• Opinion: A London experience of Covid-19

Opinion: A London experience of Covid-19

Natalie Cooper was born and raised in Napier and currently living in London. She is double-jabbed. Her family back home have either had both doses or at least one dose. She says she has decided to speak up after seeing more "anti-vax" posts from Kiwis on her social media than in the UK. This is her story. 

I clearly remember being at a pub in Feb last year, we were jokingly passing around hand sanitiser thinking 'pffft, another virus, doubt it will affect us as usual'. The next week covid cases were everywhere. Then the deaths started.

Covid can spread incredibly fast, we found out the hard way here in London. It's so densely populated, the virus spread like wildfire while the government took its sweet time to lockdown. The main problem was people having it but not knowing, obliviously going about their day infecting other people. If we'd only shut down or even started wearing masks a week earlier it would've made a big difference.

Personally, I knew two people that died in that first wave - one in their late 60s, one in their early 80s. I didn't know them well but I'd met them, shook their hand, spent time talking with them. They were relatives of a friend who was obviously much more affected by their deaths. Many of my friends and acquaintances have had Covid over the past two years, some have had it twice. Some hardly felt it, some said it was like a nasty flu or hangover. One friend has long covid. She's tired all the time.

I've avoided contracting it so far but I'm living with chronic pain and left arm weakness. I'm one of the millions of UK patients impacted by covid's strain on healthcare. I need an operation to decompress nerves in my neck, my spine surgery has been delayed by over a year now and is likely to be delayed even further. I try to stay brave and jolly but as a musician and music teacher, it is utterly heartbreaking to be unable to play instruments properly.

I'll never forget the look on my neurosurgeon's face at my last consult (that had been postponed twice, 11 month wait all up). He told me 'I'm so sorry, because of covid I have a huge backlog of tumours I have to prioritize before spinal surgeries'.

You do not want this happening in your country.

Covid patients are overburdening intensive care units. Not many countries can cope with excess demand on ICUs. Covid patients need constant monitoring, six staff members to turn them over once they are vented. They need to lie prone on their stomachs for long periods. To give their lungs the best chance. They're very high needs patients, usually in ICU for long periods, it's a huge drain on resources and causing massive backlogs as less urgent procedures are postponed.

'Covid has a 98.9 per cent recovery rate'. One person (well, 1.1 people) dying in every hundred is not good. It's a lot, especially in densely populated countries. I think people misunderstand this percentage as being good when it's not. We are approaching 138,000 deaths from covid here in the UK, it's mindblowing. In a very sad way.

We know the vaccine isn't as effective at stopping transmission as we'd hoped but the proof is there that it is definitely making a difference. The fact that the vaccine is reducing severity and deaths significantly is good enough reason alone to get vaccinated.

The UK peaked at 1,824 deaths in one day back in January this year. It's steadily come down ever since as more and more people got vaccinated. Deaths yesterday: 28

What's causing that improvement if not the vaccine?

I'm currently double Astra Zeneca-ed. I was in A & E with severe chest pain about 12 weeks after my second jab. Due to a blood test abnormality, they suspected a blood clot. They assured me it couldn't be vaccine-related because of the time passed. Pulmonary angiogram ruled out a clot but for two hours while waiting for that result I was planning my epitaph - 'Get vaxxed. Do not use me as a statistic for antivax propaganda'.

I don't know anyone that has died from the vaccine or been harmed by it. I don't even know anyone that knows anyone who does. It's incredibly rare, it's awful of course, but rare. I don't personally know anyone in the UK who is anti-vax but unfortunately, I can't say the same about NZ and it pains me. Covid is so much more in your face here, I can only assume it's easier to fall for the conspiracy stuff if covid doesn't seem like an imminent threat. (Abridged).

If you are unvaccinated you have a higher risk of serious illness or death. You have an increased chance of infecting other people who could suffer serious illness or death. This is fact, not opinion.
Yes, I am rabidly pro-vax.

It gives me anxiety that people think it's purely an individual choice, that they don't think they pose an increased risk to others. It's an infectious virus. It doesn't care about 'my body, my choice'. It's not an abortion or someone drinking themselves to death. It hops from person to person, looking for a juicy host.

You want to give yourself the best chance for fighting it off.

Don't be a juicy, unvaccinated, walking bio-weapon of a host. Please.

Much love from a Kiwi-raised Aussie living in London

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the writer's and not that of Hawke's Bay App. The opinion piece may be abridged in some areas.