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A forensic pathologist on the legacy of lockdown: I look at death every day – let’s change the way we talk about it

The language we use to talk about death has become increasingly sanitised. It’s time for a more healthy approach

As a forensic pathologist, the dead of all ages, shapes and sizes have been the focus of my career. Numerous times a day, for the past 40 years, I have looked closely and directly at death, knowing that, for many – probably most – of the people I examine, the start of their final day had been completely normal. Death had come swiftly and unexpectedly. So, as I dress each morning, I often wonder where I will be at the end of my day. At home? Or in a mortuary, being slid into a fridge on a shiny tray?

In medical circles, we had been expecting a global pandemic for several decades. The HIV/Aids pandemic of the 80s was a sombre milestone, resulting in about 36 million deaths worldwide, but I never anticipated that the first pandemic of the 21st century would develop from a virus in China. I had expected it to come from a lethal reorganisation of the DNA of the influenza virus – as happened in 1918, when “Spanish” flu killed at least 50 million people worldwide, and in the subsequent, less lethal, influenza pandemics: 2 million died in the 1957 flu pandemic and 1 million each in 1968 and 1977. The last notable flu pandemic was swine flu, in 2009, which resulted in about 500,000 deaths. A serious influenza pandemic is about 50 years overdue.

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Read the original article at The Guardian

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