Shakespeare’s play “As You Like It” contains the phrase “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players”, and never before have these words meant so much. Using this theatre terminology, the Coronavirus is like a new production and the global population of Earth the actors on the stage. There are the major and minor principal parts, the chorus and all the associates involved in the stage management. Everyone involved learns how to interpret the new script from their own viewpoint, with the aim of creating a satisfactory outcome for the audience (general population in this case)
The worldwide Coronavirus pandemic has starkly highlighted our 21st century technological world is NOT prepared or set up for such a catastrophe. Virtually every facet of society from governments, politicians, business, commerce, manufacturing, employers, and education areas have all had weaknesses exposed. Health and care work although by nature are prepared for a health crisis, are vulnerable due to the funding losses in the UK taking a distinct toll. Science & technology will be relied upon to research a vaccine solution and provide technical medical equipment, to aid staff in caring for those afflicted by Covid-19. But this will need time and monetary resources. So in ALL AREAS there is an element of catch up being played in dealing with, and understanding, the new script called Coronavirus.
With political leaders like Boris Johnson & Donald Trump for example making daily announcements, what they say has much more gravitas in these uncertain times. As a result the impact of their words can have devastating consequences. President Trump in a news conference mentioned chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine as a potential wonder drug in the Covid-19 pandemic fight, with little evidence so far to back this claim. Minutes later his own drugs chief advisor expressed caution, saying clinical trials would need to be approved. Used in malaria treatments, within days there were reports of at least three overdoses in Nigeria. A US couple self administered chloroquine phosphate used to clean fish tanks, believing it protected against the Coronavirus. The man died and the woman was seriously ill. Auto-immune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis are also treated with chloroquine, and I’ve read tweets originating from the US dated around March 21st expressing difficulty in getting such medications, apparently because by Presidential order the government has taken over the entire supply! President Trump has stated he would like the US open and raring to go by Easter, but I highly doubt anywhere in the world will have this crisis “wrapped up” by then.
Our own Prime Minister Boris Johnson suggested 12 weeks as a timeframe, and I thought that was fanciful thinking. He also suggested that manufacturers such as the car industry could adapt their processes to make ventilators, for which there is a desperate shortage. It’s one thing for producers of alcoholic beverages for consumption adapting to create more hand sanitisers, it’s quite another to expect a company to create a complex medical product with no background knowledge on the subject what so ever. In the last 24 hours, I’ve heard and read about reports of qualified medics and engineers getting together and creating simple workable and easily produced ventilators, which could be ready for use to fill the void within a short space of time. These would probably provide essential relief to patients either preventing the need for/or until a higher tech ventilator was available. The English Ox Vent prototype has been put forward to the Cabinet Office UK, and at the time of writing it seems nothing has happened so far. When reading about this on Twitter, another prototype the Covid Emergency Ventilator created by a doctor utilising his military experience, seems to be already in production in Wales after the Welsh government gave approval. Another twist in the medical supply saga of Britain came from Jennifer Rankin @JenniferMerode the Guardian Brussels correspondent, who tweeted and I quote “using UK & EU sources the UK was not participating in the EU procurement schemes to buy ventilators, protective gear or coronavirus testing kits”. WHY, especially with Ireland apparently being a major source of ventilators and a close neighbour? But of course although the country is in a transition phase to leave the EU “Brexit means Brexit” and probably going alone on this, is the Conservatives way of thinking.
Boris would like retired health personnel to return to the front line, to be unpaid health support workers (something the cancelled student nurse placements would have helped with), to underpin NHS staffs that do not have enough basic protective gear. Also, a 250,000 volunteer army of people are encouraged to step forward as NHS Volunteer Responders, to become ancillary workers to provide transport and delivery services to patients, or become telephone moral boosters/counsellors. “Your Country Needs You” springs to mind, but with the call to stay at home, minimal testing so no idea who is healthy/isn’t healthy, and the distinct possibility of the requirement for a DBS/enhanced DBS check (which takes ages); this is not a straightforward suggestion. I’ve known for years the NHS depends on, and places a heavy reliance on volunteers as funding cuts became deeper. The system is creaking at the seams, as verified by my almost 100 year old mother-in-law living in rural Suffolk. Her doctor’s surgery called today to ask if she could get someone to collect her medication, normally delivered to the village hall and their volunteer run post office (now both closed). I think her reaction was a mix confusion, bewilderment and alarm. Thankfully she has a small core of people (care givers/neighbours/friends) I’m sure she can turn too.
These are some of my thoughts regarding a few of the actions of those in high office. It is for my own future reference I’ve documented them, and as I said we all play a part in this crisis. Undoubtedly it has brought out some of the best and worst in all of us, but that’s for another time.