Covid-19 Update

It seems we are at a critical time in our COVID journey. We could really shrug off the heavy coat of COVID or be brought to our knees by the weight of new cases overwhelming the hospitals. We are at crossroads if feels we are getting conflicting messages.

As a doctor: illness is the enemy. Stop the spread! bend the curve! save lives! whatever it takes!

As a General Practitioner: health is our goal. That is not just the absence of disease but mental, spiritual, and psychological wellbeing as well. So far, as a group, we have accepted some hefty dents to our health because COVID is so lethal. So, let’s take stock : we have sacrificed seeing family, holding the hands of our dying and elderly in aged care facilities, sending our kids to school, eating out, going to church, gyms, movies, and a whole lot more . Take a vaccine that works but is not perfect.. it has risks and Side effects. (nearly everyone gets a headache or a sore arm) These were the costs for the greater good, because that’s what we needed to do protect each other. We have had to trust medical experts and accept some pretty hefty impositions of our personal freedoms, as well as learning to live with masks and not shake hands. So as a General Practitioner in some ways it has been the singular pursuit to stay safe, when we generally advocate whole patients care (Wholistic medicine) and nothing is singular about that.

I am sure you might be wondering: did we listen to the epidemiologist and public health experts too much? Are they “blinkered’ or just “focused”? Have we handed over too much of our autonomy?

My opinion is absolutely NOT. Just watch a young person in ICU, being nursed on their stomachs and then losing their battle. COVID patients need beds for weeks not just days. The daily death statistics become real, and you realise just how much suffering we could have seen. Because we have not looked directly into the face of our enemy, it may not feel real, but it is.

Now is the time for a nuanced debate of percentage vaccinated, risk of transmission and risk of the health system being overwhelmed. This is a real time experiment, and it could go very wrong.

There is also cause for optimism, because like the warmer weather, normal life is returning. And we can appreciate our well-earned freedoms more. Freedoms that were not taken away, but we traded for safety. That’s how I see it, I am willing to trust the vaccine makers, the public health experts a little longer to get us across the line. So, I am hoping you agree and PLEASE get your final shot, abide by the rules, wear masks and be cautious about indoor groups.

Just in case it has not been clear, the vaccine is not full proof, so you can get infected with COVID, and you can still pass it on. There are still unvaccinated/vulnerable people in the community. Hence the need for ongoing vigilance.

It’s just means, that for most of us, we don’t have to worry so much, personally, about getting really sick but the system being overwhelmed. The fancy name for this is “uncoupling” and it means that whilst infections go up, deaths and ICU stays, will go up much less. Simply because so many people have chosen the greater good and got vaccinated … and thank you. (well over 90% in Berry)

At Berry Medical Centre we are gearing up to manage COVID positive patients in the community and work with the hospital in supporting sick patients at home. There are some antivirals in pipeline, and this will be on script and just a tablet! New ideas and inventions.

As they say, never waste a good pandemic.


Dr Neil Donovan on behalf of Berry Medical Centre