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Tue, Nov

A Fair Assessment: Our COVID-19 Efforts Not Good, Not Poor...Just Fair

THE DOCTOR IS IN - This is 2022, and not 2020. There WAS an Operation Warp Speed that got us two mRNA vaccines (Moderna and Pfizer) for us to use in 2021,

but it's not hard to conclude that in 2021 we stopped fighting hard for better vaccines, and vaccines more applicable to May/June 2021.

Being a physician and/or public health expert means to focus on both crediting and downplaying the efforts (or lack thereof) of either a portion of the scientific community, or even the entirety of the scientific community, on any given scientific subject. 

That this virus and our nation's and world's response has been driven as much by politics as it has by public health considerations (arguably by far more the former) is not hard to conclude. Public health considerations used to prevent unbridled homeless camps and illegal immigration, but no longer. 

So politics and our limitation of knowledge with respect to vaccination against constantly-mutating viruses such as COVID-19 has prevented us from achieving in 2022 what we should have achieved by late 2021... 

...and perhaps it's "better late than never" and perhaps it's inexcusable of our nation's current leadership to continue what the Operation Warp Speed effort did for us starting two years ago:  

1) While FDA approval of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been extended to very young children, the upgrading and updating of mRNA vaccines to include the newer Omicron variants is only now just being proposed to the FDA by Moderna 

2) While a new vaccine with a newer/different technology by Novavax, issues of myocarditis (which should NOT be undervalued or disregarded) exist for this vaccine as well as they do for the Pfizer/Moderna vaccines in younger individuals 

3) Questioning the benefits of vaccinating younger individuals versus the risks are no longer in the realm of "anti-vaxxers". Debating the incidence of medical risks to younger individuals versus the benefits of vaccination to protect the elderly, and whether significant benefit to anyone--especially young children--are reasonable questions. 

4) The Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines are overall safe and effective for middle-aged and older individuals, but it should be remembered that their efficacy and ability to mount robust immune responses to COVID-19 exposures starts dropping significantly within 1-2 months. 

In other words, middle-aged and older and immunosuppressed individuals will need booster shots of Pfizer/Moderna every 3-4 weeks until something better comes along. DEAL WITH IT IF YOU WANT TO REMAIN PROTECTED! 

5) Unless one is using a N-95 mask, the ability to prevent the spread or exposure of COVID-19 is poor (or at least insufficient) to our newer Omicron variants among us. Hence the need for widespread masking might not be outdated, but a debate among us for where and for whom it should occur should be science, not politics. 

6) "Long COVID" is frightening in its ability to disable many individuals, either long-term or permanently, but fortunately the newer Omicron variants are both less virulent and less likely to cause "Long COVID" than the previous variants (including the Delta Variant that set us back in 2021 in myriads ways). 

7) The need to treat high-risk patients who have COVID-19 with Paxlovid is therefore more important and overdue than ever. We will NOT catch up with this virus's variants as much as we might with widespread treatment. 

8) Newer vaccines exist in the making, but it's hard to know if they will arrive as fast as they can, and we all need. Operation Warp Speed either has a new name...or it's been discontinued for political purposes.  

To conclude, the lockdowns (and all the economic and health misery that has occurred because of them) don't appear to be necessary at this time. 

However, we will NOT be free to go back to anything near what our nation and world in 2019 until we have better vaccines, and until widespread treatments exist for us all. 

Hence we're no longer in the "poor" category of dealing with COVID-19, but we sure as heck are NOT in the "good" category, either. We're ONLY "fair" at best, I'm afraid. 

And any other assessment is just not fair, and it certainly isn't true. 

 

(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 to a wonderful wife and father to two cherished children. He was termed out of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC) twice after two stints as a Board member for 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 for 10 years. 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 His latest project is his fictional online book entitled The Unforgotten Tales of Middle-Earth and can be reached at [email protected]. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)

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