Valentine’s Friday, 2020. A quarter century practising medicine. Half in hospitals, half in general practice. I’d been treating unseasonal, politely-coughing, relatively-well patients for the previous two and a half weeks.
Extraordinarily, on Saturday at 4am I was abruptly awoken by uncontrollable, whole body, flailing movements. They continued without relent for 5 hours. I’d hypothesised I was having a grand mal seizure, but as I lay violently shaking and goose-pimpled I coldly concluded I was conscious, so these were rigors. I’d witnessed two in my career one as a naïve house officer on a medical ward, and now the second in the comfort of my own bed. It wasn’t my last hurrah.
Two Paracetamol, two duvets, two days of bad diarrhoea and I returned to work Monday, a few pounds lighter and clinically puzzled. This was no ordinary fever. As it happens, two other GPs in my vicinity later described similar contemporaneous symptoms, and we all tested negative for Roche’s Covid-19 antibody assay 4 months later. That, however, is not so meaningful since most people are thought to clear the virus without the need for specific SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. On top of this, in PHE’s own studies, Roche’s test demonstrated only 83.9 per cent – 86.7 per cent sensitivity, so it was missing 13-17 per cent of true positives.