Today the Express & Star revisits those who have been profoundly affected by Covid – by losing loved ones, suffering themselves or finding their business in peril.
Phil Dolby, Milkinder Jaspal and Jo Udeze are the lucky ones. They were all gravely ill but managed to pull through.
Over the last two years there have been 16 million confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK and well over 150,000 people have died, government figures show.
According to the latest official figures, the UK has actually seen nearly 177,000 deaths in total – that’s all those deaths where coronavirus was mentioned on the death certificate even if the person had not been tested for the virus.
Meanwhile, the Black Country today continues to have among the highest levels of infection in the country, with the UK now recording more than 300 deaths on some days.
Those that have survived the most serious impact of Covid are united in their assertion that vaccines are crucial.
Vaccination rates in the West Midlands are far lower than the national average. In both Wolverhampton and Sandwell only 74 per cent of people aged 12 and above have had at least one jab – compared to 91 per cent nationally. And less than half have had all three jabs, compared to 64 per cent on average in the UK.
Jo Udeze was 30 weeks into her pregnancy and unvaccinated when she contracted Covid.
She today described the experience as “the most frightening thing” she’s ever been through after ending up in critical care at Walsall Manor Hospital.
Chief Superintendent Phil Dolby suffered heart failure and a blood clot on his lung as he battled for life in the early part of the pandemic. The 46-year-old said he had horrific nightmares while on drugs in hospital and suffered from post-traumatic stress after battling back to health.
He said: “The recovery isn’t just mine, it’s my wife and kids as they had to go through worrying if I was going to make it.”
Former Wolverhampton mayor Milkinder Jaspal was told he was expected to die after he fell ill in in January last year.
He survived but is still experiencing fatigue. He said: “Somehow I pulled through and have lived to fight another day.”eeling so very tired still is important to me.
“I was always very tech-savvy but it takes me longer to grasp things now and I do struggle with my memory from time to time.
“My voice is gradually returning and I have taken up walking as part of my recovery.
“That ongoing support, the after-care, means so much to me and all of the other patients. Covid has definitely changed so many lives.”