A Lockdown Sceptics reader who is a paramedic of four years’ experience has written to tell us about how through her job she encounters hundreds of sick people and hardly ever gets ill, despite never wearing a face mask before the pandemic.
When I began in the ambulance service several years ago and would attend patients with a wide variety of contagious illnesses, I found myself experiencing near-constant cold-like symptoms. These did not necessarily develop into anything worth taking more than a couple of paracetamol for, but it was enough to be noticeably waking up with a sore throat or stuffed nose every morning. On speaking to many of my colleagues, they all recall similar experiences.
As time went on and I continued exposing myself to a plethora of pathogens, I began to find that illness became an unfamiliar state. I’d attend patients and be so convinced I’d catch whatever bug they had that I’d spend the following job with pseudo-nausea. And yet despite being in close proximity and often in the confined space that is the back of an ambulance, with no mask or PPE and with coughs, sneezes, diarrhoea and vomiting, surprisingly I would very rarely contract anything. In five years I can recall a handful of colds, two bouts of vomiting for a few hours, and one case of the flu which still wasn’t as severe as many people experience.
Whilst the use of masks may have little demonstrated impact on the overall spread of Covid, I have often wondered to what extent PPE may be “protecting” us from other contagious particles. If so, what harm is this doing in the long term by not allowing our immune system to continually develop its innate defences? It’s illogical to expect to gain muscular strength being sedentary, yet it seems an alien concept to many to apply the same principle to our immunity.
Should a time ever come when we are no longer advised to wear masks and people no longer scrub their shopping to within an inch of its life, will we potentially see an influx of people becoming more frequently or severely ill from what would have ordinarily been relatively harmless germs?
I’ve certainly noticed a recurrence of prolonged sniffles since I stopped being so ‘contaminated’ all the time.
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