I am a radiologist thinking about how to protect our patients, and our families from the serious consequences of COVID-19. I see the fear and panic in society, and the reaction to this disease does not make sense to me.
My contention is that we should be protecting those people most susceptible to the serious morbidities/mortality from this illness: those who are elderly or immune compromised; those in nursing homes; those carrying Medicare cards; those with known cancer or other immune suppressing illnesses. Every interaction with this population should be with caution, with protective barriers. They should avoid going to crowded venues, avoid soccer games, concert halls, and crowded planes and trains during this flu season.
The other healthy, younger part of the population should go about their daily lives normally, without masks; but with common sense hygiene and proper health etiquette. They should not be quarantined, isolated, or kept from living. Schools should not be closed; only the susceptible should be kept out of school. Work places should not close; only the susceptible should work from home. Travel should be encouraged for the young. The young and healthy will not die from COVID-19. Instead they will develop immunity by contracting this virus. And when enough young people get over this virus, there will be population protection, and when they grow old, they will not die from COVID-19. Instead, with the young people inoculated, COVID-19 will become like one of the 115 common cold viruses that we live with yearly, many of which are coronaviruses. I hope I will be become immune to this virus before I grow old. What doesn’t kill me will make me stronger. Nobody under 30 years old has died in Korea; no one under 50 has died in Japan.
Exposure to someone with COVID-19 should not lead to immediate isolation and self-quarantine. If we applied this policy to every aspect of our society, we will not have a functioning society; all of our hospitals and clinics will be closed because all of us in healthcare will be exposed to someone with coronavirus. Plus containment of a highly contagious disease just doesn’t work. (If you’ve ever played the simulation game Plague, you will know that containment never works.) Only improved immunity works, either by vaccines, or by total population innoculations, like chickenpox parties held in our parents’ generations. Innoculate all the kids, get everyone immune to it and you are done for a generation. (Grandparents were never invited to chickenpox parties.)
Please tell me if you disagree with my assessment, and why.