When this terrible pandemic is over, every human being on this planet should recite the Jewish blessing, “Blessed are You, G-d, King of the universe, Who bestows good upon the guilty, who has bestowed every goodness upon me.”
With 269,318 deaths in America and 1.43 million deaths worldwide from COVID-19, it is again time to gain perspective, especially as 2020 comes to an end.
As a physician, I have tried with every ounce of my being to fight this dreadful disease. My colleagues have done the same. One of my mentors and the man responsible for my first position at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx in 1980 was Dr. Steve Kamholz. He later became the Chairman of Medicine at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn. He passed away from the virus in June at the age of 72.
Another colleague of mine at Montefiore Medical Center, Dr. James Goodrich, who was the Chairman of the Pediatric Neurosurgery Department and was famous for separating conjoined twins whose brains were connected in 2016, passed away from COVID-19 earlier this year.
I have lost many dear friends (all of blessed memory) from COVID-19 in 2020 including: Philanthropist Hy Arbesfeld, Judge Noach Dear, and former NYPD Chief Robert Abraham.
I personally take some credit for America’s awakening to the benefit of wearing masks. I actually called for a mandate in my article entitled, “Thoughts on Coronavirus – COVID-19” on March 3, 2020. At the time, the CDC was not recommending masks. I did not know how the population would react even though it made perfect sense. It has saved countless lives and has allowed for the economic recovery we are now witnessing (please see my article “COVID-19: Getting Back on Our Feet,” 4/27/20). In the early days of the pandemic, there were not that many physicians going public with their views. Now it is a different story.
In addition, I helped get convalescent serum use off the ground. The work by Mordechai Serle on the subject is legendary. I was glad to be of some assistance.
I tried very hard to get Big Pharma to come up with enough vaccines for every American – and actually every human being on this planet – at the very beginning of the vaccination process. I was not successful. As great an achievement as Pfizer’s pronouncement that they will have 40 million doses ready to go soon, there is no reason that 330 million vaccinations could not be ready at the time of the initial launch. I had warned that this might happen (“The Race Is On for the SARS-Cov2 Vaccine” [6/14/20] and “COVID-19: Vaccines and the Elections” [7/30/20]).
The C1 Platform of Dyadic could have been utilized, which would have enabled enough vaccine for the whole country from the get-go. As great a triumph as the vaccines indeed are, it could have been even greater if everyone could get vaccinated at the same time.
The Trump administration deserves tremendous credit for “Operation Warp Speed.” No one has developed a vaccine faster. It is extraordinary.
I just wish that the C1 Platform was given more attention, so that billions of doses could be available at the outset.
Trump’s Warp Speed achievement is a tremendous one and should not be minimized. It also has significant ramifications for the future. It will set in motion the pathway for fighting future pandemics. It will also encourage and incentivize vaccine development against a host of viruses, including Ebola, HIV, Zika, and West Nile. A lot was learned in the development of the COVID-19 vaccine. Hopefully, vaccine technology is now poised to fight many other diseases, including malaria, TB, and cancer.
President Trump deserves the lion’s share of credit for jump-starting the economy. He also deserves credit for getting schools to open this fall. I personally get an assist on school openings (article: “If There Is a Will, There Is a Way,” 7/8/20) and on getting Major League Baseball started up (article: “We Need Baseball More Than Ever,” 6/7/20).
Not all of my colleagues in the medical field were so enthusiastic about any of the above. I am grateful that I had the privilege of advancing many ideas to get us all going again. It looked very bleak in April.
This is what I mean by “gaining perspective.” One can see the light at the end of the long tunnel.
Unfortunately, because of the pandemic, voting in the recent election became quite problematic.
Unless the mail-in ballot system is restricted and better regulated, I do not think the American People will have faith in the results. It is too chaotic. And unless software utilized to tally votes is fully examined, researched, and certified by both Democrats and Republicans, I do not think the American People will trust the outcome.
The year 2020 was a most challenging and stressful one. It is up to all of us to recognize the problems and deal with them like mature adults.
Joseph M. Frager is a physician and lifelong activist.