Expert opinion on the implications of COVID-19 and discussion of research in the field.
25 MAY 2020
There are times when I read things that horrify me. At other times reading is fun. My horror began in 2005, a long time before Covid-19 had been considered as a possible threat to mankind. It was an article written by an engineering organisation about biosafety laboratories.I cannot recall why I was reading it. The 9/11 attacks, followed by an anthrax-mailing campaign one week later, had encouraged the US government to invest more in biological research. There was talk of constructing BSL-4 (BioSafety Laboratory-4) research laboratories, establishments that are supposed to be as secure as they get. It was here that I learned that the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) was proud that after 634,500 personnel hours in BSL-3 facilities, the next layer of security down, there had only been 11 staff exposed to three treatable infections.
22 MAY 2020
Sometimes, what I see forces me to double take, especially as we Londoners are being reassured that life is inching better. For so long I have heard the sound of ambulances in the background as yet another sad case of Covid-19 is fast-tracked to hospital. Those are fewer now, as the capital’s hospital admissions are steadily declining. Today I saw no ambulance, but I did see a hearse outside a house. The sight brought it home that so much of what my country has been doing, over the past few months, has been to stop folk from dying. Today was evidence of failure, there have been plenty of those in past weeks, as another unfortunate had chosen to die at home. The hearse was my reminder that there is still a way to go.
21 MAY 2020
Well I have done it. I managed to escape from London. Just for a day, as I needed to get back, but I had to make it to Cumbria to see a house, which gave me a chance to view life outside the metropolis. Amazingly, I have discovered that there is an existence beyond the capital’s boundaries and that people other than Londoners exist. They are actually quite pleasant and are not a different species at all. My brain has definitely drifted since lockdown started all those weeks ago. I have lived a solitary existence. I have talked but not met. I have greeted but not hugged. I have shouted rather than spoken. I have gone to meetings by looking at tiny faces looking sallow and exhausted on my computer screen. I have discussed, argued, cajoled and begged on my mobile, seemingly for hours each day. Body language has gone. Voice language is the way of things, both for now and likely for the future. Life in lockdown is unreal.
19 MAY 2020
Every morning, when I go for my regular stagger-stumble, I meet many of the same people in roughly the same spot. I do not know who they are, nor do they know me, but we wave, nod, smile, and exchange brief pleasantries. With social distancing in full throttle, it is not possible to have a quiet word with anyone these days. Everything is conducted at a shout. There is the elderly woman, probably younger than me, who passes in the opposite direction each day. She has a spring to her step, walks at a fearsome pace, and we exchange, “Good morning!” at speed. She smiles, I smile, but neither of us has a clue about the other. I sometimes wonder if one day we will meet more formally yet realise it is unlikely to happen.
19 MAY 2020
BLOOD clotting increases have been observed in patients with COVID-19, which raises their risk of conditions such as stroke. Based on international research on the link between stroke and COVID-19, a team of stroke experts developed recommendations for the evaluation of patients with acute ischaemic stroke with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection. The international panel comprised stroke experts from 18 countries with documented COVID-19 outbreaks and was led by Prof Adnan I. Qureshi, University of Missouri School of Medicine, Columbia, Missouri, USA. Evidence found by the research team showed that ischaemic stroke with clots in the arteries of the brain are being experienced by young people who do not have previous risk factors for stroke; this is thought to be related to the patient having a COVID-19 infection. The average onset of stroke in patients with COVID-19 occurred on Day 10 of infection; however, in some cases stroke was the initial symptom of a COVID-19 infection.
18 MAY 2020
I received a message today from a good friend in Scandinavia. He has spent the last four weeks recovering from Covid-19. His message was very simple: “I hope you are well and please stay away from Covid-19 – it is a tough one!” The poor guy, who is normally extraordinarily fit, has been put through his paces with the virus. He is now through and out the other side but, by all accounts, it was a close one. When good friends are affected, and even more so family, it brings home the importance of social distancing and the need for this thing called “quarantine”. The media these days is filled with talk about quarantine for new arrivals from overseas and how this may lead to the death of the travel industry. The word on the street is that by the end of this month, anyone arriving in the UK from any country, apart from the Republic of Ireland, will have to self-isolate in a private residence for 14 days.
17 MAY 2020
Now I know. I have a 37% chance of catching Covid-19 and a 3.621% chance of dying from it. This must be true as my computer says so. It also says, to make me feel optimistic and with my glass half full, that I have a 98.66% chance of survival. I think I will go with that. The Covid-19 survival calculator is seeing big business, as the nation decides its chances of popping off. The tool has been designed by University College London and has used data from 3.8 million health records. Its conclusions are based on the assumptions that in England there will be an infection rate of 10%, and that 20% of people have a high-risk condition. I am unsure about either of these assumptions but at least I know I have more chance of staying alive than of popping off.
16 MAY 2020
I looked at my watch today. It is one of those analogue designs that has hour and minute hands, plus a tiny window that reminds me of the date. This morning the date declared it to be 15 May. I looked at the number several times, sure that I was misreading. Yet the number was clear. My left wrist was certain it was yesterday. I had, of course, simply forgotten to change the date more than two weeks ago, when April with 30 days became May with 31.
15 MAY 2020
It is difficult to understand body language when I look at a government politician, as they are well trained to avoid that degree of inspection. Yet if I had to take a stab at the Health Secretary’s thoughts this evening, throughout the 1700 hours Downing Street briefing, I would say he was sounding unsettled. As he spoke, a brief newsflash came across the screen, that scientific advisers had said the virus transmission rate had increased. Then came the R number, which had previously had a maximum value of 0.9. It had risen to a value of 1.0.
06 MAY 2020
My eldest daughter is living with cystic fibrosis. I have experienced first-hand what it means to get a diagnosis, and to organise day-to-day medical care and self-care, as well as the reality of what it means to build a holistic approach to that care so that she can live to her full potential…
28 APRIL 2020
I am not a fatalist, I do not believe things happen for a reason, but I do believe we can find reason in the things that happen. In 1815, Mount Tambora erupted and caused global climactic changes…
23 APRIL 2020
We interviewed clinical embryologist Prof George Anifandis, who discussed some of the key advances and challenges in reproductive medicine and delineated how COVID-19 has impacted fertility treatment and the effects it may have on in vitro fertilisation outcomes…
21 APRIL 2020
‘Put your mask on first before you take care of others…’ When it comes to leadership during a crisis, this aeroplane saying has become strikingly fitting…
> How a ‘Portable’ Intervention (Deep Diaphragmatic Breathing) Could Help Clinicians in the Time of Stress Related to the COVID-19 Pandemic
08 APRIL 2020
At a time of uncertainty and fear during the COVID-19 pandemic, medical practitioners experience major unexpected changes in the working environment and their own personal lives…
02 APRIL 2020
In this special episode, Spencer interviews an NHS doctor on the frontline of COVID-19 and a patient who has just recovered from the virus, unpacking this unprecedented situation from both perspectives.
01 APRIL 2020
In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in Cyprus. Suddenly, our lives and our way of life has been affected in an unprecedented way…
31 MARCH 2020
DOMINATING headlines since January has been coronavirus and its global spread. Geographical knowledge has been sharpened by daily maps bleeding red further across borders, and the average person has become…
27 MARCH 2020
REMOTE communication tools have flourished following the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus, keeping individuals informed and united across the globe. Information providers NHS Digital and NHSX are making headway with a range of digital solutions for tracking, diagnostics, and management of the disease…
26 MARCH 2020
Love in the Time of Cholera, the widely known 1985 novel by one of my favourite authors, Gabriel García Márquez, primarily details the affairs of three main characters, their obligations and acts, both good and bad…
> Vaccines for COVID-19: Perspectives, Prospects, and Challenges Based on Candidate SARS, MERS, and Animal Coronavirus Vaccines
24 MARCH 2020
Several coronaviruses (CoV) are widespread in humans and cause only mild upper respiratory infections and colds; however, pandemic outbreaks of more severe coronavirus infections in humans have become more prevalent…
09 MARCH 2020
Following the coronavirus outbreak, European congress attendance is down and events are being postponed. We sit down with Professor Jonathan Sackier to dispel the myths around the virus and discuss why it’s important for pharma to find alternative ways of sharing their research.
06 MARCH 2020
In light of the rapid developments of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) epidemic in China, a panel of experts came together on 12th February at the Royal College of Physicians in London, UK. The experts discussed current data on COVID-19 and the measures being taken by Public Health England (PHE)….
26 FEBRUARY 2020
New cases of coronavirus are appearing in all corners of the world and the disease is now on the brink of becoming a pandemic. Along with schools, offices, and cruise liners in quarantine, travel is being monitored and restricted in many countries to avoid further spread…
24 FEBRUARY 2020
CORONAVIRUS disease 2019 (COVID-19), a pandemic currently gripping the world, has accentuated the need for novel approaches to treat outbreaks caused by new viruses…