My doc and I agree about the coronavirus

Where's your medical degree?

That's the common response to those critical of media reports on the coronavirus.  Who are you to question the experts?

So I talked to a physician in our community with decades of experience.  His skepticism echoes mine.

"I would never say there's not a pandemic," the doctor told me.  But, he said, "it's all political," noting that people are ignoring science and "I see doctors on TV who are lying."

Nine months ago, when this all began, he and I had a conversation where we agreed that it was difficult going into a health crisis without news media we could trust.  In my recent discussion with him, I added that I now consider public health officials in general as also being untrustworthy.  He did not disagree.

I voiced my opinion that government advisers in a health crisis should not be limited to physicians.  There should be teams consisting of doctors, psychologists, social workers, and economists.  That's because when you start imposing things like shutting down the economy, putting people under house arrest, and limiting normal social activities, you start doing serious damage in different areas, some related to health, some not.

He agreed.  "Doctors should not be running these things."

The collateral damage is horrendous, according to the physician, telling me he is seeing debilitating health problems among his patients, not because of the coronavirus, but because of public policies attempting to address it.  Among the problems, he said, is the impairment of immune systems because people are not involved in normal social activity.  Patients sitting home are gaining weight and becoming depressed, he said, and he learned from a local law enforcement official that the suicide rate has tripled this year. 

While we agreed that masks have their place in certain circumstances, "it makes me sad to see everyone running around wearing masks," he said, estimating that at best they may be only 50 percent effective.  He cited a New England Journal of Medicine article indicating the ineffectiveness of masks.  And he noted the absurdity of schoolchildren sitting in Plexiglas containment fields all day long, when the risk to children is minuscule.

We both noted that the Centers for Disease Control recently said 94 percent of coronavirus deaths were among people with 2.6 (2.6!) co-morbidities.  CDC statistics indicate that the danger of the virus is mainly to unhealthy people above age 55, especially those more than 65. 

A hot button for the doctor is interference by some pharmacists in physicians prescribing hydroxychloroquine, especially as a prophylactic against the virus.  Such interference between doctor and patient is unprecedented, he said.  It is wrong, and it puts at risk patients who can be helped by a safe, proven form of medication.  And he's critical of a coronavirus vaccine as an end-all, be-all, noting that work has been going for two decades on it and, when developed, it will be only moderately effective.

This doctor is not a radical, but a respected physician who knew of his calling to medicine from the time he was a young child.  In years past, when I, a political activist, spoke to him of the increased politicization of health care, he was concerned but was too busy focusing on his patients to be involved.

Not anymore.  Always a low-key kind of a guy, this doctor, as politics encroaches more on his practice, now voices opinions sharply in opposition to many things that are going on.  And he's adamant about defending his patients.

Regarding the coronavirus, I'm gratified that so many of his opinions align with mine.

Especially since he's the one with the medical degree.

A retired marketing professor, and former journalist and radio broadcaster, Mike Landry is a freelance writer in Northwest Arkansas.  He can be reached at landry_74464us@yahoo.com.

Graphic credit:  Needpix, public domain.