Social Distancing and Our Need for Connection
A few weeks ago, had I said I was practicing “social distancing,” you may have thought I was giving myself a Facebook time out. As we all pull further and further away from our friends, coworkers and loved ones to quarantine inside of our (ten people or less) bubbles, my need to virtually hold hands with the digital connections that keep us tethered together has really ramped up. Like you, I was watching hundreds of gorgeous, resilient Italians sing and dance on their balconies together, each of them singing something slightly different and yet reveling in the moments where they can collectively experience something lighter; together. All of their faces are living out this new normal before our eyes, with tremendous grace and courage, an ominous reminder that our own balcony karaoke hour is nearly upon us.
Most people are pretty terrible at sitting still for long periods of time, myself included. We’re even worse at doing things for the greater good, and if you need any tangible proof of that, just ask the environment.
She’s been the recipient of our lackluster attempts to curb our addictions to everything from fossil fuel to fast fashion and cheeseburgers. She’s been pretty vocal about her mass extinctions, her rising temperatures and sea levels, the impact that deforestation and melting sea ice will have on future generations. The reason why we’re so paralyzed to act as one to combat something as enormous as climate change, you ask? Unless it’s at our front door, most of the world just can’t be bothered to be inconvenienced, to disrupt the day to day. Surely, someone will swoop in and save us from ourselves, right? Not necessarily, and don’t call me Shirley. I saw Wall-E and let me tell you, I don’t like the idea of living out my days on an interstellar cruise ship, sipping slushies, strapped in a pod chair where my feet will never touch the ground. That’s a collision course with diabetes and deep vein thrombosis if there ever was one. A troubling new NBC poll finds that only 47 percent of Americans plan to avoid large gatherings, and just 36 percent say they will reschedule travel. This is why we can’t have nice things. Still think this is all media-driven hyped hysteria? Please think again. A new study out of South Korea has shown that socially active people ages 20-29 truly carry 30% of all cases, and the vast majority of them are asymptomatic. You don’t need that Insta selfie with a Shamrock Shake, millennials. Please stay home.
Many of our pharmaceutical clients are actively working on COVID19 vaccines, including Takeda and Gilead, the latter’s early use of Remdesivir has shown some promise in Washington based trials vs placebo. Moderna, in partnership with the NIH, has already been administering clinical trial doses to patients. While the promise of a vaccine for mass human consumption is likely more than 18-24 months away, we’ll need a superpowered vaccine that is more than 90% effective to significantly slow or stop the ruthless spread of COVID19. According to the WHO, most vaccines are between 85% and 90% effective, which is why herd immunity is so important for preventing outbreaks. Since we do not yet have any inherent immunity to COVID-19, scientists will need to work overtime to improve efficacy and make sure the COVID-19 vaccine has an effective rate much higher than most other commercially available vaccinations. That will take some time to develop and roll out at scale. For other nerdy data points on vaccine effectiveness, flattening the curve, and other scientific musings on COVID19, please check out Harvard Chan Epidemiologist and Public Health Scientist Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding in this Modern Wisdom podcast.
I’d like to think we’ve all emerged a bit smarter over the past last few weeks, that we’ve all learned a thing or two about why science is not to be ignored and why people who aren’t scientists (but play them on TV) should most definitely be ignored. In order to prevent the tsunami of critical patients from overwhelming our healthcare system and the less than 100,000 ICU beds we have in the US, we will all need to sit still a while longer, stop spreading the enemy we cannot see, so that the most vulnerable and immune-compromised among us aren’t exposed.
The Super Friends without The Wonder Twins weren’t able to carry out the real heavy-duty jobs, they needed each other. We need each other now more than ever, especially when those elected to keep us safe are asleep at the afterparty, withholding test kits so case counts remain underreported.
The good news and there is some of that, is that we’re not powerless. We’re sentient, we’re informed and we can virtually mobilize to get things done. We can and will do our part to flatten the curve, while still managing to get kids on free and reduced lunch their daily meals. We will slow this down, with medicine, selflessness, compassion and mindfulness.
When it’s 6pm here next week and our shelter in place order has reached new heights of stir-crazy disconnection, I’m going to take a break from my daily routine, walk outside and belt out a Journey song (original Steve Perry mind you, not cloned Steve Perry.)
I’ll be singing with (virtual) Open Arms outstretched to you. We’re in this together and we’re not giving up the fight.
Now go wash your hands!
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