An open letter about covid.

Posted by alison miller on

This is exceptionally long but I had an awful lot to say on this subject, some of you may disagree with my opinions and statements written below, however please see the TL : DR for what you can do with that.

An open letter about covid.

Preface

Six hundred and ninety-one days ago the first reported case of covid 19 was reported. Since that date 5.1 million people have lost their lives worldwide. There have also been over 257million cases reported worldwide. Just yesterday 577 thousand new people were diagnosed with covid 19. Just yesterday 7255 people lost their life to covid19. Seven thousand people. Seven thousand stories unfinished, seven thousand life stories unfulfilled, seven thousand families with a person shaped hole they will never be able to ignore. That was yesterday.

In 691 days, more people than the population of Ireland has died. In fact, here’s a list of countries with a smaller population that the total loss we have experienced as a planet in 691 days -
New Zealand, Liberia, Mauritania, Panama, Croatia, Moldova, Kuwait. The list goes on and on and on. The real number is probably larger this is just reported, we are aware some countries have stopped giving real numbers, Russia and china have decided they need to save face by not reporting.

About 5 thousand years ago the beginnings of governmental procedures were put in place, to ensure fairness in water and agricultural distributions among the people. This dates back to ancient Egypt and probably before. Today we have governments we elect, and the idea is we elect a person or group of people who have our best interests, at the front of their agendas.  I think we can all agree that health and safety on a large scale should always be at the forefront of governmental agenda. Without a healthy society as one of the pillars of a country’s construct the rest of its parts will crumble. Moreover, why would anyone with any sort of common decency want even a stranger to be sick or die?

When COVID reared its head, first world governments around the world acted. Lucky for us, scientists had been working on a vaccine for something we had encountered before called SARs (where covid came from covid’s mother really) for more than ten years, SARs was, in a lot of ways like COVID and a vaccine could be arrived at quickly.

Unfortunately, while this was being developed, certain bad actors made a global pandemic, something making people sick, an illness taking lives from actual living people – political. Suddenly, a virus was made into a political football to be kicked around and score points with. Facts were eclipsed by opinions and now we are at a point in time where some people refuse to believe those, we hold so high and should trust as much as we can to give us the best information possible, scientists and doctors.

Part of having a functioning and good government and a good leader is a leader or government who accept that they do not know everything. They accept they are not the expert on all aspects of life, and they go out and they find the best in the field and consult them or ask them to make a vaccine. Bad actors in government threaten the balance of trust in this system. This became evident in March 2020 when President trump consulted with the experts. He asked the experts, the response was this – while finding a cure or way of combating the virus the general public MUST, shelter in place as much as they possibly can, and keep their distance from one another ideally if they cant avoid going out in general public a mask should be worn and anyone in a medical environment should wear full PPE at all times.

The problem with this fantastic advice is multi-faceted. There was no stockpile of things like medical face masks or PPE. So, the advice changed slightly to allow for these items to be prioritised to medical environments. Masks were still recommended but not to the detriment of taking away from medical staff.

A lot of this information was changed as it was disseminated to the public of the USA, I take the USA as an example because what was recommended there was echoed elsewhere however political entities decided these recommendations were detrimental to their polling numbers. The CDC was required to stop releasing these numbers and states desperate for support were not given it because the presidents ego was so large, he prioritised those who liked him above those who did not. This was and still is ethically and morally terrible. A government is bound to look after all its citizens no matter which way they voted.

This has polarised America, and by virtue other countries who were watching, even more than it was before, into those who believe trumps words that this is no big deal its just a bad cold or flu and everyone should just do what they want, and those who believe the science and the numbers and what they would see with their own eyes at any local emergency department.

This polarisation is taking place around the world with a smaller percentage of people prioritising their own life and own beliefs before those of anyone else around them. I am not implying that to make someone sound selfish, but the implication is that. The idea behind this small and minority movement is that they should be allowed to choose if they want to wear a mask or check into a shop or get a vaccine. Which in theory sounds perfectly reasonable. It is reasonable if the recommendation to do these things is not because of a highly contagious and somewhat deadly virus that does not just affect you when you catch it but also affects everyone you encounter.

Australia’s response

 For the first year, for me here in Australia it felt like we were a spectator. We watched this terrible pandemic take hold of the world, but we were largely safe with our borders closed, one of the few things our government did in a prudent manner when Melbourne fell afoul of imported infections early in the piece.

This all unravelled in June 2021 when a limo driver in Sydney caught the Delta variant of covid from his passengers, some international air crew. The delta variant is the variant we most around the world are now trying to deal with. Delta is between 2 and 5 times more contagious that the original COVD strain. To put that into perspective, the flu has an R0 of 1.5, original covid has an R0 of between 2 and 3, and delta has an R0 of between 5 and 8 (reports of delta differ but all agree its above five). This means during your infectious period with flu you might infect 1 or maybe 2 people, the infectious period is shorter 4-7 days. When comparing this to the original covid, original covid was twice as infectious and the infectious period was twice as long. Delta is a much more infectious beast. It has an R0 like polio, and the infectious period lasts for anywhere up to 14 days. If you are asymptomatic and carry delta without any vaccine you can infect between 5 and 8 people and they will also infect 5 and 8 people. Quite quickly the number is uncontrollable because of its exponential growth.

This information was given to the NSW premier, but she did not seem to grasp how quickly this delta strain could spread. She waited. Three days later an infected worker who could have walked by limo mans wife yesterday went to a party with 40 people. This was now a super spreader event. Even if only half of the party goers contracted delta from that one lady – one day later 100 people were walking around unknowingly spreading it.

To stop economical losses the premier in her wisdom went against the health advice from Kerry Chant to close the entire greater Sydney area and only lock down certain local areas. But how does the virus know where the local government lines are? That was my question too.

Within six weeks hundreds of cases were being reported just in the greater Sydney area. NSW was totally locked down, but it was quite frankly too late for many who had died or gotten sick, it was also too late to avert what she wanted to avert in the first place – stalling the economy. She made it worse and cost lives. Recently she was forced to step down because of other circumstances (also to do  with money but when have the liberal party been anything other than out for themselves and their friends) the treasurer of NSW was put in charge and he seems to be more interested in the economy than she was. He bought opening up forward and threw out the timelines given by the health advice and disregarded health recommendations given by the experts. NSW has since stopped reporting contact points because ostensibly we are now safe because most of us are vaccinated. They’ve eased restrictions letting people who have no idea they’re carrying covid with them into the regions.

Our experience.

In October a family at my child’s school decided to go away for half term – despite ya know we are still living in a pandemic which is spreading closer to our region daily – they deserved a break RIGHT?

Their kid bought covid into my son’s classroom. The siblings of the family involved bought the school to a halt. Over 400 people were quarantined and at least 40 people got sick directly because of that parents’ irresponsible actions. My household was infected. We have done everything right this whole time. We have followed the health advice. We have worn masks when the health advice told us to, we have checked into every store we’ve ever step foot in, we have sanitised our hands when we get in the car and my hands are so dry, they could be a white wine. But every night my son gives us good night kisses and we had no idea any of us had been anywhere near any covid, so kisses and cuddles good night got all three of us sick.

We did not get seriously ill because one month before we had managed to secure our first doses of vaccine each – particularly important for my husband as he had pneumonia more than once in his life and as such would be more susceptible to complications, and as far as I am aware, we did not accidentally infect anyone else. Though because it was an entire school of families involved every testing site was what effectively should be called a super spreader event considering how contagious delta is.

 I took my son on Sunday morning to the hospital testing facility. It was 34 degrees at 9am and there was around 90 people in the queue Infront of us. My son already had symptoms so when we got there, I told the nurse and told her he had a fever and had come from a close contact site. We stood in the queue anyway for 3 hours until I could not in good conscience keep my sick child standing there. We tried our best to keep away from those around us sweating and baking in the heat outside the hospital building. On Monday morning at 6am we were outside the local pathology with a fair portion of my sons’ school, it was essentially a school outing. Again, this could be considered a contact site, but it was never reported. Not once, except by me.

When we got our diagnosis, NSW health really were excellent and supportive, additionally our doctor called us regularly and always called us back if we needed her. Which we did more than once.

My personal experience of COVID was – it was the worst flu I have ever experienced. H1N1 has nothing on this. I lost my taste and sense of smell, everything was an effort, I had a cough and terribly blocked sinuses and the accompanying headaches. It lasted for at least 9 days before I felt like I was finally turning the corner to wellness.

My husbands experience was a little scarier, especially from my point of view because I was the care giver as the less sick adult. One of the symptoms they don’t tell you about with covid is while you’re exhausted and desperate to sleep you will be hit with insomnia, covid will keep you awake even though you’re so tired you can feel it in your bones. My husband struggled a lot more than I did with this and it resulted in dehydration, extremely high fevers and insomnia induced psychosis. I had to call an ambulance when he woke me at 5am panicking that he could not breath, he had had a dream he couldn’t breathe well, and began to have a panic attack while asleep and when he woke up he was already struggling to breath and thought he was having a heart attack. The paramedic was amazing and told him what had happened and waited while his bp calmed down and recommended fluid. Our doctor prescribed him something to sleep but the insomnia psychosis was so bad he genuinely thought he couldn’t breathe as he was falling asleep. I had to promise to watch him breathing before he’d try. I spent that night terrified he was right and waking up from my own covid sleep nightmares every hour to make sure he was still breathing.

In the morning he was a bit better.

A few days later he had a fever again. And acute abdomen pain. In exactly the place you’d have yourself a burst appendix. He was in agony I went into the bedroom after getting my son dinner (he was the least sick of us by far had had a cold or so really one day of fever and nothing much) and my husband was face down on the bed not moving and not answering me. I almost fell. He hadn’t heard me come in and was simply trying to stop the pain. He had a 42 fever again, so I called 000 worrying that on top of all of it his appendix was burst.

There was a 45-minute wait for an ambulance. Yes, you read this correctly. 45 minutes. I was given permission to take him to the emergency department. They took him and told me to wait at 9pm with my child in the back seat both of us still not great I was really struggling I didn’t even have a drink. They had taken him in and given him some iv pain meds and fluid and done some tests and left me outside until 11.30pm when I called in tears asking how much longer I had to wait as I too was sick and my son was asleep in the back seat. They did not care to be honest. She told me to go home and come back at 3am. I said no I will be back at 6am. They left my husband alone with his drip and no blanket in isolation even though he pressed the nurse call button 4 times to find out if I could leave – until 6am. At which point they let him go. They just let him leave. They did not make sure of any chain of custody, no one made sure this highly infectious man was getting into a car immediately and not touching or going near anyone outside. I found him wandering the road outside the hospital grounds waiting for me.

Again, our GP was our saviour and so was a covid doctor in Lismore. Acute stomach pain is another symptom of delta no one really tells you about.

We got better. We got released from quarantine, we were okay but not great. I am still now 4 weeks later I am not allowed to go into my doctor’s offices, I am a pariah despite being the least likely to have any sort of covid given the science and the fact I am now fully vaccinated.

There are lasting effects that you don’t anticipate when you start to get better. There are repeating symptoms that you don’t expect, every day is a roulette of “will I be fine or will today be a bad day” Since officially recovery, both of us have experienced the following randomly and usually on their own - gastric distress, lack of appetite, dizziness so bad standing makes you feel like you might vomit that lasts for 4 hours at least, sinus pain, coughing and blocked or runny noses, brain fogs, memory loss, nightmares, insomnia. It feels like covid’s not quite done with you and it comes around to have another go at you.

I also have developed a fear of public places and for people coming too close to me, I feel a panic attack coming on if someone comes too close to me in the supermarket. I am scared. Its irrational, maybe. I also have developed some irrational reactions to things on tv, emergency ER visits, someone in a fictional program being sick, it takes me back to my bedroom and my husband not responding and I panic, and I cry. Its completely irrational but that’s a thing I have now, I’m crying writing about it for goodness’s sake.

 

Conclusion.

I am heart broken. I am disappointed. And my faith in humanity is breaking. I watch the news and see people wanting to lynch the premier of Victoria because of vaccine mandates. I have been attacked online for literally telling someone the virus is highly contagious, which I don’t think should ever be up for debate. When did this happen to us? When did we become this?

Here’s the thing with fighting a vaccine mandate for a highly contagious virus – it makes you look like an asshole. Vaccinations for our children and health care workers have been mandated in THIS country and many other first world countries for almost 100 years. To work in a hospital or to be enrolled in school people need all their vaccines and if you look up smallpox and polio, you’ll see why those are very much needed. As someone who had covid with one vaccine under their belt I can tell you anecdotally, this is needed. The 5 million dead would probably by and large also agree, along with many of the 277 million other survivors would also agree, this is a good mandate. It’s based on the science, which to be fair is evolving a lot and we might improve with time, but this is what we have for right now and its not perfect but its better than nothing, it’s certainly better than dead.

Some people who say I don’t want the vaccine imply the government is forcing it on you which isn’t true it’s a choice that comes with consequences. But even if it was a law - here in Australia they make the law as with most civilised societies. Mostly for the fairness of all citizens and their safety, this is not the only law, there 44 thousand mandated laws in place, why have you chosen suddenly, this one to pick a bone with? Because trump wanted you to? Because craig Kelly sent you a text?

When did you stop giving a crap about other people? Can you pinpoint it? I have heard different comments about how if you have the vaccine, you’re fine why do I need it why does it bother you? Well, there’s two reasons it bothers me, herd immunity requires as many people to be vaccinated as possible, this protects those who cannot get a vaccine because of health reasons.

The other reason is the vaccine, is not perfect – it’s not infallible and you really do have to listen to the science on it to find out exactly what it does and how it protects you. It does not stop you from getting the virus completely. It will increase your chances of fighting it without the need for a hospital, it will increase your chances of survival. It will shorten your potential to spread the virus, delta has a high viral load which is why it’s incredibly contagious – the vaccine reduces the viral load and the time for which you can shed the virus. So, getting the vaccine is reducing your risk AND those around you risk to exposure, which is desperately needed with something so highly infectious.

My disappointment in these attitudes and lack of community mindedness and an unwillingness for people to look after each other and themselves is palpable. It makes me tired and sad and a little angry especially on behalf of those who CAN NOT get the vaccine for a myriad of health reasons – they’re the very people we protect with herd immunity and some people don’t want to protect them.

My question on this is, why is your body, your freedom, and your choice more important than anyone else’s? What makes you special? The answer is you are not, and the government sees and treats the public as one. To go back to the preface of this – we have collectively chosen a government we expect and trust to do the best for every citizen – so why when they say – GIVEN THE SCIENCE the best thing to do for everyone is to wear a mask, limit exposure to others and get the vaccine – do you not trust that? If you don’t you have to ask yourself why what possible reason there could be to deceive you, what is the end game here.

Yes, the vaccine is somewhat new, and I have heard things like I don’t trust it because it took only a year to develop. Well, no it was based on a vaccine that is eleven years old. To put that in perspective, the polio vaccine took 23 years to develop fully to implementation, however right slap bang in the middle of development a tiny incident called world war two took place somewhat slowing development. Additionally, Oxford university has stated the main barrier to vaccination research has always been funding. Things do tend to be expedited when 5-10 countries throw millions of dollars at you.

I’ve started taking it personally when someone says they don’t want their vaccine because its their right. Are people so self-absorbed that they really don’t care about anyone else? I also find the comparisons of these mandates which are not designed to hurt you, to the treatment of Jews during the Nazi regime, or apartheid in south Africa, offensive. Highly and totally offensive in every way. It is a choice if you comply with the mandate or not, but your choices come with consequences, and that is that non-essential businesses and restaurants and your job or your kids’ school can turn you away. That is THEIR choice which is just as valid as your choice not to get your vaccine and if you really believe in the freedom of choice like you say – you’ll abide by that choice. If you kick and scream and call it victimisation or oppression, then in my opinion you are selfish and need to take a long hard look at yourself.

TL: DR – if you don’t get your vaccine, we can’t be friends and I can not and will not ever see this from your point of view so please save your breath.

 

 

 

 

 

2 comments


  • Well written . I do hope you all feel better soon . I too am appalled at the country that all pulled together for bushfires now turning on each other. It saddens me too . I am double vaxxed for me and my family , my friends and my community . Wishing you well and thank you for putting what many think into words .

    Diane on

  • Excellently written. When did people become so self absorbed and selfish

    Bernadina Andrews on

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