“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” ~ C. S. Lewis
There is no side of the medical debate that science has not been on when it comes to COVID-19. The laypeople like this author have looked for guidance that seemingly shifted to every side of any given issue: Wear a mask, don’t mask. Quarantine fourteen days, now ten days. Social distance six feet, now three. Try Hydroxychloroquine, it worked in-vitro. No, don’t do that it will kill you. Ask about Remdesivir, it has shown great promise at reducing mortality.. err… duration of hospitalization. Okay, that doesn’t work. Try Ivermectin, no don’t do that it will kill you too. In fact, everything will kill you.
We have fifteen days to slow the spread or millions will die. Okay, we lied lock yourself home. Stay home for us, we need empty streets to march for Black Lives Matter. Go home and take some Tylenol until you can’t breathe, we don’t have the capacity to handle the volume. Also, “Nurse Smith, you’re fired for not participating in the clinical trial. In fact, the entire department is fired for not participating in the clinical trial.” Also, don’t talk about any of this on Social Media. Fact Checkers have found that you’re spreading misinformation.
One can hardly begin to question why the public isn’t interested in statements of righteousness from a medical community that not only failed to give definitive guidance on the management of this disease, but outright walked all over themselves to comport with their personal political ideology. There is nothing about COVID-19 that is not political at this point. It was in fact used to depose Donald Trump with 25 million surplus mail ballots, after all. Depending on what facet of this disease is being debated, you can nearly predict the debater’s response based on their political leanings. That’s an unfortunate state of our science.
This sort of politicized response or lack of response has left much of the public to utilize their God-given sense and try to wade through fact from fiction and make the best decisions for themselves and their families that they can. They compromised on a school year of masking and distancing and got thirty-two million cases and six hundred thousand deaths in return. They compromised on leaving dying relatives to take their last breaths alone over a phone screen. They postponed their weddings and graduations for the greater good. They postponed medical treatments to save hospital capacity. They self-isolated and much of the public spiraled into physical and mental health crises.
Now the public gets to be lectured by political partisans that if they don’t participate in poorly designed vaccine trials with a dubious record of stopping disease transmission that they’re selfish and deserve to rot. What’s more, an objective review of vaccine trendlines shows that the introduction of the vaccine may have accelerated case growth or at a minimum the acceleration of new variants. We’re on a two-month delay from countries like Israel or the UK, where at least half of their severe cases or deaths are now happening in the vaccinated as new variants escape the vaccines and efficacy wanes. And since Pfizer and others decided to end the control arm of their trial by vaccinating their control group, we’ll have no idea what the long-term ramifications of these mRNA shots are, which is where many of the public’s concerns lie.
It has been advertised that the vaccine works to blunt the severity of the disease but doesn’t prevent transmission. This raises the question as to whether or not the vaccinated are now undetected silent super spreaders? When symptomatic patients are diagnosed with COVID-19, they go home to isolate and recuperate. When an asymptomatic person goes undetected, they may become a walking super spreader? One recent study preprint in the Lancet showed 251 times the disease in the nasal passages of vaccinated breakthrough Delta cases versus the original wild-type SARS-CoV-2, and there is a known viral load component to the severity of the disease. Does a silent but heavy viral load begin to explain our growing predicament?
On masking and COVID-19, the argument was always centered around whether or not masks stop droplet spread. But if asymptomatic spread exists it’s not coming from a sneeze or cough, but rather aerosolized particles in the breath of infected individuals. In a recent CNN interview, a Biden Administration epidemiologist stated that the debate around masks can only center around properly fitted N95’s as the rest are generally useless. A recent study showing a marginal 10% benefit to surgical masks only supports this. These sorts of statements from proponent’s own experts somehow get ignored in campaigns to mask the children in schools. Perhaps studies that equate masking with a talisman or good luck charm that boosts morale were correct and masks are operating as security blankets for those who live in a state of fear?
Masking proponents often ask what of the decline in other respiratory diseases? They point to the decline in other respiratory illnesses as proof of the efficacy of the masks. Certainly, this would make sense for larger particle bacterial diseases. But what about Influenza, RSV, etc.? One study last year found few if any cases of viral co-infection with SARS-CoV-2. More specifically, they found only a five percent overlap between SarsCov2 and Influenza. Some have suggested that this stems from competition amongst viruses for host cells in which to replicate. That certainly makes sense to me, which could explain why we saw a resurgence of childhood RSV with the rollout of the vaccines and suppression of SARS-CoV-2. Perhaps increased sanitation and isolation for COVID-19 led to the decline in other respiratory illnesses? Perhaps we just stopped doing full respiratory panels and only tested for SARS-CoV-2? Perhaps the answer is somewhere in the middle or a combination of all these things?
In life, there are many trade-offs. We’re not guaranteed safety. The kids have a higher chance of being run over by the school bus on their way to school than they do dying of COVID-19 acquired in the school. A previously healthy child has a higher likelihood of developmental and speech delay from wearing a mask than they do of having a serious case of COVID-19. If what we are learning of the vaccines is true, there is a wide body of evidence to suggest they could save your life. Maybe you should consider getting it? It is not without reported risks, so do the math for yourself. But if what we’re learning is true and the vaccines do not prevent transmission, then the value derived from the vaccine is exclusive to the recipient and our only way out of this disease is through naturally acquired immunity, vaccinated or not. The reality of this demands that we get back to life and start minding our own business.