COVID-19 is bad for many reasons. One of them we know about is how the US government is absolutely dropping the ball on the handling of this epidemic. I don't know who exactly is to blame or how high up it goes -and for now I don't care- but what is by far more disappointing aspect in the grand scheme of things is that we could have changed the public's perception of us. But we blew it.
There is a book called "Vaccine: The Controversial Story of Medicine's Greatest Lifesaver" by Arthur Allen that is a remarkably detailed retelling of the history of modern medicine from mid-18th century onward, in as much as it is about the history of vaccination specifically. More than that, he recounts how the public responded to medicine/doctors throughout. It's very a very even-handed and historical account. And it's telling.
It goes something like this: good times-> medical mistrust-> epidemic-> innovation-> resolution-> regain of trust-> good times-> medical mistrust. It's a cycle. Infectious diseases were always what brought the public back on our side. I think it was just favorable pacing. Epidemics struck relatively quickly, and the response could be in kind.
Because of that fact, I have, in a small way, been waiting for something like COVID-19 to happen so that we could once again rise to the occasion and protect people, show them that we are on their side. Then when the storm passes, we all breathe sighs of relief together. And they will once again like us more than they do Goop.
What we have now in the US, however, is best described as a travesty. Our hands are tied but the powers that be, but people don't see those powers. They only see us. We are the faces of the entire system, yet we have so little control over it.
The core of the matter is that we can't protect people the way we want to, and that leads to suffering. The meta aspect of it all is that we end up coming out of this much worse than when we started, and the public trusts us even less than they do now. And that's saying a lot. That's my fear.
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