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It could get worse again before it gets better

Having taken part in a number of conversations about the progress of the coronavirus pandemic over the last few days, I can say this for a fact: the more one learns about both ‘the science’ and the various ways in which governments around the world have been – and are – dealing with it, the more the problem it presents seems endlessly complicated and the less impressive the way Boris and his merrie men have dealt with it from the start right up to now becomes.

As a Rust contributor, of course, it was inevitable that I was likely to be in at least one if not more of the ‘at risk’ categories whether I liked it or not.

“Oldies” are one of these, of course, but the advice and guidance given over time has changed and/or varied a fair amount.

Originally, as I recall it, those over 80 – and/or in care homes – were in a ‘high risk’ group.

I don’t think anyone would have justifiably quibbled at the news. After all, according to official statistics, not only is the current average lifespan of a Brit (of any gender) apparently 80.9 years but the average period someone spends as a resident/inmate of a British care home is two years.

Let’s be honest, brutal logic would therefore have it that anyone over the age of eighty and living in a care home – if the virus doesn’t come and get them prematurely first – is fairly unlikely to make it to their eighty-third birthday. That’s not to be disrespectful to Colonel Sir Tom Moore or anyone else who is still soldiering on beyond the day they get their telegram (or is it card) from the Queen for making it to three figures.

With this age thing, what’s confused me – and by the way I’m 68, 69 later this year if I last that long – is that over time the ‘science’ (or is it Matt Hancock, Public Health England or one of the various doctors who regularly appear in the media?) has been somewhat confusing as to when ‘age’ becomes a ‘high risk’ issue.

I’ve seen or heard 80 [see above] … 75 … 65 and ever 50-plus mentioned at different times.

Regular readers may remember the recent incident when, having cocked up my research as to its opening time, I pitched up at my local major supermarket at about 7.15am and was instantly “waved through” by the young female staffer on duty. And then my later reaction of outrage and indignation when I discovered that at the time the queue for “normal people” waiting to be admitted at 8.00am had been growing outside and – presumably based entirely on my appearance – I had been let in during the period reserved exclusively for ‘key workers’ and “Over 70” oldies!

Besides age, of course, there are several other ‘high risk’ categories – for example, people with cancer and other illness or conditions in circumstances where their immune system has become, whether naturally, by design or as a side effect of treatment, either severely depleted or completely ‘shot’; those with lung conditions and/or respiratory complications; those who have had an organ transplant; those with serious conditions such as SCID or sickle cell; those who are pregnant; and those with serious heart conditions.

In addition to those listed, we also know that those from the BAME community have been especially susceptible to coronavirus infection, possibly in part because of genetics, but also potentially for socio-economic and/or community or cultural-related issues and, of course, the propensity to which they occupy “front line” medical and/or caring jobs.

All of which brings me to the point of my post today.

In opening I referred to the fact that nothing ever seems certain with this pandemic.

One chat I had with a neighbour yesterday was about what might happen in the autumn when – howsoever things have been progressing by then as regards our tentative steps in emerging from the lockdown and “getting back to work” (if not “normal”) in the meantime – the UK’s annual ‘flu crisis swings into action.

As my fellow conversationalist put it; “How are we to know – if one day we should wake up with a runny nose … a bit of a cough … and/or a headache as well – whether we’ve just picked up a dose of ‘flu, or suddenly got the virus, or even nothing at all?”

His point was that, whichever of those it might be – unless there was an accurate, swift and easy-to-administer testing regime in place – arguably one might have to report oneself, self-isolate and/or get in touch with everyone one had come into contact with … and get them to self-isolate for 14 days.

Plus – for good measure – if, having been tested and had it confirmed that one has had the virus in the past, and thereby gained some degree of immunity for some period of time … how long was that for? Was it variable as between individuals, or was it for a month … three months … or forever?

The consensus was that there were a lot of unknowns and indeed uncertainties involved. And likely chaos, too, if whole offices-worth of company workers had to be isolated overnight for a fortnight because one of them had woken up with a sniffle one morning.

Quite separately this morning, on the website of the Daily Mail, I came across a report on the latest findings from a research study conducted by West Virginia University in the USA which has concluded that there is a brand new additional ‘high risk’ category – see here for a link to the article – DAILY MAIL

Sometimes, it seems, in life it never rains but it pours.

Faced with this latest revelation, I have found it necessary to take some basic precautions in order to protect myself from identified as belonging to this new ‘high risk’ category …

About J S Bird

A retired academic, Jeremy will contribute article on subjects that attract his interest. More Posts