Coronavirus general discussion and chit-chat

In a few days time I have a hospital appointment for a check-up* and tomorrow morning I have a pre-appointment COVID test. It’s a drive-through test and, according to the leaflet, they throw a kit through the car window (I exaggerate) and you have to swab yourself and hand the swab back (this bit is accurate).

For someone who has never done the tonsils-and-nostrils thing before, the idea of being a newbie trying to figure it out in a car in a line of traffic is a bit daunting. But we have a pack of lateral flow test kits in the house, and a few days ago Trep jr and girlfriend (who are both NHS, and have to test twice a week) stopped over; so I took the opportunity to use one of our stash of test kits for a dummy run under their expert supervision. Negative. And some useful learning.

Now, when you do a home test you’re legally obliged to report a positive; but you’re also supposed to report a negative result (for stats); so, being a good citizen I rang the number and spoke to one of the call center guys. After the personal details thing, I got asked:

“So you tested because you were in contact with someone who had COVID?”

“Nah, it was practice.”

“Uh - what?

So I explained the circumstances, and the reasons for testing - all of which makes perfect sense to me - at the end of which the person on the end of the line said:

I see…”

Whilst, I suspect, checking a box which said “Other.”

Well, you’ll be pleased to hear that the COVID police didn’t follow up on that one. Yet. If they pick me up at the test site tomorrow, I’ll report back.

j

* - an invasive one; hence, I guess, the testing.

I did not see a phone number in the instructions to my test kit. If i tested positive, i could contact my doctor, who i assume would report it. But I’ve never told anyone about the times I’ve tested negative.

Nostrils and tonsils? My rapid test just involved a swab about 3/4" inside my nostrils. No tonsils, and not way up the nose. Is yours different from that?

Reporting from the UK - them’s the rules.

(a) - PCR test (tomorrow) requires both
(b) - the latest lateral flow tests are nostrils only, but we’ve had this pack of test kits for months and they are the old tonsils-and-nostrils tests. Which, as it turns out, was quite fortuitous.

j

Huh. Interesting. I’m glad we had the nostrils only kind. Especially for my 8-year-old, who really didn’t want any swabbing at all.

Oh, sorry. Sure, different jurisdictions, different rules. I’m in the US.

Wait, then. Why was I told to strip down to my underwear?!

Since 10/01, my government employer had been vax or weekly tests to retain your employment. They just made the decision effective 02/01/22, it’s vax or bye bye job.

All the social service unions are in contract talks with our employer. We had a meeting yesterday to discuss the employer’s final offer. I was taken aback by the people who work in homeless encampments, who are public nurses, who work with fragile children complaining about the mandate - which has nothing to do with the contract.

One of the presidents tried to shut it down, which caused a few of the complainers to become more vociferous, which led to them being booted. Of course, they then went to social media and complained about how the union is stifling speech.

To close out my little saga of the misuse of lateral flow tests, I had the pre-appointment COVID test this morning. After personal details, the first - the only - question I was asked was:

“Have you done this before?”

So yes, I have. I think my little practice run was wise.

j

Actually, that didn’t quite close out my little saga.

I failed to mention that I was told that the test center would only contact me if the result was positive. Not interesting really, as I feel fine and I don’t take risks.

They texted me today. As I saw the banner announcement, in a weird out of body experience, yesterday flashed before my eyes - a day spent in the company of three septuagenarian friends. Sheeee-it. I read the text - negative. Jesus Fecking… Don’t do that to me! If you say you’ll only contact me for a positive, fecking stick to that!

A concerning moment.

j

Remind me if the time the red cross sent me a letter after i donated blood. It began, “in testing your blood we have found…”

My heart froze. What was so bad they had to contact me?

Turned out i had a very high titer of chickenpox antibodies, and they wanted me to donate more often, because that’s useful. But sheesh, someone could have designed that letter better.

I got a perfectly neutrally worded letter from the bone marrow registry that gave me chills once the implications sank in. You see, they wanted me to know that I have a very rare HLA so while the odds that I’m ever going to match someone are tiny, it was important to them that I agree to reconfirm my commitment to donating if matched because I might be someone’s only match.

Aww, of course I-

Oh, shit. What they weren’t directly saying is if I ever need a bone marrow transplant myself, I’m screwed. Though I have a brother and hopefully we’d match each other should either of us take ill.

found the reference:

Figure 1 is the one I’ve seen republished in a few places.

I love that (in a sad way). I mean we are now reduced to the equivalent of plots of Saturday morning cartoons.

My sister Rebekah was sick and got tested, and her daughter was home for vacation only ten minutes when The Bekster got a phone call confirming that she tested positive for the virus. Instant isolation from her family, but it is a pisser that she and her daughter only got ten minutes together after being apart for a few months. The rest of us are keeping a close eye on the situation, of course.

Great (s) a new variant - Omicron from South Africa. Delta Airlines is breathing easier (/s). [though perhaps not the rest of us]

I’m away for the weekend with a few friends, two couples, intelligent people - cleverer than me. They’re well off individuals, nice families, good company. We got into a quite heated conversation about Covid, they are strong believers in the idea that the government is fear-mongering and telling the populace what to do, not out of caution but pure authoritarianism. They allege that the government are exaggerating the risk just to get (re) elected and exert control, which is what politicians live for. They mix in these circles and are cynical.

Everyone here is vaccinated, and boostered… these people aren’t idiots. I’m finding it hard to argue with them on this, they’re clever and well informed. I just don’t agree with their stance and find it heartless, blinkered and selfish. They think that lock downs and the restriction of personal choice is so damaging it outweighs any benefit. I guess this issue divides us in ways that are difficult to pretend don’t exist. It sucks, these people are my friends. ‘Get new friends’ isn’t as easy as it sounds!

The catalyst to this discussion was the decision by a number of countries to restrict travel to south african countries due to the newly identified variant there. They are adamant that this is not a proportionate response and will damage economies and livelihoods. What say you?

Well, in 7 months when the Omicron variant has spread all over the world like the Delta wildfire did and has killed, say…50,000 people, what will they say then?

This doesn’t make one speck of sense. How will this stance get anyone re-elected?

They are proposing two very unlikely situations: that the majority of the governments of the world, despite completely different goals and politics, would collude together to hide the truth; and that the scientists of the world, even in free countries, would go along with it.

The science and data agree with the decisions being touted by these governments. If anything, they tend to recommend more restrictions, not less.

As for the “personal choice” argument—that has always had the caveat that “your freedom to swing your fist ends just before it hits my face.” You are not free to cause severe harm or death to others. We never have been.

Heck, there have been vaccine requirements for as long as people today have been alive. Every one of them didn’t have a choice. And yet I doubt they were crying about authoritarianism or fascism back then. It’s all the same thing as before, for the same reasons. Vaccines work to severely dampen pandemic diseases. But only if nearly everyone takes them.

Oh, and an addendum: the OSHA thing isn’t a vaccine mandate. It’s a vaccine or testing mandate, for the safety of workers. Sure, vaccines are the easiest course, but people are given the choice to test to make sure they can’t infect others. The one person I know who is against government vaccine mandates on principle is okay with this option because it’s clearly about worker safety.

Actually, there’s always a few people who’ve protested vaccinations. Even for the polio vaccine. Nothing on the scale of today, though.