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 is no easy solution without the development of effective anti-viral drugs or a vaccine. But that seems unlikely in the near future. Therefore, policies of containment, testing, travel restriction and social isolation are all that is currently 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 spreads, many people who are actively considering their end of life options will view the risk of contracting COVID as a very real concern. In this context, questions can arise about whether one’s preferred methods will be as effective in the presence of a COVID-19 infection. Or, indeed, if there is 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.