Cairo 2001

Twenty years ago, I went to Egypt with a friend. First stop was Cairo for a week, then Sharm el Sheikh for a few nights. It was hot, at times exceeding 45 degrees Celsius. My friend is a red head with freckles and he suffered. I love the heat, especially dry heat. But once it heads north of 40 degrees, it becomes troublesome. I loved Egypt. It was my dream destination. I want to return to do a Nile cruise. One day I shall, the sooner the better.

I can always put a date to my Egyptian holiday. We stayed at a very nice 5* hotel in Cairo which had a wonderful terrace and swimming pool overlooking the Nile. We were relaxing by the pool on Monday afternoon, having returned from a morning excursion. There were TV screens dotted about and a news story caught my eye. Timothy McVeigh had been executed. June 11th, 2001, twenty years ago today. It remained the most momentous date of the year for precisely three months.

I miss travel, hugely. But normality will return. I keep rolling the dice, hoping for the best. We’ve booked flights for Malta, again. Third time lucky? Our previous bookings in March 2020 and October 2020 failed to happen. September 2021 feels lucky though. I have my fingers crossed.


Long Covid

Long Covid is going to be a problem. As with all things associated with Covid, it’s the sheer numbers of people affected that make it a problem. There are a million sufferers of Long Covid in the UK alone, four hundred thousand of whom have been suffering for more than a year. It’ll be worse in other parts of the world, where the virus has been largely allowed to run free. Mexico springs to mind.

I’ve no personal experience of Long Covid, but I do have first hand experience of Long Mystery Virus. It’s not pleasant. Nor is it terribly unusual for a person to be left physically damaged by a virus. I was quite unwell for three months after my 2019 infection. I remained not quite right for six or seven months, until sometime in August 2020 when I became quite unwell, yet again. Hospital visits followed, a diagnosis was dished out and it turned out that I shall live. Hurrah.

The long and short of my version of Long Mystery Virus is this: I’m now a bit lactose intolerant. I cannot put a cotton bud in my left ear without severe choking and gagging. Weird, huh? That ear was hit by the infection particularly badly. I take medication most days to calm my immune system, which is trying to eject parts of my innards. It’s likely I’ll need to take the medication for the rest of my life. Finally, the whole thing has turned me into a rather repetitive, whiny voice banging on about post-viral affliction.

The medication is pretty effective. Some days I’m back to normal. Most days, I have just a little discomfort. A few days each month, a few other symptoms appear. But I’ll live. People’s mileage with Long Covid will vary. Some will have it worse than others. My tennis partner has Long Covid. The worst symptom for him is that I now beat him, every time. Given his previous dominance, that must hurt, at least a little.

Once we have Long Covid under control, we should probably turn our attention to dealing with the dementia like after-effects of the other great disease of this decade. How will we deal with Long Trump?

The photo is of Branksome Park Tennis Club, where I am a member. The fees are a bargain £24 for the year. I won on this day 6-4, 6-2. Hurrah.


Morals and Medicine

I wrote a blog post recently (The Experiment) about how the UK is planning to fully ‘open up’ just as a new highly transmissible variant of the coronavirus starts to wreak havoc. Boris and co are getting twitchy. They don’t really know what to do at this point. This is understandable. There are forecasts, but the margins of error are wide. Has anything changed since I wrote that post? Yes, but it’s not for the better

Whether restrictions are removed on June 21st or two weeks later or two months later, it seems a certainty* they will be removed. The final wave, which is clearly already underway, will be allowed to run through the population. The burning questions of today will then be answered. How many hospitalisations? Will the vaccination campaign cause the virus to runs out of puff? How many people will die?

I’ve become reasonably convinced** that the entire population is going to be either vaccinated or infected. One way or the other, the nation as a whole will be immunised. Yes, the vaccines prevent a lot of infection. They prevent perhaps 50% of onward transmission when the lurgy does get into a jabbed person. But this virus is so infectious. At some point, and it’ll be this year, restrictions will be removed and the virus will be given a free run to go through the unprotected proportion of the population.

The antivax community and those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons will likely bear the brunt of it. If sufficient numbers of them are hospitalised, a moral dilemma will arise. Varying degrees of rationing of medical care has happened in every country over the last year, including the UK and US. Younger, fitter Covid patients with a greater chance of survival have taken beds in ICUs whilst elderly, sickly patients have been denied that level of care and subsequently died.

Should doctors continue to work on that basis? Or should priority be given to those who have been/cannot be vaccinated, over those who chose to decline the opportunity? I’m strongly minded to favour the latter policy. People who declined vaccination decided at the time to opt out of the social program and to take their chances.

* It seems a certainty, in a world where nothing is certain.

** And yet, I’m not terribly convinced by anything anymore.