I like to read, but on account of the COVID-19 pandemic have probably read more over the past two years than ever before. One of the books that resonated the most was called The 900 Days and was about the siege of Leningrad during the Second World War.
The opening chapters that set the scene describe the sheer panic that engulfs the Soviet population as the seemingly unstoppable juggernaut that is the German Army rolls through town after town and is not stopped until it reaches the gates of Leningrad itself. Red Army soldiers react in a myriad of ways; some run away in the face of extreme danger, others follow confused and ever-changing orders and are captured or killed.
Others stand and fight and die, whilst some of course stand and fight and finally hold the line and, in so doing save their country and perhaps the world from tyranny. The many and varied reactions to COVID-19 have afforded us a look into the workings of the human psyche as well.
The term ‘covidiot’ has been used in numerous ways throughout the pandemic so that now it means nothing specific at all. Initially, it was aimed at people denying the existence or severity of the condition, then it came to be directed at those who were overly zealous in enforcing draconian laws, then it came to be used to mock those breaking those very same laws, until finally it seemed to apply in almost any circumstance. To help you work out what kind of covidiot you were during the Great Pandemic, and everyone was a covidiot in one way or another, I have developed this handy, completely unvalidated quiz to help you figure it all out:
1. A person sits down in the canteen less than 2m away from you. Do you:
a) Ask them to move away as they are endangering your life and their actions might kill you
b) Ask them to move away as they are breaking the rules and rules must be followed or we have chaos
c) Shrug and carry on as the actual evidence for 2m spacing is weak at best
d) Decide that the whole experience has exposed you to risk so you immediately go home
e) Do nothing. They are obviously government agents
2. A colleague of yours turns up to work and you hear them cough once. Do you:
a) Tell them to go home as they are endangering the life of everyone in the clinic
b) Report them to the General Medical Council (GMC) as they are breaking rules and should be punished
c) Ask them if they feel well and have a temperature and if it’s nothing carry on
d) Go home immediately and self-isolate for 10 days just in case
e) Ask them if they might be emitting 5G signals that could be activating COVID-19 in the department
3.You get a text telling you to self-isolate for a week as someone eating in the same restaurant as you 22 days ago has tested positive for COVID-19. Do you:
a) Immediately panic and buy vast quantities of aspirin and toilet rolls and blockade yourself in your house to avoid death
b) Follow the rules and call your department so that clinics can be cancelled
c) 22 days ago? Is that a joke? Delete the text
d) Yay a text! Forward to everyone on WhatsApp and also put a screenshot on Facebook. No work for you for a while!
e) This is an impossible situation as you have never used track and trace
4. You are given a big box of lateral flow tests and told to take them every few days. Do you:
a) Lose sleep thinking about the result each day
b) Take the test at all points when you are ordered to, thankful that someone somewhere knows what they’re doing with all this
c) Take the tests as needed but realise that the whole exercise is not evidence-based in the slightest and akin to some form of mass hysteria
d) Look very, very carefully at each one, perhaps taking several a day, as even one positive test, or a line that potentially could be positive if you hold it up to the light just right, might mean a week off
e) Take lateral flow tests? Ha! Those things are riddled with 5G
5. You receive a text instructing you to show up for a vaccine booster. Do you:
a) Thank God for the COVID vaccine; as well as being the fastest developed vaccine in modern history, it is also the best and will surely save you
b) At this time of national emergency we must always follow the rules and those not taking the vaccine should be sacked
c) You take the vaccine knowing it lasts a few weeks at best but hey, you want to go to events and travel so it’s just one of those things
d) Take the booster but the symptoms are so severe you have to call in sick for the week
e) Booster? I never had any vaccine thank you very much! I am not putting poison in my body
6. A colleague tells you the whole reaction to COVID-19 has been confused and damaging for the NHS and society at large. You reply:
a) No! We should all be in lockdown perpetually until nobody ever gets COVID ever again
b) I am reporting you to the GMC for thoughtcrimes against the Government
c) It has probably accelerated the privatisation of the NHS and track and trace etc. has almost certainly been the biggest example of grand larceny of public money in world history
d) I am so sickened by your attitude I need to go home now to take a lateral flow test
e) This Plandemic will all result in us being in concentration camps by the end of next year
So how did you fare; what type of covidiot are you?
Mostly As: The terrified covidiot
Mostly Bs: The fascist covidiot
Mostly Cs: The patsy covidiot
Mostly Ds: The workshy covidiot
Mostly Es: The conspiracy nut covidiot
So, no matter what you chose you are a covidiot. That seems unfair but it is the way it is I am afraid. This pandemic has been the greatest collective test we have faced as a society for many decades. There have been heroes; those turning up to work for months on end putting themselves in harm’s way for the good of their patients.
There have been villains; those taking three, four, five or more batches of time off because of spurious reasons that couldn’t be overruled by the COVID rules of the time. They are the modern equivalents of those Red Army soldiers who stood and fought or ran and hid. Did you put your patients before you or did you put yourself before your patients? Did you slavishly follow ridiculous rules, or did you use sound clinical judgement to do the most good at a difficult time? Although things seem to be coming to an end now (famous last words), the damage has been profound and we will only know the truth years from now; will we be ophthalmologists and eyecare specialists proudly working for the NHS, or working zero hour contracts for an Any Qualified Provider? Will we be free to do and say the same as we were before or has a new dark age of censorship been ushered in? The battle, far from being over, might only just be beginning.
As ever the views in this article represent those of the author only.
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