Editor’s Note From the pages of Facebook:
I’m a doctor and an Infectious Diseases Specialist. I’ve been at this for more than 20 years seeing sick patients on a daily basis. I have worked in inner city hospitals and in the poorest slums of Africa. HIV-AIDS, Hepatitis,TB, SARS, Measles, Shingles, Whooping cough, Diphtheria…there is little I haven’t been exposed to in my profession. And with notable exception of SARS, very little has left me feeling vulnerable, overwhelmed or downright scared.
I am not scared of Covid-19. I am concerned about the implications of a novel infectious agent that has spread the world over and continues to find new footholds in different soil. I am rightly concerned for the welfare of those who are elderly, in frail health or disenfranchised who stand to suffer mostly, and disproportionately, at the hands of this new scourge. But I am not scared of Covid-19.
What I am scared about is the loss of reason and wave of fear that has induced the masses of society into a spellbinding spiral of panic, stockpiling obscene quantities of anything that could fill a bomb shelter adequately in a post-apocalyptic world. I am scared of the N95 masks that are stolen from hospitals and urgent care clinics where they are actually needed for front line healthcare providers and instead are being donned in airports, malls, and coffee lounges, perpetuating even more fear and suspicion of others. I am scared that our hospitals will be overwhelmed with anyone who thinks they ” probably don’t have it but may as well get checked out no matter what because you just never know…” and those with heart failure, emphysema, pneumonia and strokes will pay the price for overfilled ER waiting rooms with only so many doctors and nurses to assess.
I am scared that travel restrictions will become so far reaching that weddings will be canceled, graduations missed and family reunions will not materialize. And well, even that big party called the Olympic Games…that could be kiboshed too. Can you even imagine?
I’m scared those same epidemic fears will limit trade, harm partnerships in multiple sectors, business and otherwise and ultimately culminate in a global recession.
But mostly, I’m scared about what message we are telling our kids when faced with a threat. Instead of reason, rationality, open-mindedness and altruism, we are telling them to panic, be fearful, suspicious, reactionary and self-interested.
Covid-19 is nowhere near over. It will be coming to a city, a hospital, a friend, even a family member near you at some point. Expect it. Stop waiting to be surprised further. The fact is the virus itself will not likely do much harm when it arrives. But our own behaviors and “fight for yourself above all else” attitude could prove disastrous.
I implore you all. Temper fear with reason, panic with patience and uncertainty with education. We have an opportunity to learn a great deal about health hygiene and limiting the spread of innumerable transmissible diseases in our society. Let’s meet this challenge together in the best spirit of compassion for others, patience, and above all, an unfailing effort to seek truth, facts and knowledge as opposed to conjecture, speculation and catastrophizing.
Facts not fear. Clean hands. Open hearts.
Our children will thank us for it.
Dr. Abdhu Sharkawy
Letters to Editor
Susan Peel says
A much-needed and long-awaited clear-eyed article – thank you Dr Sharkawy
Dan Watson says
Thanks to the Spy Editor for printing this. Our daughter is an Emergency Room Dr., and said much the same to us at a family gathering over the weekend (tho perhaps not as eloquently). Her concerned is the “worried well,” who could overwhelm any healthcare facility, inhibiting care of the truly sick who will need it.
Renee Tuer says
Thank you so much Doctor. I am a 61 year old healthy female who’s daughter, working for National Security, phoned yesterday to let me know I’m a senior citizen. She was making sure I purchased the list of supplies she sent and I was quarantined in my home! I of course reassured her I was well aware I was a senior citizen, but was healthy and felt secure my healthy body and mind would fight this off if needed. Fear is a dangerous thing, be careful, be kind, be mindful.
Edith D Tully says
Why is Corvid-19 and Covid-19 used in this article, and, it’s in the heading. Are they the same? Or is it a mis-spelling?? The article is going viral, so there must be others who have the question. I would definitely like an answer, please. If it is a typo, will it be corrected?
John Griep says
That was a typo and has been corrected. The World Health Organization officially named this disease as coronavirus disease 2019, which is abbreviated as COVID-19 (‘CO’ for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for disease). Thanks for your question.
Ganes Rai-Zimmdar says
Happy, I could read this account of a doctor personally involved in a pandemic disease of this nature. Apparently, the Chinese have got a firm hold over it now. In America, it is the negative attitude of the media and the opposition politicians, that responsibility for everything, every accident, every disease must be placed square in the hands of President Trump. Our attitude, on the other hand, ought to be if the Chinese could, why shouldn’t the Americans? And I believe, it will be so.
Donna Maurillo says
Why should Americans hold Trump responsible? Because he claimed it was a Democratic hoax to keep him from reelection. Because his pal Rush Limbaugh said the virus was just the common cold. Because Trump waited days and days before even admitting there could be a problem. Precious time wasted. Trump will always be Trump. That’s his personal punishment. But when he can dictate American policy and intervention (or lack of it) regarding this disease, his shortcomings and lack of intelligence will have an effect on all of us. This would be true even if a Democrat were occupying the White House. Please get a grip.
Ann Parker says
Well said Donna Maurillo, trump is much more concerned about the stock market than he is the American people.
Todd Edwards says
He never said the virus was a hoax. He said them hyping it up and politicizing it was a hoax. Big difference, but you go ahead and keep purposefully spreading lies.
Shirley Holt says
But trump said he knew more than the doctors at the CDC.
Gale Hill says
Thank you! I agree.
Lori Hill says
Speaking from someone who has worked in the medical field and took microbiolgy!! This virus is definitely not a new one! However it is a new strain which means it has been altered!! We all know that when a virus comes in contact with an individual and attaches to their DNA it replicates forming yet another similar strand! Hence that’s why the flu is hard to really control! Usually a vaccine is administered for example let’s say type A, then before you know it we have another strain like type b! There are several other viruses that people have come in contact with at some point with no problems which would mean you are a carrier but doesn’t necessarily mean you will become sick or die from it! Look at Zostervax the virus that causes chicken pox! Once you come in contact with it you may have an outbreak and may not!!! However, that virus can stay dormant in your system and as you age it could reappear as the shingles! Also, I encourage you to look at another virus called JCV ( john Cunningham virus) it is most likely contracted in your childhood years and you walk around with it for years and never know you have it! You would never know unless you become sick with an immunocompromised disease like MS (multiple sclerosis) and then you are tested specifically for it cause the meds used to treat MS can cause another health issue called PML, which is progressive multifocal lukeoenceaphlitis which could be deadly and if you are positive for the JCV then your risk for developing PML will be higher! I’m saying all this to say I’m a firm believer that this is a man induced new strain to cause fear in the American people and others abroad to prepare for the NWO, new world order! It’s called biological warfare and it is doing just what the ones who created it to do, SCARING PEOPLE TO PANIC!!!
Belinda Hill says
Dr Sharkawy is absolutely right, we are a FEAR driven people and in this case, common sense is our best defense. I am grateful for a President that is listening to the professionals and trying to do what is best for our country. Personally I don’t like the fact we may have to cancel our Alaskan cruise mainly because my 86 year old mother-in-law (who is paying for it) feels she should not go and that is common sense or better know as wisdom.
I absolutely blame our news media for all the panic….The Sky Is Falling” is their theme and all for ratings. Just wanted to give my opinion, would like to see more professionals post notices like this, might calm a few people down. Thanks Dr. Sharkawy.
Diana Landry says
Very Well Said
Now I Hope and Pray people will read this and read it over until you understand it fully
Marilyn Vibert says
What this doctor says is very true. It affects the elderly and the weak frail people.
I often hear the new young generation lives for today. I hope this is a wake up call for them.
And news reporters are far too serious about the Covid 19. There is a lot of healthy elderly people in the world . I was having a good conversation with a lady the other day. She stood with her hands clutched together. And worried sooo much about Covid19. She Looked liked she was giving herself an ulcer worrying so much.. After I had a talk with her in a calm manner she appeared much more relaxed.
David Barr says
Very irresponsible and ill-informed for a disease specialist to write such a misleading article. The article gives the impression that the greatest need is among other things cooperation and a cool head. Implying that it will mainly effect the elderly and those in poor health is also very short sighted. My expectation is that this will overwhelm our near capacity health system. If that happens and we continue our slow response we will be dealing with it on our own, at home. Dr. Sharkawy, please do your homework on this virus and consider retracting this article.
Rosanne MacQuarrie says
Thank for sharing your knowledge!
Eileen Halling says
You could say this but if you are over 60 and have a condition you could die. It is highly contagious and often fatal to our age group… and it’s one of you younger individuals we get it from because “ it’s no big deal” it is a big deal to us!!
Donald L. Tague says
Best advice and comments I have heard since the virus was discovered
James Gemmill says
Great advice from soneone who experienced it all
Steve wix says
Lovely article ,the good doctor deserves cudos for his attempt to stem the wave of panic and concern over this global pandemic.
Just remember that this virus has been killing approx 2-3 % of people who have become infected and also almost 20% of those who are infected need to be hospitalized.
Other than this there is nothing to be concerned about just wash your hands and don’t panic and everything will be ok…
Sarah Tackett says
Thank you so very much for this article! I am 80 years old and I refuse to join the “panic” group. I will be as careful as I can and stay prayed up, outside of that, I intend to keep right on enjoying my life.