April 2020

This is my imperfect attempt to put into words my current thoughts and feelings regarding this entire Covid-19 situation. Today, after more than five weeks of sheltering-in-place, social distancing, and being prohibited by the powers-that-be from practicing my profession, I thought I would be delighted at the welcome news that the governor has given the go ahead to resume elective surgery on May 4. Instead, I find myself angry and sick at heart. Having no better appropriate outlet for my anger- going into a quiet corner somewhere and shouting obscenities at nobody doesn’t seem productive- I am sitting here writing down some thoughts. I will go over this later and see if any of it is worth sharing otherwise it will never see the light of day.

I see a world I no longer recognize. It is a world in which there appears to be a deliberate campaign of disinformation and misinformation the purpose of which, more than anything else, seems to be to instill and maintain an atmosphere of unreasonable fear. The underlying purpose of this is still unclear. I think we have long passed the point where we can justify the current situation on the basis of public health. The American people have accepted almost without question a degree of government encroachment of their personal liberties which would have been impossible without the fear factor. We have permitted the Federal, state, and even local city governments to tell us we cannot leave our homes, we cannot keep our businesses open, and we cannot gather in other than tiny groups. A population of 300 million people has allowed itself to be quarantined and a trillion dollar economy has been shutdown, without a timetable or any inkling of the possible repercussions, for the first time in our history. All this because of fear. Fear of a virus about which we admittedly do not know everything, which is not to say that we do not know a lot about it.  

Read more

It is stating the obvious to describe that many, if not most, of the population of the US are in a state of anxiety, some in fear, and a few even panicked regarding Covid-19. I think that much of this is due to a misunderstanding that we are defenseless against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the illness we call Covid-19, and some still refer to by its place of origin, China. We are not and here is why.

It is critical to understand that we live in a world invisible to our senses that is teeming with bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Some of these are beneficial, in fact essential, to our health and well-being. Others are actually or potentially pathogenic (disease-causing). The fact that most of us do not succumb to these early in life is ample confirmation that we are not defenseless. The reason is our immune system.

The cells, organs, and processes that, in sum, make up are immune system are arguably the least understood aspect of the human body. The complexity is staggering. I will attempt a very basic explanation of how it works in the case of SARS-CoV-2. Hopefully, this will help to understand how you can protect yourself and reduce some of the fear this epidemic has created.

Read more

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Franklin D. Roosevelt

This is my update, added on June 23, 2024 wherein I look back and see how I did in my assessment of the pandemic and critique of the response to it by our government and public health officials. All new entries will be in this italicized red font.

To be perfectly clear, I am not a virologist, epidemiologist, or public health expert. I am a plastic surgeon, i.e. a physician, with forty two years of practice experience and more than average knowledge of the human body than most people. I find myself dismayed at the abject state of panic, anxiety, and fear in the US today because of SARS-CoV-2, the official name of the virus that causes the respiratory illness Covid-19 and the reason for the current epidemic.

We are acting as though this is a totally new virus. It is not. We have seen corona virus, the family of viruses that includes SARS-CoV-2, infections before. It is “novel” in that it is a new strain and, as such, we do not know all the details of its behavior, which is not to say that we know nothing. Actually, we know a lot. Like most respiratory viruses, it is spread directly from one person to another by one of two mechanisms: droplet spread in the air via sneezing and coughing and by hand contact with a surface on which there is live virus, then touching one’s face (the virus can enter via eyes, nose, or mouth). The second mode is uncommon. We know it can be largely avoided by addressing these two methods of transmission, a relatively simple matter for anyone with a modicum of sense. We know it is most severe in those who are older and/or have compromised immune systems or other underlying conditions, such as chronic lung disease, obesity, asthma, and such. This is typical of most such viruses. Seasonal flu behaves this way. We know that, unlike flu, it appears to spare, to an unexpected degree, those who are very young.

It became clear very early in the pandemic that Covid was uniquely benign to children, teenagers, and young adults and that there was more than a one thousand fold increase in severe disease between the younger group and adults over 70, yet for the next two years we treated Covid as though it was equally dangerous to everyone.

Read more