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Welcome to the world of the immunosuppressed



Compulsive hand washing, anxiety over door handles and standing back from strangers might all be new to the majority of the population, but for those of us who have had, or are having, chemotherapy or immunosuppressant treatment, they are already well-established practices.

In the way a power cut might give us all a brief insight into what it is like to be visually impaired, Covid-19 has forced the whole population to experience what life is like for those with low white cells.

My own chemotherapy finished last year thankfully, but the fear of microbes I developed when I was immunosuppressed has remained with me. Already a fairly obsessive hand washer (not a bad trait to have for a healthcare professional ) my over-sanitised skin is now as rough as an Icelandic trawlerman.

How many people will become permanently microphobic?

When all this is over, I wonder how many of the population will have become permanently microphobic?

During my cancer treatment, I started to notice just how many men in public toilets don’t wash their hands. The large numbers of people who think nothing of coughing or sneezing in public places without covering their face. Filthy long nails, unhygienic public consumption of food, and don’t even get me started on people who put their feet up on seats on public transport.

Perhaps when Covid-19 is a distant memory, the muscle memory of hygiene practices we are all learning will remain and long term, this will help protect those whose medical condition may not be visible, but are nonetheless vulnerable to the infections we can all inadvertently spread.

One thing is for sure – I’m pretty sure we’re not going to need Saatchi and Saatchi’s help to promote this year’s flu vaccine campaign.

Dr David Turner is a GP in North West London