Coronavirus, your deadly rampage is almost over

Opinion: After 10 chaotic months we have finally done it; we are looking at the end of the pandemic thanks to the vaccines and soon the terrible period of pain and uncertainty will become another footnote in the history of humanity

Dr. Galia Rahav|
The past 10 chaotic and turbulent months have felt more like 10 years.
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  • At the start of the pandemic, I was genuinely excited: a new virus, a new disease, new diagnostics, experimental treatments. I was excited at the prospect of all the new research and work.
    3 View gallery
    חיסון קורונה פייזר בית חולים איכילוב תל אביב
    חיסון קורונה פייזר בית חולים איכילוב תל אביב
    Medical staff at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv are vaccinated against coronavirus
    (Photo: Getty)
    But eagerness very quickly gave way to doubt.
    What is this disease? How does it affect the immune system? How will its patients be treated?
    My bosses wanted me to formulize a treatment protocol, but I had no idea where to get the information.
    With a novel disease, there are no experts. And this time there were just some basic recommendations from Chinese doctors on Zoom calls.
    I found myself treating patients in complete contravention of the most fundamental rule taught to medical students and young doctors: always use treatment that is based on research.
    I found myself using Twitter and WhatsApp messages from colleagues overseas talking about their experience in treating coronavirus, which was essentially nothing more than hearsay.
    But what can you do when you are left with no other choice and people are dying in your arms?
    There was also a constant worry for the medical staff. Each worker infected added to the sense of failure. Could we have done more to prevent this?
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    אכיפת הסגר
    אכיפת הסגר
    Police enforcing the second coronavirus lockdown
    (Photo: Israel Police)
    Several months later came the "infodemic." More than 70,000 articles, papers and data sheets had been produce and reading even most of them was an impossible task for any human being.
    We did not even have time to recover from the initial wave when the next was already starting.
    Again, we were faced with new questions: Why had nobody coordinated the epidemiological investigations? Why did we not have enough test kits? Why was there no central body to oversee it all? Who was to blame - the government, the prime minister, me?
    I felt a terrible sense of disappointment and frustration.
    You tell yourself that everything will be fine. That people will better adhere to public health orders and that a lockdown will do the trick. That this time we will reopen more slowly and carefully. But no, the same mistakes were made again and again and again.
    I feel ridiculous when I find myself arguing with scientists and fellow doctors that coronavirus is a terrible ailment and is in no way like the flu, or that we should not allow people to get infected in order to achieve mass immunity.
    I struggle constantly to find treatment solutions, some sort of research paper that can help patients, diagnose the pathogen as quickly as possible and even now, almost a year later, try to find out what this disease even is.
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     Treating a coronavirus patient at Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon
     Treating a coronavirus patient at Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon
    Treating a coronavirus patient at Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon
    (Plhoto: AFP)
    Now a new type of patient has arrived, the post-coronavirus kind. They arrive in clinics tired and dazed, struggling to breathe. Some have even been hospitalized for all kinds of ailments.
    I feel the virus is always waiting around the corner for me to slip up.
    I will never understand where I found the strength to work round the clock, but the unknown dangers of the disease powered me to read on, to research, work and study more,
    On Sunday, my dream came true when I was vaccinated.
    Coronavirus, my dear old friend, your time is done!
    No longer will your proteins attach to our cells. Go find other hosts and leave us in peace without mutations or new tricks. You have made your presence felt enough.

    Dr. Galia Rahav is the Head of the Infectious Disease Unit and Laboratories at the Sheba Medical Center
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