Dr Shivali Fulchand
Editor in Chief, The BSDJ
As I stare out across the empty London skyline, I am in awe of how an insignificantly sized virus has brought the world's economies, ambitions and lives to a halt. We didn't think it would possibly happen. It was somewhere far away, exotic, in China. That won't affect me.
Within a few short weeks, we have collectively and individually seen our lives re-shaped in unimaginable ways by COVID-19.
I had taken a year out of clinical medicine after my foundation training and was working as an Editor at The BMJ and a clinical fellow at the Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management. My work was mostly focused on one of the most urgent issues of our generation, climate change. I experienced the frustration of how evidence-based issues were not taken seriously and this was delaying efforts. The emergence of COVID-19 has placed these efforts on a back burner - as we now see death rates rising rapidly across the world. But what struck me, was that the entire COVID-19 pandemic is strikingly similar to climate change, but on a 'hyperlapse' mode.
Initially, there was denial that the issue will not affect us, then the first panic as countries nearby began to experience the effects and finally urgent action. We could have started to prevent COVID-19 early, if the work and science was followed earlier. Hindsight is always a wonderful thing.
Of course, the consequences of such global pandemics are always witnessed and managed by those working on the front lines - from the police, military, civil servants and our health care workers. This week, 20 000 military personnel descended to the ExCel Centre in London to rapidly build a 4000 bed hospital. This will serve as a model for additional hospitals to be built across the country.
For healthcare students it has also presented unique challenges - from cancelled examinations and placements and students being called in early to clinical practice.
As the rest of country contributes by taking strict social distancing measures, our healthcare workers will be busier than ever before, facing unprecedented challenges and in unpredictable circumstances.
At 8pm today, there will be a national gesture of gratitude to the staff on the front line of health and social care - by clapping for our NHS and carers. The British Student Doctor Journal would like to further honour this work by publishing short personal stories of students and healthcare staff on the front line.
In such times, we are reminded that we are all connected. And, in between the data and statistics, there are people supporting each other. We hope this collection of stories will serve to unite and connect us, as human beings.
"If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten." - Rudyard Kipling
The British Student Doctor Journal is starting a new series of articles to share the stories of healthcare workers and students tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you would like to share your story, from wherever you are in the world, please review the author guidelines.