[COLUMN] The only way to win

MY grandson Colin, 11, finally got his first COVID-19 vaccine last Thursday, November 4, after eagerly waiting for months “because someone ahead of him had opted out,” his mother, my youngest daughter, Emily, an ophthalmologist in Iowa, texted to me.

I would think all parents would be very eager to have their children vaccinated soonest and protected from this deadly COVID-19 infection, which was originally thought to be “kinder” to children. Statistics, however, show that there have been about 6.4 million children infected, representing 16.6 percent of all cases of COVID-19 in the United States. The last two weeks of October revealed a 4 percent increase. Hospitalization rate was about 1.7 to 4.2 percent and mortality between zero to 0.26 percent of all COVID-19 deaths in various states. Certainly, without the vaccines, children are at an equal grave risk like adults, no more immune from getting this killer virus than older people.

Hopefully, parents would not stand in the way of protecting their children and allow them to get vaccinated. Refusing this vaccine for their children (like parents who are against vaccination in general and those who refuse the life-saver Gardasil vaccine against HPV of cervical cancer for their kids) is tantamount to intentionally depriving their children of an available and no-cost life-saver and wantonly placing them at the mercy of a potential killer, all in the name of the constitutional freedom to choose. Is that love or wisdom?

In my book, “Let’s Stop ‘Killing’ Our Children” (available in philipSchua.com and Amazon.com), the basic theme is healthy lifestyle and disease prevention starting from the crib, critically pointing out that some of our actions/inactions and decisions as parents could be detrimental to our children’s life, albeit all of them are (were) done in the name of love. That saying “no” to our children, whenever appropriate, could be the best lesson they could learn, and that allowing them to say or do whatever they want, regardless of reason or wisdom, could provide them with a twisted sense of order, justice, respect for their fellowmen, and what their constitutional rights, civil liberties in a democracy properly mean.

The crisis today

The greater dilemma we have during this pandemic is the 20 percent of the population (around 60 million, according to a survey) who refuse to get the vaccine. These unprotected individuals become the primary targets of the SARS-CoV2 virus of COVID-19 which will live in their bodies and then act as a massive viral reservoir and laboratory, where the virus will replicate and mutate to deadlier strains, with greater transmissibility, and kill others with worse impunity. And the cycle will continue, exponentially, keeping this pandemic with us much longer.

One person, just one individual, like the first Chinese who got infected in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, was enough to spread the disease to dozens, hundreds, and thousands within a few days. Today, 23 months later, we have nearly 251.3 million cases of COVID-19, and almost 5.1 million deaths around the world (about 47.5 million cases and close to 776,400 deaths in the U.S.; and 2,807,000 in the Philippines, with about 44,600 deaths).

When those high-risk individuals (immunocompromised or those with co-morbidities like diabetes, hypertension, heart or lung disease, etc.) are exposed to even one carrier of the virus, the encounter could turn out to be a death sentence. This happened to two medical colleagues of mine, whose own unvaccinated adult children inadvertently transmitted the virus to them, killing them.

The proper strategy

A pandemic, like COVID-19, is like a world war. The global enemy: the killer SARS-Cov2 virus. Medically speaking – sans politics, religion, and personal beliefs – there is only one way to deal with an infectious disease like COVID-19, which is a serious killer. The epidemiologic strategy that can end the pandemic most efficiently, with minimal deaths, is prompt isolation, masking, social distancing, and most importantly, vaccination of every person urgently, without delay, when vaccines become available. This is the only proper way to manage a pandemic, and save lives and the nation’s economy. A national mandate, a unified federal approach, is the only effective strategy for a pandemic, which is no different from a world war. Leaving the strategy to win a “world war” to every individual state (polarized by politics) will lead to chaos and confusion, killing hundreds of thousands, like what has resulted in this pandemic. Medically, an endemic may be handled by a state, but not a pandemic. Imagine leaving the strategic decisions during a world war to 50 states! It is plain common sense. A no-brainer.

Painful reality

Every person in a democracy has the right and liberty, guaranteed by our Constitution, to refuse the vaccine. That is an unquestionable personal civil right. An individual in our society has the right to hurt or even kill himself/herself. While I may not agree that this self-destructive act should be committed, I shall defend the right of the individual to do it, akin to the sentiment expressed by the 18th century French philosopher Francois-Marie Arouet (Voltaire) about the freedom of speech.

But the sad and unfortunate inescapable reality is that the unvaccinated people are not risking only their lives but the lives of others they come in contact with. While they have the right to refuse the vaccines and get infected, they do not have the right to infect and kill others (albeit unintentionally).

How would unvaccinated persons feel when people with active highly transmissible tuberculosis or those infected with killer ebola (who refuse treatments on constitutional grounds) are not isolated and mingle among them?

Annual COVID-19 shot?

So long as there are people who are unvaccinated and may become carriers of the virus, COVID-19 will linger around, with no end in sight. There will be outbreaks and surges every now and then. If there are no hosts (human bodies), viruses self-destruct. With so many unvaccinated people, COVID-19 infections will remain with us and it is possible that, later, a yearly COVID-19 vaccine might become necessary, like the annual flu shots. God forbid.

* * *

The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

* * *

The main objective of this column is to educate and inspire people live a healthier lifestyle to prevent illnesses and disabilities and achieve a happier and more productive life. Any diagnosis, recommendation or treatment in our article are general medical information and not intended to be applicable or appropriate for anyone. This column is not a substitute for your physician, who knows your condition well and who is your best ally when it comes to your health.

* * *

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: scalpelpen@gmail.com.


Dr. Philip S. Chua

Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus in Northwest Indiana and chairman of cardiac surgery from 1997 to 2010 at Cebu Doctors University Hospital, where he holds the title of Physician Emeritus in Surgery, is based in Las Vegas, Nevada. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, the Philippine College of Surgeons, and the Denton A. Cooley Cardiovascular Surgical Society. He is the chairman of the Filipino United Network – USA, a 501(c)(3) humanitarian foundation in the United States.

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

The Filipino-American Community Newspaper. Your News. Your Community. Your Journal. Since 1991.

Copyright © 1991-2022 Asian Journal Media Group. All Rights Reserved.