Back in February 2020, when the pandemic broke out, I remember how concerned everyone was. The lovely messages I received, friends asking for advice. I remember the horror when I shared a post about the army lorries taking away the dead from hospitals in Bergamo. I remember how our community on Facebook kept me going when the future was so uncertain.
And then in 2021, governments began declaring that the pandemic was over. For whatever reason, they were lying. They lied that kids couldn’t get COVID, that schools were safe, that Omicron was mild, that we could go back to living like it was 2019 again.
What hurts the most is that people believed it. After only a few weeks of lockdowns (that weren’t really lockdowns), and a few months of wearing masks, they couldn’t wait to get back on planes, go to concerts, or eat in restaurants. I watched, horrified, as everyone partied.
The problem, for me and many others like me, isn’t the return to normal – it’s the return to normal without any mitigations. I can’t eat in restaurants anyway, due to my autoimmune disease (which I got after catching EBV in 2014 – Epstein Barr Virus, or glandular fever as you’ll probably know it). I can’t plan holidays as I never know if I’ll be well enough to go, and crowds make me nervous. What I, and every clinically vulnerable person, do object to is being forced into a personal lockdown because everyone around us has decided that their needs are the only important thing. It’s ableist, and it means that many will go without the medical help they desperately need because health care is too dangerous right now.
I watched, horrified, because I know first-hand what a well-known virus can do to a person’s immune system. The medical and scientific people I follow on Twitter warned that dropping all protections would create more variants, that we didn’t know what could happen to people infected with COVID.
Well, now we do. COVID is a vascular disease that affects the heart, lungs, and other organs. It causes blood clots, strokes and heart attacks. There is scientific evidence of this, there are plenty of articles out there. Vaccines do not prevent you from catching COVID, they help alleviate the symptoms to some extent, and hopefully keep you out of hospital. They were never meant to be the only approach to learning to live with COVID. Masks, air purifiers with HEPA filters, smart working and online schooling would have put us in a much different position today.
But here we are. How can we sit here and hope for a better 2023, when this past year has been a complete disaster and everyone is getting more and more sick? I won’t be saying happy new year, or crossing my fingers that everything will miraculously reset at midnight on 1st January. It won’t. It can’t. Not unless enough people decide to do what is right for humanity. And I’m betting they won’t.
My heart aches for those who have lost loved ones this year, for those who broke down and cried on Christmas Day, piles of unopened presents the terrible reminder of children lost to all the viruses over the last few months.
As a clinically vulnerable person, I am full of fear for what 2023 will bring. There are no protections anywhere, many countries will stop reporting COVID cases, COVID deaths will no longer be counted. The situation in China is truly terrifying, and we will regret that they gave up their strict approach to COVID. And things aren’t much better in the UK and US. Everyone will continue to get sick, many will be left disabled, many will die, and for what? Ask yourself why governments want us to ‘live with the virus’, forcing kids into schools that could offer more protections with a minimal cost (air purifiers in every class, meals outside when possible, wearing masks are just a few ways), forcing adults into similar situations in offices, when they could easily work from home, removing protections from hospitals and care homes. I don’t have the answer as to why they’re doing this; I only watch in disbelief as more ‘infect everyone’ policies are laid out.
I don’t believe people would shop less, or that the economy would nosedive, if they have to wear masks. Quite the opposite – a healthy population works better and spends more. The virus is adapting to evade the latest vaccines; it can’t adapt to evade a mask or an air purifier.
There have been so many unnecessary deaths this year, which could have been avoided with more protections and care. Look at the amount of celebrity deaths (the Queen had COVID several months before her death, and was heard to say she hadn’t felt well since then), check your local newspapers for ‘sudden deaths’, take notice of how many people are mourning loved ones on Facebook. This is not normal, it has never been like this.
People’s immune systems have been weakened by repeated COVID infections. The virus destroys T-cells, which are essential for your body’s immune defences. This makes everyone, especially kids, more vulnerable to other viruses. Another hypothesis for the surge in people going to A&E is that there is a new variant of COVID, which tests are unable to pick up. Whatever it is, children are dying. Adults are dying. This is going on all over the world, including Sweden, which never had a lockdown, so no ‘immunity debt’ there.
I’ve shared so many posts on Facebook, articles and screenshots from Twitter, all of which have mostly been ignored. I hope that some people will read this, look around and see what is actually happening in the world, and modify their habits to help protect not only themselves, but others who are not as fortunate to have their health. How many people are you prepared to lose personally? How many people could you infect when you go out maskless with your ‘cold’? Do you care?
If you do, then please make those changes. Wear a mask – an N95 worn properly is best (surgical masks have too many gaps and don’t give enough protection). Insist your child’s school puts air purifiers in every classroom. Insist on being allowed to work from home if possible. Keep your child home if they’re sick, regardless of the school’s attendance policy. Use air purifiers in your own home, and wear a mask if sick. Stop attending ‘super spreader’ events such as concerts and conferences – or insist they have a masking policy or at the very least an online option, which would enable vulnerable people, or those who don’t wish to catch COVID, to attend. If enough people do this, the powers in charge will have to listen. This is your future, and your children’s future.