SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic — WW III?
To the editor:
World War I was a global fight against an identified enemy. U.S. deaths were about 117,000. World War II was again a global fight against a formidable enemy that resulted in about 418,000 U.S. deaths. The 1918 pandemic, a global fight against a novel enemy, cost us about 675,000 lives.
The current COVID-19 pandemic has already cost us 679,00 U.S. lives, more than the prior two world wars and novel virus pandemic of 100 years ago.
We were successful in our battle against these enemies but the cost of human life was significant. In each of these battles our knowledge of the enemy improved and our tools to fight our battle evolved. Suppose that when the Germans in WW I released Mustard gas and our government issued gas masks to combat it, our soldiers refused to wear the masks because it was unproven that the masks were safe or effective even though the gas was killing some of them. Would the outcomes be different?
In WWII we effectively ended the war against Japan with the use of a new nuclear weapon. The science for the weapon was strong but its use was unproven. Suppose that the public refused to support this novel approach and we continued on with an invasion and ground war on Japanese soil. Would the outcomes be different?
COVID-19 is a global threat, a war against a known but evolving enemy. We have developed our tools of war to combat it but are having difficulty in deploying them. Our inability to utilize all our tools is allowing the virus to continue to evolve and to invade. We will eventually win this war but the cost of human life will continue to increase. How much sacrifice are we willing to endure?
In spite of some missteps as we learned more about our enemy, the science for our response is strong. Those masks are an inconvenience but their use saves lives and reduces the risk of the viral enemy infection. We have given over 387,000,000 COVID-19 vaccinations. While not fully preventative in stopping the virus they have proven themselves to be very safe and effective. The risks are known and then numbers continue to evolve as more vaccinations are given. The risk for developing an autoimmune adverse response is 0.008%. For cardiac events that number is 0.004%. Contrast that with the risk of being struck by a meteorite at 0.04%. That’s a 10-fold increased risk of a meteor strike over getting an adverse effect from the vaccine.
The other argument for not masking and getting vaccinated is the “my body, my right’s” belief. However, unless you intentionally drive on the wrong side of the road, drive through stop lights, don’t stop for stopped school buses and refuse to wear seat belts you are already doing things, while perhaps inconvenient, are safety measures for both yourself and others around you.
We have the tools to impede viral replication thus reducing the potential of development of a newer variant more contagious and more lethal than the Delta variant. We have the tools to significantly reduce the spread of the virus. Do the right thing, help our health departments work to curtail the spread of COVID-19. Protect our kids, both yours and mine.
H. Lauren Vogel, D.O. MPH