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Pyatt: Denial, political battles mean physicians now must fight for public trust | COMMENTARY

The most significant casualty of the disease that so far — and who knows what the final tally will be — has resulted in over 500,000 fatalities is denial, not the COVID-19 pandemic itself. Dr. Deborah Birx, one of former President Trump’s medical advisers, told CNN in late March that many of these deaths could have ben avoided. There is some debate regarding why she waited to bring this out now, rather than when she served in her official capacity.

Unfortunately, denial-itis, has shown itself to be impervious to all known treatment, there is no known vaccine on the horizon, and the consequences could further unzip a very fragile and expensive public health care system that we currently have. It could lead to further declines in health care in general.

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Few of us comprehend the complexities and uncertainties of the human body. We are not the healthiest of folks already because of our lack of exercise, over-indulging in food not particularly beneficial to us, and a high level of stress and anxiety. I spent the tail end of my career in the public health sector, continue to follow it as a concerned citizen, and appreciate the many scientists, physicians, and medical researchers working this enormously complex ant farm.

The medical establishment has systematically, painfully, yet very diligently — and generally apolitically — created a useful mosaic of information to improve our health and assure we live longer. Sure, it’s expensive, we have to do some things we don’t particularly like to do —eat better, drink less, exercise, watch our carbs — but it works.

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But in one fell swoop and because one president didn’t want to lose an election, it could all be for naught. Attack the doctors! They’re wrong! Tucker Carlson of Fox News plays the game well and has spewed inaccurate, misleading, and incendiary things about the evils of the vaccine. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) recently barked at a reporter who questioned why he wasn’t wearing a mask while making comments to the press. Half of the Republican officials in Congress say that they won’t take the vaccine.

In March, Congress had a series of hearings on the related topic of using Facebook, Twitter, Google and similar media platforms to spread inaccurate and misleading information. We now generally know it happened, but the fix for misinformation is still unknown.

It is one level — forgivable in my view — of sin to close your eyes when the evidence was inconclusive as it was a year ago (during Birx’s tenure) to thwart attempts to ameliorate the spread of COVID-19. But it is another to continue with this line of reasoning when it is quite clear that the predominant mode of spread is from breathing air close to those infected — whether seriously ill or asymptomatically — and that a combination of wearing masks, social distancing, hand washing and as much isolation as possible is the only defense until a more permanent solution is found, requiring that the majority of people be vaccinated. Perhaps that is why Birx and other medical experts from Trump’s team are now speaking out.

There are still roughly 60,000 cases per day of COVID-19 being reported. New strains seem to be most troubling.

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Since the Biden administration is accelerating the rate of vaccinations as evidence of these new and more virulent strains are being formed, loyal Republicans seem duty bound to oppose it, or face opposition in primaries.

Medical advice is generally subjective, but the necessary public trust in our physicians and reluctance to always heed their advice is mostly because we don’t particularly want to sacrifice our comfort zone, e.g. quit smoking, cut out tasty goods, or give up something as opposed to challenging the standards they are using. Now physicians have to fight an unnecessary battle of public trust for no reason other than political infighting.

What’s next? Is hypertension and related cardiovascular disease a Republican or a Democratic affliction? Changes in hypertension levels that consider current and past data interpretations are periodically made. So do we now wait for the next election to decide on whether to take our physician’s advice?

Dave Pyatt writes from Mount Airy. Reach him at DPyatt2@verizon.net.

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