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Post-Covid flu is here

Visit any university up and down the country right now and all you’ll hear is coughing and sniffling. The Christmas flu is here, and I feel Covid has made things worse.

Greg Devine


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I always get ill this time of year. Come late November and I’ll find myself coughing constantly and blowing my nose so much it becomes an annoyance. I’m used to it now, it’s happened every year for as long as I can remember, but this year it feels worse. Lecture theatres managed about three weeks without the entire room coughing after the notorious ‘freshers flu’, but with the arrival of Christmas flu, disruption has returned. I can’t help but feel that Covid might have something to do with it.

Spending as much time as we have inside during the last couple of years, and with masks on, has dramatically weakened our immune systems, in my opinion. This year, it feels as though we’re all paying the price for this. Look at the worries surrounding the NHS. So many people are scared of how tough this winter may be for older people and those more vulnerable. With the possibility of power cuts looming large, people are having to choose between heating their homes or eating. We could be in for a very tough winter period indeed.

I’m quite a healthy, young person, yet I feel shocking as a result of this current virus. My immune system will be strong enough to deal with it, but it might prove a different story for the vulnerable and elderly in society, or even young children—particularly those living in freezing cold houses because their parents are struggling to meet all their bills. How can this be happening in the 21st Century? We’re supposed to be a developed nation, yet far too many people are living in financial dire straits and experiencing health inequality and fuel poverty.

The cough I’ve got is most likely a chest infection—I probably need some antibiotics to be rid of it. I’ll just ring the doctors and see my GP. At least, that’s what I used to be able to do. Nowadays, GP appointments are like gold dust, getting one is akin to a Tough Mudder challenge. Even if you try and call the surgery first thing in the morning, you’ll be held in a massive queue, only to be told that you won’t get an appointment for a week or so—in some cases, much longer. I only need a course of antibiotics and my chest should be fine, but I can’t get any tablets if I can’t get an appointment. Still, I’m lucky—a chest infection could easily hospitalise an older or vulnerable person.

We’ve become accustomed to this, which is, frankly, atrocious. Most people are under the illusion that everything’s fine under Rishi Sunak’s command. Really? The same anger and disappointment we’ve felt under this Tory government over the last twelve years should still stand today. We’re in the exact same mess we were in when Truss was at the helm, yet I’m not hearing the same shouts for a general election as I did then. Sunak is the leader of the same party, with the same ideas and manifesto it’s always sported. Just because the leader has changed doesn’t make any difference. Is the NHS still struggling? Yes. Is the situation being made worse thanks to the Tories? Yes…only this time poverty is so widespread it won’t just be a lack of funding into the NHS that will be to blame, but also a lack of suitable living conditions for some of the poorest members of our society. Children are dying thanks to mould—how can that happen in Britain in 2022? Honestly, it’s beyond words.

Unfortunately, this Christmas looks incredibly bleak. It’s difficult to display Christmas spirit when you realise just how many people will struggle during the festive period and beyond.

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