'In the beginning, ending up on a ventilator was basically a death sentence,' Dr. Alex Busko writes. 'Now, there's a decent chance we can save your life. The one thing we haven't figured out yet is how to convince someone to save their own.' | CNNOpinion
Alex Busko, sharing what he's seen as unvaccinated patients get admitted into the hospital with Covid-19 complications, writes that he lost count of how many young healthy Covid-19 patients he cared for in the emergency room who just never imagined that they -- of all people -- could become seriously ill.
(CNN)During my final months of residency training in Florida this past spring, I lost count of how many young, healthy Covid-19 patients I cared for in the emergency room who just never imagined that they -- of all people -- could become seriously ill.
In the early stages of the pandemic, my sickest patients were almost exclusively older people with chronic health problems. But after the vaccine rollout and the giddy days of"reopening" -- followed by the arrival of the more contagious Delta variant -- all that changed.Alex BuskoNow the patients I see, frightened and struggling to breathe, are mostly in their 30s, 40s and 50s. They come from different racial and socioeconomic backgrounds. Many of them have no identifiable risk factors. The one thing many of them have in common: They are all unvaccinated. The more than 40% of Americans who remain unvaccinated now account for 97% of all Covid-19 hospitalizations and 99.2% of deaths. Hundreds of Americans are dying every day from a vaccine-preventable illness. About seven months ago, at the beginning of the vaccine rollout, the United States was averaging more than 3,000 deaths each day -- for nearly a month. The surge in cases back then pushed hospitals across this country to their breaking point. People with cancer and chronic illnesses had their treatments interrupted. Without the tens of millions of Americans who lined up to get the vaccine last winter, there is no telling how long that would have gone on. Read MoreHalf of America has rolled up its sleeve and done its part so we can all move on from this. My colleagues and I have been working tirelessly for over a year to end this pandemic. But here we are, staring down the barrel of yet another wave of death. What a senseless, self-inflicted wound.Doctor: The heartbreaking Covid cases I'm seeingOne patient I cared for, an unvaccinated man in his late 30s, was only a few days into his illness and was already severely short of breath and requiring oxygen. Neither his clinical appearance nor his chest X-ray was particularly encouraging. I told him that there was a good chance he would get worse and that he would need to be admitted to the hospital. He asked me if I could give him the vaccine before he got worse, seemingly unaware that it does not treat the disease or cure you once you become infected. Many of my patients exhibit stunning levels of ignorance when it comes to this disease and the vaccine, which, it's worth noting, has so far saved an estimated 275,000 lives and prevented over a million hospitalizations in the US alone, according to research from Yale University and the Commonwealth Fund.Healthcare workers tend to a patient with Covid-19 who is having difficulty breathing in a Covid holding pod at Providence St. Mary Medical Center in Apple Valley, California.The list of debunked myths and misinformation I hear -- presented to me as fact -- grows longer by the day. No wonder the US Surgeon General has called Covid-19 misinformation an"urgent threat" to public health.I hear often from patients that the vaccine development was"rushed" or that it hasn't been"studied enough" despite the fact that the Covid-19 vaccine was assessed for safety in tens of thousands of patients -- far more than widely-used drugs like Viagra were. More than 3.8 billion doses have been administered worldwide, over 340 million of them right here in the US. Many of these same patients, unwilling to be what they term as vaccine"guinea pigs," end up hospitalized, deeply regretting their decision. Ironically, pretty much every therapy that hospitals have used to treat Covid-19 -- like dexamethasone, remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, and monoclonal antibodies like tocilizumab, sotrovimab, bamlanivimab -- has far less data behind it than the vaccine does. Another young man in his 20s with no pre-existing medical conditions was admitted to a Florida hospital in the spring after catching Covid-19 at a concert. He quickly ended up on a ventilator. Though I was not involved in his care, the story has been widely reported by CNN and others. He spent several months in the intensive care unit and ended up on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO, a last-ditch therapy that uses a machine to oxygenate your blood outside of the body. He ultimately underwent a double lung transplant and is expected to recover. Many young women tell me they are concerned about infertility or miscarriage, despite there being zero scientific evidence to support such fears. In fact, there is now a large body of evidence that vaccination is safe before and during pregnancy, and it's recommended by both the American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. The risk to mom and baby posed by Covid-19 is real and cannot be overstated. Pregnancy increases a woman's risk of severe illness, respiratory failure requiring intubation and death from Covid-19. Pregnant women are also more likely to go into premature labor, and their baby is more likely to require admission to the neonatal intensive care unit. I will never forget some of the pregnant women I have seen with this disease. Early on in the rollout, one young woman I cared for, so young she did not yet qualify for the vaccine, presented severe respiratory failure, and she underwent an emergency Caesarean section to save her baby. In the ICU, she developed multi-organ failure and spent weeks in critical condition. Her child will never truly understand how close he came to growing up without a mom. It sounds strange to say this, but the patients I've just described are some of the lucky ones. We still do not understand why this virus causes mild symptoms in some people but severe organ failure and death in others. I have seen bedbound nursing home patients get asymptomatic infections and teenagers end up on ventilators, and I have read numerous case reports of young athletes in peak physical condition who die from this. I cannot urge people strongly enough not to mistake their youth or good health for invincibility. Get our free weekly newsletterSign up for CNN Opinion's new newsletter.
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GovHowardDean Opinion FoxNews , the GQP and social media need to be held accountable. Opinion Yep. I have to say I honestly have no compassion for these people Opinion Folks need to adapt to this new normal. Opinion Do you mean by making sure our body is healthy and keeping it that way? Opinion As a person whom learns about, and teaches about microbes, I agree with everything in this piece. My fellow Americans dying from a vaccine preventable disease, in 2021, is beyond tragic.
Opinion Anyone who wanted to get vaccinated, is vaccinated. These opinions/articles are just a waste of time. The next step is to physically capture the unvaccinated and forcibly inject them. They will need to catch me first. 🏃♂️ Opinion Does he same the same thing to diabetics, smokers, drinkers, obese people, etc?
Opinion Can we all stop referring to them as rational actors. They’re religious radicals martyring themselves with a virus not a bomb. They’re actively engaged in overthrowing the government in service to their god. They’re Christian Jihadist Opinion My body my choice has gone out the window. For now on when someone says ‘my body my choice’ it’s no longer a valid argument argument because the majority says you gotta inject something in your body. It’s like forced sterilization in a way. Very China like.
Opinion Opinion you cant fix stupid
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Opinion No thanks , I’ll choose my own fate ☠️ Opinion We shouldn’t waste valuable hospital resources on vaccine deniers. They made a choice. Let them live (or die) with it. Save the beds and ventilators for those who deserve them. Opinion Don’t go to the ER. It’s death. That’s what’s up. Opinion Natural selection at play. Do not interfere.
Opinion Since they can’t blame Trump anymore, they are blaming the unvaccinated! Opinion 🤺🤺🕸 Opinion The best choice I've made this year was investing in cryptocurrency and forex trading and earning from home. With the help of SoniaCortney1 I've been earning $7500 weekly I've never regretted this decision.
Opinion You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. Opinion Life is precious, but freedom is priceless. Opinion It’s okay…. Glad to hear they have a better chance at living. Just send them the bill! 🤗 Think our health insurance premiums are going up this years…? 🤔
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Opinion The doctor was so polite in conveying the message that 'We have no medicine for stupidity'. Opinion But that orange koolaid is delicious and owns libs! Opinion Opinion Send them the BILL. Opinion I wish people understood the big picture here. Opinion Do you know what’s a bad idea? Spending millions of dollars trying to save the lives of people who for political reasons refused to get a vaccine that could have prevented their illness. Let COVID martyrdom be their last glorious “patriotic” act in support of their orange god.
Opinion Has nothing to do with an agenda specific government pushing a non fda approved vaccine by greedy big pharma for profit. Opinion I would have asked the doctor do you feel like a virus spreading infections everywhere? Opinion Ironically crazy😂😂.. Skepticism cant be downplayed though Opinion Ain't that the truth! But we haven't done such a good job of saving the lives of smokers, excessive drinkers, and drug addicts either.
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