Thursday, June 20, 2024

Rozeman: COVID pandemic lessons learned

by BIZ Magazine

A month ago, The Times published an article from Dr. Thomas Lew of the USA Today Network entitled “Vaccinating Young Children is Vital to the Fight Against COVID”.  Three years ago, this article would be accepted as dogma.  Today, the public views health policy recommendations like these with some reservation.  

Preparing for the future requires learning from the past.  With the pandemic came lockdowns and unemployment, mental health consequences, educational interruptions at schools, and interrupted healthcare for other medical problems.  These consequences are the result of both the health impact of the virus and the negative impact of health policy instigated to fight the virus.   

We’ve learned a great deal over the last three years.  Gratefully, the application of this knowledge reduces the fear of the unknown and the lessons learned should reduce our collective and individual anxiety.  

We learned the COVID vaccine decreases the major complications in the most vulnerable populations – the elderly, obese, and people with chronic illness.  However, in healthy children and young adults, the benefits of the vaccine are not as great. The constant continued drum beat supporting vaccine mandates in children have little support in scientific evidence.

We’ve learned there is no proof vaccines or masks reduce transmission of the virus from one person to another. This holds true for children. The vaccine and mask mandates for young healthy people have caused great harm to many including nurses, soldiers, first responders, and school children.  People have lost their job or been deemed ineligible for military service because of unnecessary mandates with little to no scientific support.  

We’ve learned natural immunity is proven science and it applies to COVID in the same way it does other respiratory viruses.  A Lancet medical journal compiling sixty-five studies concluded natural immunity is as protective or more protective for longer periods than vaccines. The concept of natural immunity has been a proven basis of immunology since my medical school days close to fifty years ago. Natural immunity is not scientifically controversial; it has stood the test of time.  It should not have been ignored when making decision about vaccines.

We’ve learned the use of lockdowns during the pandemic was a national and global catastrophe. A cost benefit analysis noted the response to COVID-19 lockdowns was five to ten times more harmful to public health in terms of well being than the COVID virus itself.

We’ve learned the health policy designed for our schools was a disaster from the start and the negative consequences will be felt for years to come.  It was understandable in the spring of 2020, but not thereafter. Significant learning loss, unobtained educational opportunity, increased mental health problems, addictions, and suicides are all the result of prolonged school closure.  This is even more noteworthy in our most vulnerable children. 

In the early months of the COVID pandemic, there was a very legitimate fear of the unknown related to thousands of world wide deaths and very high estimates of the expected mortality rate of COVID.  It is hard to forget the daily news conferences with a daily scoreboard of infections, hospitalizations and deaths.  

At this point, our knowledge base about COVID is greater and the excessive use of fear to force compliance to vaccine and mask mandates, lockdowns and school closures is unsupported.  This pandemic is playing out as has been the case in other respiratory viral pandemics throughout history.  And when another pandemic comes our way, here is hoping that we approach health policy by applying what we learned in this pandemic.   

Dr. Phillip Rozeman is a practicing cardiologist.  He was honored as recipient of the John Miciotto Healthcare Lifetime Achievement Award and has received the Distinguished Service Award of the Northwest Louisiana Medical Society and Louisiana State Medical Society.   

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