‘There were people who didn’t believe in the vaccination for a start, then there were people who didn’t believe Covid was real,’ says Andy Watts
Andy Watts, 40, was so ill that had to learn to walk and talk again after contracting Covid-19 on Christmas Day last year.
The black cab driver, from Bexley, south London, finally left Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich in October following eight months in intensive care and two months on a ward.
Now, the father-of-two, who had also just gone into cancer remission months before being struck down by the virus, has revealed how he was confronted by conspiracy theorists visiting his hospital ward.
He told Sky News: “There were people in the hospital in the ward I was in, who were visiting certain patients, who didn’t believe it.
“There were people who didn’t believe in the vaccination for a start, then there were people who didn’t believe Covid was real.
“I just thought: ‘Whatever’, and put my headphones back in. I don’t want to get involved in conversations like that.
“In the end, I just thought: ‘Here’s the proof – if you don’t want to believe it, what can I do?’”
Mr Watts said he spent the start of the pandemic shielding with his wife and their young sons while still undergoing chemotherapy but went back to work towards the end of last year after going into remission in April 2020.
However, he began to lose weight and his appetite shortly before Christmas and a Covid test confirmed he had caught the disease.
He was admitted to hospital and responded well to treatment at first but then his oxygen levels began to drop and a scan revealed he had a collapsed lung.
Mr Watts said he was “frightened out of my life” when he was moved to intensive care.
“I was thinking: ‘This is it. I’m not going to see the family again. I’m not going to see the kids again’,” he told Sky.
The father was put into an induced coma for five weeks and at one point doctors told his family his ventilator might have to be turned off but his wife Hayley insisted he should be given more time.
Mr Watts woke from his coma in mid-February and was reunited with his wife in person for the first time when she was allowed to visit at the end of March.
He was eventually taken off the ventilator in June 2021 and, after recovering from a second lung collapse, was moved out of intensive care in August.
He spent the next two months relearning how to walk, talk and eat before finally being discharged on 21 October – a day he “thought would never come”.
The father said the last two years had taught him to appreciate life.
He told Sky: “It’s been a battle. The last two years have made me appreciate life a lot more. You never know what’s round the corner.
“Don’t take things for granted. Every day is special.”