Recently, the New England Journal of Medicine, “Journal Watch” carried commentary on the question of how doctors felt about the expiration of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. This question raises heath concerns at two levels: public health and personal health. Public health in this setting, involved doctors pulled into the street, airwaves, and the print media to provide essential medical information on the current COVID-19 developments and the important role of vaccinations in stemming the spread of infection and the death rate. Providing essential personal health information in a contentious political environment brought heretofore unparalleled criticism to the doorstep of physicians having the temerity to contradict congressman, governors,…and the other guy. One comment came from a family doctor that addressed the ongoing splintering relationships between doctors and our governing bodies; doctors and lawyers; and doctors and their patients:
"One of many significant challenges that gained traction for the purposes of purely political power, 'identity' and as being revealed, money, reaching our highest court, the Supreme Court, are the continuing antivaxxer misinformation campaigns. These groups are still actively attacking the ability of whole communities including public health departments, school district, doctors’ offices and more, to protect themselves via mandates for vaccines. They are doing so with attorneys in the courtroom…We are going to find ourselves with our hands tied behind our backs by the politicians, and the attorneys who can make a buck at the expense of the lives of all the rest of us."
Later the doctor describes the chilling effect of the interference of misguided activists in medical care policies. Doctors know their patients, she says, and can devise personal plans of care, including a vaccine and whether vaccination is truly riskier than the disease. Politicians, lawyers, and the courts, she emphasizes, cannot.
The lawyers I know are immune to criticism for taking a fee to represent a client, even those clients whose conduct is unspeakable, but I take umbrage at being thrown in with the current batch of disingenuous politicos, masters of half-truths, and spin. Scholars have noted that Aristotle believed that politics is a vital and noble human activity. But money and the desire for reelection has brought this noble calling to its knees. For the medical community, statistics, and facts of the human costs of the denial of medical care are forceful lessons of the danger of politicians at the bed side.
Johns Hopkins, Bloomberg School of Public Health: Center for Health Security has a free link to weekly updates of news articles, publications, and research devoted to the latest developments on COVID-19, entitled COVID-19 Situation Reports. As of the spring of this year, they stopped collecting raw data on COVID-19. As of May 2023 updates, it provides useful information for enlarging our perspective of what has happened up to now and the challenges ahead.
As of May 4, 2023, the CDC reports that in the US there have been 1.13 million COVID deaths. In the week of April 26, 2023, there were 88,330 reported cases and 1,052 deaths, though the CDC notes that infection rates and deaths continue to trend downward. To me, the most interesting data compiled by the CDC is the implications of the vaccinated individuals versus unvaccinated people on morbidity and mortality. Here in Ohio, the Ohio Department of Health compiled data from the Ohio Disease Reporting System and the CDC Covid-19 Vaccine Breakthrough Project. Since January 1, 2021, 27,084 not fully vaccinated Ohioans have died from COVID-19. In contrast, only 1,534 fully vaccinated Ohioans have died from COVID-19. It would appear that vaccinations prevent death in COVID-19 infected patients. The actual number of preventable deaths has not been quantified in Ohio, but a couple of academic centers have claimed that numbers extracted from the CDC show that hundreds of thousand people across the US lost their life because they failed to heed the advice to get vaccinated.