I don’t have to tell you that we now have a vaccine out there for covid-19 There is widespread jubilation and a feeling that we have it beaten. How the **** could that ever be construed as bad news?
Well here’s one for starters. “Measles Deaths Soared Worldwide Last Year, as Vaccine Rates Stalled” People aren’t getting their kids vaccinated because its difficult to find health care workers to give the vaccinations. That’s because all the attention now is on covid-19; measles is a low priority these days.
I’m sure you know that measles is way more serious that covid-19, especially in children. Not only it can be fatal; if the child survives there is often permanent brain damage.
It’s a similar story for tuberculosis. Cases are increasing as all attention switches to covid-19. We had TB beaten, except in places like Russia and India. But now its coming back and TB is usually a much worse disease to have than covid-19.
Same same for other diseases such as polio, diphtheria, cholera, even other childhood diseases such as mumps and tetanus. In other words, the focus on covid-19 is leading to all of these diseases, which had been almost eliminated, to stage resurgences. We’ve given up a century of progress in order to beat covid-19, even though it’s probably less harmful than all of these other diseases.
But there’s worse. Did you see that Biogen recently had its new experimental drug for Alzheimer’s rejected by the FDA (but on legitimate grounds)? That means there has been no new drug for this terrible disease for almost 20 years.
Do you think that Big Pharma’s are going to spend billions more on discovering a cure for Alzheimer’s, which is being deemed an impossible task when they are getting helicopter loads of cash being flung at them for covid-19 drugs?
In other words, drug companies are already dropping research on difficult diseases, especially neurodegenerative, because covid-19 is much cheaper and comes with over-the-top subsidies from governments everywhere.
Yet Alzheimer’s is incurable, permanent and is far more severe as regards patient impact than covid-19. Moreover, it impacts the whole family, and millions more caregivers who are tied down full-time 24/7 and prevented from holding jobs in order to take care of the patients.
Cumulatively and even at present Alzheimer’s affects way more people than does covid-19. But we’re so used to it that we end up not really caring. Alzheimer’s is an invisible disease from the public perspective whereas covid-19 is terribly conspicuous. Right now, Alzheimer’s doesn’t stand a chance.
Alzheimer’s is a tragic ample of a disease that needs to be addressed but isn’t because all the wind has been sucked out of its sails by covid-19. But, of course, its not the only one.
Now I’ve just chosen Alzheimer’s because it is a particularly egregious example of how covid is massively warping long-term global health priorities. But of course, there are others.
One is the dearth of research to find new antibiotics. Sure, Congress has thrown a few tiny morsels that are designed to correct the situation but almost certainly won’t. The rise of antibiotic resistance continues apace and there’s no long-term solution in sight. To the extent that there do exist a few political leaders who are trying to correct the medicinal myopia, they are being stymied by covid-19 too. So, chalk up the continued lack of action on antibiotics to the overwhelming PR and electoral value of covid-19.
I could go on, but you get the idea. Covid-19 has become a celebrity meme in its own right. It’s the perfect answer to a politician’s prayer – please give me an issue to support which will be popular with everyone all the time no matter their political leanings and hang-ups. You can’t go wrong flinging yet more dollars to covid-19 drugs and vaccines.
OK I get it. We have to save ourselves from a bad pandemic. There are legitimate financial and economic reasons not to mention social and equity issues. No quarrels with that. But at what cost? The continued suffering from diseases such as Alzheimer’s and the imminent existential issue of universal antibiotic resistance? The longer-term survival of the human species?
It’s already clear that there are going to be too many vaccines. There will be a flood of stuff for covid-19 and just about nothing for everything else. That’s the wonder of capitalism. We’ve gone from famine to feast, covid-wise, but famine still for everything else.
It’s clear that we have collectively (with the exception of China) screwed up the whole issue of implementing robust and effective controls to stop the spread of covid-19. So that’s a given.
Now we’re all rushing headlong to allowing the covid-19 issue to warp global health policies and decisions in such a way that its now an existential issue, threatening our very survival. We haven’t recognized this problem yet and we are still viewing the pandemic as a one-office issue rather than, as we should, being the canary in the coal-mine that is predicting possible human extinction.
In our euphoria that we have a vaccine we have forgotten that in the global scheme of things covid-19 is a really small fish. There are shoals of other fish out there and they are all way bigger and more rapacious. Its just that we can’t see them yet.
It’s unlikely that the health problems being left unaddressed because of covid-19 are going to be fixed anytime soon.
But they are on the same human and global scales of severity such as climate change, human governance systems and nuclear weapons.
From that perspective the covid-19 vaccines are a disaster, pushing us all to feel that we’ve dodged a bullet, when in fact we’ve added a whole new fusillade.
Instead of being happy about the covid-19 vaccines we should all be cursing or crying.
BTW I am not an anti-vaxxer and I think the new covid-19 vaccines are a big step in the right direction. I will definitely get vaccinated. But we can’t let short-term considerations overrule good judgement. That’s what’s happened now in the heat of the moment.
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