A long view on covid19

ON FRIDAY, the harrowing story of Roland McIntosh, who survived a particularly difficult covid19 infection, raised the veil on the reality that thousands will face after an encounter with the virus.

In Newsday's story, McIntosh described the challenges he faced during his illness, which stretched to six weeks at the Couva Hospital – and for months after.

For three of those weeks, McIntosh could not get out of his bed and breathed bottled oxygen continuously.

Eight months later, he still has trouble breathing.

Recovering patients may experience complications resulting from damage to the heart, lungs and brain. Some may bounce back and be able to continue normal lives, but for many, the not dead but "badly wounded" of the virus's reign, recovery will be slow and difficult.

For a few, the victims of what has been described as "long covid," symptoms may continue for more than two months after recovery.

As many as one in ten recovering patients are at risk of long covid. One study in March found long covid symptoms in 27 per cent of patients who were not hospitalised, but in as many as 75 per cent of hospitalised patients.

These include chest pain, joint pain, shortness of breath, brain fog, muscle pain, headaches, loss of smell and taste, sleep issues and difficulty concentrating.

The scientific study of the consequences of the virus's attack on the body is still too brief to gauge how long covid19 may continue to affect a patient.

The University of Leicester in the UK studied 1,000 patients who needed hospital treatment for covid19 and found that 17.8 per cent were no longer working five months after discharge. Another 19.3 per cent experienced a "health-related" change to their work circumstances.

There have been many reasons offered for vaccination, and this is a compelling one.

Vaccination doesn't make the body impervious to infection by covid19. It only prepares it to resist the virus more effectively, reducing the damage that the infection causes.

The brutal truth is that covid19 is likely to become endemic, its presence persisting for years, and the response to it must become more sustained, robust and effective.

We are all, most likely, going to get covid19.

All the work invested in promoting social distancing and mask-wearing is a way of minimising contact to buy time for science to offer a better response to a virus that has demonstrated how pernicious, relentless and dangerous it can be.

Covid19 won't be over until it's over, and that's going to take a very long time.

In the wake of its major waves, TT must prepare to manage and help the patients who recover poorly from it and make adjustments to weave them into the fabric of society.


"A long view on covid19"

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