It is 08.00 am on Friday 18 September 2020, the eighteenth day of back to school. Our child off school with her cold for five days, returned fit and well two days ago.
So, whoopee, we thought to ourselves, we have won this first little health battle and we are all still safe and well and child is back at school – YES, we ARE doing OK! The high spirits lasted exactly ten minutes. Both our mobiles started ringing – it was school, desperate to reach at least one of us. Then followed a rather terse exchange:
‘You have to come and collect your child right away.’
‘Why, what’s the problem?’
She does not have a medical certificate, we can’t keep her at school, you have to come and take your child home, it’s the rules.’
‘We haven’t been told about any rule, what rule?’
‘Well, I’m telling you now, it’s the rules. I don’t make the rules, I have to follow them, and you have to follow them. Your child cannot come back to school without a medical certificate.’
So rules is rules, even if they are stupid. Child was politely kicked off the premises and brought back home for an early snack. Really annoyed, she began asking some tough questions as she munched away at her croissant – who makes these stupid rules anyway? – what about all those people I see out and about with no masks? – what about all those people who crowd me when I’m outside – don’t they know how long two metres are? – and what about all those joggers that huff and puff into our faces as they pretend to exercise – I think they are really trying to give us Covid. Everybody is breaking the rules all around me. Nobody is telling THEM to produce a medical certificate – why do I need one, when I am not doing anything wrong?
Our child, precociously socially aware, often surprises us with her sparkly outbursts. The argument that everybody needs to respect the rules, even if they seemed silly, fell on deaf ears. It was the subject of an on-going one-sided debate as we sat in front of our GP that afternoon and explained the situation. Ten minutes later, after a quick clinical chest and ENT examination, we had our medical certificate and were 25€ less rich. No need for any testing in his professional opinion.
So, rather than go and argue with the ‘school authorities’ and get nowhere fast, except a sense of bolshy satisfaction, we meekly took child back to school next morning, with certificate, end of story.
And what about Mum and Dad near miss experience?
Our deep fear of catching the virus in the first week of school was palpable. Our spirits were surprising good. They were kept afloat by the buoyancy bags of the logic of how we arrived at the decision not to panic, not to press the RED button for the Covid troops. We got the expected sore throats, cough and funny croaky voices but they passed quickly. However, it was more than enough of a fright to ensure we kept our focus, nerve and energy on being as ready as possible, both physically and mentally, as we get ready to trek impatiently down the very long road to real safety, sanity and normality. Unfortunately, this exit route is dreadfully signposted, so goodness knows how long the journey will take us, and everybody else to do.
I gave it the grand title ‘Do any of the plethora of so-called immunity enhancers actually come with a rock-solid evidence base?’ How naïve! My research led me immediately into a global multi-million ‘Pandora’s Box’ industry where the product history (it’s been used for the last two thousand years) and the belief system (I swear by it – I’ve taken every day for as long as I can remember), reign supreme. My first foray into Google scholar turned up no rock-solid evidence.
So, apologies folks, finding my way through the combined impenetrable barriers of history, reputation and belief to finally find the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth is going to take me much longer than anticipated. Watch this space but don’t hold your breath.
By John Saunders
World Health Communication Associates (WHCA) & INSPIRIT Creatives UG NGO,
MediaWise and MediaFocusUK
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