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Hi all, Happy New Year and I hope this missive finds you well. Or as I’ve heard, ‘Hope you’re staying out the way, there seems to be a lot of it around lately.’

I have had a stinker of a cold since last week, when I stayed in bed for two days. With my immune system being supressed a cold represents an issue anyway, so I have to try to keep clear of things. Surely an easy task. No COVID as of yet though, although given five of Graces classmates have come out with it today (5/30) this doesn’t fill me with confidence that I will remain clear. Still it’s been a good run of two years.

I was a little worried when more than 200k people were getting COVID a day. According to the news, though, the peak is over as numbers of new patients are falling. Admittedly it’s possibly because the govts new policy is to just not bother with PCR tests if you have a positive lat flow, but maybe it is all done and we can feel safe again. Either way let’s get the isolation days down to five too just to make sure. After all it’s not like people shield anymore. They cancelled that programme last year, with a nice letter saying ‘this programme is finishing and will never be started again because most of the really vulnerable are dead.’ (or something like that). So I feel safer already. After all with 150000 dead just how many more vulnerable or elderly people do we have to worry about now. What, people keep getting older? Well that’s just plain selfish.

Admittedly Omicron is less severe, which I am thankful about. If you’ve had rituximab in the last year (a main plank of my treatment) you are super at risk from COVID, so any less severity is good news. I have included a sample from a study below about how bad rituximab and COVID are to mix, but there are loads of other studies that confirm this. Basically rituximab and COVID = bad.

We conducted a retrospective study of adults across the Mount Sinai Health System diagnosed with COVID-19 who received rituximab for any indication from February 2019 to October 2020. Patients’ baseline characteristics, markers of disease severity, clinical outcomes, and antibody development were examined. Of the 49 patients included in the analysis, 63.2% required hospitalization for COVID-19, 24.5% required an ICU admission, and 32.7% died. 

So as another study concluded A longitudinal study of SARS-CoV-2-infected patients reveals a high correlation between neutralizing antibodies and COVID-19 severity.

Pretty clear that’s not good. Long story short I’ve decided to avoid rituximab for now. I’m rather attached to living and it’s a habit I don’t want to kick yet. Even so, having had rituximab in October and being much more at risk with blood cancer makes me want to avoid Covid where I can.

This does not leave me feeling that happy with the government policy of, let her rip. Or herd immunity. I understand there are economic impacts to lockdowns. I understand that mental health declines and that domestic abuse incidents increase, but really have we done a benefit analyse on that be vulnerable people’s health. I have included here a Facebook comment from one of my friends who is an esteemed doctor about how the government is encouraging spread.

‘This appears to be government strategy. Just let everyone get it. But stopping short of actually letting on duty medical staff directly infect vulnerable patients, which doesn’t have great optics.
There is a perfect storm of government and management underpreparedness, societal expectation of entitlement to normal standard of care, covid warning saturation point and wishful wanting bias in the general public. Omicron is being left to spread and those getting ill in the next month (covid or otherwise) and those whose job it is to treat them, their health is the cost of that.
Maybe that cost will be less than that long term of multiple lock downs.
I agree there’s not a ‘no harm’ way through this, and there is huge detriment to the economy and a surge of, for example, under-reported domestic violence, and huge impact on children and education and mental health by measures to slow spread.
Maybe whoever is doing the thinking for bojo is prioritising what is best for our children.
Or maybe it suits the “covid recovery group” agenda.
Just don’t get ill in the next month. Or be a frontline doctor who finds not treating treatable disease or being thrown under a bus stressful. The hospitals are full and if you have a heart attack it’s roulette as to whether your coronary arteries will be recanalised or you get aspirin and sit in the ambulance park outside A&E for 12 hours infarcting your myocardium.
And if the billions public money that was handed out to mates of tories as ‘profits’ for middlemen and ‘consultancy’ had been spent on staff and beds, this would not be as bad. And if simple inexpensive measures can flatten the omicron curve, that would help. Actively encouraging a massive peak in January does not sound like a good plan to me. I would love to see a 5 year morbidity and cost analysis for what you are suggesting. You may have a point. It may be better in absolute terms. But who is going to tell the patients with curable cancer that they can’t have treatment because there are no beds this month?

So you can, perhaps, see why I’m a little unhappy about the state of affairs. I mean if we read the papers everything is fine right? Let’s just ignore the NHS slowly sliding into a pile of bleach smelling dead bodies and rubble over the last ten years.

On the plus side what remains of the NHS seems to be looking out for me, as best they can. I got recommended to not go into hospital last week, even though I hit a fever of 38.5 (although previously this would have sent me in) as it’s safer at home at the moment. Also they’ve sent me a PCR test to keep at home, just in case, so I can take that if I get symptoms. If I am positive they will send me out the new pills that reduce the chance of going to hospital by 70%.

Finally they are pretty close to having a new infusion approved if antibodies, so people who don’t make their own can get COVID protection for around six months. That’s pretty good news.

But make no mistake, this is the NHS doing what it can to save lives whilst at the same time it has over one in six parts of it declaring critical emergencies. Lives will be lost that could, and should, have been saved. Loved ones will get cancer and not be treated quickly enough to stop it’s spread. People who could have had minor surgery to resolve issues will wait a year until it is major surgery, or simply too late. With ten years or real terms cuts to the NHS, a govt who has no idea of what it is doing and 150000 dead, surely it could have been handled better than this? Maybe not. After all I hear sometimes a nice party is better than social distancing and listening to your own rhetoric.

So anyway I’m hiding in my room now until covid has finished ripping through my daughter’s class. After all, we just have to learn to live with it now. As always we are all in it together. Except the Tory elite who seem to be able to do what they want in their mansions paid for by expensive contracts given to their mates to line both of their pockets. We can’t look at the negotiations though, they didn’t record it. Just like they don’t seem to want to record the true covid numbers with PCR tests anymore. I guess we can just ignore things we don’t like. Like the truth. And the elderly and vulnerable. And the NHS. After all, what do they matter when you’ve already bought off the watchdogs and the independent monitors of corruption and made your quick million here and there.