A very serious investigation into why the hell we’re all so *ill* right now
Why have I been coughing for FIVE WEEKS
There’s something about this so-called super-cold that just reminds me of primary school. Everyone’s coughing on each other, people are going home early and I actually saw someone wiping snot on the back of their sleeve the other day. But, it begs the question – why the hell are we all so ill right now?
Deep in the throes of 2020, when we were all masking up, self-isolating and constantly washing our hands, we were sort-of untouchable – in a perpetually terrified type of way. The Covid paranoia was real, but hardly anyone was actually getting sick with the usual winter viruses.
This year, we’ve been back to breaking bubbles, breathing each other’s filthy, filthy air and, legally, Covid-sufferers are free to mix with as many people as they please. The answer seems obvious – but will we need to get used to super-colds in the post-Covid era?
According to the New Statesman, Covid measures such as PPE, lockdown and self-isolation were highly effective in the short-term – but our immune systems have been slightly stunted as a result.
All of our normal winter viruses – like chest infections, flu and the common cold – were “curtailed” during the two-year period between 2020 and 2021. BBC Future reported that the viruses we usually see year in, year out, were “stopped in their tracks” at this time.
Turns out, self-isolating when you’re ill and continuously keeping yourself clean stops the rapid spread of infections. Who knew?!
But why do our colds feel so much more sinister this year? The answer, apparently, lies in something called our immune memory.
An NCBI report states that immune memory is “the ability of the immune system to respond more rapidly and effectively to illnesses”. This means that, pre-Covid, our bodies would take much less time to recognise the symptoms of colds and flu – and actually spend time fighting it off, rather than trying to register it.
After Covid measures steered us away from winter viruses for a couple of years, our immune memories need to re-register as we catch them. Which probably explains why it’s taken four weeks for you to fight that flu, instead of two.