COVID-19: A Pandemic of the Unvaccinated and the Misinformed

By Stephen A. Smith


The good news is that as of mid-July, more than 180 million Americans are fully vaccinated against (Sars -2) (Covid-19). The bad news is, that’s not good enough. 

As all viruses like to do, SARS has figured out a way to make itself more transmissible and more deadly and with the emergence of the Covid Delta variant, even the fully vaccinated are vulnerable. Here we go again.

Releasing new evidence on Delta, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now acknowledge that vaccinated people can, with so-called breakthrough infections, carry as much virus in the nose and throat as unvaccinated people and may spread it just as readily. The science is clear. The virus has changed, but we haven’t. We remain a nation largely in denial. 

Daily, the mainstream media is full of stories of those who held out against getting vaccinated when COVID-19 was a killer, but now appears outdone by its new variant. Willfully ignorant or hopelessly influenced by widespread misinformation, those who refused to be vaccinated, or just waited too long, now regret their inaction. From their own hospital beds, or the ICUs where they visit infused and intubated loved ones barely clinging to life, they express regret. Likely legions of similarly sorrowful will fill those beds once the current owners, many of whom are deniers, get well or die. 

Denying the COVID-19 reality has almost become a game. As reported by Jack Healy in his July 30 New York Times article, doctors in Covid units say some patients still refuse to believe they are afflicted with anything beyond the flu.“We have people in the I.C.U. with Covid who are denying they have Covid,” said Dr. Matthew Sperry, a pulmonary critical care physician. “It doesn’t matter what we say.” 

It seems the deniers believe what they want to believe, and will die before letting the government tell them what to do. Our passion for the freedom to do as we want is killing some of us.

The Age of Misinformation comes of age

Is the spread of vaccine misinformation a byproduct of our “everyone’s an expert” society?  

It’s time for Ralph Cramden, Archie Bunker and Fred Flintstone to thumb their noses at those egghead, know-it-all, geeks in the white lab coats. And, just clicking on a few internet links can send one down a rabbit hole of conspiracy theories and fake science that can be quite convincing, as it’s just what some of us want to hear.

Meanwhile, actual doctors and nurses – “folks who should know better” as I imagine the recently outspoken Alabama governor Kay Ivey would say – decry the vaccines as “bioweapons.”  You can’t make this stuff up. I’m reluctant to give any of the “Disinformation Dozen” more oxygen to thrive, but an osteopathic physician from Cape Coral, Fla. is a key figure in all this nonsense – nonsense that would make a good “Florida Man” story if its ending were not so tragic for so many.

What all this proves is that we’re now living in “The Age of Misinformation” With no one to deliver us from evil.

Who would have thought, back in 1984, that so many people would in the future rely on social media as their primary “news” source? A new Pew Research Center analysis of surveys conducted between October 2019 and June 2020 finds that those who rely most on social media for political news stand apart from other news consumers in a number of ways. For example, those who rely on social media for news are less likely to get the facts about the coronavirus and the Never-Vax politics, and more likely to hear some unproven claims.

More political theater

Was I naïve to think that we’d leave Covid-related political theater behind us when the Denier-In-Chief left office? 

Better-late-than-never Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate Minority Leader, is airing a PSA on 100 radio stations in his state of Kentucky urging people to get vaccinated, referencing his own childhood experience with polio. Meanwhile, back at the Flat Earth Clubhouse, the junior senator from Kentucky, a man who actually has a medical degree, is running ads that say, “Fire Dr. Fauci – support Rand Paul” and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is fundraising on a “Don’t Fauci my Florida” message while blocking school mask mandates. 

Here is a suggestion: Let us have less concern with fundraising and reelection and more concern for human lives.

Let’s do the time warp again

Meanwhile, we seem to be in a time warp. What would Yogi Berra say? “Just like 2020, were all going to die all over again.” With politicians mocking the public health officials who have worked tirelessly to protect us, and renewed controversy over mask mandates, Yogi, you’d be right.  

Remember all the cries of “Who elected them?” from right-wing commentators incensed by the government’s issuance of masking and social distancing policies? They implied that an elected official with no background in science or medicine, placed in office by a largely uninformed population, would certainly be more trustworthy than – heaven forbid – a career government employee. Ironically, those who’ve held out in defiance of government regulation are inviting even more government masking and vaccination mandates. One would think it would be easier to breathe on a ventilator than when wearing a mask. Many people seem to think so.

It’s a vicious cycle. Sure, now there is plenty of PPE to go around, but hospital ICUs are packed again. Beds are in short supply again. But stupidity is not. Oncology patients, to whom time is so precious, are again postponing treatment for the fear a virus will kill them faster. Front-line healthcare workers are once again overwhelmed, underpaid and under appreciated

It’s very simple. If you haven’t gotten the vaccine, just get it. It’s free. It’s readily available. Then tell your friends. And if somebody asks you to wear a mask, just wear the mask.

Then maybe we won’t be reliving 2020 over, and over, and over.