[COLUMN] Lockdown too late

GUANGZHOU, one of China’s largest and busiest cities, is locking down as it battles a major outbreak of COVID-19. Lockdowns are truly effective and less cumbersome, a lot simpler to enforce, if done in a timely fashion when it comes to a contagious killer disease like the SARS-CoV2 virus.

In this case, the horses are already out of the barn, so to speak, so a lockdown is a bit too late. It will likely be more of a crackdown now. It should have been implemented in the whole of China as a preventive measure when the first diagnosed case in Wuhan City was confirmed. Overkill? Not if we want to save millions of lives. Science has the proof of the gross mistake: Almost 7 million people have died from COVID-19 around the world. It is a grave international disgrace because the strict principles of science and medicine have not been faithfully implemented and enforced, resulting in this negligent “genocide.”

The best scenario would have been the total lockdown of Wuhan City on December 8, 2019 when it first identified the mysterious killer pneumonia as caused by the novel coronavirus we now know as SARS-CoV2 virus, the super-contagious killer (almost 644 million cases today, with more than 6.6 million deaths). Had Wuhan been locked down (100 percent) – no-one-in, no-one-out – it could have contained the deadly virus within the city. The cases and deaths would have been limited to that city alone. And even the rest of China could have been spared, not to mention, the whole world.

For infectious diseases, it must be 100 percent lockdown, and not 99 percent, because one single infected person going out (or coming in, like in the U.S.) could spread the virus like an exponential wildfire, which is what happened. This COVID-19 pandemic started December 8, 2019 with one person, Wei Guixian, a female vendor at the large Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan City, who was the first person infected with the novel coronavirus. Indeed, one person is enough to start a deadly global catastrophe.

As most people know, Typhoid Mary (Mary Mallon, a cook) single-handedly (no pun-intended), innocently and unaware, totally without symptoms, started the typhoid outbreak in 1906-07 in New York and surrounding cities. To prevent the spread of typhoid fever since she was always positive for the disease (but without symptoms), she was quarantined in North Brother Island (Bronx) for more than 23 years, isolated, until she died of stroke at age 69 in 1938. A sad story of a grave injustice!

If the United States, on December 31, 2019, or even on January 18, 2020, upon confirming the first case of novel coronavirus infection in Washington State involving a person who returned from Wuhan City, had imposed a total national lockdown and immediate contact tracing, mandatory masking in public and social distancing, and had federally mandated vaccination of everyone in  the country, when the vaccines were available (those refusing to be vaccinated, quarantined at home, those returning to the U.S. quarantined at facilities near the airport, seaport, etc.), the more than 100 million U.S. cases of COVID-19, with greater than a million deaths, would have been reduced by more than 90 percent. And the devastation of the national economy and of children’s education would have been avoided.

Faithfulness to the century-old proven epidemiologic measures to minimize the spread of a contagious disease and people discipline and cooperation could have saved at least 900,000 of those lives lost in the United States alone. But that requires pure medical, pure science, and a wise and steadfast national leadership in the management of the pandemic, sans politics and fake news.

Unfortunately, people in a free nation like the U.S. appear to savor the exercise of their freedom of choice under our First Amendment Rights more so than preventing the spread of this killer virus and saving the lives of their fellowmen, as shown by the number of cases and deaths from COVID-19 in the United States. People’s refusal to mask up in public and refusal to get vaccinated (“because WE have the freedom to choose what to do with our own body”) contributed to the massive exponential spread of SARS-CoV2 virus around the country and the almost 1.1 million deaths in the United States, not to mention a devastated national economy and education. The greater tragedy is the fact that majority of the more than 100 million cases and those deaths were, epidemiologically speaking, mostly preventable, had the government followed pure science in controlling the killer virus.

The confusion and chaos about the virus, mitigating measures, and the vaccines were caused by the poor messaging by our government, who had 50 commanders-in-chief, one for each state, with conflicting partisan and personal views, policies, and rules, contradicting each other.

A pandemic is like a world war. In dealing with it, we must have only one commander-in-chief, with one national policy, based on pure science and medicine, with all-hands-on deck of the nation’s people, united, all fighting (not with each other but) against our common invisible-killer enemy. The nation and its people acting as one solid force, focused on one objective, even voluntarily giving up some of our individual freedoms temporarily to save the lives of our fellowmen and our nation as a whole.

Two of the most perpetrated fake news in the social media claim masks are useless and that vaccines are dangerous. Science has repeatedly shown masks are effective in preventing the spread of respiratory diseases. This COVID-19 pandemic has proven masks do help save lives. Masks not only protect the wearer but people nearby! Like bullet-proof vests, they are not 100 percent, but nonetheless, they are lifesavers. Past epidemics and pandemics have also proven that.

As for the vaccines, more than 13 billion have been administered worldwide saving billions of lives around the world during this pandemic, contrary to disinformation anti-vax mongers are promoting which has caused countless deaths.

I hope we have learned enough from this pandemic to prepare us for a future one. Even one death is one too many.

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

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The main objective of this column is to educate and inspire people live a healthier lifestyle to prevent illnesses and disabilities and achieve a happier and more productive life. Any diagnosis, recommendation or treatment in our article are general medical information and not intended to be applicable or appropriate for anyone. This column is not a substitute for your physician, who knows your condition well and who is your best ally when it comes to your health.

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Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, a Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus based in Northwest Indiana and Las Vegas, Nevada, is an international medical lecturer/author, Health Advocate, newspaper columnist, and Chairman of the Filipino United Network-USA, a 501(c)3 humanitarian foundation in the United States. Websites: FUN8888.com, Today.SPSAtoday.com, and philipSchua.com; Email: [email protected]

 

Dr. Philip S. Chua

Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus in Northwest Indiana and chairman of cardiac surgery from 1997 to 2010 at Cebu Doctors University Hospital, where he holds the title of Physician Emeritus in Surgery, is based in Las Vegas, Nevada. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, the Philippine College of Surgeons, and the Denton A. Cooley Cardiovascular Surgical Society. He is the chairman of the Filipino United Network – USA, a 501(c)(3) humanitarian foundation in the United States.

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