In the United States, many areas have returned to a “new normal,” as the COVID-19 pandemic has come under control.
What have we learned and where did we fail?
The successes included the use of facemasks, social distancing, and handwashing. These measures, when strictly enforced in our hospitals along with added measures of protection, resulted in fewer COVID-19 cases among health care workers taking care of severely ill, infectious patients. Health care workers courageously stayed the course and came back to work every day despite the potential of harm to themselves and even death.
Therapeutics and vaccines were another win in the COVID-19 pandemic. Our scientists, researchers, universities, companies and physicians worked together to find therapies that could ameliorate the disease, such as monoclonal antibodies and remdesivir. Perhaps the biggest success, though, is the development of COVID-19 vaccines to create antibodies to protect people against COVID-19. This was done in a record period of time, based on decades of work that had already been done on new vaccine technologies. Just over a year after the World Health Organization (WHO) announced the pandemic in March 2020, many countries have the majority of their citizens protected. The vaccines work!
The failures include the high mortality rate globally, including over three million deaths worldwide, over 572,000 deaths in the United States, and ongoing crises in places like Brazil and India. Beyond the direct impacts of COVID-19, there are also people who were unable to seek treatment for their medical conditions due to the overburdened health care system. The additional deaths from patients who did not seek health care for heart disease, cancer and other diseases is not countable.
Perhaps the biggest failure is that this is a “pandemic” that means it is global and many countries do not have the health care support or the infrastructure, or the economy, to be able to control the disease. Hospitals are running out of oxygen and patients are still dying in thousands daily!
We must act with a global conscience to save our world. We who have managed to control this infection must help the rest of the world who do not have the resources to do so. This pandemic affects everyone in the world, so we must work to protect our globe and save the planet. This is not only a humanitarian need; if we do not act, the virus will mutate and we all will be fighting it again.
We must work to make our world a better place to live, and, most importantly, make good health care available to prevent a repeat of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Please get vaccinated if you have the opportunity to do so!
Mike Ramsay, M.D.
Chairman, Patient Safety Movement Foundation
Past President, Baylor Scott & White Research Institute, Dallas, TX