Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Covid Thoughts and Questions


It’s permanent, isn’t it? I think a lot of people are missing the big point about the switch from containment to delay. The failure of containment means Covid19 is with us permanently. As the years and decades pass, this is likely to kill millions. Tens of millions. Maybe hundreds of millions.

I keep hearing people comparing the number of daily Covid19 deaths  to other causes of death, trivialising the disease somewhat. Imagine a person standing in the path of a tsunami, as the wave makes first contact with people on the beach, suggesting that as only a couple of people have been killed, there are many other things we should really be worried about.

When a vaccine is developed, will it be as effective as the smallpox one and eradicate the disease? Or will it be similar to the flu vaccine and just help keep the disease in check?

Mortality rates are high given how contagious the disease is. Really high for the over 80s at 15 to 20%. But what I wanted to know, is how high they are for my age group. It turns out that it’s a reassuringly low 0.4%. I’m real glad I quit smoking last year though.

Covid19 has come to my town. Three confirmed cases so far. I walked past Clarks in Poole on Monday and was surprised it was closed. It turns out one of the staff has it.

Mrs P works for a large US corporation. They have been edgy about the virus for weeks. An infected person walked in for an interview a few days ago. They are now terrified.

If I am going to get the virus, I’d like to get it now. To be one of the early cases, before the ICU beds fill up. It’s unlikely I’ll need that level of care, but still…I’d like to think it would be available. 

The world has changed, hasn’t it? For the third time in my adult life. There was the post 9/11 world. Then the post Brexit world. Now we have the post Covid19 world.

If I were going to start a conspiracy theory, who would I blame? In the tradition of most theories, I’d suggest we ‘follow the money’. Who’s going to make a killing out of this? Netflix. Millions of people in self isolation with nothing to do, signing up. And then there’s the smash hit Netflix Original documentary in a years time, with hitherto unknown details about the disease. And there’s a reason Netflix and only Netflix have this information…

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

The Brexit Virus

Several thousand EU nurses and doctors have left the UK since the referendum and newly registered EU nurses are down nearly 90% The NHS was short of nurses to start with. It seems likely that in the coming months, thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of elderly Brits are going to contract COVID19 and require urgent medical care. The disease has at least a 15% mortality rate in the over 80s. But there won’t be enough doctors and nurses to help them. Not all of them.

Many of them will likely suffer more than they needed too. Some will likely die. Some of them will be people who voted Leave and have spent three years scoffing at the suggestion that they didn’t know what they voted for. But I can’t help but wonder, as they teeter on the brink between life and death, if some of them will perhaps regret their decision to send all those EU nurses packing. I suspect some of them might conclude that they didn’t know what they were voting for after all.

This is no time for ‘I told you so’ scoldings, and wishing death on anyone as punishment for the way they voted is just plain wrong. But it does highlight one of the arguments I made in favour of Remain. An argument that few people I put it to could quite grasp. I’d simply ask, how many unnecessary deaths is an acceptable price to pay for Brexit?

Politics is a game of consequence. People live and die according to policy implementation. In times of economic hardship, deaths are an inevitable consequence. Infants who do not receive the proper medical care in cash strapped hospitals, children in abusive homes who are not rescued by underfunded social services. People lose jobs and end up on the streets, leading to drug misuse and early death. There are countless ways to die. We’ll all eventually find our own way out. But we’d all like it to be no earlier than necessary. 

There was - and is -  no question that we’d be better off financially within the EU. So the question should have been asked, and reasoned answers provided. How many unnecessary deaths are an acceptable price of Brexit? But the argument on Brexit in the homes, streets and workplaces of the UK was a tribal one. Us and them. Remain and Leave. People picked a flag and waved it proudly, defiantly and unwaveringly like a fan on the terraces at a football match. Facts be damned. 

The true political consequences of Brexit were always, at best, an afterthought. Something trivial to be dealt with tomorrow. Alas. For many people, the consequences are about to come home to roost in a most unpleasant manner, an awful lot quicker than anyone imagined. And the truth is this. Those Leavers who fall victim to COVID19  and find themselves struggling to receive the care they need, either really didn’t know what they were voting for, or are fucking dedicated to the cause. 

Monday, 9 March 2020

House Crash


Never drink and drive. Stay at home. It’s safer. Unless you were planning on driving your home.

The Virus

A year ago, I’d have paid little attention to the corona virus outbreak beyond concern for the possible cancellation of flights I’m booked on. I’m mid 40s, healthy and pretty robust. Then last September I got a sore throat.

After a couple of days I had a real sore throat so I went to the doctor. Infected tonsils, which I’ve had before. No problem. I got my prescription for antibiotics, downed the first couple and carried on working. A couple of days and I’d be feeling better.A couple of days later, I drove myself to hospital at 3am, barely able to swallow. A couple of days after that I had an ear infection.

I tried another course of antibiotics, but nothing worked. It was a viral infection, not bacterial. A couple of days after that, other parts of my throat and mouth became infected.Two weeks later, I felt a bit better, other than I hadn’t eaten for a long time. Then I started throwing up blood. I think the blood came from burst ulcers in my throat. I was throwing up a couple of times a day.

I had a month off work in all. I lost over two stone in weight. I have never been so ill. Six months on and my throat hasn’t 100% recovered.I’ve developed a new found respect and healthy fear for a virus. I felt pretty mortal. I suddenly understood how a virus can kill. I’d not have liked to have had that and been elderly and frail.

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