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.
Concerning different moments in history, whether it be out of interest or pity, I’m sure at one point or another we have all asked, “what was it like to live through that?”
They’ll be asking it about our current time someday.
The great COVID pandemic period seems to be winding down with the President declaring its (kinda, sorta) conclusion. Local cases are tracking at the low end, with 30-40 cases per 100,000 population per day, and nationally we have less than 50,000 cases per day.
But just like 1918 the pandemic is just a part of a greater moment in time. We face inflation and hear of a looming recession and now the Russia-Ukraine War which is settling in for the long haul, says all sides, and threatens greater involvement.
Let me be the first to offer an answer to the people who will ask us what it was like to live through these times: it’s unpleasant.
Really. Truly, tough times. As far as pandemic decisions go: No matter what you do to counter a pandemic you are going to suffer and you are going to have plenty of criticism: lockdowns were horrible but not doing enough to protect the vulnerable was terrible; getting sick was horrible, but obsessive avoidance was terrible, etc.
Societally, we weren’t our best selves: on one level we kind of turned on one another. We canceled people, protested and marched in the streets, and stormed government buildings. We spent a billion dollars on state-sponsored media to control the message; we censored anyone who didn’t step in line, including all sorts of scientists. No matter what algorithms AI feeds you, it’s just all a bit nasty.
Why am I bringing this up? Three reasons. See here:
1. Yesterday was the feast day for St Michael, the archangel. It’s a day when we celebrate courage and bravery (as we head into the fading light of the autumn). Michael slayed the dragon, after all.
“Michael engenders selfless self-awareness. He is the solemn star in the soul. His luminosity spreads calmness and strength throughout. Michael’s sternness pours strength into the deepest core of our being. He is the spiritual guide for our time, respects human freedom, and calls us to be beings of initiative; to will the good to help humanity.”
That’s why I brought it up. Because I believe that going through hard times with the right ideas will make us healthier and smarter in the long run. Times will change. It may take ten years, but they will change. And we should come through with important personal lessons learned, I think. And, I believe in working to help the good of humanity just as St Michael, the archangel, does.
2. Input on the Vaccine recommendation, in case it’s relevant to you: The vaccines wane after 6 months or so and we are on number 5-ish right now. Do we keep going? Not for everyone, says leading vaccine advocate:
Paul Offit perenially on the short list of America’s top vaccine advisors who is a long-time leader at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and on the Vaccine advisory panel for the FDA thinks they should be individualized. Citing inadequate studies which involve only mice (and in my opinion a little miffed that the FDA advisory panel was bypassed preceding the FDA approval of the new bivalent booster) says he will not himself get the bivalent shot because he has had a primary series (2 shots) and a booster AND had COVID- likely Omicron. He thinks his immune system is well positioned as it is.
Sounds like a vote for individualizing it.
FYI, you very likely had Omicron if you were infected in the last 6 months.
3. Why would we ever not take medicine? Because of potential side effects. You have to always consider the risk-benefit ratio. Not everyone is approaching this the same way. Denmark, for example, isn’t offering mRNA vaccines to anyone under 50 yrs of age. Why? Because benefits aren’t as high at this phase, as far as we can tell and the risk picture is starting to emerge.
This month, a prominant UK cardiologist, Dr. Aseem Malhotra, who had been a proponent of the vaccine, published a two-part research paper reanalyzing the safety of mRNA technology.
“Pharmacovigilance systems and real-world safety data, coupled with plausible mechanisms of harm, are deeply concerning, especially in relation to cardiovascular safety.
Mirroring a potential signal from the Pfizer Phase 3 trial, a significant rise in cardiac arrest calls to ambulances in England was seen in 2021, with similar data emerging from Israel in the 16–39-year-old age group.
Conclusion: It cannot be said that the consent to receive these agents was fully informed… A reappraisal of global vaccination policies for COVID-19 is long overdue.”
We are just learning menstrual changes after the vaccination are common, as is spike protein in breast milk. Testing just hasn’t been completed as is for a normally approved medicine.
My advice is to individualize the shot:
of course, age is important
a patient’s preference is no small part of the consideration
community disease rates and risks of exposure are relevant
as is recent infection status
and people need to be aware that the side effect profile emerges over time and is not clear
I say this because it’s important for us all to recognize the complexity. We are better off knowing more, even if it makes us think more. Precisely because it makes us think more. That’s all I have for today. In appreciation of your courage and selfless self-awareness.