00:15: Are there any stats, particularly involving young people and the impact that we are having on the spread of Covid?
Not specifically. Most of the Public Health England data is based on who gets the disease. The contact tracing element of it, I.e who they have been in contact with is dependent on how many people are willing to engage with the contact tracing app. Statistically, young people are less willing to engage with contact tracing than other people. But if want to judge the spread on the basis on the number of people getting fined for breaking social distance rules; the national police data shows that in one month last year of 2020, 57% of all fines were handed out to men between the age of 18-34 so, that would suggest that if rule breakers are responsible for the spread then it’s mostly young men but I think that’s slightly unfair but that’s the closest thing I have to who is spreading the most.
01:32: With up to 20% of people who have tested positive for Covid-19 having caught this in hospital, is it risky to attend hospital?
You’re right, it’s a fact. NHS England did say last May that about 10-20% of people in hospital had actually got the Coronavirus while they were in-patients. I think there are few important points here, one is that most out-patient appointments are actually being done either by telephone or video now to reduce the risk of that spread. Secondly, if you are going to go to A&E or urgent care, just make sure that it is absolutely necessary because that risk is there, but the hospitals are doing their best to try to reduce that risk. For example having Hot zones where people with suspected Covid symptoms sit away from those who don’t have it, temperature screening at the door, having Covid-specific wards. They are trying their best but I think the take home messages are only go to hospital if necessary and secondly, hospitals are taking all the necessary precautions to reduce the spread within hospital.
02:58: Other than in hospital, has it been established any other situations in which a large number of infections arise from?
The Government and Public Health England aren’t the most popular of people in the world at the moment but some of their policy is evidence based. Prior to these lock downs, especially the second and the third one the Government advisory committee SAGE along with Public Health English listed the seven most likely places to catch Corona virus as follows; your house- people who are living together are more likely to catch the Corona Virus if one person is affected. Hence the reason for that rule if someone in your household has symptoms then you should self-isolate. The other is social gatherings, that’s why they’ve stopped fans going to football, music concerts, horse racing and all that kind of stuff has been stopped. Third, restaurants and bars apparently. Fourth, gyms and fitness studios. Fifth, religious services and lastly stores and shops. You can see that all those things at the moment we can’t enjoy other than your home, and it’s for a reason because apparently the data supports that that is where the virus is spread the most.
Haven’t there been updates to self-isolating, if someone in your home has Covid?
Correct, yes. They’ve reduced the number of days that you have to self-isolate. It was previously 14 and it is now 10, unless you become symptomatic that it. I think the reason for that is the greater availability of testing so, if someone in your household does test positive and you have symptoms then you should definitely order a test straight away.
05:17: Should runners keep more than a 2-metre distance because their breath travels further due to the effort they are making?
There has been a lot of speculation about this is, the official guidance is that- no. The 2 meter rule applied to runners as well. The only guidance they have given is that it is better to run alone than in groups and also, if you are running in a place where there are lots of people, you should avoid the slip-stream of runners. So, the direct lane behind them, or to the corners of them. I’m not entirely sure why that is but presumably it’s because that’s where most of this hot air is going.
06:30: Should I be quarantining things that come into my house (like shopping, parcels etc)
If we want to look at the facts and the evidence base, apparently the Corona Virus can survive for up to 72 hours on plastic and stainless steel, and up to 24 hours on cardboard. With all that being said, if you’re receiving deliveries, a lot of the delivery companies now are doing socially distanced delivering now, the drivers are wearing gloves, they leave it outside the door. Maybe things like that you can probably get away with maybe just putting the package in the bin as soon as you can. Stuff from the supermarket or stuff that you buy outside, there’s no harm in wiping it down with a little Flannel wipe and of course just washing your hands as well. All the other basic stuff; wash your hands, don’t touch your face too often and hopefully it will be ok.
07:52: Do I need to change my clothes when I come in if I have been somewhere where other people are (shops and schools etc.)
They are going under the assumption that you’re following social distancing rules. The shops are supposed to be closed now, it’s supposed to be click and collect. The supermarkets’ effectively the only shop we’re really able to go to. Schools are also shut for the same reason because we know about transmission. The situation is always changing, I can only speak for the present and going forward; if schools reopen on the 8th March I’m assuming it’s because the Government is going to be confident enough that transmission is down, the number of cases are down. Depending on your age, it’s impossible to completely segregate primary school children. Should the parents of Primary school children be getting them to wash their uniform every day? I don’t know, I think practically that’s probably quite difficult. I think going to the shops, probably less necessary because if you are keeping your distance from people, you’re not giving people hugs, you’re not supposed to be shaking hands, you’re not allowed to try on clothes in the shops or sit on so, I don’t think that’s going to be necessary if you’re following social distancing rules.
09:35: Does the vaccination prevent the spread of Covid as well as protection from catching it? I've heard that even if all of my friends and family get vaccinated, we will still not be allowed to meet up.
Again, if we look at the evidence base, there are two parts to this question. The vaccine doesn’t actually prevent you from catching Covid- this is true, it just reduces how severe the disease will manifest in you is. The long and short of it is, the jury is out on whether it prevents spread. Early data from the trials that Public Health England has done has shown that spread might be prevented by about 67%. But until the vaccine is definitively shown to prevent spread, yes it’s true we will still have the vaccine and still have to socially distance. However, some of the more promising data from countries like Israel is that the vaccine is actually stopping transmission of Covid. I don’t think we are going to be socially distanced forever, that’s just not realistic is it, but I think more data is needed on spread.
For some young people, if they will still be having to do the 2 meter rule and they won’t have that freedom, what is to push them to get the vaccine?
Correct, what’s the incentive? It’s such a controversial topic isn’t it? The key question for young people is, if this vaccine doesn’t prevent spread and I still have to socially distance, why should I get it? The thing is, that’s not a question for me to answer. We will have to wait for Boris Johnson to answer that one.
12:05: Is one vaccine better than another?
The two ones currently available in the UK at the moment on license are the Pfizer vaccine and the AstraZenica one otherwise known as the Oxford one. The trial data that both of the vaccine manufacturers have published shows that the Pfizer vaccine is slightly more effective than the AstraZenica/Oxford one. Now, it’s not really a case of better, it’s like you comparing a BMW to a Mercedes - they will both get you to the destination you need to go to. I wouldn’t discriminate between either, if you’re offered a vaccine and you want to take it, then take it. In terms of side-effect profile as well, they’re roughly both the same and honestly speaking no, I wouldn’t say one is better than the other. They both do the same thing and achieve the same outcome.
13:11: Is it possible to choose between the AstraZenica and Pfizer vaccine?
Currently no. I’m involved in the vaccination programme in the local area that I work in, in Thornton Heath. I think initially what we were doing is giving the Pfizer vaccine because it’s what we had but that one is more difficult to store and transport. For some of our housebound patients we’d give the Oxford one just because it’s easier to transport and if you’re willing to go to a vaccine centre, then if available you can get the Pfizer one so to be honest no, at the moment we don’t have enough of a supply to give people a choice.
14:01: There are so many conspiracy theories going around about the vaccine, me and my friends are wary. What would you advise, to help young people make a decision about taking it?
It’s frightening isn’t it because you’re bombarded by so much twitter, Instagram, Facebook and I think the most important thing- and this doesn’t just apply to the vaccine- the most important message I have for young people when they’re making informed decisions… so, when making any decision in life and someone is providing you with information, you have to ask yourself a few questions. One, what’s the source of this information? Just because someone says something doesn’t mean it’s true, so ask yourself what’s the source? Secondly, is the source reputable? If I want advice on how to fly a plane, would I ask a pilot or would I ask a butcher? So ask yourself, is the person who is giving you this information qualified to do so? And lastly, you just have to weigh up the pros and cons. Each decision is a personal decision. I think when it comes to young people everyone is in an individual situation so there might be some young people with pre-existing health conditions, long term medical conditions and that’s why the vaccine groups have been split up on the basis of risk. So far, most of the young population wouldn’t have been offered it unless that have some kind of medical condition that means they should have it. The facts are, Covid is very real, an incredible amount of people have died from it, an even larger amount of people have had the disease and are still suffering the consequences of the disease. So, I think all of that should be taken in to account by any young person who is think, when they’re offered it of course, of having the vaccine. It’s a personal choice but please make an informed choice.
16:43: I am staying at home and obeying the rules and see so many people not doing so, even partying! It's getting me down. How do we deal with people, as well as take precautions around those who aren’t obeying the rules?
There are rules, and the rules are set up by the Government- the people who govern us and set the rules and there are consequences to breaking the rules. Very hefty fines, and even now if you’re found to come back from holiday and you’re lying about it, you can get up to 10 years jail time if you don’t quarantine. I think should show you how seriously the government is taking this so, I’m sure risk takers should probably take the rules seriously as well. I don’t think it’s any of our job to worry about people who aren’t obeying the rules, that’s what law enforcement is for. Hang in there is the message, I think we’re all fed up. It’s been over a year now, almost over a year now since we’ve been in some form of restriction or lock down. The hope is that the end is nigh and I would say to people just hang in there and let’s hope that we are going to be free some time soon.
18:37: I am struggling with my mental health, is it still okay to go to the GP or should I leave those services for those who really need it at present?
Yes absolutely go to the GP. Nobody needs those services more than you- whoever is asking this question thinking they are not worthy. 100% mental health is so important, even more so given the circumstances and conditions that we’re in. If caught early, something can be done about it. 100% speak to your GP, local counselling services like we have in my locality; brilliant organisations like Off the Record, if you’re a young person, and the IAPT programme. Even if you think it’s not that serious or a bigger problem at the moment, please, please, please talk to someone, talk to your GP because we want to help.
19:43: Do you have any personal tips on how you’ve been able to look after your mental health this year?
One thing that I always recommend is, find a reason to get out the house. That’s not me saying break the rules, but make use of the allotted daily exercise. Even if it’s a walk to the shops to buy a paper, some bread- try and get out of the house at least once a day. Secondly, exercise is invaluable for mental health. If you can increase your heart or respiratory rate, get a bit out of breath, break a sweat, it releases natural endorphins, natural feel-good drugs. Getting out of the house, exercise, having structure, plan to do something and force yourself to do it, even if it’s learning a new language, building something, tidying up your wardrobe- getting rid of your old clothed, something. Just set yourself a task each day and talk to people; your friends. Technology has made it possible to interact so, Zoom, Clubhouse. Stay in touch with people.
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