Kevin Kavanagh, M.D.
By Dr. Kevin Kavanagh
I must say I have lost all patience and have just had enough. Never in the history of the United States has the population shunned vaccines which could expedite the return of our society back to normal.
Like many, I want to see my grandchildren return to a safe school environment, and like a growing number of patients, I too have had to delay needed surgery because hospitals and ICUs have been overrun by unvaccinated patients who chose not to receive a vaccine.
Most in Kentucky are not experts in medicine. They see the carnage happening in our local communities and depend upon their leaders for guidance. The divisions we witnessed during Kentucky’s special session are an example of what is dividing our nation. Both sides live in a separate universe, and unfortunately neither universe advocates for the policies and actions that are required to snuff out this virus.
Nationally, one side embraces conspiracy theories and the other peddles half-baked measures, rather than advocating on what it will take to protect our school children, frontline workers, and the general population.
There are many examples of people in the southeast United States who have non-Covid-19 illnesses and are unable to obtain timely and high-quality needed care. Some of these delays may affect their survival.
The unvaccinated Covid-19 patients that are filling our hospitals often have a poorer prognosis; and those hospitalized may require weeks in the ICU, and if they survive, months, if not years, in rehab. Surviving Covid is not the same as recovery.
Mainstream science knows how to combat SARS-CoV-2, but too many Kentuckians have turned a deaf ear to their advice. Can you blame them when many of our Kentucky leaders are spewing misleading and false information? It was strongly asserted that each local community has the right to decide how to stop this virus and were capable of making correct judgements.
But how can they, when few if any of their leaders were wearing masks, sending a clear message that masks are not needed? I’m sure these leaders will be quick to point out that cloth masks are not adequate protection for the delta variant. But then, why not advocate for using higher-quality medical grade, N95 and KN95 masks?
And at least one leader insisted that the unvaccinated public be counseled that 7,000 people have died from the vaccine. This is nothing more than a scare tactic. This total was tabulated from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) and consists of unverified, largely coincidental deaths.
Anyone, regardless of intentions, can enter a VAERS report. If one does the math, Kentucky should have had 180 of these 7,000 reported vaccination “deaths.” I personally do not know anyone in Kentucky who has died from the mRNA or Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Unfortunately, too many of my friends have already lost loved ones to Covid-19. Kentucky has lost more than 8,000.
V-Safe and other tracking systems used by the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs have verified that Covid-19 vaccines have a very high degree of safety.
I also feel that President Joe Biden’s recent pandemic plan is far too little, too late. Regardless of the issue of recommendations versus mandates, vaccines are a vital layer of armor that lessens death and disability, but they are no longer a panacea. A layered approach is needed.
As past Surgeon General Jerome Adams stated: “Vax it and Mask it.” All workers, regardless of vaccination status, need to wear high-quality masks, undergo regular testing, and all need to have their immunity enhanced to the highest degree possible by receiving a booster. Those previously infected will develop “hybrid immunity” with vaccination, heightening their immune responses to immune-escape variants by 25 to 100 times.
A worrisome immune-escape variant, Mu, is already in every state. It originated in Colombia and we have no idea how this variant entered the country. The Courier Journal pointed out that the U.S. is not adequately tracking this virus. Again, a half-baked effort that results in placing Americans at grave risk.
All who enter the country (including U.S. citizens, migrants and tourists) need to be quarantined, tested before and after release, and fully vaccinated. It is of utmost importance to delay the spread of even more dangerous variants into our country. We need to effectively close our borders until we get this pandemic under control.
Unfortunately, instead of encouraging public-health strategies and vaccines, all too many have discouraged them. The result is a delay in needed care for many and allowing the virus to spread and mutate, eventually making vaccines ineffective.
The politicization of this virus has degenerated the narrative to a choice of society acquiring immunity by vaccine mandates or by essentially “mandating” infections by removing public-health safeguards. But obtaining natural immunity from Covid-19 infections comes with grave risks and is a dangerous strategy that may wane and have to be repeated with each subsequent surge caused by immune-escape variants.
SARS-CoV-2 will not miraculously disappear. In the short term, it is unlikely to become less severe. This virus has gotten meaner with each iteration. It does not need us, so it does not have to play nice.
We need to create the safest school and workplace environments possible. Kentuckians not coming together to fight this virus with all their might is nothing more than making a pact with the devil.
Kevin Kavanagh is a retired physician from Somerset and chairman of Health Watch USA, which focuses on infection control.