I am going to start the year with an off topic blog that covers my experience of Covid-19 and the research and development being done by the NHS and specifically my outstanding local hospital Royal Surrey NHS Trust in Guildford.
I am still recovering from COVID-19 one month after infection and spent 6 days in hospital over the New Year. My wife and son also caught COVID-19 and had significant symptoms but thankfully did not need hospital treatment. I am incredibly grateful to all involved in our treatment.
It is uncertain how exactly I contracted COVID-19. But the odds are it was around celebrating my fiftieth birthday within the COVID-19 rules at that point in time. A very normal thing to do but with hindsight not worth a month and counting of serious illness. Alternatively, it could have been the supermarket with a mask a careful hand sanitizing. At that point in time the measures taken earlier in 2020 by supermarkets to control numbers and one-way systems were not in place. After my last supermarket shop before I was symptomatic, I did remark to my wife on my return how bad things were compared to the discipline of earlier in the year.
Treatment of COVID-19.
This remains testing as no “magic bullet” exists. The support of being on oxygen was critical to my recovery from COVID-19 pneumonia. Blood thinning injections were also important to prevent blood clots in my lungs. Largely the body must fight the disease, the virus is persistent, and appears to attack the body in several ways. My blood oxygen dropped to as low as 80%. I was told 92% or below was the benchmark for a 999 call. Normal levels vary from person to person but are around 98% plus.
NHS Research and COVID-19.
I know a little bit about R&D so to me the value of this was obvious 😊. New knowledge or capability in a field of science or technology. None could be more important at this time.
I agreed to be part of a therapeutic drug trial at the suggestion of my consultant. I could have potentially been given 4 additional treatments, being a trial there is a degree of a lottery about which drugs you are given. I was given Aspirin (Blood thinner), Colchicine (an anti inflammatory drug used for gout), and Convalescent Plasma (Plasma from recovered people with COVID-19 antibodies).
Interestingly, I felt the Plasma gave me a significant boost. My blood test results showed significant infection. But this seemed only short term so was maybe just wishful thinking from the most “substantial” treatment of the three. I encourage blood donations in this area and apparently a shortage of male donors exists. But I read that the some expert view are that this treatment is not effective.
What I learned from the experience.
Normal life v COVID-19- Despite all the concerns of modern life truly little matters more than breathing. It is the most fundamental human need. COVID-19 attacks your lungs. I understand where many interest groups and business owners come from in demanding a faster return to normal life. I understand that everyone has had enough. But you cannot always get what you want. Breathing matters more. People need to be careful beyond government guidelines and not always pushing the boundaries of the rules. As a minimum the rules should be followed.
Drug Trails– I understand the urge not to have more treatments. I was black and blue from injections and blood draws. I intensely dislike injections of any kind. But I would encourage patients to contribute to these drug trials if asked. They may help you and the data will help future treatment approaches. If you have had and recovered from COVID-19 please consider a blood donation.
The advice about ending isolation from a COVID-19 positive is not the best from all sources. I think a risk exists here of continued spread. The track and trace app and associated phone calls appear to focus on a rigid number of days and not on symptoms. They sent me a text message saying my isolation could end on my second day in hospital. I was infectious then. The key point here must be the absence of symptoms not a rigid number of days. I do not think this always comes across in all the Government information and process. After conflicting advice I took a decision to have tests for all my family a month after the initial positives and we were all negative. But I still have a cough that is not going away. So even with symptoms some may be show infection others may be post infection and after affect of the disease.
Please support the NHS, stay safe, and take individual responsibility in fighting this awful disease. We cannot ignore COVID-19 and see the NHS overwhelmed. Being cautious rather than rushing back to normality will control the disease more effectively. It is playing Russian Roulette if you think COVID-19 will not impact you much. Being cavalier about precautions helps the disease spread.
Christopher Toms – Director RandDTax.