NewsHour Special Correspondent Malcolm Brabant has covered some of Europe's virus hotspots during the pandemic. But he has not been impacted personally until now. As he explains from his home in Brighton in the south of England, he is currently staying in self-isolation with his wife and son.
Now we return to Britain and the pandemic.
Special correspondent Malcolm Brabant has traveled to some of Europe's virus hot spots during the pandemic. He's covered Northern Italy and demonstrations in Britain, Germany and Poland. He has not been affected personally until now.
As he explains from his home in Brighton in the South of England, he is in self isolation with his wife, Trine, and son Lukas.
This is day one of self-isolation. I got an e-mail from the National Health Service track and trace service a few hours ago to say that I had to isolate myself until December 23.
And that's because my son has tested positive. He's upstairs at the top of the house right now, and my wife is also showing symptoms. We have got a small house, but, hopefully, we can compartmentalize it in such a way that both my wife and my son can stay out of my way.
So I think I contracted COVID last week at a studio that I was filming at for two days straight, two six-hour shoots. And with the amount of people there, there were at least 30 people in the room at once.
We got the results this morning. Lukas tested positive. I tested negative.
I'm sure, if I went now and had a test, it would be positive as well. I'm just feeling too sick to go out. I mean, the whole idea of having to get into a car, and go to a test center, I — oh, I just cannot do it. I'm so weak.
I'm in the kitchen right now. Everything's a bit of a mess, I have to say. I have just come back from a trip to Poland. And I'm making chicken soup, which hopefully will ease their sore throats.
I have a fever, quite a high fever. But it feels more like a flu. At this point, I don't have trouble breathing. I can breathe without any problems.
Lukas, put your mask on. Lukas, it's on the stairs.
It's been absolutely horrible.
So, one hour, I could be coughing my lungs up, the next just be sitting there in the hot and cold flashes. It's really annoying. There are so many things I had planned to do.
My biggest concern has been our son Lukas, because Lukas was born prematurely.
Thank you very much.
Thanks very much.
Even though he's today a tall and big and healthy guy, he still has scar tissue in his lungs. So he has very weak lungs. His lung capacity is not normal. So, for him to catch COVID has been one of my worst nightmares.
I'm not saying it terrifies me, but with my health history, it is a fear that it could get a lot worse for me and it could go downhill very quickly. And I'm just hoping that, if it stays the way it is right now, that I have gotten a very lucky escape.
What we don't know is which version of COVID Lukas has. Is it the original one, or is it the new mutation, which has got much of Europe into a panic, and which has caused the British prime minister, Boris Johnson, to do yet another U-turn?
Prime Minister Boris Johnson:
Given the early evidence we have on this new variant of the virus, the potential risk it poses, it is with a very heavy heart I must tell you we cannot continue with Christmas as planned.
My husband says I worry too much, but I do also worry about his health.
There's a good reason why I usually shoot myself in just head and shoulders. It's because I don't want people to see the size of my stomach. As you probably gathered, it's pretty big.
My husband is obese.
Therefore, I am at much greater risk than other folk. I am active. I ride a bike. I walk the dog. And filming actually sort of helps you keep reasonably fit. Nevertheless, I am vulnerable, so I really do have to try to protect myself.
My husband had in 2011 a very, very severe reaction to another vaccine.
I have to stress that what happened to me nine years ago was extremely rare and highly individual. It was a well-publicized case of the yellow fever vaccine, which every doctor who treated me said was responsible for causing a psychosis.
But this vaccine is totally different, the one that is hopefully going to cure this COVID thing. But I have to be wary about it at the moment. And for the time being, I'm not going to take it, and that's as a result of advice from the British regulatory authority the MHRA, which says that people who've had bad reactions in the past shouldn't take it.
JUNE RAINE, CEO, Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency: We were looking at two case reports of allergic reactions. We know from the very extensive clinical trials that this wasn't a feature. But, if we need to strengthen our advice, we get that advice to the field immediately.
I need to explore this further. Despite everything that happened to me, I'm not an anti-vaxxer. And let's face it, we can't go on living like this. We have to get back to normal.
So, to reassure myself I have been talking to a really good old friend of mine who I went to school with who rose to be one of Britain's top psychiatric pharmacists. His name is Professor Stephen Bazire. And he's been explaining how this new vaccine works, in an attempt to ease my fears.
I don't think having had that adverse reaction makes any difference to this vaccine. The Pfizer vaccine is not an attenuated or killed live bacteria or virus.
The route is to get your body to create part of it, which you then produce antibodies to. And then you become immune to the full-blown virus.
Day six of isolation. I am, of course, still very worried about my husband. But my main concern this morning is our son, Lukas.
Yesterday, Lukas' oxygen saturation started to drop into the lower 90s. That's not a good place to be for anyone, especially not someone with a lung condition. This morning, it's back up into the mid-90s, which is a better place to be. But I'm watching him like a hawk.
It's been a bit of a lousy night. I haven't slept very much because I have been worrying about Lukas, but I'm relieved that his oxygen stats are improving, because, otherwise, we'd have had to send him to hospital.
He's had a really lousy year, poor lad, and it's — we're into more than 270 days in lockdown. He's at Zoom university. He's a musician. I have to say that the song he wrote in lockdown has never been more apposite.
Lukas Brabant (singing):
So, take my hand, take my heart, all the things that you tore apart. I don't want to be alone, unless it's with you.
Being in isolation is necessary. There is no doubt about it. We have got to stop this virus. But it's driving me up the walls.
Day seven of isolation. Fingers crossed. Things are looking good. I haven't got any symptoms. Trine's improving, Lukas is certainly holding his own. We're one day closer to freedom.
I don't know what we will find when we get to the supermarkets, because there's been panic buying as a result of Britain being cut off from the rest of Europe.
But, as a family, we're not particularly bothered about Christmas. We have always thought that, if we could survive 2020, that would be fantastic. And that has to remain our aim.
What a special story.
That is our Malcolm Brabant reporting from his home, as you heard, on England's Southern Coast.
Malcolm, please know that all of your colleagues here are thinking best thoughts for you, for Trine, and Lukas. And I know so many of your admirers in our audience share our affection.
Thank you for that. And, please, all of you, get better.
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