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‘If we catch Covid, we die’: UK shielders reflect on still feeling unsafe

Sarah Spoor and her two adult sons have spent the past 14 months shielding in a one-bedroom apartment, with no garden, in west London. Her youngest sleeps in the bedroom, his brother has a pull-out bed in the kitchen, while Spoor takes the living room in another fold-out bed.

All three have complex medical conditions that leave them vulnerable to Covid, and despite the strain of living in such close quarters, they don’t feel safe leaving home any time soon.

“If we catch it, we die; it’s that simple. In the 14 months, I have probably been out about four times, and that’s usually in some dire emergency,” said Spoor, who provides round-the-clock care for her sons, 20 and 24, after their medical team decided it was too risky for their usual carers to continue visiting.

The family has yet to be vaccinated as their medical conditions, which include type 1 diabetes, adrenal insufficiency, pernicious anemia and thyroid failure, mean they are likely to experience a severe reaction leading to hospital admission, and they are concerned about the risk of catching Covid in hospital when cases are still prevalent.

Spoor is not alone in fearing a return to life after lockdown, with disability charity Scope estimating 75% of disabled people plan to continue shielding until after their second vaccine dose, and some for longer.

“I think there is a potential long-term impact that groups of people become squirrelled away and it’s potentially easy for governments and local authorities to forget about them,” said James Taylor, executive director of strategy and social change at Scope. “We’re really worried that, in the long-term, lots of the rights that disabled people have fought for, the visibility, the recognition of disabled people as equal, that all falling away and going backwards.”

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Source: The Guardian, 19 April 2021


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