Corona Virus Pandemic: Part VII
IS THE VACCINE FINALLY HERE?
Our nation is still in the middle of a big health crisis. There is a terrifying upswing in the spread of Covid-19 cases all across the nation. And the U.S. has just passed yet another grim milestone – 12 million cases in total with deaths approaching 260,000! Looks like we are going backward with no end in sight. Many hospitals are running out of beds and ventilators. Coronavirus medical tents or field hospitals are being quickly set up to ease the burden. Even morgues are overflowing in some states like Mississippi and coroners are terrified, not knowing how to handle the load! Unfortunately, India is not far behind; the pandemic is raging there too.
Why this setback, especially at this stage when we know more about the virus and better treatments are available? Sadly, our handling of this pandemic has been inadequate from the beginning, compounded by the reluctance or sometimes frank refusal by some sections of the public to abide by the prevention guidelines. Many indoor congregations and conferences have been super-spreaders. One in 10 people in the U.S. may be positive at this time, and every single one of them has the ability to spread the disease.
So, what are we supposed to do now? With Christmas and New Year holidays fast approaching, it’s time to be extra cautious. As I have repeatedly mentioned, “prevention, prevention and more prevention,” is the only answer. Even if it’s cumbersome, please comply with all prevention measures; stay inside the house – voluntary lockdown – as much as possible at least until the anti-Covid-19 vaccine becomes widely available to the public.
What’s the current status of Covid-19 Vaccine?
A few days ago, we all woke up to the exciting news that a vaccine to prevent Covid-19 will soon be available from Pfizer. As per CEO Dr. Albert Bourla, their “Coronavirus vaccine was more than 90 percent effective in preventing Covid-19 among those without evidence of prior infection,” hailing the development as “a great day for science and humanity.” Further data showed it is 95 percent effective. And a week later, Moderna announced that their “Vaccine against Covid-19 is also strongly effective and reduced the risk of infection by 94.5 percent,” building further hope about the potential of controlling this global pandemic. And Eli Lilly has started the world’s first study of a potential COVID-19 antibody treatment in humans.
Finally, we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Right now, there are many different vaccines under development for Covid-19 by other companies like CanSino, a Chinese company doing clinical trials in Mexico, Novavax, Usty of Oxford, CureVac, etc. Many Indian pharmaceutical companies are also in the race to develop a vaccine. However, at this time we should all be cautiously optimistic about the potential of these vaccines. Several are inching closer towards FDA approval and the current trajectory is that a small allotment of doses will be available for distribution by the end of the year but these doses may go to those in the high-priority category like healthcare workers, nursing home residents, older people. More about vaccines later.
It’s pretty amazing how with the intense research and cooperation of many of the groups handling the epidemic, everything is finally coming together! However, as the experts remind us, “Vaccines do not save lives but vaccination does!” Which means we should be willing to get vaccinated when it becomes available. According to a recent survey, nearly half of people polled said they’d be reluctant to get vaccinated and “Vaccinating only half the population would likely fall short of stopping transmission of the virus.” Hopefully, this will change in course of time.
“This is a marathon and we have ways to go,” warns Dr: Anthony Fauci, the infectious disease expert. And he predicted that the coming months, “December, January and early February are going to be terribly painful months.” Stopping this infection needs dramatic measures. For now, strict compliance with prevention guidelines is the only option. Unfortunately there is a set of people who suffer from “solution aversion” and they tend to resist following the advice or deny the existence of the problem. That simply won’t work. Let’s hope that with more people getting vaccinated and stricter adherence to prevention measures, we will get back to normalcy – maybe toward the end of 2021.
M.P. Ravindra Nathan, M.D., is a cardiologist and Emeritus Editor of AAPI Journal. For further reading, “Second Chance - A Sister’s Act of Love” by Dr. Nathan from Outskirts Press, can be found at www.amazon.com
The PEARLY Whites: Not your Teeth, Your EYES!
The traditional “Pearly Whites” referred to our perfectly white and well-aligned teeth resulting in an infectious smile, which reflected how much our parents loved us (spent on us!)
With mandatory masks these days, that once basic requirement of life is now an afterthought and, in fact, not important at all.
Next on stage then and in permanent display become our EYES!
While masks have hidden all but our entire face and its evolution-based expressive signs of communication, the crowning glory that is visible and fully in command of expressive communications now rest with our eyes. They then have become the center of attraction or distraction!
All imperfections of the eyes, especially the cosmetically unappealing yellowish and red bumps on the white of our eyes, have become unacceptable given the focused attention they draw from even mildly sadistic voyeurs whose lightning fast minds make judgment calls on such affected individuals.
These red and yellow lesions on the white of the eyes are called Pinguecula (small) and Pterygium (large). Pronounced “terigeeum” is a raised, wedge-shaped growth of the conjunctiva (transparent saran wrap-like layer covering the white of our eyes. This layer when infected causes the pink eye or conjunctivitis) which starts with a cosmetically unappealing, constantly red eye with symptoms of irritation, redness and even tearing.
It is fairly common among sports and recreation enthusiasts, golfers, surfers, as well as outdoor workers. Although it often remains dormant and causes mostly a cosmetic blemish with embarrassingly red and unhealthy looking eyes, it can be a relentless disorder, growing across the cornea and adversely affecting vision.
Medical treatments for the condition are varied and far flung, all evidence to the fact that none of them work. Surgery has been the mainstay for this problem.
We have seen a surge in patients from all over the world seeking our “no stitch” human placenta surgery technique that results in sparkling white eyes.
This condition rampant, especially in our Florida climate, calls for the use of human placenta wherein after removing the red growth during surgery, a human amniotic graft (derived from human placenta that is tested to be disease free) is applied to the area of surgery. The technique is further enhanced by using tissue glue instead of stitches, resulting in a more comfortable surgical outcome with a goal toward cosmetic improvement in appearance, including a lower rate of recurrence.
These patients appreciate the sparkling white eyes gleaming above their masks that can now not only face the scrutiny of people’s stares but actually call for compliments that add to a recurrent desire for selfies without a pout (remember, no one can see the pout with a mask anymore).
Additionally, as glasses fog up with masks, they can also undergo advanced laser vision surgery and NexGen “no-cut” Lasik to further make them see without glasses or contact lenses in keeping with the philosophy of “Look good and see good.”
This also prevents contact lens wear in patients, thus decreasing the irritation to the surgical area.
While people are focusing more on their eyes, I consider it my civic duty to remind everyone to still brush twice a day and do listen to your not-so-important dental conscience even if it stays behind a mask.