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COMMUNITY VOICES: Be patient for our eventual nirvana

COMMUNITY VOICES: Be patient for our eventual nirvana

Social distancing and related measures have thankfully and predictably flattened the curve and ameliorated a much greater tragedy. The virus and vulnerability are still there as are the original fears. The virus has metastasized across the land and globe. Most of the population remains susceptible.

Until the time effective vaccination is developed, continued compliance to proven and effective measures is the only rational solution. But there in lies the rub. How do we aspire to revert to life we so desperately seek? It's going to be a drawn out process that will unfold incrementally requiring sustained surveillance and continued adherence to safety measures. At a given time, 1 percent to 5 percent or less of the population is likely to be infected. Hopefully much smaller percentages as time goes by. We need to test, trace contacts and isolate those with infection. This requires testing capabilities at industrial levels with quick turnaround and high degree of positive predictability. It will require an efficient public health department that will contact trace and isolate the infected. If we succeed on step one, then we can start opening the economy with high degree of confidence. We can start with essential services, health care, etc., and expand to other sectors as capabilities ramp up. We can look at seven days a week workplace with alternate day workforce to decrease density and transmissibility.

In California, hospital capacity is being wasted in anticipation of a surge. Hospital capacity is a perishable commodity; if not used in the present, it's not additive to tomorrow. The rationale for continued avoidance of non urgent surgeries is losing some of its logic. On the other hand, evaporating numbers of STEMIs and CVAs is a shocking offshoot of unintended panic. We need to stop trading one epidemic for another. Let's restore health care availability where possible and help mitigate non-COVID-19 healthcare and economic consequences. Efforts to ramp up PPEs and hospital supplies are apparently on the mend. It will alleviate a sense of fear that envelops health care workers.

The sense of urgency and camaraderie in the scientific world is encouraging and a call of the times. We should see effective advances to defeat the menace of COVID-19. Serology testing will be a huge positive in detecting populations with immunity. The immunized among us can make the nucleus of society’s task force. Such a task force comprised of immunized health care workers at the national level will be a team of “indestructibles.” The eventual blessing will be effective and durable immunity through universally available vaccines. All hands are on deck and fingers crossed. Until the time we achieve nirvana of immunity, we are compelled to adopt social distancing as the mainstay of prevention. If we fail to implement an incremental approach and near total compliance, we will allow the virus to come back with a vengeance. The light at the end of tunnel can’t be the train rushing at us. Stay safe. Dr. Brij Bhambi specializes in cardiac and vascular intervention, nuclear cardiology, consultative and general cardiology and holds board certification in Interventional Cardiology, Cardiovascular Disease, and Internal Medicine. He is a chief medical officer at Bakersfield Heart Hospital.