Coronavirus: Is it time to move on and get back to normal life?

  • 29 August 2020
  • From the section Health
woman outside shop with social distancing rules Image copyright Getty Images

Are the government and media overdoing coronavirus? Is it time to move on and get back to normal life?

These are big questions, and given the parlous state of the economy, they deserve some attention.

Let me start with some positives, which may help encourage the viewpoint I see a lot on social media, that Covid is over, finished, done with.

The trend in deaths and serious illness continues to decline.

The number of patients in hospital who have a confirmed Covid-19 diagnosis has been falling for months.

Read full article Coronavirus: Is it time to move on and get back to normal life?

Challenge trials: The volunteers offering to be infected with coronavirus

  • 22 August 2020
  • From the section Health
Alastair Fraser-Urquhart
Image caption Alastair Fraser-Urquhart

Would you agree to have coronavirus squirted up your nose? All, of course, in the name of science.

There are plenty who would, and indeed are campaigning to be allowed to take part in so-called "challenge trials" to try to accelerate development of a coronavirus vaccine.

Read full article Challenge trials: The volunteers offering to be infected with coronavirus

Coronavirus: Would you spit in a tube every week to end the pandemic?

  • 17 July 2020
  • From the section Health
woman spitting Image copyright Emma Russell

What if there was a way of returning life to what it was like before coronavirus? No more social distancing, no face coverings, no fear of Covid-19. Of course the reason for all the restrictions is an attempt to bear down on the virus, and to minimise its spread. What we need is a fast and reliable way of spotting those around us who are infected.

The first problem is that fewer than one in four people testing positive for coronavirus have symptoms on the day they get tested.

Read full article Coronavirus: Would you spit in a tube every week to end the pandemic?

Coronavirus: What does Covid-19 do to the brain?

  • 1 July 2020
  • From the section Health
Consultant neurologist Arvind Chandratheva points out brain damage on a scan
Image caption Consultant neurologist Arvind Chandratheva points out brain damage on a scan

Stroke, delirium, anxiety, confusion, fatigue - the list goes on. If you think Covid-19 is just a respiratory disease, think again.

As each week passes, it is becoming increasingly clear that coronavirus can trigger a huge range of neurological problems.

Read full article Coronavirus: What does Covid-19 do to the brain?

Fergus Walsh: How breakthrough coronavirus drug dexamethasone was found

  • 20 June 2020
  • From the section Health
good news calendar Image copyright Emma Russell

It is a rare and welcome moment to be able to say something positive about the treatment of Covid-19.

Until this week there was no medicine proven to save lives. Now we have dexamethasone, which cuts the risk of death for patients on a ventilator by a third, and for those on oxygen by a fifth.

Read full article Fergus Walsh: How breakthrough coronavirus drug dexamethasone was found

Fergus Walsh: The mental health crisis looming in ICU

  • 13 June 2020
  • From the section Health
Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionThe BBC's Fergus Walsh meets medics treating patients with Covid-19 at University College Hospital London

I am still haunted by what I saw in intensive care during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic.

The patients on ventilators, motionless except for the rise and fall of their chest, their bodies connected to monitors and drug infusion pumps. An unconscious existence balanced between life and death. The calm of the staff, in full PPE, working as one unified team to deal with this completely new viral menace, the chaos of Covid-19. No-one had experienced anything like it before.

Read full article Fergus Walsh: The mental health crisis looming in ICU

Fergus Walsh: Was coronavirus here earlier than we thought?

  • 6 June 2020
  • From the section Health
Woman coughing Image copyright Getty Images

My experience of testing positive for coronavirus antibodies clearly struck a nerve. Two weeks ago I wrote that I'd had no recent symptoms but dismissed a bout of pneumonia in January because it was weeks before the first confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the UK.

Many of you responded with your own experiences of having Covid-like symptoms - some as far back as November - and urged me to investigate further.

Read full article Fergus Walsh: Was coronavirus here earlier than we thought?

Coronavirus: Why vaccines rely on volunteers

  • 30 May 2020
  • From the section Health
Fergus Walsh

The world eagerly awaits a coronavirus vaccine, and labs are racing to develop one. Some have now reached the stage of human trials and are looking for volunteers. So what's it like to be part of a vaccine trial?

I remember very clearly my first medical trial. It was in Oxford where I was going to receive an experimental vaccine against bird flu.

Read full article Coronavirus: Why vaccines rely on volunteers

Fergus Walsh: 'I was gobsmacked to test positive for coronavirus antibodies'

  • 23 May 2020
  • From the section Health
Three positive antibody finger-prick tests Image copyright Emma Russell

Antibody tests which show that you have had a Covid-19 infection will be rolled out to NHS and care staff from next week. So what happens when you test positive? Carry on as before - and I should know.

Part of the job of a medical correspondent is getting involved. That means volunteering for medical trials, tests and so on. I forget the number of times I've rolled up my sleeve to give blood to illustrate some story, or gone into an MRI scanner to image my brain. It's what we call "show and tell" in the TV trade. So when home antibody tests were first in the news I set out to show how they worked.

Read full article Fergus Walsh: 'I was gobsmacked to test positive for coronavirus antibodies'

Coronavirus: Scientists use genetic code to track UK spread

  • 9 March 2020
  • From the section Health
MinION machine
Image caption Prof Hiscox's team are using MinION, a hand-held sequencer developed by Oxford Nanopore Technologies

Scientists are analysing the unique genetic code of individual samples from infected patients to track how the coronavirus is spreading across the UK.

Each sample of its genetic material, RNA, reveals another step in the chain of infections - who infected whom.

Read full article Coronavirus: Scientists use genetic code to track UK spread