I walked through the door with a cup of Earl Grey tea clasped in my hand and the slither of steam ebbing through the small lip-hold sat upon the plastic cup container.
Daniela was in her study, head buried in her phone, barely acknowledging me as I walked through the door.
I wandered around our small 2-bedroom flat in silence somewhat wounded by her lack of acknowledgement of me.
A couple of words were exchanged before she said ‘what do you expect from me?! I’m reading up on herd immunity!’
It is 10.40 am on Saturday morning 2020 and life over the few weeks leading up to this had been turned totally upside down.
Daniela had her family on lockdown in northern Italy as a means of being seemingly the only effective method of protecting themselves against the deadly Coronavirus.
Officially considered a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation with over 5,000 registered dead and the virus showing signs of actually accelerating – it was a strange time to be alive.
And here was Daniela, with me in Fulham, London, having just read through the UK government’s plan to try and delay the onset of a virus that in some cases had a 5%+ mortality rate with no signs of a cure – via herd immunity.
Daniela was in the 2nd year of her university degree, in the midst of an exam period and had recently flown back from Turin on the 23rd of February just as things had begun to change in Italy.
‘Amore it’s crazy in Turin airport – and when I got to Gatwick they weren’t checking anybody!’
In the seven years, we’d been together, this was a first for us, and first for many people in living memory.
People were being exposed via AIR to a deadly pathogen with no known cure.
There had been a lot of debate as to the seriousness of this disease, whether it was being overblown, whether that actually for the most part, most people would be fine and that many were overreacting.
But then equally, international sporting events globally had been cancelled, 26 European countries had been banned from visiting the States, multiple countries had quarantined their residents and themselves.
We were living in a movie
‘I want to be with my family’ Daniela uttered as tears flowed from her eyes.
Covid-19 was deadliest amongst the elderly with preexisting medical conditions. At first Daniela and I considered this to be things such as cancer or other significant illness that compromises your immune system.
We’d soon discover that actually obesity, hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes and the like were examples of medical conditions that would increase your risk factors.
This meant that for both of our families there was at least one person who met these risk factors.
In Daniela’s case, it was her father who was 73 years old and suffered from hypertension as well as diabetes.
And to not be with him massively pained Daniela and affected the core of her being.
This was something I could sympathise with and something that also made these times strained for us
Daniela’s family were on lockdown whilst it seemed here in the UK – we were in the process of behaving in exactly the opposite fashion.
Herd immunity worked upon the basis that you could build resistance within a population through widespread contraction of a contagious disease through the natural immunity that will build from those who ultimately get then recover from the disease.
To make this effective – 60% or more of the population needed to get it.
And yet, here was a disease with no known cure.
So then the idea of using herd immunity to help delay the spread of a disease with no known cure seemed totally counter-intuitive.
We were being left at the mercy of a disease by the British Government.
And it wasn’t our own health we worried for – it was those of our family – as with my mother who was in her 60s, overweight with an underactive thyroid and various other health-related ailments.
Life had somewhat ground to a stop.
I’d seen my business fall off the face of the earth.
The fear in the business community caused by this airborne disease was deadly.
The NBA, Champions League and more had been suspended. The London Marathon for the first time in its history had been postponed.
And my business; Pearl Lemon was reliant upon businesses who were frail within themselves.
So cancellations from the weakness businesses had been hitting me left, right and centre.
The roll-call had been 5 so far –
- The first client was a Chinese import/export company who had suspended all marketing activity
- The second was a hair transplant clinic in Budapest who relied upon patients from Italy and the UK and was in danger of going under
- The third was a property technology landlord who was seeing cancellations across the board because of the crisis
- The fourth was an events supplier of party kit – who were not getting orders from the events accounts
- The fifth was a travel adventure company in Nepal who had not getting any enquiries or bookings
Outside of this one of my sales team had seen over 10 calls cancelled within one week, and a couple of ‘certain deals’ just disappeared.
My business was in the process of being decimated and others around me who did have fixed costs were suffering as well.
Plans I had made to see a friend for his birthday, to continue with my boxing lessons, flights to Estonia and Portugal – all of it was being cancelled.
Life had seemingly come to a strange halt.
It was a strange time for Daniela and I to see our usual routines implode.
Daniela’s university had yet to make an announcement in regards to how they were managing the Coronavirus – as they were taking lead from the government who decided schools and universities could continue as normal.
Meanwhile, there had been several universities that had already decided to switch all teaching to online, and I hoped it would be the case that Daniela’s university would soon follow suit.
This was a time for her to be home with her family and continue her studies remotely.
Try all I might, I could not focus upon work.
There was no getting away from this state of affairs, and it was exactly the same for Daniela.
When moments of focus hit her in this exam period, she’d be met with messages by her family, Facebook messages from her friends and influencers on Instagram discussing it.
This was without my exposure to it being shared with her – as I tried to rapidly understand the best way to keep my agency going.
I pondered for a moment.
There were some experts such as Michael Osterholm who had appeared on the Joe Rogan podcast that felt in a conservative scenario the number of deaths would rise to 480,000 worldwide.
The figure seemed unbelievable. Like something from a movie.
I paused to sip my tea.
The tea had gone cold.
I put down my pen and no longer felt like writing.
See you when I see you guys…