About taking back our health

December 28, 2021

Sarabeth Matilsky’s letter to the editor “Let’s take back our health” in the Dec. 17 issue contained two themes. One is praiseworthy. The other can be called “missing the point.”

First, let me completely agree with Matilsky about the poor behavior among our politicians. I fully agree that working together, constructively and with politeness, is far preferable to a lot of the divisiveness that we see today.

Second, and with all due respect for Matilsky’s well-meaning and credible and long list of chronic diseases and statistics, two important factors were left out. First, cancer, heart disease and all the others are not highly contagious! But the COVID virus is very contagious, and the new Omicron variant is even more contagious. The last articles that I have read that cited statistics said that COVID is now the third greatest killer, just under heart disease and cancer. And that does not count any of a nearly equal number of people who survive COVID but with such a poor and incomplete recovery that they may be unemployable for the rest of their lives. They have what is called “long-haul COVID,” and from what I read, it’s like living in hell. 

The second factor Matilsky left out is the fact that every new wave of COVID has been slamming the living daylights out of our hospitals and their staffs. This is serious bad news.  

For an important comparison, AIDS was discovered to be a new disease in the early 1980s. It is a death sentence. Everyone dies. Only two people are known to have cleared the virus, after having it for decades. But the HIV virus that causes AIDS is not highly contagious. All the high-risk groups are known. All this can be easily verified on the internet. Much effort has failed to produce, so far, a vaccine. But some drugs have been developed which considerably slow down the progression of the disease. For another important comparison, and when I was a kid (early 1950s), polio was the big deal and also very contagious. Infected kids got a lot of paralysis and had to live thereafter in “iron lungs.” Infected parents did not show symptoms. We kids all got one or both of the vaccines. The history records say that the vaccines saved a heck of a lot of kids from getting polio, and side effects were so minimal that I don’t remember any discussions about them.

Matilsky also said “... and no vaccine in the world has ever been able to pull a civilization out of such unwellness that we currently face.” You can do an internet search on the string “What diseases cured by vaccines” and get back many links to references and histories that list up to 14 diseases, including smallpox (with a 30 percent death rate and is more contagious than COVID), that are described or judged as cured, eradicated or protected against by vaccines produced by modern medicine. References say that, today, smallpox doesn’t exist anywhere on this planet. This does not include how much good we got from antibiotics, drugs or other medical treatments.  While Matilsky claimed that “no vaccine” will save us, I would add that the people who are all refusing all of the risk-reduction steps – masking, social distancing, vaccination – are a big part of the problem too. As I also read news about the rest of the world, I don’t remember reading about any country with COVID cases, anywhere, where the people are not concerned about this new, highly contagious disease except a small number of “deniers” who blow off the reality in front of their eyes. And nobody is seriously challenging the statistics from China’s ultra-totalitarian zero tolerance for COVID policy. They have the lowest per person cases and deaths of anybody (do an internet search on “China low COVID rate” for many links and check world statistics). They also have a higher GDP growth than the USA. Are we being as smart as we should be? 

Arthur E. Sowers
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