International renowned virologist self-report “in the recruit” new crown to the whole process of recovery: more awe of the virus
Peter Piot, a virologist at the director of the London school of hygiene and tropical medicine, was diagnosed with covid-19 in mid-march.He spent a week in hospital and has since been recovering at home in London.Even now, climbing the stairs still leaves him breathless.
What stands out from the rest is that Piot, who grew up in Belgium, was actually one of the discoverers of the ebola virus in 1976, and has spent his career fighting infectious diseases.
He was director of the United Nations joint programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) from 1995 to 2008 and is currently a consultant to Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European commission, on novel coronavirus.But his recent experience with novel coronavirus changed many of his ideas.
On May 2nd, after a break, the media interviewed prof piot remotely.In the interview, he explained the ups and downs and subtle psychological changes in his personal experience and his reflection on the perception of the new crown and death.In his inner monologue, published in the top academic journal science, he says he is now more awed by viruses:
10 years without getting sick: ‘I’ll never forget that feeling’
On March 19, professor piot had a sudden fever and a stinging headache.He didn’t have a cough, but his first reaction was that he might have covid-19.Although a workaholic, professor piot worked from home.
But he still doubts that his test could be positive.After that he isolated himself in the guest room of his home.But the fever did not go away.
In the past 10 years, professor piot has never been ill or taken a day off sick.He lives a very healthy life and walks a lot.The only risk factor was age — he was 71.Because he is an optimist, he thinks it will pass.But on April 1st a doctor friend advised him to have a thorough check-up because he had developed a fever and was increasingly stressed.
At that point, professor piot was still suffering from severe hypoxia, although he did not experience shortness of breath.Lung images showed severe pneumonia, typical of covid-19, as well as bacterial pneumonia.He gradually became exhausted and energetic.He realized it wasn’t just fatigue, it was exhaustion.“I’ll never forget that feeling.I had to be hospitalized, although during that time my novel coronavirus test was negative.”He said.This is also typical for covid-19: the virus disappears, but the consequences persist for weeks.
Admitted to hospital for treatment: “resigned to fate” through hell
When he was first admitted to the hospital, he feared he would be immediately put on a ventilator because of reports that mechanical ventilation may increase mortality.Luckily, they just gave them an oxygen mask, and it worked.So he went to the isolation room in the front of the intensive care unit.When you’re tired, you’re forced to surrender to fate — and professor piot completely surrendered to the paramedics.The next step is to live in the normal process of going from syringe to infusion, hoping you can get through it.Professor piot says he is usually very progressive about the diagnosis and treatment of surgery, but at this point he was “100 per cent a patient”.
Professor piot was given a room to share with a homeless man, a Colombian cleaner and a man from Bangladesh.All three patients had diabetes, which was consistent with the fact that covid-19 patients usually have some chronic underlying disease.The day and night were especially silent, for no one was strong enough to speak.He could only whisper for a few weeks, he recalls.Even in the interview, his voice seemed weak at night.At the same time, the question always comes to his mind: what happens when you get out of trouble?
After more than 40 years of fighting viruses around the world, professor piot has become an expert on infections.He said he was glad he was infected with covid-19 and not ebola.Although before that he had read a scientific study that concluded that if you end up in a UK hospital with covid-19, you have a 30% chance of dying.That’s the same as the overall death rate from ebola in west Africa in 2014.“It makes you sometimes lose your scientific mind and yield to emotional reflection.Sometimes I think they’ve got me at last — I’ve spent my life fighting viruses, and in the end, they’ve got their revenge.”“I’ve been in heaven and earth for a week, and this could be the end of the world.”
After a long week, he was finally discharged from the hospital.On his way home on public transport, he wanted to see the city he lived in, only to be greeted by empty streets, closed bars and, thankfully, fresh air.The streets were empty. It was a strange experience.He could not walk normally because his muscles were weak from lying down and lack of movement, which is not a good thing when it comes to treating lung disease.At home, he cried for a long time.He slept for a while, too.But there was still a risk of serious error at some point — the thought stuck in his mind.Then you’ll have to be in the hospital again, dealing with what you’ve been through.
“I have always been in awe of viruses, and that awe has never diminished,” he said.I’ve spent most of my life fighting HIV.”But after experiencing the virus’s remarkable presence in his own body, autor’s view of the virus was different, and more awe-inspiring.Although he had been exposed to the virus before, he clearly felt its impact on his life — he felt more vulnerable.
Relapse after discharge: “cytokine storm” attacked multiple organs
Unfortunately, a week after leaving the hospital, professor piot’s breathing became increasingly difficult.He had to go back to the hospital for a second checkup, but this time, fortunately, he could be treated on an outpatient basis.It turned out that professor piot was suffering from an organized pneumonic lung disease set off by so-called cytokine storm — the result of an overactive immune defense system.
Many people die not from tissue damage caused by the virus, but from an overreaction by their immune systems that leaves cells unsure how to deal with the virus.
He is still being treated because high doses of corticosteroids can blunt the immune system.He will not be able to survive the aforementioned storm if it is accompanied by symptoms of a viral outbreak.Thankfully, it didn’t happen.
In severe cases, he even developed atrial fibrillation, with a heart rate of up to 170 beats per minute.Treatment is also needed to control, in particular to prevent blood clotting events, including strokes.
Here, professor piot sees an underrated ability of the virus: it can affect every organ in the body.
Many believe that covid-19 kills 1% of patients, while the rest get rid of flu-like symptoms.But professor piot warned that things could get more complicated, as many people face chronic kidney and heart problems.Even their nervous systems are damaged.Hundreds of thousands of people around the world, and possibly many more, will need treatments such as kidney dialysis for the rest of their lives.
He pointed out that the more you learn about novel coronavirus, the more questions will arise, and the important thing is to learn as you go along.Prof piot says he is annoyed at the “commentators” who stand on the sidelines and judge scientists and policymakers with little insight, trying to take the fate of the pandemic into their own hands.
Reflection after recovery: vaccines are the only strategy for getting out
After that, professor piot’s lung image finally looked better again.On the day of the interview on May 2nd, for the first time in seven weeks, professor piot felt more or less himself.
He wants to resume work, though his activities will be limited.One of the first things he did was to work as von der leyen’s new crown special adviser on research and development.
He reminded the scientific community to be clear: without the novel coronavirus vaccine, humans would never be able to live normally.The only strategy that will truly emerge from this crisis is a vaccine that can be rolled out globally.That means producing billions of doses, which in itself is a huge challenge in terms of manufacturing quantities.Despite the efforts of scientists around the world, it is still uncertain whether a vaccine for the new coronavirus can be developed.
He also points to a hidden risk: people who die from vaccines who no longer want their children vaccinated.So if you want to introduce a vaccine against the coronavirus, you might have a problem — if too many people refuse to do so, the world may never be able to contain the pandemic.