When men stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing, they believe in anything.
G K Chesterton
The one indisputable truth of the pandemic is there’s a new kid on the block. Human coronavirus infections have been known since the 1960s. Perhaps 15% of common colds are caused by the three previously known coronavirus strains.
Then, in 2002, a 4th coronavirus emerged on the world scene. Originating in China, SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) was followed in 2012 by a 5th strain known as MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome). Since 2019 we have been dealing with the 6th coronavirus, Covid-19 and its various subtypes, alpha, beta, delta, omicron. This scourge also came from China.
There is no doubt that this pandemic has been devastating, with millions of deaths, disruption of lives and economic disaster. Whether the Covid pandemic will be as bad as the 1918 Spanish influenza epidemic, in which an estimated one third of the world was infected and 50 million people died, remains unknown. Last week CDC director Dr. Walensky was unable to give the exact number of American deaths in 2021. We do know that the death toll was higher than in 2020 when there were no vaccines or therapeutics. The debate rages about how many people died from Covid or merely with the ubiquitous Covid infection. Everything has become so politicized that even a science guy like me can’t be sure of what is factual or just spin.
Though I am retired, my opinion is often sought, especially for medical explanations. This column is my opinion and a place for explanation. Because I am retired, I no longer give medical advice because that would be unethical. One of my axioms is, “Helping someone is vastly different than being responsible for someone’s care.”
Sometimes it’s hard to know when it’s time to quit, but in the last year or so I realized that the fire in my belly for medicine had dissipated, and I should no longer be responsible for a patient’s care. It was unethical to continue and so I decided “to step down before someone told me to sit down.”
Although this is an opinion column, my observations are based on reading more than a dozen news sources every day along with three medical journals. A good New Year’s resolution is, “Read widely, think carefully and make decisions based on your own observations and common sense.”
In a recent essay I mentioned the Great Barrington Declaration which made more sense to me than our government’s handling of the Covid pandemic. If you are unfamiliar with the Declaration’s conclusions, formulated by tens of thousands of eminent scientists and medical personnel, you should Google the Declaration and consider the recommendations.
Even though the current omicron variant is perhaps less severe, Covid remains a potentially serious disease for older people or those with risk factors. Unfortunately, I believe Covid has also become an epidemic of fear. Just as the virus has changed, so have attitudes. We have all seen people riding alone in their car with a mask on. My wife recently saw a woman in the pool wearing a paper mask. Perhaps the woman had a cold and she was trying to protect others. If this was the case, she should’ve stayed home rather than strapping a soggy paper diaper on her face.
In 1993 the Branch Davidians became news when their compound in Waco, Texas was surrounded by the ATF, caught fire after tear gas was fired into the compound and 75 Davidians died. I am not condemning the cultish Davidians or the ATF who suspected illegal guns in the compound. A recent news article used the term “Covidians” which caused me to reflect on the Waco tragedy. Unfortunately, millions of Americans now cultishly follow the proclamations of the CDC’s Walensky and Fauci, as well as the Democrats, who preach an epidemic of fear to justify their mandates and tyranny.
I am 70 years old and have risk factors. As a result, I remain careful regarding hygiene and distancing and I have been vaccinated and boosted. I wear a mask in my doctor’s office or when a business requests I do so, even though masks offer minimal protection against Covid. And I would stay home if I were sick.
Apparently, New York Congresswoman AOC (formerly Sandy Cortez) does not practice what she demands of others. She recently left New York City for Miami Beach and partied at a bar without a mask. She was filmed kissing and hugging her bar friends and now she has symptomatic Covid. Apparently, vaccines and boosters did not protect her, and she considered a mask ineffective or something only the hoi pilloi must wear.
Is it any wonder why trust in our government, the CDC, the FBI, our elected representatives and the media are at historic lows? Even the Supreme Court has become politicized. Judge Sotomayor was recently called out for promoting administration policy by misrepresenting children’s hospitalizations. Justices should be focused on the law and the Constitution rather than Democrat talking points.
I admit I’m in danger of moving from skepticism to cynicism. Scientists demand observational proof whereas cynics see only politically motivated self-interest. Apparently, this seasoned citizen is not alone because the Pew Research Center describes the Z generation as also distrustful of institutions.
We traveled to Portland, Oregon to see my daughter, son-in-law and two granddaughters last week. We took precautions, wore masks and carried with us remedies in case we were to become sick with Covid. We weighed the risks and benefits of travel and considered our freedom and the desire to see our granddaughters as worth the risk. It is anti-American to mandate travel proscriptions under the ruse of safety. This restriction of freedom is happening in Australia and many other places in the world. We must choose freedom over safety.
In final analysis, vaccines lessen the incidence of serious Covid illness and death in those with risk factors, but do NOT prevent infection or virus transmission. The risk of serious consequences of Covid in young people without risk factors is almost zero, therefore vaccinating and masking them is not wise. And finally, natural infection confers far greater immunity than vaccines.
We will get through this. I just hope that someone educates Sandy and Sotomayor about vaccination, masks and children.