Endemic Doesn’t Mean Safer

I’ve been interviewed on our local BBC radio station a couple of times recently. This is because a tweet I wrote was picked up by them. It had a photo of my lanyard that makes it clear that I’m still vulnerable to covid. Alongside the photo I’d written a quote from Ghandi: “The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.”

A Lanyard with 'keep your distance in black writing. On the lanyard is a badge that reads "Impaired Immune System, vaccinated but still vulnerable. Please keep your distance.

The Bible also teaches us the same things. We see there how God would have us treat those with any sort of vulnerability, in any form.

All through history, the church have been the first to care, to put things in place for those who were alone, ill or vulnerable.

We still see some of those things today in our food banks, debt counselling, toddler groups and much more.

I hope and pray that the way we treat the vulnerable shows our true measure.

Today, the government is announcing its plan to ‘live with covid’, to see it as endemic in the same way flu is endemic. We don’t know what the exact info will be, but we do know the speculation about what this may entail.

I note they mention flu as the measure of ‘endemic’, not Malaria which is also endemic and kills – even healthy people. There were an estimated 241 million malaria cases in 2020, and malaria deaths increased by 12% compared with 2019, to an estimated 627 000. I’m sure more would be done about that if those figures were reflected in ‘the west’….but I digress!

But here, we know the flu kills. We know it doesn’t kill the otherwise healthy, it kills the vulnerable, the old and the ill. The Flu vaccine helps and has reduced deaths somewhat. But it does still kill.

Lots of people have likened the Omicron variant as ‘just a cold’ and for a healthy person that can be true – although not always. But for those who are clinically vulnerable it is anything but.

With those I know who are vulnerable, if they have caught this ‘mild’ version, then the mildest I have seen it is a very bad case of flu where they can’t get out of bed for a couple of weeks and then the ongoing post viral symptoms for many weeks after. If they are disabled too, then it has had an impact on that disability. The worst have been hospitalised and dealing with significant disability for months later.

Covid hasn’t killed them, but it has been the catalyst for a worsening of pre-existing conditions.

This is where many of us sit at the moment. There are still some who would die from covid and are already looking at having vaccine number 4, because their illness means they cannot retain the protection of those vaccines.

But the majority of us know that covid will probably not kill us – however, it could make our illnesses and disabilities worse, to the point of never being able to work again.

Let me use myself as an example:

In May 2019 I had a viral throat infections with a week of temperatures over 41oC (Even on Paracetamol). It took me months to get over that.

In Nov 2019 I had pneumonia. My temperature and heart rate was so high I ended up in A&E on an antibiotic drip. It took 2 months for my temperature to get back to normal and a further two years to recover….to a point. It left me even more disabled than I was. Plus, my formally mild asthma is now very unstable.

So……what do you think Covid would do?

I am not on my own in this. Millions of us know what infections do to us, but we are labelled as fearful, anxious, worrying about nothing.

We’re not anxious without cause – we’re actually being pragmatic about the situation. We know from our histories what could happen.

Many of us could cope to a certain point when people had to self isolate and masks were being worn. It gave us some confidence to go out – and I had started to go out a little more were I knew the risks were low.

The expected/possible announcements today leaves me in a quandary. Not so much in the day to day (It’s our 26th wedding anniversary this week, and we will still go out to celebrate – because we know where we are going will still be safe).

BUT, I have work to do, festivals and conferences I need to go to – to do my work. As every restriction is lifted, I’m wavering between the confident ‘I can do this!’, to ‘is this sensible?’ to being angry if I decide it’s a risk to far….just because I can’t trust other people to be sensible.

A large part of me is so fed up with people telling me they are vulnerable but decided just to get on with it, I’m ‘almost’ tempted to get out there, catch it and go out with a bang. Then I could have the pleasure of costing the government a lot of money because I can no longer work and need more hospital time (Good luck with both of those things by the way!) But at least I could knit and crochet all day….actually – no, I couldn’t, it would affect the ability to do that too.

If you are not vulnerable – I’m pleased for you, but remember there are still millions of people who are. If you see us wearing a mask – don’t call us idiots (as some have done), and if you see any of us wearing a lanyard that states we are still vulnerable – please don’t give us a lecture on anxiety. We know our disabilities and conditions, you don’t.

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