Will We Rise Or Fall?
What Happens Next Is Up to Us
‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair … “ – Charles Dickens, “A Tale of Two Cities” In his epic opening of “A Tale of Two Cities,” Charles Dickens captures the seemingly irreconcilable conflicts of our present day. Conflicts that have set neighbors at odds with each other and divided families both physically and politically … all because of a virus that was unknown just two years ago, but that has indelibly altered the course of humanity.
The “age of wisdom” taught us what mitigation measures could slow the virus, but the “age of foolishness” caused us to abandon those measures, now paralyzing much of our society over politics and concern for liberty. The “epoch of belief” has established the ability of COVID-19 vaccines to save lives. In contrast, the “epoch of incredulity” (disbelief) has opened the door for the emergence of variants that are more transmissible than those that came before.
The “season of light” opened with the availability of vaccines in January, certainly a bright light for the thousands of older Americans at highest risk of death due to COVID-19 who lived in fear for the first year of the pandemic. Yet, the “season of darkness” is near. The “winter of despair” is upon our health-care workers, who have bravely battled this pandemic over the past
16 months. Anticipating the coming surge, members of the health-care team are now trying to muster the energy to give more of themselves and bolster their hearts and minds and bodies to prepare for the Delta variant.
From a medical perspective, the origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is frankly inconsequential. It is now with us, likely for decades to come. Its origin is still the cause of great anguish for many; the reality is that it has already claimed the lives of over 600,000 Americans and more than 400 children. That is more than twice the number of children and 10 to 15 times the number of adults who succumb to influenza each year in the United States. For the families of those 400+ children, SARS-CoV-2 is the worst germ they have ever experienced.
The fatality rate was 100% for their child, a sobering fact that should give all parents and grandparents pause. The unpredictable outcome of this virus is one of the most concerning facets of this pandemic for health-care workers. Some patients who are 100 years old or more have tolerated this virus with barely a sniffle, while more young people are now suffering its complications. The average age of hospitalized patients now is estimated to be 20 years younger than it was last year at this time … and the surge of the Delta variant has only just begun.
We know that the Delta variant produces more significant amounts of virus in the nose, which is part of its increased transmissibility. Larger amounts of virus in our coughs and sneezes mean exposure to higher doses of contagious virus and the more rapid development of symptoms. For those who are vaccinated, the vast majority will not be infected by the Delta variant. Some will have mild illness, and a rare few vaccinated individuals will require hospitalization. Unequivocally, COVID-19 vaccines save lives. They are our best weapon against this pandemic. To prevent future mask mandates and business lockdowns, now is the time to get vaccinated. If you are hesitant about vaccination, please wear your mask and get the facts about the COVID-19 vaccines from your doctor or another trusted source. Please don’t be swayed by the endless social media debates and unfounded claims that the vaccine is causing fertility issues or has magnetic chips in it or will alter your DNA. These claims are not true.
Let us be clear. This virus has no will of its own. Nor is its outcome predetermined. Dickens’ “spring of hope” looms farther in the distance now than it seemed just a few months ago. How this pandemic evolves over the next several months is up to us – all of us. If we stand by and watch, bickering over trivia and failing to take action, this virus will continue taking the lives of our loved ones, young and old, without remorse. The bitter taste of remorse will only be ours.
John A. Vanchiere, MD, Ph.D., FAAP is the director of community outreach testing and vaccinations for the Center for Emerging Virus Threats at LSU Health Shreveport.
COVID-19 vaccinations and testing are available Mon.-Fri., from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the LSU Health Shreveport North Campus located at 2627 Linwood Ave. This is a drivethrough site, and no appointment is necessary.
To learn more about COVID-19, testing and vaccinations, go to www.lsuhs.edu.