Posted on 27th August 2020

Slane Castle

Covid-19 is a killer.  As somebody in a highly vulnerable category, I live with this thought every single day.  Since early March I have confined myself to home, broken only by visits to hospital.  That is the price I pay for survival.  That is the way it will be until there is a vaccine.  So perhaps more than most I am anxious about one of the greatest dangers in trying to control the spread of this disease – complacency .  If you are young, you probably think you can ride it out, well that is a dangerous idea.  There is still so much we don’t know about the virus and in particular its long-term effects.  This already has a name and its called Longcovid.  Symptoms include breathlessness, fatigue and aching muscles.  More seriously, some are suffering from psychosis and loss of eye-sight.  These are early days and one wonders what symptoms might emerge years from now in those that caught the dreaded virus in their youth.  So the message is crystal clear – avoid Covid-19.

On the issue of messaging, the government appears to be all over the place.  The messages have been confusing and contradictory.  I didn’t see Stephen Donnelly talking about trampolines but I’m sure he regrets using the analogy. Messaging needs to be clear and concise and the government needs to put up a united front.  The return to schools is going to create considerable anxiety and is not without risk.  This is not unique to us, one has only to watch CNN to see the problems it is causing in America.  One observation I will make, where is the Minister for Education, supposedly one of the Taoiseach’s new stars ?   She has been barely visible.

Returning to the dreaded virus – what of a vaccine ?  I took heart this week when I saw that Australia has secured access to the vaccine being developed by the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and Oxford University.  As readers will know, I have been tracking this and what I find particularly interesting about the Australian Prime Minister’s announcement was that if the vaccine is given the all-clear it would be “ As mandatory as you could possibly make it”.  He went on to say “ There are always exemptions for any vaccine on medical grounds, but that should be the only basis”.  I wonder how such an approach would go down here.  For example, it always amazes me how many Health Care workers fail to get the flu jab.  This winter I suspect that this should be essential as the combination of Covid-19 and flu would be particularly lethal.  Speaking of Health Care workers brings me to testing.  Why are Health Care workers not subjected to regular checks – both for their and the patients protection – Why ?

This is all pretty heavy stuff but we live in heavy times, yet every day I wake up I thank my lucky stars that I’m still here and in my case fortunate enough to live by the banks of the Boyne in the heart of Co. Meath.

Finally, as for the politicians and office holders who attended that Dinner –   I am disgusted.  They should be deeply ashamed.

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