THE DOC IS IN - There are very real risks, and very real concerns, over COVID-19.
In a nutshell, the Delta Variant set us back quite a bit, but it's the fear of what the Omicron MIGHT be instead of what it actually IS, that is still holding us back.
And by "back" I mean the longstanding and seemingly never-ending lockdowns and economic/social/psychological destroyers that have ruined the lives of just about all save those who keep imposing these lockdowns and destroyers.
It's still not hard to figure out (for those of us with medical training, who keep up with the news, or even still embrace common sense) that a few truisms persist:
1) If you get sick with COVID-19 but are vaccinated, the likelihood of it being a mere cold or flu-like illness for 1-3 days or so are high.
2) Vaccinations keep any significant COVID-19 dangers at bay, and if boosters are needed to "cover one's bases" every 6-12 months, then so be it.
3) Ditto for flu shots, shingles shots, and all the other shots we take in a civilized and nonimmunologically-isolated society.
4) However, IF YOU GOT COVID-19 then you got "vaccinated the hard way", but may provide as good or better immunization than a vaccination...and NO ONE appears to be counting that as an option to vaccination which might make vaccination unnecessary, if not worthless, if antibodies are still detected. (Any cards for serum antibody levels yet?)
5) Kids still get affected by far, far less than adults by COVID-19, and are less likely to spread it than their adult relatives and teachers.
So here we have the "anti-vaxxer" and the "pro-jabber" labels, and here we have economic smack-downs and political point-making...
...while children and families suffer ever more and more.
Economically, psychologically, and even psychiatrically, we're seeing lives destroyed...and usually by edicts imposed by those who really aren't feeling those economic or psychological effects.
1) A "Winter Of Death" for those who are not vaccinated, says the White House?
Well, that certainly was true when the Delta Variant was ravaging the world, and to some degree it still is. And those doing most of the dying are still those without vaccinations, but shall we exploit the Omicron Variant as if it was another Delta Variant just for personal, political, economic, or some other gain?
It appears that the answer is YES for those powers that be who really do NOT want the nation's economy, way of life, or population's well-being to return to normal.
2) Furthermore, the dismissal of any benefits due to vaccination because a few vaccinated have died, and certainly many get COVID-19 anyway despite being vaccinated, is strange and irrational from both sides of the vaccination debate:
Democratic Senators Warren and others, fully vaccinated get it, and overall feel just fine.
Republican Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland gets it, and he feels just fine, too.
Some get sick for a few days, and feel very tired and uncomfortable...and I wouldn't be surprised if yours truly, a physician around so many other people, got it.
But I have been sick with many a bad cold or flu-like illness (I even got the actual flu about 15 years ago when the vaccine that year proved to be aimed at the wrong influenza variants), and I have survived despite it being very, very unpleasant.
And so have each of you reading this.
3) So when is it OK to finally admit that--while those disabled and deceased due to COVID-19 are very real casualties of this pandemic--we're overreacting from both angles?
a) People who are older and immunocompromised need to get vaccinated...period. At the very least, the need for vaccination in those individuals is much, MUCH higher than for younger individuals with perfect health. If you get sick with COVID-19, the odds are that your disease course if not survival will be much better.
b) Yes, the Moderna and Pfizer mRNA vaccines are overall better than the Johnson and Johnson (J & J) old-school and adenovirus-mechanism vaccine. Yet despite the CDC recommending the mRNA vaccines over the J & J vaccine ...
c) ...the CDC still recommends the J & J vaccine for those unable or unwilling to get the mRNA vaccines. And for all three vaccination options, boostering appears to "cover our bases" and improve our odds if we get COVID.
d) And, as aforementioned, those who got vaccinated the hard way and have antibodies are just as likely to be resistant to COVID as those vaccinated with shots.
So shall we, as a society, scream to the heavens with terror and angst if someone gets COVID-19 but overall feels fine?
Shall we, as a society, clutch our chest and tear out our hair if someone gets a relatively easy infection to overcome that appears to be the case with the Omicron Variant?
Shall we, as a society, tear out our eyes and bang our heads against the wall if people get this virus, vaccinated or not, if their health is overall not affected--just like we get colds and other respiratory viruses again and again if we're repeatedly exposed and without sufficient antibody formation?
Apparently so, but it appears that we ALSO shall:
1) ...destroy the childhood, education, and mental health of children and young adults, including the spiking rates of psychiatric illness, drug abuse, and suicides in those groups.
2) ...destroy the economic futures of those who just want to get a job, and perhaps don't have the education and skill set to remotely commute via the Internet.
3) ...destroy the family-friendly restaurant and recreation-associated environments that children and their parents need to enjoy their lives. Goodbye, food establishments and hello empty lots and alcohol-selling establishments and bars. And all to "protect the kids" which we're really NOT doing to any large-scale degree. (Woe become to him/her, of course, if the question of any societal benefit is raised by anyone who wonders if treating five-year-olds the same as twenty-five or fifty-five year olds is a wise or worthy endeavor).
4) ...continue to push outdoor mask-wearing (ask your child if outdoor running and P.E. still requires masks, please) and enable the "mask police" to demand we mask between bites, and to push for a society that wants us to mask forever as some sort of virtue signaling that may not have much of any health benefit, whatsoever.
To conclude, I am a physician who is absolutely no "anti-vaxxer" or "anti-masker"...but I am also a physician who is observing the decreased wearing of masks in public, and/or the incorrect wearing of masks in public even by those political leaders who are demanding we all carry on like we had to in 2020 before we had vaccines or our modern and greater understanding of the COVID-19 virus.
Cruelty over kindness "for the greater good", and subjectivity over true science by those who proclaim "they are following the science, and division over decency by those who claim "the other side is doing the division" appears to be the reality of our day.
So Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all.
But without all that Merry and Happy in our lives, if those who WANT this pandemic to happen forever continue to get their way.
(Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D, is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, and is a proud husband and father to two cherished children and a wonderful wife. He was termed out of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC) twice after two stints as a Board member for 9, years and is also a Board member of the Westside Village Homeowners Association. He previously co-chaired the MVCC Outreach, Planning, and Transportation/Infrastructure Committees for 10 years. He was previously co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee, the grassroots Friends of the Green Line (which focused on a Green Line/LAX connection), and the nonprofit Transit Coalition His latest project is his fictional online book entitled The Unforgotten Tales of Middle-Earth and can be reached at [email protected]. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)