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Friends of Millbank is a society that actively promotes the heritage, achievements and relevance of military medicine, normally meeting at the former Royal Army Medical College (now Chelsea College of Arts) in Millbank, London. The Royal Army Medical College, Millbank was the British Army’s centre of excellence for postgraduate military medicine and tropical health (including briefly vaccine development), and the home of the Journal of the RAMC (now BMJ Military Health), between 1907 and 1999. As our contribution to tackling the coronavirus pandemic, we have collated links to the best official information and advice online into a one-stop COVID-19 portal on our website which we recommend to your readers.1 In this description, names in italics refer to links, prime ones being ‘WHO’, ‘GOV-UK' and ‘NHS—latest advice’.
Once online, start with the personal perspective ‘LSHTM Viral Podcast—Peter Piot’s battle with COVID-19’. Piot is director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (see ‘LSHTM—COVID-19 Resources’)—and he fell seriously ill with COVID-19 in March. His insights are thought-provoking. The ‘LSHTM COVID-19 online course’ and ‘RSM Live—COVID-19 Series webinars’ are excellent value. Front-line health professionals may benefit from ‘St George’s online course’. Be inspired by ‘Captain Tom Moore’. See ‘What the Military’s doing to fight COVID-19’ to better appreciate ‘NHS Nightingale and COVID-19 Hospitals in the UK’.
‘Coronavirus timeline up to lockdown’ provides salutary reminders of the rapidity with which a virulent new pathogen can threaten society. ‘IHME COVID-19 Projections for UK’ shows national responses.
Daily COVID-19 deaths in UK hospitals peaked at 866, on 10 April.2 This single day’s toll was more than twice that of British personnel killed by hostile action (405) in Afghanistan over 14 years. The UK’s official toll surpassed 40 000 on 5 June, less than 3 months after the first death (8 March). In the USA, whose first death was on 6 February, fatalities surpassed 100 000 on 28 May—more than the total from the Korean, Vietnam and Iraq wars combined.
Thankfully, the pandemic’s first wave has peaked in many countries (‘WHO daily situation reports’ and ‘European Center for Disease Prevention and Control’). However, COVID-19 cases continue rising worldwide (as of 14 June, over 7.6 million cases have been confirmed, with 427 000 deaths since the first death on 11 January (‘WHO’). Catastrophe threatens not only low-income and war-torn countries (‘COVID-19 Resource Centre—The Lancet’) but also countries with divergent government policy responses: Brazil has suffered over 850 000 cases and 42 700 deaths (‘Johns Hopkins University Dashboard’).
Resurgent malaria, measles and other illnesses, due to disrupted prevention campaigns or healthcare systems, will seriously compound the global effect. This is best shown through excess mortality rates (‘Office for National Statistics’, ‘Our World in Data’).
The economic effects on society are huge, hence the drive to ease lockdown, see ‘COVID-19 Policy Tracker—The Health Foundation’ for England and ‘Lockdowns around the world’. This risks a second wave should lockdown relaxation measures prove premature or ineffective—most countries still have community transmission (‘WHO’s daily situation reports’). New outbreaks can escalate exponentially if unchecked. See ‘GOV-UK Science—latest R number’ for the virus’s reproduction number (R) in UK: 07–0.9 on 12 June. The guiding principles are Test, Trace and Isolate (‘WHO’).
The most effective prevention measures are physical distancing and hand hygiene, with personal protective equipment in healthcare settings (‘WHO’, ‘CDC’). Face masks or coverings have a definite role: WHO updated its advice on 5 June, encouraging the use of medical and non-medical masks by the general public.3 See also ‘A history of the medical mask’ and ‘CDC—Cloth face coverings - DIY guide’. Other control measures are quarantine (of asymptomatic travellers) and isolation (of symptomatic persons and their contacts), see ‘NHS—Latest advice’ and ‘NHS COVID-19 App’. Mental health can be adversely affected by quarantine, be kind to yourself and others.
No vaccine is yet available (‘COVID-19 Vaccine tracker’), there is no specific treatment (see ‘Clinical trials—letter by UK’s Chief Medical Officers’ and ‘NHS-approved COVID-19 research projects’) and there is minimal immunity (the ‘Serotracker Dashboard’ shows seroprevalence rates). This highlights the importance of collaborative research, exemplified by powerhouses that shape government strategy: ‘Imperial College’, ‘Johns Hopkins University’, ‘Oxford University’ and the ‘Royal Society’. Do use the ‘COVID-19 Tracker App’.
This is not a time for complacency, or to let down our guard (Stay Alert!). Lives may be lost by undue haste. Stay informed.
Contributors DV is the sole contributor to this letter.
Funding The author has not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent for publication Not required.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.