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I’m a double vaccinated GP and here’s my experience of Covid



On 29 January 2020, the first case of Covid-19 was confirmed in England. Two Chinese nationals tested positive whilst visiting the city of York. I remember thinking when I watched the news that it felt close to home – only 48 miles away, in fact. The following day, the World Health Organisation declared a global health emergency. Now, 513 days later, I too have caught the virus.

I don’t know how. I wear scrubs at work, wash my hands regularly, and wear PPE. I don’t go out often and when I do, I wear a mask. I’m also double vaccinated. I’ve suffered ill health over the past few years and so am extra cautious around infective patients. Nonetheless, I’ve caught it. 

In many ways, it felt inevitable. At the risk of sounding defeatist, I always said that I would catch it eventually, and so was delighted to be vaccinated early in the pandemic in the hope that my immune system would be prepared for the fight. At that stage, I hadn’t thought much about the rise of variants and the possible failure of first-generation vaccines. 

At first, I felt aches – generalised ones that seemed to originate from my bones. Then came sweats and a fever, followed by cramps of unusual muscle groups like my face, wrists and back. All the while, a burning acid-like sensation has been eating away at my nose, and I’m beginning to notice that my senses of smell and taste are dying. In the background, a sparse but sinister cough burns in my chest, with the occasional rattle reminiscent of emphysema. Fortunately, I’m not short of breath yet.

The cognitive clouding is eerily familiar. I had a stroke a few years ago and have suffered from brain fog ever since, which is especially acute when I’m tired. It’s like my brain runs out of data on a pay-as-you-go plan. It’s not a comforting familiarity and makes me nervous about how many insults my brain can endure before I’m no longer able to live my life in the way that I do.

I like to be busy and I’m easily bored. I’ve worked all the way through the pandemic and don’t feel inclined to give in now. I have an NHS-enabled laptop and a team that’s well-versed with technology and remote working.

Consequently, I can do a large part of my job remotely, and intend to do so. For me, it’s not about presenteeism, and I don’t care to be a hero. I want to continue to work for my own reasons. I know that the lack of routine and cognitive stimulation will lead to my mental deconditioning, and I feel at my best when I’m contributing to the success of my team. The part that I play in my work family is an important facet of my personality, which is linked to my happiness and wellbeing.

My team tell me that they’re fine and that I need to concentrate on getting myself better, which means spending less time worrying about them. However, a brief dip into social media tells me that my practice is providing a skeleton service due to staff illness and isolation. I don’t know what hurts more, the aches of Covid myalgia, or the guilt of letting my colleagues and patients down.

The hardest part of this for me is that I miss my children desperately. I live separate from their mother, and they have stayed away whilst I have been ill. I understand the pain of all of those families who have had to isolate from loved ones for prolonged periods of time, and especially for those who have been unable to be close during a final illness.

I’m on day seven of my infection, and read in the news this morning of a healthy young 42-year-old who died four weeks after contracting the disease. I’m not out of the woods yet and have considered what medium to long-term consequences Covid will have in store for me. I see little point in worrying about the what ifs when I can’t control them and instead focus on what positive things I can do right now.

The pandemic is far from over, and if you haven’t yet felt the burning breath of Covid lingering in your lungs, there’s still time for your turn. Should that day arise, I wish you comfort and a fair-weather journey with the ability to convalesce at home surrounded by those you love.

Dr Dean Eggitt is chief executive of Doncaster LMC and a GP partner in Doncaster

READERS' COMMENTS [13]

Sally Watkins 6 August, 2021 8:54 pm

Wishing you a swift recovery and please take time to look after yourself.

Vinci Ho 7 August, 2021 9:20 am

There are many aspects of life and work is only one part of all the ‘learnings’ we can acquire out of it , mate .
Life is a journey , not a destination. Widen your eyes to learn various on this journey .
Perhaps we are too parochial about work 🤨
Please look after yourself and get well 😃

David Mummery 7 August, 2021 9:21 pm

Get well soon Dean. Well done on inviting Isabel Oakeshott from the Mail to see what GP is really like – from the article she seemed a bit shocked and certainly more sympathetic

Vinci Ho 7 August, 2021 10:32 pm

Never imagined I would give you a link for an article in DM on this platform. 👇 https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-9847323/amp/ISABEL-OAKESHOTT-day-frazzled-GP-proof-seeing-patients-face-face-saves-lives.html
But I suppose only do the ‘right’ thing at the right time and right place .
Read the article and make your own judgement 😎

Vinci Ho 7 August, 2021 10:38 pm

And I suppose my advice to these journalists is :
Discern the facts of the matter before applying personal emotional feelings.
There is a difference between yellow journalism driven by sensationalism and investigative journalism underpinned by evidence. 🧐

John Graham Munro 8 August, 2021 3:48 pm

Sorry Isabel—–but your article is fanciful

Richard Greenway 9 August, 2021 11:21 am

Hope you get well soon.

David Jarvis 9 August, 2021 2:43 pm

I don’t think Isabel is reading this. Try on the daily mail comments section.

Una Coales 10 August, 2021 7:01 am

Dr Dean please consider early covid treatment, either Dr Zelenko’s protocol or FLCCC. Breakthrough covid is supposed to be milder but it sounds like you may have underlying conditions.

David Church 10 August, 2021 7:17 pm

Get well soon Dean.
You have not let anyone down;
that was done by the Government and CMOs in January, 2020 and ever since !

helen towner 11 August, 2021 12:02 pm

Thanks for sharing your experience–Not many bugs keep GPs off–we have all probably managed to struggle in and complete a week with temps and Flu in the past but this wretch is multisystem and potentially lethal–I wonder how many double vaccinated GPs are contracting it now-I know of one recently, still too ill to work locally–seems the pfizer immunity is wearing off just as we are letting more in to the surgery. Hope you get through the next few weeks ok and make a good recovery, best wishes

Una Coales 11 August, 2021 6:26 pm

@helen towner the pfizer vaccine may only cover for 3 months vs natural immunity a year. Dr Zelenko’s protocol of hcq, doxycycline and zinc or the U.S. FLCCC’s protocol also recommended by UK’s HART group seem to be most effective for early covid treatment. I have just listened to Dr Mike Yeadon, a former Pfizer VP scientist blow the whistle and share his concerns.

Dave Haddock 12 August, 2021 6:44 pm

Max temp 37.9, bit achy, bit of a cough, better after 4-5 days. No worse than flu. Biontech X 2. Probably caught at the vaccination clinic. Sat in the garden with a beer waiting for the quarantine to end.