Saturday, March 6, 2021

Politicizing Life & Death?


Covid-19 handmade face mask

"Wear a damn mask!"
"Masks save lives!"
"Wearing masks works."
"Everyone, mask up; save thousands of lives."
"Get your vaccine as soon as it is your turn; don't wait."
"Vaccines save lives!"
"Vaccinate teachers & open the schools!"
The Texas Governor lifts the mask mandate in his state.
The Mississippi Governor lifts the mask mandate in his state.
Reports describe incidents of violence in public places over wearing masks.
"My body; my freedom!"
"Wearing masks is oppression!"

It has been about a year into this pandemic. More and more people are getting vaccinated. Under President Joe Biden and a new Administration, vaccinators are putting about 2 million needle jabs into people's arms daily. The rates of COVID-19 deaths and hospitalization in the United states have gone down considerably. However, the number of cases and the numbers of deaths per day remain unacceptable high. Still, an estimated 30 percent of all U.S. citizens states that they will never take a COVID-19 vaccine. And experts tell us that we need to reach about 85 percent of all people get vaccinated to reach "herd immunity" and see life return to "normal."

Two people in my own family have stated that they will not take the COVID-19 vaccine when it is their turn to get it. And I know others who may not take vaccines. Many experts talk about something called "vaccine hesitancy." This refers to a fear of taking the vaccine because of past history or anything else that causes doubt or fears surrounding vaccines. Many African-Americans are leery of taking the COVID-19 vaccine, based on racism in the medical profession. Mainstream media have been covering this well. However, my family members, like others I know, aren't merely "vaccine hesitant." They are hard-core "anti-vax" people who refuse to ever get the vaccine. These hard-core people are the same people who refuse to wear masks or observe other coronavirus safety guidelines. 

There is another group of people who experience "vaccine hesitancy" but the mainstream media rarely cover this. I'm talking about many Christians and those in the pro-life community who want to get vaccinated. However, we experience doubts and fears because certain vaccines have been/are being developed using means that go against our convictions. Many of us are not hard-core "anti-vaxxers." We support wearing masks and other coronavirus safety guidelines. Yet many even in our camp, along with hard-core anti-vaccine people, have made this pandemic a matter of politics. Those who politicize this pandemic view safety COVID-19 response as a matter of individual rights and liberty. Those who subscribe to science and medicine view the pandemic response as temporarily placing the collective good and giving up some individual liberties above one's personal rights.  

How have life-saving matters like getting vaccinated and wearing masks come to be seen as political issues? For decades, people have opposed vaccines because they blamed them for causing autism and other medical conditions. Many "anti-vaxxers" persist in believing that vaccines cause autism or other medical conditions, though science has debunked such believe as myths. Yet even in those cases, we have pretty much achieved "herd immunity" in infectious diseases like the flu, Swine flu, HIV AIDS, and others. But COVID-19 is much worse than any others of these infectious diseases. It is more pervasive, more easily caught, and more deadly. This makes herd immunity even more important for COVID-19 even than for other infectious diseases. 

Should a matter of life and death become a matter of politics? Whatever your political party, you are probably affected by this COVID-19 pandemic. Millions of people have had to work from home for the first time, or oversee their children's learning online. Many millions have contacted this virus; some still have lingering symptoms. All of this has happened to liberals, conservatives, and moderates. The hundreds of thousands of Americans (not to mention this worldwide) who died of COVID-19, come from all political parties. People of all political parties have become infected by coronavirus. And people of all ideologies have been among those who have lost homes, jobs, businesses, and have had to stand in food lines to feed their families. We are all arrayed against a common enemy that we cannot see. But we can very much feel its impact. 

In the same way, this virus does not care if we are Republicans or Democrats,. It doesn't care if we are liberal, moderate, or conservative. It doesn't care if we lift all CDC restrictions when meeting with our loved ones or good friends. In the same way, we may be tired of dealing with this virus. But it has not gotten tired of us.

It is every bit as pro-life and life-affirming to wear a mask, physically distance, and rigorously wash our hands to protect others' lives, as it to march, donate, or advocate to protect the unborn.

Epidemic is a podcast series by Dr. Celine Gounder, Epidemiologist, Internist, and Infectious Diseases Physician. You can listen or read transcripts. This series is devoted to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Note: the earliest podcast in this series does indicate that Dr. Gounder subscribes to the pro-choice perspective): Visit the podcast website.

Medical News Today contains many articles about the COVID-19 virus. This section is devoted to the pandemic. Visit this website.

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