WE are just over a week into the new year and already so much has happened. We have two vaccines being rolled out at speed with a third on the table for imminent approval, which is fantastic news, but we also find ourselves back in lockdown with a new variant spreading faster than we can control. I think it’s fair to say, things are feeling quite tough right now for us all.

I have had a pretty rubbish festive time – in fact, the whole thing was a blur as I ended up testing positive for Covid over Christmas. I am still recovering from it but I remain in shock as to how I managed to get it because I have been so careful. My conclusion: none of us are immune, and I share this with you as a stark reminder that what we are up against right now is unimaginable risk, not just to ourselves but to our loved ones. We need to be careful.

The sheer nature of viruses involves changing or “mutating”. A virus can mutate several times and often these mutations are insignificant and minor; sometimes they can actually make the virus less infective, but occasionally some mutations can accelerate the ability of the virus to spread.

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Each mutation creates a new variant of the virus, and what we are seeing right now is a rapid rise in cases of Covid secondary to a new variant, which is aggressive in its ability to transmit from person to person (50-70%).

You will likely have heard of more and more people in your own personal circles testing positive in recent days, and with some parts of the country having one in 30 people catching Covid, it’s closer to home than you may appreciate.

I cannot begin to describe how miserable a time I have had with Covid and I am still not out the other side. The worst part though has been the guilt associated with passing it on to my baby – someone I had tried to protect from before she was born. I have retraced my steps and am still unsure how I caught it but, alas, that is Covid for you, somehow one step ahead for now.

Being stuck in isolation with my baby for 10 days has been a harrowing experience. I have spoken to countless patients over the pandemic who have suffered from varying degrees of symptoms and complications of Covid, but when you get that result, your head goes to all sorts of places as you process what it means for your personal situation. 

Thankfully, my baby remained well throughout with minor cold-like symptoms only. I however have battled with the crippling fatigue, the chills and aches like nothing I have ever experienced before. The shortness of breath, chest tightness and headaches that come on are frightening and the loss of taste and smell is very debilitating. There comes waves of emotional and mental fatigue, which off the back of a difficult year, feels even more challenging. We are not accustomed to be locked up in isolation when poorly, but COVID makes you go through this. I am thankfully now out of isolation but definitely not back to my normal, this will take time, but I wanted to share this experience because I don’t want you to go through this if you can avoid it.

We are now at the point where there is clear light visible at the end of the tunnel. Our vaccines are here and it is all hands on deck as we roll this vaccination programme out, aiming to protect us all from this virus. We cannot continue to go on with the lockdown loops, it is just causing too much harm.

Instead the strategy must be for all of us to push forward together, all doing our bit, so we can eliminate this pandemic. This involves all of us obeying the rules and staying home.

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If and when you are invited for your vaccine, please attend and whenever you are out for those essential trips, ensure that you are super careful about your hand hygiene, wearing your face coverings properly, keeping distance from anyone not in your household and doing all you can to take care of your physical and mental wellbeing. Eat as well as you can, get out for a daily dose of fresh air and physical activity and stay connected to loved ones.

I feel all the same sentiments that you might be feeling but we can and we will get through this soon.