockdown because if there is one thing that this virus has taught us it is that it will take any opportunity offered to resurge, and with every resurgence comes the opportunity for the virus to mutate again into something even more contagious, even more deadly or, scarily, unaffected by the vaccines available – and yes, you read that right. Each new strain reported in the news is a new mutation with new challenges.

So please – I know how long it has been and how tough it has been to stay indoors almost continuously for a year, but we need to do things right if we are going to see an end to restrictions altogether. Stay indoors unless you have to go out. Please don’t mix in groups even if you have had the vaccine. Take care of yourselves and each other, and with luck we can all have ice-cream on the beach this summer.

Otherwise, I might be writing another piece next year on why we are all still in lockdown and the vaccines couldn’t deliver on the hope that they offered – and yes, you read that right too.

 

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Posted 17:09 Thursday, Feb 25, 2021 In: Covid-19

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