THE DOCTOR IS IN-Let's just start with this factoid: The American Medical Association reports That more than 96% of surveyed U.S. physicians have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19, with no significant difference in vaccination rates across regions.
Enter the COVID-19 Delta Variant.
The Greek letter "Delta" means "Difference", for those of us with any memory or familiarity with math, chemistry, physics, and statistics. And this "Delta Variant" of COVID-19 might be big problem in the months to come.
The death toll in India is frightening, and it's the most contagious form of this virus worldwide at this time.
People tend to hear things that often aren't said in the manner in which they've been interpreted. This has been particularly true with respect to this never-ending pandemic -- never-ending in its divisiveness, and never-ending in the human health and economic tolls that are historic in scope.
The communications gap goes something along these lines: "Plaquenil works! No, it doesn't work! Ivermectin works! No, it doesn't work! Well, maybe if used in the right way. . ."
And: "The vaccine works! The vaccine doesn't prevent you from catching the virus! The vaccine is proven! The vaccine is experimental! The vaccine is overall safe! The vaccine has some serious side effects! Well, maybe if we weigh the pros and cons. . .
I've known people who've died of COVID-19, and many more who've been sick and are still affected.
I've known people who are terrified of COVID-19, and I've known people that point to its high survival rate as a sign it's been overplayed and horribly exploited for economic and political gain.
I've known pro-Biden and pro-Trump individuals who either love the vaccines or hate the vaccines based on their love of one candidate or hatred of the past or current occupant in the White House.
I've known folks who despise Fauci and those who adore Fauci. I've known those who are furious with the Chinese Communist Party and its enablers, and others who shrug their shoulders at the whole Wuhan laboratory issue.
But it comes down to this--what will you DO in the upcoming months:
1) If you take the Delta Variant seriously, then the absolute BEST way to protect yourself is the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. Perhaps a second dosage of the J & J vaccine is in order, or a Booster shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines (or even mixing those two together!).
2) Catching the COVID-19 protects you from past variants of this mutating virus, but is more uncertain than the Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccines with respect to the Delta Variant.
3) Israel, which appears to be at the forefront of both vaccination and COVID-19 science, will not go back on lockdowns because of its very high vaccination rates the Delta variant DOES occur in vaccinated individuals.
4) The Delta Variant is exploding in the highly vaccinated U.K., and fears are very high that this will occur in the U.S., and in particular those regions of the U.S. with lower vaccination rates.
5) Yet the death rate of those vaccinated who died of COVID-19 is only 0.13%, and all were over age 50.
So the big "Delta," the big "difference," between those of us here in the U.S., might be the opinion as to whether we need to aggressively push for vaccination rates similar to that we see in Israel (over 90%). . .or whether this pandemic is yet again being overplayed.
This Delta Difference will be huge in the months to come among Americans who want to live their lives again. . .but two things are to be remembered:
1) We once shrugged our shoulders about that crazy virus "over there" in that strange city named Wuhan. We don't shrug our shoulders anymore. Likewise, shrugging our shoulders about India's third-world status causing the horrific death toll there probably is risking more than a few Americans' lives as well.
2) To repeat the point made at the beginning of this piece, over 96% of surveyed physicians throughout the entire U.S. have been fully vaccinated.
Please let that sink in. I am a physician. I assure you that I am as outraged about the political nonsense surrounding this virus as you are. I absolutely despise Governors Cuomo, Newsom, and Whitmer.
I also just want you to live. Conservatives, liberals, whites, blacks, Latinos, Asians, etc., all should do what it takes to survive this.
Please don't wait until you wish you HAD been vaccinated to get vaccinated in a timely manner.
The numbers and risks of the vaccines are being closely monitored and are fairly well-known, right now. The recently-reported the myocarditis in younger males is more studied and yet is still considered to be outweighed by the benefits of mRNA vaccines (and the J & J vaccine is still another option).
And the question of whether we'll have to go on lockdown again by October or later this year is also entirely unknown. . .but the question remains relevant as ever!
Whether it a booster, or just a first vaccination, or just playing it safe with masking and social distancing (or a combination thereof), your own personal "Delta" from others with different opinions and action plans will become increasingly important.
So what will YOU do?
(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 Green Line/LAX connection), and the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at [email protected]. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)