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Listen to science, not to others

It is amazing that a wealthy businessman like Red Jahnicke who has no medical or scientific training portrays himself as an expert on the COVID-19 pandemic.  If a physician starting writing columns on automobile mechanics or opera. no one would take him seriously.

When Mr. Jahnke writes that  "COVID (is) about to take its last gasp" (Dec. 23, 2021), it is clear that he has not made many recent visits to hospitals or walk-in centers where positive COVID cases are exploding: a 17.78 % positivity rate in Connecticut on Dec. 30, 2021.

When non-vaccinated or mask-wearing-resistant people read articles like his, they could easily be even more resistant to changing their habits: "Why get vaccinated or wear a mask if the pandemic is about to end?"

What he has failed to grasp are two important notions in epidemiology. The first is prevalence. Even if the omicron variant appears to be less virulent than the delta variant in most patients, the sheer number of positive cases (very high prevalence) is resulting in numerous hospitalizations and deaths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report as of Dec. 30, 2021, a weekly increase of 78.4 % in COVID cases and a weekly increase of 13.3% in deaths. Those figures clearly show that the pandemic is not on the way out.

The second important notion is variant.  As long as roughly 30% of the U.S. population is not vaccinated, the virus will continue to develop variants, and the current situation will not improve much. Virulent variants like alpha, delta and omicron all developed in non-vaccinated populations in the United Kingdom, India, and South Africa. Rich nations like the United States have a moral obligation to help poor countries obtain the vaccine. This will benefit the entire world. And U.S. inhabitants have a moral obligation to get vaccinated to protect fellow Americans.

Between Dec. 23 and Dec. 30, 2021, 1,532 Americans died of COVID. More than 820,000 have died since the beginning of the pandemic. The pandemic is clearly not about to take its last gasp. We all need to listen to science: Get vaccinated and boosted, wear masks in all inside settings and any outside confined spaces, and practice social distancing.

Dr. Robert J. Perry




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