CoVID-19: Moving on

CoVID is no longer just a health concern. As clinicians we now understand the disease a little better, are comforted that most cases are mild and self-limiting, and relieved that the intensive care resources are becoming equipped to manage the increase in patient numbers. Even the danger to health care workers of too much exposure has been recognized and is beginning to be addressed.

It’s time to move on

The aftermath of this first phase of coping with CoVID-19 is a cacophony of political, economic and moral dogmas that make it unlikely that, in the near future, there will be any sensible planning for the second phase or beyond.  To mask or not to mask, to physical distance or not, to eat at a restaurant or not are collectively unanswerable and individually subject to one’s own risk tolerance.

Worse still is the damage of inflated expectations of science and medicine to fix the problem now.  It is unrealistic to expect medicine to come up in a short term with durable answers, when, like any crisis situation, all parties are competing for the winnable strategy that is “just around the corner.”

Unfortunately, there are few winners in a pandemic. In fact, the pursuit of an early victory has deeply divided nations and communities. The debates around masks, physical distancing  and allowing businesses to operate all focus on defeating the spread of the disease – which may not be possible. This highly infectious disease will continue, wave after wave, for some time yet, no matter what precautions we all take. Perhaps the death toll, if we count it in weeks, will decline, but like any long standing conflict, over years it will continue to kill – not just people but possibly our cohesion as local, national and global communities.  Moreover, the number of infections and deaths are likely to be the same over the long haul.

At this time there is very little solidarity between communities let alone countries. Journalists and scientists approach CoVID as if it were a war  and regularly disseminate the worst case scenarios and focus on any hint at victory – irrespective of whether it is real or inflated.

As tired as we all are of reading about CoVID, it dominates the scientific press as well as the mainstream media. More than 48000 articles on CoVID-19 in the last 6 months were cited on Google Scholar. It is a career boost for publication hungry researchers. Unfortunately, the bias towards rare and exotic findings and magic cures persists. Less than 3% of these articles talk of mild symptoms. CoVID is highly infectious but for most people it is not life threatening nor debilitating in the long term. That rarely gets reported.

It’s time to move on and let everyone, including clinicians, get back to work. People are still dying from other causes and increasing poverty through unemployment is also a killer.

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