The COVID-19 pandemic is turning into a pandemic of misinformation, confusion, and non-compliant-self-destructive decisions that also endangers the majority of the people who wisely followed science and decided to get vaccinated against this deadly virus. Without getting about 80 percent of our population vaccinated as soon as possible (in our race against the rapidly mutating virus), we are doomed to have more serious waves of this pandemic. It is the nature of viruses and bacteria to mutate to a super-killer strain that will be totally resistant to any vaccine or drugs and kill billions, not millions. Fear mongering? No, as a cardiac surgeon and as an individual, I speak with science and common sense behind me to help provide factual scientific data to the public to save lives.
To those who set aside politics and political correctness and follow the science, the decision is crystal clear: Of the more than 4.1 billion (with a B) vaccinated around the world (around 165 million in the USA), there were only a tiny fraction who developed complications, and less than a fraction of this fraction died. Whether the deaths are related to the vaccine or to their health issues to begin with is not clear. Now, how many died from COVID-19 and its fatal complications: 4.2+ million and counting. One does not have to be a statistician to conclude that the deaths from COVID-19 is at least hundreds of thousand times greater than the deaths from the vaccines, The more virulent Delta strain (B.1.617.2) now accounts for about 90 percent of the deaths. We ought to be more scared of COVID-19 than the vaccines!
So far, there are only around 165 million, about 49.5 percent of the 333.1 million US population (8 million of the 111 + million people in the Philippines) who have been vaccinated, 30 percent short for USA (80+ percent short for the Philippines) to achieve herd immunity. More than 50 million in the USA refuse to get the vaccines. Logical concern is understandable, but extreme fear of the vaccines (already proven to be safe and effective) to the point of abandoning a life-saving option is simply against our natural instinct for survival.
The chances of getting killed running across a busy highway is much greater than dying from the vaccines. Getting killed by the vaccines is at least 20 times less than the death rate of dying from a vehicular accident (1 in 107) and yet we continue to drive. Deaths from chocking on food (1 in 2,535), deaths from drowning (1 in 1,228), crossing the streets (1 in 543), bicycling (1 in 3,825)…all greater than the chance of dying from the vaccines (around 8 per million, or 1 in 125,000), an actual death rate of 0.0019 percent). Considering there are now almost 165 million Americans vaccinated, these are low complication rates, medically speaking, compared to the fatality rate of COVID-19. These are actual statistics, uncontestable data. All one has to do is to analyze the data and the risk/benefit ratio. Obviously, the risk from the vaccines is significantly much lower than the risk from COVID-19 infection and the benefit from the vaccines (no benefit for getting COVID-19) is overwhelming.
The unvaccinated people (the 20 percent or 60 million who currently refuse the vaccines) are at the gravest risk. More than 90 percent of those who have been infected lately and those who died were unvaccinated individuals. This is not unexpected. And thousands more unprotected people will die.
When at least 80 of the 333.1 million population of the United States are vaccinated, we could achieve herd immunity and end this pandemic. So far, almost 4.3 million people around the globe (around 630,000 in the USA alone) have been killed by this virus.
The social media are full of dangerous inaccuracies about the vaccines that scare people. When one spews out lies and falsehood that endanger lives, it is an abuse, a twisted, insane exercise of free speech. It is uncharitable and a disservice to society (technically criminal) as it confuses and kills people. This pandemic of absurdity and irresponsibility must stop now to prevent more deaths.
Should we resume wearing mask?
Yes, to protect ourselves and others, we should wear a mask in public, covering our nose and mouth, even if we are vaccinated, since there are breakthrough infections that infected vaccinated individuals. We must also do social distancing and follow the original CDC preventive guidelines, until we have herd immunity. Masks work. If I sprayed flour or paint to 100 persons, half of them with a mask on and 6 feet or farther away, who would get the most flour or paint on their face? Masks and the vaccines do protect, albeit not 100 percent, just like the bullet-proof vests worn by SWAT teams and law enforcement agents around the world. Plain common sense.
Should the unvaccinated be allowed to mingle with those vaccinated?
It is a caveat in infectious disease control and prevention that these two groups of individuals be segregated for obvious medical reason. This is a standard isolation policy in hospitals around the world. This could easily be implemented in a nation under a dictatorship, but not in a free country, where civil liberties are abusively invoked in a wrong fashion by some who do not give a damn about their fellowmen. Since no none knows who are vaccinated and who are not, it is wise and prudent to mask up and practice social distancing in public places, even for those who are fully vaccinated.
How do we end this pandemic soonest?
Politically, it is a dilemma, as the current bleak data show. The non-compliance of the 60 million anti-vaxers, emboldened by civil right agitators, is preventing the USA from achieving herd immunity to defeat this virus this year. Medically speaking, sans politics, it is easy. Just follow the science and the standard strategy for managing any infectious disease: Vaccinate at least 80 percent of the population, with a national vaccination mandate. In the meantime, everybody should resume masking, social distancing, handwashing, minimizing gatherings, doing behavioral modification, and practicing self-discipline. If we did this today, we could attain herd immunity and a more normal life this Christmas.
Obviously, this is easier said than done in a free society. Normally, in a democracy, the 80+ percent majority (272 million pro-vaccine Americans) should prevail over the minority (60 million anti-vaxers). Thanks to our spineless political leaders, the reverse is enabled, a grave injustice to the majority of American people and to the existential detriment of society as a whole.
Indeed, a crazy catch 22 dilemma. May God have mercy on us all.
(Editor’s Note: Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, a Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus based in Northwest Indiana and Las Vegas, Nevada, is an international medical lecturer/author, a Health Advocate, and Chairman of the Filipino United Network-USA, a 501(c)3 humanitarian foundation in the United States. Websites: philipSchua.com, Today.SPSAtoday.com, and FUN8888.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.)