Why the COVID-19 pandemic will most likely be with us for years is vividly demonstrated by the following well-publicized news:
“A federal appeals court has called President Joe Biden’s vaccine and testing requirements for private businesses “fatally flawed” and “staggeringly overbroad,” arguing that the requirements likely exceed the authority of the federal government and raise ‘serious constitutional concerns’…the requirements criticized as a one-size-fits-all sledgehammers.”
If the courts succeed in derailing the president’s plan, there will be more infections and more deaths in those sectors as a result of wanting to be fully “constitutional.”
That’s only one instant. There are Governors/legislators/protestors against masking/social distancing early on and now against vaccine mandates because they are ignorant, spineless, and want to be politically correct in order not to lose votes. Their inaction, baseless statements, and chaos that followed have resulted in the massive loss of precious human lives, the total death counts as of last Tuesday morning: almost 5.12 million worldwide, nearly 784,000 in the USA, and about 45,800 in The Philippines. This is gross negligence and dereliction of duties on the part of the Biden administration, the Congress, and the Governors and other leaders against federal mandates. They looked the other way as people, children included, languished and died…and the toll from COVID-19 is still rising.
I am no lawyer, much less a constitutional expert, but to me, as a person and as a cardiac surgeon, it is most evident that the federal judge in this case was more concerned (and only considered) the constitutional technicality of the issues, rather than discern if President Biden’s “mandate” would save lives or kill more people. No discussion about the effects of the ultimate verdict on human lives, just “constitutional concerns” and correctness.
To me, saving lives, preventing deaths, or reducing loss of lives to the minimum should be the primary objective of any action, constitutional or not. We must uphold and protect our Constitution, yes, but when technicalities would cause misery and death of people, who the Constitution and our courts and government leaders are supposed to protect, the obvious just choice is to save people’s lives as primary and the constitution propriety, secondary.
The Founding Fathers brilliantly crafted the masterpiece called the Constitution of the United States in 1787 with the main objective of protecting and safeguarding this great nation and its people, especially the marginalized, the weak, the infirm, the helpless, from foreign and domestic threats, and even from their own selves.
And here we are today, 234 years later, using constitutional (wording) technicalities to justify going against the proper scientific protocol to end this deadly pandemic and allowing thousands more Americans to die…all in the name (an excuse) for exercising equality, civil liberties, individual rights, and the freedom to refuse.
The right thing
Scientifically, the proper and most effective way to manage a pandemic, which is much like a world war, is a universal, unified, federal strategy mandating quarantine, isolation, masking, social distancing, the first day the pandemic is declared, and a national mandate for vaccination for everyone, the very day the vaccine is available. This is the epidemiologic and evidence-based protocol to follow strictly, one that is medically accepted worldwide. All science, no politics. This is the right thing to do. If this strict medical protocol had been mandated, we could have prevented hundreds of thousand deaths and would be having a normal Christmas this year. The way our government leaders had mishandled the pandemic and the abuse of the constitutional freedom to choose by more than 50 million people who refuse the vaccines, we should brace ourselves for an extended misery and greater loss of human lives a few more years before we see the end of COVID-19, if at all.
It is unrealistic for people to expect a perfect 100 percent protection from mask, social distancing, and now vaccines for COVID-19 that are 100 percent safe. But there is no such thing. Even aspirin, introduced to us in 1899, though used since antiquity, is not 100 percent safe or effective. The bullet proof vests used by SWAT teams and other law enforcement agents are not 100 percent safe, but they have saved countless millions of lives. While the vaccines for COVID-19 are not 100 percent risk-free, the risk of an adverse side-effects is a tiny fraction of 1 percent, while the risk of dying from COVID is one hundred to a thousand times greater. It is a no-brainer that getting the vaccines is wiser, more prudent, and a lot safer because COVID-19 is a serious killer. So far, there have been almost 7.5 billion vaccines administered around the world. The vaccines have long been proven safe and effective even before its first millionth mark.
COVID-19 is a world war
Medically speaking, President Biden’s requirement and mandates, if not thwarted by the courts, could save lives among the people in those businesses involved. The only question is why the president is limiting it only to that small segment of society in this pandemic, which is akin to a world war? He should have declared federal mandates on all matters related to our global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic to protect the entire nation and all the 332.9 million Americans. Anything short will allow the virus to live on, replicate, and mutate to deadlier strains and continue to kill more people.
Of course, people have the right to choose not to have the vaccines. They even have the right to hurt or kill themselves, but they do not have the right to infect and take with them and kill the rest of the Americans who also have rights, the right to be careful and get the vaccines, the right to remain healthy and live. Any choice we make that hurts other people is unjust and criminal, certainly not the kind of freedom of choice the framers of the Constitution had in mind when they ensured those civil liberties for us. All our personal rights come with grave responsibilities and obligations to society and to our fellowmen. The 50 million who refuse the vaccines on constitutional grounds should seriously reconsider in order to keep our nation as one people united in our war against COVID-19. Divided, we cannot win. And justice, to be true, must be served with Solomonic wisdom and compassion.
Politics, as shown by the way this pandemic has been managed, is indeed a deadlier killer than COVID-19.
(Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, a Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus based in Northwest Indiana and Las Vegas, Nevada, is an international medical lecturer/author, and Chairman of the Filipino United Network-USA, a 501(c)3 humanitarian foundation in the United States. Websites: FUN8888.com and philipSchua.com Email: email@example.com)