I’m Sorry

For everyone who thinks that because on an individual level you have a low risk of dying of COVID and therefore haven’t taken vaccinations or public health precautions seriously: I’m sorry.

I’m sorry this year sucks again. I’m sorry we’re still stuck in a pandemic. I know that you don’t want to have to listen to more bad news and to have to think twice about seeing friends or family, about traveling, about attending big events, about having to calculate risk for what would have previously been easy decisions. Or at least that you should be doing these things, but maybe aren’t.

But most of all, I’m sorry that you’ve been lied to by the contrarians and grifters and sycophants. I’m sorry that what they are saying is easier to listen to than the bad news of reality because they’re saying what you want to hear: that you most likely aren’t going to die from COVID, so you don’t have to care.

I get that, I do.

Based purely on the numbers, you probably aren’t going to die or develop serious long term side effects if you become infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus which causes COVID. While these outcomes are very much still possible even if you’re young, both are statistically less likely.

I even understand not recognizing that you might be part of the chain of transmission that gets other people sick and that some of them may die, even if you don’t. The type of abstract thinking required for these distant possible scenarios won’t necessarily be at the top of mind after so many months of frustration and anxiety, as you’ve turned to thinking only about the fact that you probably won’t suffer the negative consequences yourself.

I get that, I do.

But when you come into the emergency department short of breath, with fevers and chills, and you’ve lost your appetite and your sense of smell and taste, and the muscle aches are the worst you could imagine, don’t be shocked when I tell you that you have COVID.

You see, the trick that the liars and grifters and sycophants pull to spread disinformation is that you’re the pawn. They use a straw man fallacy with a sliver of truth — if you get COVID, you most likely will not die — to avoid the darker realities of the situation.

When you tell me that you’re more short of breath than you’ve ever been, that you’re healthy and an athlete and you feel like you can hardly walk a block without having to catch your breath, that this shouldn’t happen to you, there’s the hidden part of the lies of disinformation.

This is exactly what we know can happen. This is exactly what we know to expect, even if you’re young and healthy. The difference is that if you’re young and healthy, you’re more likely to get through those symptoms, not have no symptoms.

No, we don’t have a way to make this somehow suddenly better and, no, there is no magic treatment, despite your pleas.

This is what we have been trying to warn you about. This is why prevention matters, because there is no cure.

You very likely won’t die, sure. But some people do. Yet, trying to warn you that you might die clearly doesn’t get your attention because in your mind you’re invincible. I was too. Youth will deceive you in that way, and for so many evolutionary reasons that often works out as an advantage. But not this time. Not in a pandemic of a highly infectious viral illness.

The frustrating part of all of this is that your illness, how your are feeling, the people you may infect — all of that was preventable. We could cut transmission and both protect ourselves and those around us with reasonable public health precautions such as wearing a well-fitted mask in indoor or public spaces, distancing, hand washing, and most of all, getting vaccinated.

I’m sorry you’ve been lied to, I am.

We may be starting to turn a corner. Now is not the time to let up. In fact, we need to focus harder on prevention now more than ever.

We want you to get vaccinated because we care, because we want you to protect yourself and others. 🙏

Twitter thread: https://twitter.com/tnicholsmd/status/1445107308313255939?s=20

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Taylor Nichols

Taylor Nichols

Humanist. Emergency Medicine Physician. Health policy enthusiast. Views are my own. (He/Him)