Retirement and will we have an effective Covid 19 vaccine?
As you all know I am retiring. We have sent out letters and recorded messages well over a month ago. I have been in medicine for 44 years and I can’t believe how quickly it all went by. Hope retirement looks like the pic, yeah, right!
Did you know that my first office was located in a coat closet? My 6 foot 4 large frame fit right between the coats and I had a card table for a desk.
Oh, BTW, I had a dial phone and there was no internet or faxes.
I began my career seeing 1 patient a day for at least the first 3 months. I attended to my patients in the hospital, nursing home and office. My first talk was on constipation.
Now, I’m in the winter of my career which ends Sept. 20th. I have had most of the diseases that my patients have had. At first I was embarrassed to get cancer twice. But you know what? Experience is indeed the best teacher. I read like a hungry beggar. I have always been ravenous for knowledge but when you experience the ailment, you become an instant expert. Read about the disease, get the disease and teach the disease. That was the backbone of my practice.
But as I looked back, I found the secret sauce. Sure, knowing the disease and making the diagnosis is important but there is something even more important.
The worst thing about a disease is not necessarily the disease. Ok, now you think I really should retire!
But stay with me for a moment. It is really the reaction to the disease that needs attention. My true purpose in medicine is to calm the chaotic emotions that are lurking within. So knowledge is important and that’s the science. But the art of quelling the patient’s emotions is truly the bullseye. That’s essentially called being a friend.
Yes, I know the teaching is to not get too close to the patient. I guess no pain, no gain. Empathy does take its toll on the doctor and the friend as well. However, that special bond is what makes life worthwhile and I’m glad that I could be a friend as well as a physician.
Thank you for placing your trust in me. Thank you for allowing me into your life. Thanks for sharing those difficult emotions. It was an honor and privilege to help.
Ok, so let’s proceed with the ups and downs of the COVID 19 vaccine. Here are the questions I’ve received.
When will it be ready?
With nearly 200,000 deaths in the U.S. and over 250,000 new cases in the last week, we need a solution. So let’s ask “the horse’s mouth.”
Anthony Fauci is far from a horse but he does offer up this: "By the time you mobilize the distribution of the vaccinations, and you get the majority, or more, of the population vaccinated and protected, that's likely not going to happen [until] the mid- or end of 2021,"
It wouldn’t surprise me if we had a vaccine in October or November but production and distribution is another problem entirely.
Dr Fauci echos this statement of mine by saying the following: "We project that by the end of this year, namely November/December, we will know if we have a safe and effective vaccine and we are cautiously optimistic that we will be successful, based on promising data in the animal model as well as good immunological data that we see from the phase 1 and phase 2 trials."
Hey, I might someday be “the horse’s mouth,” but for now, I’m content just to be a retired doctor rather than being a cousin to a horse. Glad I could clear that up!
Will the vaccine be effective?
It’s nice that 150 companies are working hard to make an effective vaccine but what does effective really mean?
Effective means that sufficient antibodies are produced so that the virus is destroyed. But what if antibodies are made but the recipient can still carry the virus. This scenario is not good. Yes, the recipient feels fine but he can still spread the virus because the antibodies produced by the vaccine cannot completely neutralize the virus. This is probably why 2 doses of a vaccine may be needed.
The other problem is can we achieve herd immunity? I know, first I’m talking about horses and now I’m discussing herds of cows. Let’s clear this up.
Herd immunity means that enough of the population is immune so that the virus can’t really spread.
With measles, if 9 out of 10 people take the vaccine and build immunity, the herd (that’s us) is pretty safe.
But measles is ultra contagious so we need 90% of people to be vaccinated. Covid 19 is less contagious so scientists estimate that 70% of the population would need to be vaccinated. Whew, that’s a relief or is it?
Do you really think that 70% of Americans will submit to a rushed vaccine that has never been made before?
Let’s check with the pollsters. No worry, I’m not getting political on ya. A recent poll found that 54% of Americans would not get a COVID-19 vaccine if one was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration before the November election AND it was made available to everyone at no cost.
Wow! Some people will wait and see. Others will never take the vaccine and that group comprises 35% of the population.
So how the heck are docs going to convince people? Yes, I heard that Astra Zeneca stopped its research for a few days because 1 person developed a spinal cord issue. It was probably unrelated because every symptom has to be reported.
If 1 out of 100,000 develops hunga dunga disease from a COVID 19 vaccine, that will get over magnified by the media which is its function these days. BTW I just made up hunga dunga but it does sound awful.
The fact is that 1 out of 6000 people die each year in an automobile accident, yet somehow, everyone keeps driving those killing mobiles.
The fear of vaccines is way over done and I will be one of the first to get it. At least I will likely be immune and I’ll continue to drive my car too.
But I want the whole population protected but herd immunity means that at least 70%of the population needs to be vaccinated in order to prevent the spread of this virus. Hey, we did it for measles, let’s due it for Covid 19. The FDA promised not to rush up these vaccines. I’ll keep you up to date even though I’m retiring. So let’s just keep an open mind and let reason calm the turbulent emotions within.
Good Health and be safe.
Or maybe not so doctorly!