YES, The Political Exploitation of COVID-19 is Real!

HEALTH POLITICS-- Let me be blunt: I think that Dr. Fauci is an attention-whore. Ditto with the non-doctor in LA County directing Angelenos to give up their livelihoods when she was extraordinarily well paid. 

And they turned off just enough Americans, and were too quick to flip-flop last year, that it caused more than a few Americans (especially but not only conservatives) to wonder if their cred and/or their media addiction was getting in the way of solid public health and economic policies. 

Count me in as someone who is a C. Everett Koop kind of guy--he was just a straight-faced doctor that wanted the realities of both first- and second-hand smoking to be acknowledged, and he did so without any desire to achieve publicity or acclaim. 

I also think that President Joe Biden is a consummate liar who capitalized on the COVID-19 virus to get elected when he did nothing whatsoever to advocate for its prevention and spread when he could have done so last year.  

I also think that President is so desirous of undoing any Trump legacy that he's willing to spend "COVID relief" money on anything BUT relief from the economic rages of the COVID virus, he's willing to create a horrific humanitarian crisis at the southern border, and he's willing to let Mideast peace and America's standing in the world go to hell in a handbasket. 

But the COVID-19 virus, as with all viruses, doesn't give a damn about President Biden, former President Trump, or anyone reading this. We all have to do what it takes to survive the virus and any threat to our economic or cultural existence, and this is particularly difficult for human beings to do this when we're both the most rational, and yet also irrational, animals on Planet Earth. 

1) Not surprisingly, the CDC and the Biden Administration are warning of "impending doom" as they warn of a new surge of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. 

Many will decry this "Chicken Little/Sky is Falling" proclamation, but when one checks out the body bag accumulation in Brazil, there IS a concern about THAT variant of COVID-19 being something that could set things horribly back.  

And the variants we've heard of in other nations is spreading rapidly throughout the U.S. and is spreading the fastest among other COVID-19 variants. 

2) Yet let's not forget that that the CDC has declared social distancing to be three feet, and not six feet. If two vaccinated folks are in a room, the masks probably CAN come off! 

It again bears repeating that the best way to get past the COVID-19 scare is to get vaccinated.  

The aforementioned new viral variants are surging in our nation and world but are doing so in states that both are emphasizing and de-emphasizing masks...yet our current vaccines are preventing even the newer variants better than any other approach or method. 

3) Herd immunity is something we all want but catching COVID-19 unfortunately protects a person for only 3-6 months. Vaccination does so for 9-12 months and counting. 

Furthermore, long-term symptoms such as fatigue, cognitive problems, and lack of breath are real--not for all who've caught the virus, but enough to recognize that it can be pretty awful for up to half of survivors even after 4-6 months. 

4) Vaccination hesitancy is dropping, and the potential for teenagers to get vaccinated is increasing. 

What is most scary about those scared or hesitant to get vaccinated is that those groups dying and catching the virus the most--Black and Latino Americans--were the most hesitant. Fortunately, that hesitancy is dropping, as Medscape reports. 

Enter the new world of adult, 16-64 year-old Americans fighting and elbow-swinging for their vaccinations ASAP.  

This will certainly get worse in the short run with Pfizer reporting 100% effectiveness of their vaccine in 12-15 year-olds, as MDLinx reports.
). So now teenagers will want "IN" to our vaccines. 

5) Our lives and health needs are being destroyed and ignored by the virus, and hence both the doom and gloom of our political leaders and our lack of vaccine rollout to date are worsening their credibility. 

In particular, those with cancer and chronic diseases have had their health needs ignored or delayed, and often with disastrous results. 

6) Until vaccination occurs, the only things that prevent more severe COVID-19 cases are Vitamin D and low-dose aspirin. 

While the former is true for all Americans (most Americans ARE indoors more, and ARE low in Vitamin D, especially for darker-skinned Americans), the latter is probably more of a consideration in middle-aged and older individuals. 

Zinc, Plaquenil, and ivermectin are all out there, but despite the fact that folks like me were first hopeful about them, the double-blind, placebo-controlled studies keep showing that they were well-meant but false, anecdotal hopes. 

7) Both those infected and those wanting not to be infected will benefit from vaccination...but there WILL be annual booster shots needed like we have for the flu, because of the dangerous new Brazilian, British, and South African new variants. 

As reported in Science, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been shown to create antibodies in both those who had the virus and those who have not yet had the virus. 

If you already got COVID-19, effective immunization lasts for 3-5 months. If you are vaccinated, protective immunization lasts for 9-12 months or so. 

But two-thirds of epidemiologists from leading academic institutions say that the aforementioned new variants/baddies spreading throughout our nation and world will make our current vaccines lose their punch. 

So, we have liberals complaining that many conservatives are knuckle-dragging idiots who are preventing the spread and reduction of COVID-19, and conservatives complaining that liberals are exploiting the virus for their own personal, economic, and political agenda. 

I'd argue that both accusations bear a LOT of accuracy...but are probably not coming even close to telling the whole story. In the end, vaccination will bring back our lives to something akin to 2019, and will end (or at least minimize) the need for all the masks and social distancing we're all getting sick of.


 (Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D, is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, and is a proud husband and father to two cherished children and a wonderful wife. He was termed out of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC) twice after two stints as a Board member for 8-9 years and is also a Board member of the Westside Village Homeowners Association. He previously co-chaired the MVCC Outreach, Planning, and Transportation/Infrastructure Committees. He was previously co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee, the grassroots Friends of the Green Line (which focused on a Green Line/LAX connection), and the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at Ken.Alpern@MarVista.org. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)