A simple game plan to survive COVID-19

This New York Times graphic shows the number of vaccines in human trials as of Sept. 16, with many additional animal preclinical trials underway.

A recent headline: Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is 90% effective.

Well, maybe. It’s too early to tell based on a number released in the middle of a trial. The real news: Pfizer CEO profited by unloading $5.6 million of his own stock near its peak value – on the day of the announcement.

The real and better news: Not one, but several vaccines are close to being ready. Today over 100 vaccines are in the development pipeline.

However, “A vaccine is only a vaccine. It’s nothing until it’s a vaccination,” said Dr. Michael Osterholm, a renowned U.S. epidemiologist. Getting people vaccinated takes time.

Therefore, this winter, we’re very much on our own. But it’s fine because wearing masks works. (When I say “wearing masks,” I mean the whole shebang of face coverings, physical distancing, safely reopening schools and businesses, and extensive testing.)

To close this chapter on COVID-19, we need both low-tech preventative measures and vaccination, per CDC recommendation.

Months ago, CDC estimated 10% to 12% of the U.S. population has been infected by the COVID-19 virus (rates in pockets of the U.S. can be higher or lower; where we are exactly, nobody knows). That means most of us know somebody who’s had COVID-19, even if we haven’t had it.

To stop the infection from spreading, experts think about 60% (range 30% to 70%) of the population need to have immunity. It can be obtained by natural infection or vaccine.

If we ditch our masks and embrace the “let’s get it over with” open-season approach to the COVID-19 pandemic, the virus will find us and our loved ones. The crisis facing NYC hospitals and communities last March and April can strike anywhere, anytime.

Sure, many are symptom-free. And I pray when my time comes, I’d be the lucky one to say, “Phew, it could’ve been worse.” And “Who doesn’t love miracles?” As Brad Pitt’s Fauci said on an SNL skit, “miracles shouldn’t be Plan A.”

Today, almost 10 months from the day of the first COVID-19 case in the U.S., over 246,000 Americans have died, and at the current rate of growth, without a universal mask mandate, experts predict another 170,000 may die by the end of winter.

With vaccines so, so close to reality, every death and illness seems senseless.  

COVID-19 is a slow burn. It’s called the 16-trillion-dollar virus because it can be – if we let it.

I have a simple game plan: wear my mask in public, maintain a healthy routine including regular exercise, stay put and wait for the vaccines.

As Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks, the British TV sleuth, said, “You can’t make it right; you can make it better.”

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Volume 12, Issue 22, Posted 9:26 AM, 11.17.2020