I believe that medicine’s potential is much more than the version we see in the world today. A doctor should be an educator with the goal of bringing patients to a place of deeper understanding of who they are in the world. To me, medicine is ultimately about self-empowerment through self-knowledge and growth.
There are a lot of hopeful news items this week. I invite you to reflect with me on the glaringly positive reportsfrom around the globe. Really take them in.
There’s no doubt that fear drives action, and there are still important safety habits to keep up with; but join me in a healthier paradigm than one instigated by fear.
Let’s commit to doing the healthy and safe things we know are important, and bask free of fear in the third consecutive week of being on the other side of the winter peak…. which I hope and pray may turn out to be the final chapter of the COVID-19 pandemic.
There were only 15 cases reported in Berkshire County yesterday and 175 over the last week. It’s not the 30 per week we had in the summer, but it’s down 65% from the recent peak amounts!
Nationally, daily case incidence is down more than 50%from the levels during the recent peak. Hospitalizations are down around 33%.
Globally, this week we saw a decrease of case counts of nearly 15% compared to the previous week, and it is the lowest weekly total since late October. We had a 4% decrease in global mortality which is being seen as an early indication of a longer-term trend.
It’s like music to the ears.
News from India
The news has made much of India’s low death rateduring the pandemic. Maybe it’s something in the cultural cuisine or the climate, no one is sure. Recently, like many places, the cases there are dropping. 30,000 cases per day- not bad for a country of 1.3 billion. (America by comparison is down to 120,000 cases daily). Maybe their testing program is missing a lot of cases, you say? Researchers there agree (and if they are maybe we all are).
A study printed in JAMA this week done in the Indian state of Karnataka (population, 67.5 million) showed that the incidence might be 100 times higher there than reported. Many being asymptomatic. If true I think it would support taking our hopeful position that we are in the last chapter of this thing.
In the study a random sampling of 3,000 people from 5 different region in the state, from both urban and rural areas, in persons 12 and up, showed an antibody response to SARS-CoV-2 of 46.7%. If this were extrapolated to the whole state, it would suggest that 31.5 million residents were infected, nearly 100x greater than the 327, 076 cases reported at the time of the study.
This virus and the immune footprint are hard to track, which has opened the possibility from the get-go that we are way further along. News like this points to the possibility that I love to entertain: that it has moved through the world’s population swiftly and stealthily leaving us at the end of this process. Time will tell. I think at this very moment we have a real occasion to be optimistic.
Culture of redemption
An essential element to a deeper discovery of life involves simple starting points. Openness, reverence and awe.
The world offers an easy tendency to rush judgment. That’s what we have to resist to learn more.
The world’s problems would be so stunned if more people sought to see the inherent value in everyone and in every part of creation. Every point of view has value. We would have the opposite of cancel culture(aggressive dropping a person’s worth for an alternate view or a mistake).
Instead there would be a redemption culture.
A culture of:
A culture where the fallen are lifted. The glue would have to be love.
Success with Protocols
The story of COVID-19 is the story of redemption. It’s the story of progress. It’s the story of improved case fatality rates.
First, in November there was a bad outbreak of COVID-19 at Hillcrest Commons nursing home in Pittsfield. There were 228 cases amongst residents and 42 deaths, per my review. Fatality rate was just under 20%. This is close to par for the course nationally for these types of outbreaks.
Then in early January just at the height of the peak there were outbreaks at Springside nursing home in Pittsfield and at Fairview Commons nursing home in Great Barrington as well as at a congregate home setting in the county.
Time had passed. Experience had grown. All three sites in January had updated protocols. All three sites used infusion of monoclonal antibodies aggressively. The hospital even came in to the nursing homes to infuse the antibody on site.
The fatality rate was much better compared with the nursing home outbreak in November that had not the benefit of an established protocol. The fatality rate was cut in half for the nursing home and was zero for the congregate care home, which has many elderly residents.
New year, new statistics
If you showed up to the hospital in March or April 2020 to the hospital in Bergamo, Italy or one in NYC with a severe case of COVID, you fared poorly…
There were scores of similarly dire patients showing up with you overwhelming resources. Doctors had not an inkling of experience with this exact viral presentation. Best practices were not established.
80% of ICU patients died in some series…
Well, we have a different situation now. Doctors know more. Best practices have been found. Immunity is wider spread so cases don’t come in the same excessive volumes.
Lethality numbers from early 2020 are one data set to be understood, and numbers from early 2021 are another.
Do you remember in October in the run up to the election, Trump received monoclonal antibodies in the hospital when he was sick with COVID? This was a little known treatment.
Studies show the antibodies can reduce by 2/3 the need for hospitalization in high risk patients.
Just three months after Trump was one of the first in the country to get them they are available at hospitals across the country and have the power to drastically change the course of these outbreaks.
If we want to know the present risks most clearly, I suggest this year’s case fatality numbers shouldn’t be mixed with last year’s- because we do better now! My guess is that at this moment 2021 numbers are more similar to influenza’s.
The last major factor from early 2020 was fear. That’s in our court; we control that one. All those unknowns left us hyper-frenzied.
Eradicating fear, which we are in a better position to do now, will only serve to open the door to our future possibilities sooner and wider. It takes a daily commitment and a heroic effort.
You know you can pull it off!
The last year has seen rallies and riots and protests all over the world for different reasons but also for the same reason: we can’t do the things that let us be us. We are meant to have meaningful work, to spread our wings, to meet our destiny.
Our chance is coming to rejoin the quest to be more whole as humans… to connect more deeply in the ways we know how.
And to somehow get back on the dance floor so we can show our moves to a bunch of people standing by and watching.
(Let this random photo be an early Valentine’s gift to you as well)
Wishing you the very best with all your efforts and beyond!