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.
I have a tidy compilation of Pandemic News items for you. A lot is happening.
So without further ado, here’s your list of considerations and frequently asked questions:
1). The mighty pandemic has peaked. It’s showing signs of losing its grip. I would venture to say it is on the ropes. This is a time to rejoice. Let out an exhale, it’s allowed, necessary even.
Not even the depths of winter can help sustain the latest wave of COVID-19 because waves are meant to crash. It’s what they do. Another week of seriously waning cases and hospitalizations signifies that the decreasing trend is established. Experts agree on that.
All 4 regions in the US are demonstrating continued declines. The county had 250 case down from 350 last week and 450 the week before.
If the Pandemic were a wicked witch, January 2021 is turning out to be a floating house with a Kansas farm girl inside.
Experts agree also that it’s not the vaccine that kicked it over the edge. I never like the idea that we needed to be rescued.
The greatness of the human spirit has seen us through to this potential turning point! It was our own fortitude, resilience, and innate powers to learn and overcome. Of course, even if the vaccine carries us further through, that’s our own ingenuity anyway.
And our spirit wants to be stronger and more present in each of us. Nurture it. Train yourself to be a devoted carrier of your best self.
Here’s today’s exercise. Give extra compliments to somebody today. Fill up their bucket.
2). “What if you’re wrong, doctor, about the pandemic? Won’t I be better off if I had worried a lot?”
We should never regret celebrating a beautiful turn like we are experiencing right now, no matter what happens.
We can celebrate wonderful hopeful moments and still persist with all our important strategies. We can remain cautious and distant and masked for the time being… while being optimistic.
We can weather whatever adversity awaits us. And we will use these exhalations to get through the next pinch.
Listen, we could have predicted (and did predict) an unprecedented, mild flu season (which is exactly what we have) because of
masking and social adjustments and hygiene efforts
trends from China last winter
the extremely low case count of flu in the Southern Hemisphere this summer,
but all the public service announcements and headlines this fall pushed for everyone to get the flu shot because of how scary a “double pandemic” of flu and COVID could be.
I think there’s a fine line being informed and having fear used to motivate us. Our culture likes to impose that dynamic on us.
The first step is to recognize that we are continuously invited to worry. Are we better off for it?
It’s not so restful.
In my mind, when we consider:
25 million confirmed cases and
scores more unconfirmed ones
a large subset of the population with crossover immunity from other coronaviruses
boost from vaccines
the optimist in me is seeing the final chapter of this tale. Its time may be up.
Cinderella at midnight, anyone?
Meanwhile, back at the castle…..
Let’s make a commitment to not be motivated by fear.
Worry doesn’t protect us. I think the answer is trust… trust in our worth, our power, and our purpose. This just may open our eyes to evidence of divine order.
“The heart lives in trust. When you trust, suddenly you become centered.” – Osho
3). “But we can fear some things, right? Like maybe we need to fear the COVID variants? Aren’t they more contagious?”
Be not afraid…of anything.
Here’s my take:
The emergence of variants denotes an expected and inevitable stage in a viral pandemic resulting from the shrinking number of susceptible human hosts. Variants emerge as pressure is put on an infectious agent to remain active in an increasingly hostile (sparse) environment. There are less people that are able to be infected.
The more contagious variants are the only viruses to remain in circulation as immunity increases. At first they are able to maintain the case count. Then they fall prey to time and human resilience just like all the others. Their presence is actually further proof that the pandemic is ending, naturally.
The science on the variants is not as complete as one might think. There are plenty of speculations and assumptions. Join me in hoping that the concern will not prove warranted, as evidenced by this January plummet in cases.
More on how to stay vigilant below.
4). “Isn’t the vaccine performing not as well against some of the variants?”
No cause for alarm here!
Remember the human spirit alone is what has got us to this point. Not Pfizer (the P is silent, just so everyone is aware).
You’ll hear about some extremely positive news from Israel today. The case counts after two shots are very low in a large series of people studied after the injections, despite COVID being widespread. This is something to watch very closely.
5). “But aren’t the variants more deadly? Can we please worry about this? And what about double masking and distancing 12 feet?”
I have looked closely at this. The science is weak on this, and the group that has spurred the concern readily admits it. It comes from the group of UK scientists, NERVTAG, who advises the government over there.
They say the variants “are maybe more contagious and now maybe more dangerous but we need more data” (my emphasis). They also admit that hospitalized patients are not showing increased mortality with the new strains.
I think we can ride this one out with the information and techniques we know. Outdoors and ventilation are great at preventing spread. Short interactions are best. Better quality masks are smart. Curbside pickup again, anyone?
Definitely use two masks if you’re on the subway in the big city and other super high-risk situations. Otherwise let surgical masks replace your cloth for out of the house. Continue to limit your exposure.
Caution should be exercised with the two masks approach. You don’t sleep with your head under the blankets for a reason.
I think it is likely that the level of concern has a strong potential to go away as we move through the next two months and cases drop.
6). “Should I get the vaccine?”
It’s important to note that no drug is without risk, and these are no exception. I happen to believe that a person’s view of the medicine is a very important factor in its ability to have a beneficial effect. So only the individual can decide if it’s right for them.
The majority of people have minor initial reactions there are plenty with stronger reactions, including serious ones. Everyone has the right to study and see how things evolve and decide for themselves.
I can see how the vaccine, even with all of its knowns and unknowns, would make a lot of sense to a person who is higher risk. (Massachusetts has opened to 75 year old residents and older starting next week). Bigger benefits make that equation clearer.
Several doctors are expressing concerns over people with a recent COVID infection getting the shot. My advice: do not get the vaccination if you’ve recently had COVID. We know the vast majority of people with a previous COVID infection will likely have years of immunity. We know you are protected and don’t need the vaccine right away.
Viral products in the organs and body tissue are suspected to have a potential to induce large inflammatory reactions (aka bigger side effects) or even autoimmune reactions after the shot. Wait 3-4 months minimum after an infection. I anticipate this will become accepted best practice with time.
7). “What’s new with therapies?”
A study in Montreal was stopped early due to promising results. The authors wanted to release their data which show a reduction in hospitalization and death from COVID infections with early use of the oral gout medication colchicine. The data is promising but not peer reviewed yet.
Plitidepsin, a cancer drug has been found to be majorly more effective at stopping the virus in vitro than remdesivir, which is one of the go-to hospital medication. We will keep our eyes on that one.
And a novel idea:
The nasal spray that blocks COVID seems to be moving toward mass production. It’s made from readily available products that are already being used in food products and medicines, used to block SARS COV2 entry. They have had favorable studies and might be part of this year’s approach, depending what is needed.
They believe using the spray four times a day would be enough for general protection, and that it is safe to be applied every 20 minutes if in a high-risk, densely populated environment such as schools.
We are getting more resourceful and more immune with each passing day. We have to start to remember what life was like without the Pandemic because we are heading in that direction.