As the virus spread to Europe and North America in early 2020, countries scrambled to see what could be done to limit the mounting death toll. There was no easy solution without the development of effective anti-viral drugs or a vaccine. Initially, policies of containment, testing, travel restriction and social isolation were all that was available.
Many of the strategies detailed in this eHandbook have been affected by this new global disease. An updated ‘RPA Table’ (found in the final pages of the Chapter) provides a quick means of checking which of the methods discussed are affected by COVID-19. The ‘post COVID-19’ column of the Table is important reading.
As the virus spread, many people who were actively considering their end of life options viewed the risk of contracting COVID as a very real concern. In this context, questions arose about whether one’s preferred methods would be as effective in the presence of a COVID-19 infection. Or, indeed, if there was the possibility of using the disease as part of an end of life process. This Chapter seeks to answer these questions.
A COVID-19 Pneumonic Death
As has been widely reported, many people who contract the COVID virus recover without experiencing any adverse symptoms. A somewhat larger group will experience symptoms consisting of a mild (or moderate) upper respiratory infection, dry cough, fever, headache and sore throat. This group generally recovers completely with bed rest and simple analgesics and anti-pyretics such as aspirin or paracetemol.