The isolation protocol: one plus one equals eight

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I’m still scratching my head over the COVID-19 isolation rules. To the best of my ability, I’ve summarised them here by taking the plight of two very similar people and comparing their fates in The New Normal.

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Photo by Sebastian Voortman from Pexels

Two neighbours go to a party. They’re both of equivalent health, with similar desk jobs at the same workplace. One has all his COVID-19 jabs, boosters and so forth. Let’s call him J. The other hasn’t – let’s call him U for unjabbed, unclean, uninsurable, take your pick. Both have previously been exposed to the same variant of the coronavirus.

The day after the party, they both get a text message from the Test and Trace service because somebody (who happens to also be fully COVID jabbed but the neighbours don’t know who it was) has tested positive in a lateral flow test and registered the results online.

Both U and J perform an LFT – twice because they’re so unreliable – and the results are negative.

Both U and J can still contract COVID from anyone.

If infected, both U and J can still pass it on to family members or anyone outside, regardless of the jab status of those with whom they come into contact.

This is the state of affairs, at the time of writing:

  • J is free to go about his business.
  • U has to isolate. Cannot leave the house for any reason, even if wearing a mask, surgical gloves and a HAZMAT suit.
  • U’s wife is an allied health professional. She does not yet drive and relies on U to take her to appointments to deliver healthcare. U cannot drive her to appointments, even though he will never leave the car. J could.
  • U cannot drive his wife to the shops and stay in the car while she does the shopping. J can.
  • U cannot take the recycling to the bottle bank, even if wearing a mask and gloves, and even though it’s in the farthest end of a supermarket car park and there’s nobody else within 400 metres. J can.
  • U cannot leave the country on holiday. J can, and does for a two-week holiday.
  • In a bar in France, J contracts coronavirus from someone. Has to isolate in his hotel room with the entire family for a given number of days.
  • J tests negative after 3 days. Is not allowed to leave.
  • When his isolation period is up, J travels back home, books and pays for a test. Negative. He can return to work.
  • When his isolation period is up, U still cannot go abroad unless he books and pays for a test two days before travel. It’s negative. He takes his family away for a two-week holiday.
  • On his return, U fills in a passenger locator form. He also takes a test and it’s negative.
  • U has to quarantine for 10 days.
  • 8 days after his return he has to pay for a further test. It’s negative. He still has to live out the remaining 2 days of quarantine before being allowed to return to work. His annual leave is two weeks, so his boss docks eight days’ pay for not being in work during quarantine.
  • One of their colleagues contracts COVID. Both J and U get the dreaded Test and Trace text message again.
  • J tests positive and has to isolate for five days.
  • U tests negative and has to isolate for five days.

In what universe does any of the above make sense?

In all of the above situations, not once has U contracted COVID, despite on numerous occasions being in the same room as someone who’s had it. J has contracted it twice, and can still pass it on, yet is slightly more free as a citizen.

The government states that:

Proof of natural immunity will not be accepted as an alternative to proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test.

Yet, people like U are the absolute health cash cow. There’s something unique about these people who can fight off any variant of COVID. And if government statistics are to be believed, around a third of people in the world fall into this bucket. That’s currently 2.5 billion people – give or take. That’s a huge resource pool.

Why are some of these people not being encouraged to come forward? The track and trace programme knows who they are, even if the people themselves don’t. If it’s as virulent as reported, there’s no way it’s luck to not be infected.

These are the people that have been in the same locations as others with the virus and repeatedly tested negative. Let’s study their genetic code to work out what makes them resistant, instead of coercing everyone – including the naturally immune and those that are at practically zero risk of complications from coronavirus (which is most people) – to take one or more jabs, from now until infinity.

I appreciate that the government are probably trying to make a zero exceptions policy so people aren’t confused or try to bypass rules with corner cases. It’s easier to tell everyone to stay at home and threaten them with a fine or prison sentence if they happen to be out when a government agent calls to check you haven’t left the house. But the myriad ever-changing rules torpedo that when around half of the population don’t fully understand the restrictions anyway.

Something doesn’t add up.

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