Dr. Brij Bhambi is a Bakersfield cardiologist, officer in Centric Health and physician-owner of Bakersfield Heart Hospital. He has been a regular guest on The Richard Beene Show on KERN NewsTalk 96.1 FM/1180 AM. His thoughts appear regularly in Bakersfield Observed. In his words:
"It's been a tale of virus and vaccine. Mankind was blindsided by the release of a pathogen from the vicinities of a lab in Wuhan. A recent report by WHO to investigate the origins of Covid-19, spearheaded by past president of Liberia, used plenty of ink and English yet managed to say nothing. A transparent
failure to hide lies.
failure to hide lies.
"The virus is ravaging the globe with escalating numbers. Misery is compounded by the spread of virus in countries that are sparsely resourced to mount a meaningful defense. As bodies pile, the perpetrator consolidates power and influence to the detriment of USA.
Here in USA, we were saved by the miracle of vaccine. A miracle a few anticipated but many worked for. Standing on the shoulders of giants, to paraphrase Issac Newton, science was able to create magic in record time led ably by Warp Speed team.
The Covid-19 virus is genetically more advanced than RNA viruses like Influenza. Its larger genome empowers it to proof read its progeny and minimize errors. This stability in the genome of the virus provided science a steadier target, hence better marksmanship.
The continued replication of virus though is a precarious station. It tempts the faith. Already multiple variants with better skillset to infect and evade immunity have evolved. Fortunately, evolutionary skills of the virus so far have not exceeded the efficacy of existing vaccines.
Immunity whether natural or vaccine based, compels virus to evolutionary pressures to reincarnate itself as a chameleon engineered to circumvent building immunity.
Virus replication is a threat humanity need to contain and defeat.
Mitigation and vaccination are our proven repertoire.
CDC has struggled to be consistent in its recommendations. Till recently it erred on the side of abundance of caution. Pressures must have been building. Comforted by emerging data from around the world affirming the efficacy of vaccine in preventing infections and reducing transmissibility, CDC decided to relax mask wearing guidelines across the board barring healthcare settings(and few others like prisons).
If nothing else, CDC has a knack for jolting the weary.
Let's do an inventory.
Roughly half of the population in USA has had one shot of the vaccine. A little over third have had both shots. A significant fraction of population has had infection. Some both. We can see the mountain top now.
That reminds me of my first hike to Mt Whitney.
As I tip toed in to early middle age, urges of fading youth pushed me to smell the roses. Hence Mt Whitney.
"The mountain reminded my every upward step that the country doc was unaccustomed to the physical toils. That was before verticality approached its rarefied better half called altitude. I was unacclimated to altitude too. Every forward step expended more energy with diminishing returns. Beyond effort it took persistence. Mountain top demands commitment and discipline. Quitting as they say is forever.
So also is success.
That reinforces the imperative that this close to the mountain top we need to recommit.
"As I have reiterated ad nauseam, vaccine hesitancy is the last mile we need to triumph through doctors offices. Its the steepest part of the hill, the part where you retool to summit the top.
"The vaccinated now can intermingle per CDC. Vaccinated is a word to be taken at face value(with or without mask).
"We are a deeply polarized country. President Reagan wisely suggested, trust but verify. The current data suggests more than two thirds of us have trust deficit with each other. Add to that a third or more of the population that questioned the virulence of virus and is adamantly opposed to vaccination.
We can’t trust or verify!
The “vaccine anxious” have been vaccinated. We need to recognize that least vaccinated are the kids 18 and under. Who among us will expose our kids to an inadvertent infection when a variant from India is relentlessly sickening the kids.
The pressures and anxiety on the part of CDC not withstanding, this recommendation is eminently premature.
We may never defeat vaccine hesitancy, we still should allow a few weeks to expeditiously vaccinate the kids whose parents restlessly await the vaccine salvation.
Expanded immunity among the willing is our best shield against this pathogen.
"The resurgence of virus in the third world is largely predicated by abandonment of mitigation measures. New iterations of virus maybe more contagious but still yield to standard mitigation measures. We in USA and EU need to expand our vaccine production to help vaccinate the rest of the world. Our world depends on it.
"In founding this country, the forefathers renounced the crown. Humanity is grateful for their emancipatory vision. The crown is a scornful word but calling vaccine a crowning glory, that I can live with. If you haven’t had vaccine yet, get one. Royalty will have nothing on you.
The glory was never in the crown.