Dear Members of the Baylor College of Medicine Community,
In this week’s video, I present Lily’s 5-point plan for living with COVID. Most important, if you are vaccinated and receive your booster when eligible, almost certainly you are going to live through the pandemic. Secondly, if restaurants are checking vaccine status, you can feel safe eating indoors. Same for theaters, but if the vaccine status of others is not known, I would wear a mask. Travel to countries where there is good virus control (Italy, for example) but still wear a mask if on public transportation. Follow the CDC: know the local viral burden and act accordingly. I go over how to interpret the numbers in this presentation. Businesses and associations who require vaccination should advertise it.
Things are looking better in some parts of the world, but there is great disparity in vaccine access between wealthy and poor nations. So how will the pandemic end? If you are familiar with T.S Eliot’s poem, “The Hollow Men,” written in 1925 after WWI and the Spanish Flu, my guess is Eliot would say the pandemic will end “not with a bang but a whimper.” We had the opportunity to end with a bang, but we did not. I think T.S. Eliot would view misinformation on the internet, anti-vaccine advocates and those who do not follow science, but focus on conspiracy and hysteria, as the voices of hollow men.
The pandemic is likely to recede like the tide going out. First in countries with high vaccination rates but eventually everywhere as the unvaccinated get infected. In those countries, there will be a background of infections, there will be serious illness and death, mostly in the unvaccinated and the elderly.
Eventually, like flu, it will transition to younger folks, the unvaccinated and breakthroughs in the elderly. We likely will have regular booster shots, similar to our annual flu shots.
And we will all have to learn to live with it.
I hope you have an enjoyable weekend. Stay safe. And remember to send in questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. I am preparing for another Q&A session soon.
Paul Klotman, M.D.
President & CEO