Thoughts on Covid
There have been two defining experiences in 2020. The one is the political situation, which is a huge subject in itself. The second is the Covid situation.
The end of 2019 saw introduction of a new virus into the world in Wuhan, China. There are all kinds of theories as to where this came from ranging from a naturally arising new pathogen to something arising from the wet markets in China to a deliberately manufactured bioweapon. We may never know what the real answer is, but it has been an experience never before seen in World History.
It goes by several names from Wuhan Virus (many call this derogatory, but I do not see it any more derogatory than the name Lyme Disease, merely designates where it was first recognized and possibly started) to SARS-COV-2 to Novel Corona Virus to most commonly called Covid-19. There is obviously a huge science of virology behind this which I know little about. My interest is in the day to day experience.
Some people blame China and WHO for not informing the world sooner of the plague overtaking the world. I do not know any of the politics, but it is believed the virus first entered humans between October and December 2019 (thus the name Covid-19) and was first identified as a new disease February 2020. (On the political side Joe Biden claims President Trump knew all about Covid in January 2020 and should have acted at that time to stop it – RIDICULOUS) I think about this timeline and am amazed it was recognized so quickly. Can you imagine if a new disease first showed up in the US, how long it would take to identify it. First of all it would have to have symptoms that made it look totally different from any currently known illness (Certainly not the case with Covid-19) Then you would have to have enough cases occurring in clusters so that the same doctors would see multiple cases and thus recognize it as a new disease and also occurring in a place that the doctors seeing it would have the ability to make their suspicions known to the public health system. (Apparently in Wuhan, the first doctors to report If something like this happened in my office, there is no way in the world anything would have been made known to the world. I think it is incredible that it was known so quickly and is one thing that points to a less than random event.
The next thing that was amazing about this disease is how rapidly it spread around the world. In just a couple months it went from one city in Asia to being in almost every country in the world. This is both evidence of how interconnected our world is today and also how incredibly contagious is this organism. I am sorry, but I do not care what any government does, you are not going to stop a less than microscopic sized organism that is this contagious from going wherever biology (and more importantly God) wants it to go. It is so contagious, it is moving throughout every community like lightening and yet people living in the same house with a very sick person are not getting it. How does this work?
While all diseases have variations of symptom expressions and severity of symptoms in different people, it seems to me Covid has more than others. Covid symptoms are ranging from totally asymptomatic to colds to seriously ambulatory sick to death. Some have primarily respiratory symptoms and others have essentially no respiratory symptoms. Many lose taste and smell, but many do not. This makes it exceedingly difficult as a clinician to recognize it.
I have now had my own experience with it. Covid has been in our community since probably March of 2020. I have had contact with numerous cases of Covid since that time. I have taken no special precautions (reasons to be discussed later) and up until now avoided it. It is hard to know when I first developed symptoms, but the last week in October and first week of November I lost my appetite (take a few bites of a meal and throw the rest away) and extreme fatigue. I could barely wait to go to bed. If I was not working, I was taking a nap. I assumed it was my diabetes out of control so I did labs on 11/6/20. To my surprise, my labs had actually improved (A1C of 7.5 and FBS of 141 – not super, but much improved). On 11/7/20 I started feeling weaker and diaphoretic and had body aches, so had a Covid swab done. It came back positive on 11/9/20. The weekend of the 7th and 8th I continued to get sicker with fever and weakness and wanting nothing except to sleep. Carol tried to really push the fluids, but I do not know where they went. I had very little vomiting and diarrhea and I was drinking, but I kept feeling weaker. I had no respiratory/pulmonary symptoms, except a minimal intermittent dry cough. I did run a fever up to 102.5. Monday and Tuesday night were rough because after sleeping all day I could not sleep at night, but felt very uncomfortable so was constantly turning, my feet were numb and cold and I came close to having panic attacks. About 6 in the morning on Wednesday 11/11 I knew I was in trouble. I felt so weak and lightheaded, I thought sure I was going to pass out. My fever at that point was 103. I had lost 12 pounds since getting sick.
Carol had been sleeping on the sofa and I struggled to the door of the bedroom and told her I had to go to the ED. That was a huge step, because I could not figure out why I would be so sick I had to go to the hospital and yet I knew if something did not change I was going to be in serious trouble. She put me in the car and drove me to Pelham (less than 10 minutes from our house) They put me in a wheelchair and told Carol to leave. I told them if they did not get me in a bed, I would end up on the floor. I do not know how they got my information, because I did not even have my wallet on me. They put me in a room and except for a very few questions and chest x-ray (showed some pneumonia) they did not do anything except give me two liters of intravenous fluid. I do not know how to explain it (and have seen it many times from the doctor side), but it was miraculous what those two liters of fluid did. I felt like a new person. Not only did I no longer feel like I was going to collapse, but my fever was minimal after that, my body aches diminished and each day after that I felt stronger. I continued to need extra sleep and I got diaphoretic whenever I got up for the next three to four days. By the end of the day 9/15, I felt like was almost back to normal. My appetite and strength had pretty much returned to normal and I felt ready to go back to work.
Now, my perspective on all of these measures being pushed by public health. Social distancing, mask wearing, lock downs; these are all measures being promoted as the answer to stopping the spread of Covid-19. I have taught students for years that patients expect us as practitioners to “do something” to fix whatever is broken. It does not matter whether what we are recommending will work or not, we have to “do something.” It is the reason antibiotics will always be inappropriately prescribed and alternative medicine will have a large number of adherents. It matters not whether the “something” works or not; to do nothing is not an acceptable alternative. All of the public health measures being advocated fall under this same category.
The current emphasis is on mask wearing. It is stated as a matter of fact that by people wearing masks we will stop the spread of Covid. Yet, in the beginning of the crisis, the infamous authority and CDC expressly said wearing a mask would not stop the spread of Covid. They now claim the said that then, not because they did not believe masks would not work, but because they did not want the supply of masks to be overwhelmed. This means they either lied to us at the time or they are lying to us now. Take your pick, but at one time or the other, we were being lied to and manipulated. (Personally, I believe it is now.). Secondly, even today, the CDC web site acknowledges mask wearing has almost no objective evidence that they work to reduce the spread of Covid and yet we force people all day long to wear extremely uncomfortable masks just to be doing something and cause people to become hysterical if they “catch” someone without a mask. Thirdly, how exactly are masks supposed to be stopping the spread of Covid? Do they stop it by filtering the air we are breathing. Anyone, who has worn a mask (and now that is all of us) knows that no air goes through the mask itself. All of the air breathed is moving in and out of your nose and mouth by going around your mask. Therefore, the mask is not filtering out the dreaded virus. If it somehow was filtering, it would mean your mask would be full of the virus and you should be constantly removing your mask wearing gloves and burning the mask in order to destroy the deadly coronavirus. Is anyone doing that? I would bet almost everyone is wearing the same mask for days or weeks at a time. At best, a mask might prevent you from coughing directly in someone’s face, but it does nothing to reduce the amount of virus you breathe in as you go about your daily activities.
The media has imbued a mythical protective ability on masks. I have seen a person walk in with a mask on, go apoplectic because they see someone not wearing a mask. Why exactly? If the masks are so effective, than you wearing your mask would protect YOU and it would not matter what other people are doing. I certainly believe people have the right to wear a mask themselves, but it is ludicrous to force the entire population to wear masks. Freedom used to be a principle that was highly valued and each individual was responsible to decide how much risk they were personally willing to undertake. No more. Now, the government has the desire and power to determine that we as individuals have NO right to determine how safe we want to be in our daily lives.
Social distancing or the magical 6 feet of separation is supposed to prevent us from getting Covid. What? Do these particles magically disappear within 5 feet and 11 inches? Are there no particles lying on hand rails and counters, etc. There are no currents stirring up particles that have fallen to the floor. What about when one cleans, nothing gets sent back into the air?
Then the biggest tragedy of all is the lockdowns. I am just shocked that with very few exceptions, the entire world decided to destroy their countries’ economies in the hope that by locking everyone in their home, they would stop the Covid virus. Now that we are 9 months into it, there is no question the lockdowns have been a bust. Even a casual review of the statistics and your own personal experience tell you that people continued to get sick whether they were locked down or not. The real tragedy is not just that the lockdowns have been a totally futile effort, but that their cost has been so high. The isolation from one another leading to all kinds of mental illness. People suffering illness and even death all alone. Jobs and businesses lost. Life’s savings evaporated. ,The government not only spending trillions of dollars it does not have, but now being given license to routinely spend trillions of dollars any time they declare a need. Politicians now believe they have the power to throw our freedom out the window and control every one of our actions by declaring an emergency. As someone said, you don’t save a village by burning it to the ground, but that is just what we have done.
The latest travesty of this whole situation is the vaccine. The vaccine is supposed to be the thing which finally rescues us from this mess. We are being told that having the disease itself does not provide immunity (even though there are very few cases of reinfection). I am having a hard time understanding how if the disease itself does not provide immunity, this vaccine is going to provide immunity. Then the pharmaceutical companies announced their vaccines produced a 90-94% efficacy rate. Stocks jumped and all the faces in front of the cameras cheered. Again, this made no sense because, because no pharmaceutical is that effective. This past weekend I finally was able to read the PI (Product Information) on the Pfizer vaccine that was shipped today with much fanfare. I wrote in this blog that what was being bragged about was the results after only 7 days. It was pointed out to me that I misread the data, so I went back and studied the data tables more intently and I will admit that I was not accurately portraying their results. I have been detailed by pharmaceutical reps for so many years, that I have a big prejudice of skepticism towards their claims. At the time of the PI publication (the PI can be found here https://www.evernote.com/shard/s13/sh/2d29f002-f17c-6346-61ea-d6c7d653196c/8aff2faa209a7095f1bc6849827d357c ) there had been 9 Covid cases in the vaccinated group and 169 cases in the placebo group (approx 20,000 people in each group). This would indicate a protective effect, but I would still argue that the statement of the efficacy by using a percent is misleading. I believe we, meaning the public, should be given raw numbers of both cases of Covid and Adverse reactions and not easily manipulated percents so we can make accurate assessments. These are also very early results, for obvious reasons. I am not opposed to these vaccines being offered, but the public should be given all the information, not just the sales information. I have no idea if these vaccines will provide any true lasting protection or not (I hope they do), but at this point they have not provided evidence that they will do so, nor the potential risks. The really bad part is many of us, in order to keep our jobs, travel, go to school, intermingle in public will be forced to get these vaccines. That, I believe, is very wrong.