Coping with coronavirus

The spread of coronavirus has caused a global pandemic that confined many of us to our homes, and turned all of our lives upside down. The rules are changing all the time and it can still feel really overwhelming. We get that the health crisis impacts you all differently.

We’ve tried to cover all bases, with practical tips on managing your money, work and furlough, study, and managing your mental health during the pandemic. We’ve also got some helpful information about the COVID-19 vaccine programme and how it works.

You’ll also find plenty of fun ways to escape, unwind and spread good vibes when things get too much.

What is coronavirus?

Coronavirus, or COVID-19, as it’s sometimes also called, is a virus that can affect your lungs and airways. Sometimes, you might hear SARS mentioned in reference to coronavirus. SARS stands for severe acute respiratory syndrome and is used to describe any virus that affects our lungs and how we breathe.

Because it’s a virus, coronavirus can only survive inside the living cells of an organism like an animal, a plant or us. The virus can also mutate, which means there are different strains (or variants) that behave slightly differently. They can sometimes be more infectious.

We’re learning things about coronavirus all the time, but we know it spreads through the droplets that people exhale, sneeze and cough – coughs and sneezes mean more droplets and a higher chance of infection, which is why masks and some forms of social distancing are still advised as protective measures. The restrictions are changing and you can find all the most up to date government advice here.

How are you today?

How can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

The vaccination programme is underway in the UK, but how can you get your vaccine? We spoke to Professor Helen Fletcher, who is Professor of Immunology at The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Watch our video to hear her expert information and advice on how to get vaccinated.



What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Public Health England lists the three main symptoms of coronavirus as:

  • A high temperature
  • A new, continuous cough
  • A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste

If you have any of these symptoms, you should get a PCR test (this means a test that is sent to a lab, not a rapid lateral flow test) to check if you have coronavirus and stay at home until you get your result.

How do I self-isolate?

If you think you have coronavirus and are showing the symptoms, make sure you call 111. It’s also really important to self-isolate to protect others from getting the virus and to take care of yourself.

If you’re self-isolating, you are not allowed to leave your home for any reason. If you can, get food and medicine delivered to you and order whatever you can online.

You should even do exercise at home – you can use your garden; and definitely don’t invite anybody round.

What is a rapid lateral flow test?

A rapid lateral flow test is a test you can get if you don’t have symptoms of COVID-19. You can take it at home, or at a rapid flow test site.

The tests are free and they’re quick and easy to do – you just have to rub a long cotton bud over your tonsils and then inside your nose. You then get the results within 30 minutes.

You should take a rapid lateral flow test twice a week to keep you and those around you safe. If you test positive, you and anyone you live with will need to self-isolate.

Will the COVID-19 vaccination give me a blood clot?

The risk of this happening is very low. There’s been a huge amount in the news on the association of blood clots with COVID-19 vaccines and in particular, with the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine. There have been some very rare types of blood clot associated with the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, but the number of cases is incredibly small – around two in a million.

People in their 20s and 30s have been identified as being more likely to be at risk and are therefore being offered one of the other vaccines instead. It is definitely worth getting the vaccine, as the risk of getting COVID-19 is much higher than the risk of getting blood clots from the vaccination.

What is the Omicron variant?

In November 2021, a new variant of coronavirus was detected in South Africa and was named Omicron. Omicron has a few different mutations, which means that it behaves differently from other variants we have seen.

What do we know about Omicron?

Research is ongoing so we still don’t know everything about the variant, but here’s what we do know:

How quickly is it spreading?

Omicron is spreading faster than the Delta variant, with a speed comparable to the spread of the original virus in early 2020, before most of us were vaccinated. There are over 10,000 cases in South Africa and scientists are estimating that there are roughly 2,500 cases per day in the UK. This is an early calculation but it suggests that cases of Omicron could be doubling approximately every three days in the UK.

How severe is the disease?

It is not yet clear whether infection with Omicron causes more severe disease compared to infections with other variants. There is currently no information to suggest that symptoms associated with Omicron are different from those from other variants. All variants can cause severe disease or death however, so it’s important to follow the government guidelines to stay safe, and get your booster jab.

Will the vaccine protect me from Omicron?

We don’t yet have all the information on this, however there’s early evidence to suggest that the two doses of the vaccine offers slightly less protection against Omicron than against other variants. The good news is that experiments have shown that the booster jab massively boosts levels of neutralising antibodies, which fight against the virus, so there is hope that a third dose of the vaccine may offer good protection against Omicron.

What is a booster jab?

A coronavirus (COVID-19) booster vaccine will help improve the immunity you have from your first and second vaccinations.

This third dose of the vaccine will help give you long-term protection against serious illness from coronavirus.

Who can get a booster jab?

Anyone over the age of 18 is now eligible to get their booster jab. You can go to a walk-in vaccination centre or you can book online via the NHS website.

Here is a breakdown of those who can now get their booster jab:

  • Those who are 18 years old or over
  • Those who are 16 or over with a health condition that puts you at high risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19
  • Frontline health or social care workers
  • Those who work or live in a care home
  • Those who are 16 or over and are a main carer for someone at high risk from COVID-19
  • Those who are 16 or over and live with someone who has a weakened immune system (such as someone who has HIV, for example)

People who are pregnant and in 1 of the eligible groups can also get a booster dose.

Our partners

We worked in partnership with Facebook, TOMs Shoes and Schuh on this project and would like to thank them for their collaboration and support.

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