Coronavirus Pandemic – Meeting The Challenge Together

Friday, 20th March 2020

- By Paul Hercock

The coronavirus pandemic is the worst public health crisis in generations. Concerns stem not only from its ability to cause severe respiratory distress, but also from the absence of a direct treatment, lack of a vaccine, and an apparent R0 of between 2 and 3 (in other words, on average, each infected person will infect 2-3 others).

As a doctor currently working in a non-clinical career, I am struck by the many challenges thrown up by the pandemic. Resources on the medical frontline are likely to be stretched well beyond capacity, as they already have been overseas. Concerns that NHS staff are unable to protect themselves through inadequate supply of protective equipment pose difficult questions about the risks staff are being forced to take.

Coronavirus Pandemic – Meeting The Challenge Together

It is my firm belief that medical industry has an important role to play in addressing the challenges thrown up by this crisis. The provision of extra ventilators is just one example of the importance in focusing on the ability to manufacture, monitor, assess, distribute and maintain critical medical devices. The drive for a vaccine and for effective anti-viral therapy underlines the importance of research and development of new drugs and therapies.

All non-clinical doctors will be faced by a difficult dilemma – whether to halt their non-clinical career and return, perhaps temporarily, to the medical frontline, or whether to remain in their current role and help bolster the abilities of medical industry to provide the frontline with the devices and drugs they critically need. In my view, there is no easy answer. It is up to the individual to make an informed decision that aligns with their values and their personal assessment of the situation. A non-clinical doctor returning to the frontline will be one extra pair of hands, but at what cost to the ability to ensure that the treatments we need during this crisis are safe, perform as intended, and meet the claims made by the manufacturer?

For more information regarding the corona virus, please visit NHS England.

Dr Paul Hercock

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