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A World War 2 Trilogy

By FRED NATH (Novelist and Neurosurgeon)

Fred's Blog


COVID-19 Again

Posted on 20 March, 2020 at 11:04
COVID-19 again.
It has come to my attention…

That’s the way all unpleasant missives begin, after all, isn’t it?

Look people, there seem to be a lot of you who still don’t understand what we are facing here. If the epidemic peaks badly like in Italy, the mortality will quadruple. All the intensive care facilities will be taken up (average stay is about 8 days in ITU). Infected people will not get treatment and more and more will die.

We bandy figures around like 1% mortality but in Italy, the mortality over all is over 8% because as facilities get used up there are more people dying at home without ventilatory support.
On the patient info website ( is a list of misconceptions and myths which are listed to be dismissed. My take on it is:
1.       The virus does not respect any national boundaries. You are as vulnerable as anyone else whether you are an Eskimo in an igloo or Pygmy in Africa
2.      A hot bath makes no difference to the infection
3.      Antibiotics don’t work
4.      A vaccine will take about 6 months to be tested and used, even if it is possible to develop one
5.      There are no effective drugs
6.      Paper face masks will not help. The air and droplets you exhale come downwards and at the sides, even over the top of the mask. The paper will only protect the person you are talking to and surgical masks only work for a few hours – after that they are useless.
7.      Washing your hands with soap is very effective. This is because it denatures the fatty molecules that the virus contains (lipoproteinolytic).

If all that is true you may feel it is hopeless. It isn’t. Our Government’s current strategy will probably work if people cooperate.
1.       Reduce social contact with others – the less you go out, the less you are in contact with places and things used by many people, the less likely you are to contract the disease.
2.      Avoid pubs, clubs, sporting fixtures and anywhere where there are crowds.
3.      Don’t go to any social gatherings.
4.      Don’t hold meetings at work – use teleconferencing and video conferencing.
5.      Don’t touch other people and don’t shake hands or give a reassuring peck on the cheek.
6.      Don’t stand close to people when you speak to them – space, space, space.
7.      Clean the things you use most often – your phone, keyboard and mouse, car keys, doorbell, door handles etc. using anti-septic wipes or fluid.

So, what happens then? Even if we are all going to get this virus, we won’t all get it at the same time and we can benefit from there being sufficient ITU facilities when we do, so we won’t just die at home waiting for a bed in hospital.

When will it be over? New cases will probably have reduced to reasonable levels by autumn, but we might then see an upward surge as people start to relax.
I read somewhere that no country has an exit strategy. This may be true, but if a vaccine appears we may yet terminate this disease. So, fingers crossed. I think most of the world’s virologists will be working on it. For once there may be global co-operation.
I hope so.
For all our sakes.

And it isn’t just because I miss going to the pub.

Categories: thoughts

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