Yesterday, there were over 140,000 hospitalized Americans with Covid, a new record. And almost all of them are not vaccinated. Furthermore, 25% of hospitals are experiencing critical staff shortages. This is a deadly combination, and not just for Covid patients, but for all patients who are ill with various conditions.
I have yet to have a clinic day where there isn’t at least one patient who is not yet vaccinated against the SARS-Cov-2 virus. Often there are 3-4. As an ENT specialist, they are usually not seeing be for a Covid talk (although some of my patients are there for Covid-related symptoms), but as a physician, I feel compelled to discuss their vaccination status in the hopes of possibly clarifying some concerns they may have, encouraging them to please get vaccinated. Their reasons for holding off are varied, but almost always, they are based on misconceptions and falsely believed rumors. Many don’t think beyond their 2 foot radius and when I ask them about concerns about spreading it to others, they never have a response. Silence. They don’t care. Although I do not get into politics, I often get the impression that their beliefs are reinforced by non-medical influences.
So far this week, I had 2 middle aged people who had Covid over a year ago, who believed that they were still protected because of it. I explained to them that , although natural infection provides good future protection, that wanes, just like it does with vaccination, and that a booster shot was still strongly recommended. I don’t have a lot of time, but I try to explain the science behind memory cells such as T and B cells and antibodies and how they differ. Maybe I convince them. Who knows.
This week, I had an obese, hypertensive 82 year old who already had Covid twice, both times hospitalized, who now struggles with pulmonary fibrosis (permanent scarring in the lungs which not only leads to breathing problems, but also heart failure because of the scarring which also impacts on blood flow through the lungs forcing the heart ot beat harder to move blood through). Despite that, he was firmly against vaccination because he “did not trust the pharmaceutical companies and did not believe the science”. It was interesting that he was on a slew of other pharmaceutical products for his numerous other chronic conditions, but he did not “trust the drug companies”. Furthermore, when he was hospitalized, although he was willing to take other pharmaceutical products like the monoclonal antibodies and antivirals, he had presented to the hospital so late, they were not offered since they would no longer be effective. Ironic that he doesn’t trust them enough to take the vaccine but trusts them enough to take their drugs when he can’t breathe in the ER! He also brought up how no one would prescribe Ivermectin for him, another product of non-trustworthy drug companies. He commented on studies showing how in countries where it was used endemically because of contaminated water, there were lower Covid cases and lower death rates from Covid, and how these studies are suppressed by our media. This drug was in the news months back dubbed the “horse pill”. That label was not really fair since this drug has been life saving for many humans infected with parasites and the scientists who developed it did win the Nobel Prize in medicine for their discovery of this drug. There have been some very small, limited studies showing some benefit of this drug which does inhibit the virus somewhat. There were also many studies which were retracted because of seriously flawed and manipulated data.
As for the places where Ivermectin is used preventatively because of parasite-contaminated water, I did come across some online articles suggesting lower Covid cases and a smaller percentage of death. These are primarily poor African countries where trustworthy data and demographics are hard to come by. There were many criticisms of these studies.
My personal examples are anecdotes, as are the studies showing some possible benefit from Ivermectin. The same day I saw the above-mentioned gentleman, I had another patient, a local ER doctor, who was exhausted. His ER is packed every shift. Not just with Covid, but the flu as well as all the “other usual things” like heart attacks, strokes and urinary tract infections. Covid, however, predominates. There is an area in his ER dedicated to patients who can’t get a bed in the hospital because it also is packed. He describes having to navigate around beds with Covid patients in the hallways so he can get to the ER rooms. He just had a 26 year-old die within 48 of admission from cardio-pulmonary complications of Covid. Unvaccinated. In fact he said that he has seen “0”, that is ZERO, vaccinated patients. They are ALL unvaccinated. That is not anecdotal. That is day in and day out.
I have had conversations with other ER doctors who have similar experiences. Similar overflow situations. Similar sad outcomes. And sadly, mostly preventable if they simply got vaccinated.
These are not second or third hand recounts, over the web, from some blog. These are direct, first hand experiences. I have had my own. Trust who you want. Big-mouthed, misinformed, ignorant social media personalities and conspiracy theory websites and organizations, or, trust the doctors and other healthcare providers who are doing the work directly. Daily. Until they too get sick, or burn out, and can’t take care of you.
Please get vaccinated and continue to do all the important things which protect you, and everyone else around you. Mask, distance, avoid crowds and get healthy.
Stay safe and be well.