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05th May 2020

John in Lockdown (inst.13)

by Burns Team Writer

Coronavirus Lockdown May 5th 2020

In his comeback address Boris Johnson claimed that “other countries were looking at Britain’s apparent success in dealing with coronavirus.” Britain seems set to have the highest death toll in Europe despite having more time to prepare.

If what’s happening here is his idea of success, what would failure look like? One answer is to look across the pond at how his bosom pal Trump is dealing with the pandemic.

This weekend (May 2-3) it was reported in the media that a trial was being planned to treat coronavirus using blood plasma from recovered patients. The plasma contains antibodies which can neutralise the virus. The doctor who was planning the trial said that he was in need of potential patients to try the treatment!

I recalled that this idea had been floated some time ago but had heard no more about it. Sure enough, I found an article about this in The Lancet dated 27 February 2020. Another in US publication Science News dated April 3. Where have we been with this? A treatment like this, is surely as safe as a blood transfusion, easy, inexpensive and can be handled within the hospital itself.

This type of treatment has been used successfully in other disease conditions. Why wait for clinical trials when people are dying in their thousands?  Or am I missing something?

Poetry Corner

This poem by Catherine Johnson was in The Guardian recently as part of its offering to entertain children during the lockdown.  It reminded me of a time when as a twenty something I was doing a locum job in Wolverhampton. A school janitor brought in a creature in a bucket of water. This school pet was pink in colour but had developed red blotches. “Perhaps it was old age,” he suggested.

I didn’t even know what it was, never mind figure out what might be ailing it! It was an axolotl, a type of salamander, which is an amphibian. Axolotls are unusual among amphibians (I just looked this up) in that they reach adulthood without undergoing metamorphosis.

Instead of developing lungs and taking to the land, adults remain aquatic and gilled. A senior member of the practice telephoned London Zoo for advice but apparently noone was forthcoming. They live for 10 -15 years.

The Axolotl at Bedtime by Catherine Johnson

Never give your axolotl chocalotl in a botl

Serve it in a tiny eggcup, not too cold and not too hotl

Make him sip it very slowly, not too much, never a lotl.

After all, he’s just a sleepy, snuggly, bedtime, axolotl.


Then tuck him – very gently – in his hand carved wooden cotl,

Turn the light out, seven thirty, never later, on the dotl.

Sing him songs of salamanders, give it everything you’ve gotl

As there’s nothing like a tune to serenade your axolotl.


Brush his gills out on the pillow, never mind the whys or whatl.

Once he’s deeply all a –slumber, sweetly snoring, off you trotl.

Think of him, snug in his dreamland, flying kites or sailing yachtl.

Then you’ll sigh, you’ve done your duty, time to clean the pans and potl.

Come tomorrow he’ll be one fresh, keen as mustard, axolotl.


Stay safe,