OWN VOICE. ~ InPerspective by Gregg Dieguez —
There have been some difficult conversations this Holiday season. Let’s hope yours are BEFORE a holiday visit, rather than a few weeks after. What we’re seeing with COVID-19 today is the Thanksgiving we just had. U.S. coronavirus deaths soared to a daily record of 3,580 and hospitalizations rose for the 19th straight day on Wednesday. Here are some things we should all understand, and then I’ll end this article on a couple of lighter notes…
Images: most will enlarge for improved readability in a new window when you click on them.
I realized I wasn’t alone in my Holiday Concerns when…
- Rushing through Safeway, I overheard a woman of my age on the phone saying “Millions of families are facing the same situation we are”, and a bit more, to what was obviously her child.
- Dr. Fauci announced his daughters were not coming home for Christmas, for the first time ever…
- The 40 yr old daughter of a college friend caught COVID-19 and developed an almost-fatal blood clot.
First the good news:
Vaccines are Coming! But don’t believe the hype – in either direction. Those vaccines are NOT 95% effective. That’s like saying the temperature forecast for tomorrow is 61.486°. There is a RANGE of effectiveness for those vaccines and here, from my colleague Bruce Laird, are some estimates for the Moderna vaccine. The good news is, a 50% vaccine is PROBABLY GOOD ENOUGH (if enough people take it), and that’s what we get from just the FIRST DOSE of the Pfizer vaccine.
On the other hand, there will be plenty of stories from Russian-supported anti-vaxxers about problems with the vaccines. And there will be a few problems with the vaccines, but much less than from letting the virus run rampant. And don’t confuse problems specific to the vaccines with ‘normal stuff happening normally’. We’re talking about treating very, very large populations, which means that you’re going to see the usual run of mortality and morbidity that you see across large samples. Specifically, if you take 10 million people and just wave your hand back and forth over their upper arms, in the next two months you would expect to see about 4,000 heart attacks. About 4,000 strokes. Over 9,000 new diagnoses of cancer. And about 14,000 of that ten million will die, from usual all-causes mortality. No one would notice. That’s how many people die and get sick anyway. So don’t fall for alarmist reports about vaccine issues.
There is also much more to learn about the vaccines: Do they only help those inoculated, or do they reduce the spread from inoculated to others? How long will immunity last? Will current vaccines work with the new mutations of SARS-CV2?
How Bad Is It, Really?
It’s worse than ever during this Pandemic. Note the seasonal swing in the death rates between the Southern and Northern hemispheres. Our Summer is their Winter, and Winters are the times for outbreaks. Note also that well-managed countries, who took effective public health measures early, have death rates that are MUCH lower than the U.S., with its ineffective leadership.
There are two key concepts to consider: Avoidable Deaths and Excess Deaths. Avoidable Deaths are U.S. lives which which we COULD have SAVED, with proper leadership. Between 100,000 and 200,000 of our deaths WERE PREVENTABLE, without any vaccine – because no one else had a vaccine until now, and look how they did. Excess Deaths are deaths in a country above the long term mortality rate. As we know from the profits life insurance companies make, the long term death rate is VERY predictable. There is a statistic epidemiologists follow which counts ‘deaths above the long term average’. Because the CDC science has been corrupted by politics and slowed in its data gathering (as have several Red states), it will likely not be until July, 2021 that we have a good estimate of how many ‘extra’ people died from the Pandemic, and those deaths will include people who couldn’t get timely medical care for OTHER diseases because the health care system was overloaded with COVID-19. At present, U.S. Excess Deaths (track it here) are about 100,000 – which means we have about 416,000 Pandemic-related deaths now, not the reported 316,000. I regret to say I am confident that by next July that number will be at least 600,000, and more likely 750,000. In other words, we will pass all U.S. deaths from World War II tomorrow, and surpass the Civil War by next summer. And we didn’t have to.
The Gift That Keeps On Giving:
This Pandemic may look more like a Boomer Remover, but it isn’t all about the Olde Folkes. The major remaining unknown is what the long term mental and physical heath toll will be among the Survivors:
B. Multi-organ impairment in low-risk individuals with long COVID From that study, this warning:
“In a young, low-risk population with ongoing symptoms, almost 70% of individuals have impairment in one or more organs four months after initial symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 infection”. And what are the chances that private health insurance DOES NOT treat COVID-19 as a pre-existing condition in their policies? The issue of national healthcare is going to become more urgent than ever.
D. And finally, there’s the impact on our children, who will need emotional and educational recovery for some time to come.
The Reality Behind The Scenes
Here are the unspoken measures being taken by our health care system:
iPads stockpiled for ICU end of life goodbyes… was not something Steve Jobs foresaw.
— Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) December 3, 2020
But we humans have an amazing capacity to look past the darkness and into the light. And I recommend we do so, so we can rally for the remaining 7+ months (here, in the U.S., I hope…) of this fight…
The Lighter Notes:
Have you noticed musical groups performing in distributed fashion this year? Have you noticed the shift in content? If you don’t know whether to cry or laugh, sing & dance!
A. From the Rooftops in Paris: https://youtu.be/nTTbR0aFGOg Keep Calm and Stay At Home…
Mr. Dieguez is a native San Franciscan, longtime San Mateo County resident, and semi-retired entrepreneur who causes occasional controversy on the Coastside. He is a member of the MCC, but his opinions here are his own, and not those of the Council. In 2003 he co-founded MIT’s Clean Tech Program here in NorCal, which became MIT’s largest alumni speaker program. He lives in Montara. He loves a productive dialog in search of shared understanding.