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No magic bullet for COVID-19

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Magic bullet If we pit our hopes on a quick cure for COVID-19, we will be disappointed

I’ve always liked to think of myself as an early adopter of new trends. While this hasn’t always played out in real life, in mid-March I had a dose of COVID-19. It began with a fever, an unbearable sensitivity to the cold, and I came home from work and took to my bed. There I pretty much stayed for the next week – isolated from my family, sleeping a lot and living off slices of apple I couldn’t taste. A few days in, lockdown was dramatically imposed, and the whole country ground to a halt just as I had.

My symptoms were as surreal as the old Val Lewton movies I watched on my laptop to pass the time. Loss of taste aside, the one constant was a featherweight but persistent cough that stopped me from completing a sentence if I tried to speak. Otherwise ailments dropped in for a day or two to play tiresome cameos: night sweats; a rose-thorn sore throat; a headache fashioned from invisible knitting needles.

All came and quickly went, as if Bart Simpson were placing prank calls to my immune system. Now I appreciate how lucky I was. The virus stayed in my throat and never went to my chest.

After a week or so, I set up a Mac in the corner of my bedroom and restarted work. But the tiredness persisted: for such toytown symptoms, COVID comes with one hell of a lag. It took a couple more weeks for my energy levels to come back into the green. And I can see this long tail now both in the weariness of the populace with social distancing measures, and the damnable resilience of the infection rate as it creeps above R1 again.

I guess what I learned then applies now. There is no magic bullet, no killer app, no oven-ready vaccine. The cure for COVID is patience. Time to dig in for winter.

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