Together, we’ll get through this

November 4, 2020

This article has not been updated recently

Faced with the possibility that the NHS was going to be overwhelmed by COVID-19, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced additional lockdown measures across England from the 5th November. 

Wales has already introduced a two-week ‘fire break’, Scotland has a tiered system of restrictions, while Northern Ireland has brought in its own rules, including closing schools and pubs

(If you’re confused by all the different regulations across the four nations, the BBC has a handy explainer detailing the rules in each country.) 

All this sounds pretty depressing, but whatever restrictions you’re living under, I wanted to share a few thoughts on the way ahead.

Good news...

The good news is that compared with the first wave of the pandemic back in March and April, a huge effort from the UK and global research community means that we know a lot more about COVID-19 and the virus behind it, SARS-CoV-2. 

Thanks to you, and millions of other, using the COVID Symptom Study app to log your health on a daily basis, we are able to measure the levels of the virus across the UK on a daily basis, and you have helped uncover key signs and symptoms - leading to major changes in medical guidance around anosmia and delirium - and understand the growing issue of Long COVID.

The UK has also led the way in treatments, with the RECOVERY trial showing that the cheap steroid dexamethasone can significantly reduce deaths in the most seriously ill patients. 

So although rates of new cases of COVID-19 are high at over 40,000 per day nationally, most of these are still in younger people. If we can keep levels low in the older population, hopefully this second wave will pass and prove to be less fatal than the first.

...and bad news

So far, there have been more than a million confirmed cases of COVID019 in the UK (and probably four times that based on antibody tests and symptoms) with over 46,000 deaths.

Today, there are tens of thousands of families facing the holiday season without their loved ones, either as a direct or indirect effect of the pandemic, and many more grappling with the health, financial and social impacts of the disease.

While it’s hard to predict exactly what the future holds for this second wave of COVID-19 - and it’s likely to depend on which part of the UK you live in - one thing is certain: this isn’t going to be an easy time. 

It’s likely that we will need to continue these behavioural and social interventions for at least several months to contain the virus at low levels until we have an effective vaccine.

None of us ever wanted to be in this position, but here we are. 

Positive steps for the road ahead

As the nights draw in and we wonder if life will ever return to normal, there are some things we can all do to get through the months ahead.

Stay safe 

Follow public health guidelines about social distancing and face coverings, and wash your hands regularly. Get a flu jab, especially if you’re eligible for a free one. And make sure you seek medical attention if something doesn’t seem normal for you: the purpose of the current restrictions is to protect the NHS so people with serious health conditions like cancer and heart disease can get the treatment they need. 

Nourish your body

It’s tempting to hit the booze and reach for the snacks at a time like this - and based on the results of our food survey during the first lockdown, you certainly wouldn’t be alone. Around one in three of us put on weight last time. But avoiding snacks and nourishing your body with healthy food will better support your gut microbiome which in turn helps your immune system do its job.

Stay active

Physical activity is good for your general health, supports your immune system and boosts your mood. From a muddy cross-country run to dancing in the lounge, move in a way that makes you feel good and keeps you active. 

Check in with your mental health

This is a tough time for many of us, and we recognise the vital importance of mental health. We’ve previously shared our tips for coping with anxiety during lockdown, and there’s much more advice and support available from mental health charities like MIND and YoungMinds. Loneliness can be a major problem so don’t forget to check in with others - we are in this together! 

We’ve added a question about mood in the COVID Symptom Study app, and plan to follow up with more research looking at the impact of the pandemic and the new restrictions on the nation’s mental health.

Log your health daily 

Millions of COVID Symptom Study app users are helping us to track the pandemic in near real-time and generate vital insights into COVID-19. Many of you have been logging for months, and we are incredibly grateful. If you’ve previously used the app but stopped, now is the perfect time to start again, and encourage others to join. We don’t yet know how long immunity lasts for, so it’s crucial that people who were infected during the earlier part of the year are still using the app in case of reinfection. 

Tell friends and family to Download the app now and spend just a minute every day logging your health to be part of the largest study of COVID-19 symptoms in the world and stay ahead of the curve with the latest data from your area.

Together, we’ll get through this. Stay safe and keep logging.

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