Viral Load

2 weeks ago I was feeling under the weather. Because we had a problem with our broadband, which wasn’t fixed after 1 day, we thought it would be best to go into our offices and work there and then come home after it was fixed. When we got home it wasn’t fixed but I felt worn out and run down and getting worse. And so I finally took a Covid test and it came out positive. I used one from an old pack of test kits that were about 2 years old, possibly from the big batch I bought at the start of the first lockdown. So I took a second one right away from another set bought more recently, and it confirmed it. The newer one came up bright pink, which my other told me that it showed I had a “high viral load”.

Here’s the complete sequence of my test results over these 2 weeks:

The ones from the 10th to 14th were using up the old test kits at least a year old. The apparently false negative on Friday 14th was using a strip that was a few days past its expiration date, contrary to my expectation that the strip wouldn’t be the component to become unusable with time. It was labelled #1 as I expected to do a new test later that day with a set of brand new kits, but they didn’t arrive until late and so I used them on Sat 15th (mislabelled by me here). These new kits show pink marker lines and the instructions note that they are best viewed between 15-30 mins after impregnating. The very faint lines on Mon 17th #1 and Tue 18th #1 only become visible in normal light after that time, though they are barely visible when I shone a torch on them. Like Percival Lowell looking for canals on Mars, it become easy to see the markings of another lifeform if you stare and expect hard enough. The #2 tests taken later on both days, are clear whereas the faint signs in the #1 tests were taken first time after waking up. Maybe there is an effect that night time breathing allows viral traces to build up, which get cleared in day time woken respiration.

Not in that set is the old test that I did first, although that is the only one I reported using the NHS app I still have on my phone. Previously I have reported negative tests, and in 2020 I got a warning that I’d been near someone who had tested positive, so I stayed home for the required few days. This time I got another countdown:

That cleared itself, but I was still testing positive on the 9th so I stayed and worked from home that week.

In any case:

Monday 17th is when I was happy with the test results and took a trip outside again, going to the supermarket for the first time in a fortnight. It turns out I’m such a regular shopper that a break of a week was enough to trigger them sending me a letter with a voucher in it, although I only got it today as they still have our old address.

My previous experience 15 years ago of being isolated in a clinic while under chemotherapy and radiotherapy including the strange feelings of re-entering the normal world outside and having to relearn some reflexes that had started to go rusty. That was when I was spending 4-6 week blocks inside a mostly static environment, which is enough to be slightly dangerous as you start to lose expectations of traffic and other fast-changing phenomena. It’s rather like a driver losing their road sense from being out of practice, but at the level of the body alone. This time I had only been indoors 2-3 weeks, which seems to be the limit before the strangeness sets in. I could remember what it was like to be in a place full of people and only have a few clumsy moments of awkwardness and collisions.

Something else I could see had changed in 2 weeks, which was an old new thing: the stickers on bus stops, about lockdown and vaccines and so on:

I wonder if the revival of anti-lockdown/anti-vaccine is in anticipation of new restrictions in response to the Arcturus variant. Arcturus is of course Alpha Bootis, and it’s jolly good they’re using the star name this time round. I thought at the time that they should have called the Omicron variant “the Mira Variant”.

UPDATE 23/04:

I don’t know if these are new or I missed them as they were posted higher up on the bus stop and I was in a hurry:

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