Which side you are on makes no difference to COVID-19.
I would love to eat Tiff’s Treats cookies all day and replace my #dadbod with six-pack abs. I no longer approve of my bald spot, and I wish I could still dunk a basketball. I would also enjoy time travel, teleportation, and the ability to “beam me up Scottie.”
Nutritional science, aging, and the laws of physics inhibit my ability to get what I want.
Science is very inconvenient.
Everyone has opinions about science these days. Our social media feeds are full of vitriolic opinions. I miss the days of puppy dogs, nostalgic high school photos, and our children’s latest achievement pics. Now we have neighbors screaming at each other about masks and school reopenings.
When it comes to COVID-19, everyone has an opinion.
But here is the deal.
COVID-19 does not care about our opinions. It is a virus.
Specifically, SARS-CoV-2 is an 80 nanometer enveloped, non-segmented, RNA virus containing single strands of RNA with crown-like spikes on the outer surface.
SARS-CoV-2 has no brain or thoughts. It does not think about anything at all. The virus is a random bit of fragmented RNA that attaches itself to a respiratory droplet and spreads from one person to another… and kills people.
The virus has no motivations. It is programmed to replicate. That is it. SARS-CoV-2 has no desires, intentions, or strategies. The only purpose of this small bit of genetic code is to reproduce itself as efficiently as possible.
Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash
We are entitled to our opinions
Everyone has a right to their own opinions. Adults may choose to believe anything they want.
Many Americans do not agree on the value of facemasks…except for scientists, epidemiologists, hospitals, The Center for Disease Control, The World Health Organization, The Joint Commission, The American Medical Association, and The National Institute of Health.
Some endorse the idea masks do not work, the virus is a hoax, and COVID-19 is no worse than the flu.
The thing is, science does not care what we think.
When we read a coronavirus story and react with emotions and feelings, SARS-CoV-2 pays no attention. The viral proliferation pathway is unswayed by our well-thought-out responses.
I have many personal feelings about the pandemic.
I wish COVID-19 would magically disappear.
I would like the simple act of coming home from work to stop being a potential threat to my family.
I want my kids to go back to school and to live a normal life.
I would like teachers to be safe to return to the classroom.
I want to eat inside a restaurant, hop on a plane, and enjoy a weekend in Las Vegas.
I do not enjoy wearing a grimy, sweaty mask all day at work.
I wish everyone would wear a mask and stop the spread of the virus.
I desperately do not want any of my pregnant patients to catch COVID-19, get sick, or die.
My wants, desires, and preferences do nothing to change the scientific reality. Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson once said, “The thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.”
Photo by Istock by Getty
We can not be dismissive of scientific evidence
The tension between opinions and science are on full display in the #reopenschools debate. There is a bipartisan agreement to find a way to get kids back in the classroom. The open question is how to do it safely.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said, “The science should not stand in the way” of reopening schools.
But if science is not going to guide decision making regarding the US Education system, how will we decide? Gut-instinct, coin toss, fortune tellers, or tarot cards? Or should we reopen schools based on intuition, faith, polling data, or political party?
Bending the science to match our desires will not work. The virus does not care whether we open schools or not. SARS-CoV-2 has no opinion.
The virus is not liberal or conservative. It is not a Republican or a Democrat. SARS-CoV-2 does not watch Sean Hannity or Rachel Maddow.
The virus will simply hop on board a respiratory particle and pass indiscriminately from one person to another. The virus’s spike proteins attach to cell surface ACE2 receptors, hijack the cell, and reproduce thousands of copies of itself.
Our political beliefs have no impact on viral function.
Scientists do not decide what we want the truth to be and then search for evidence to support our beliefs. Instead, we use the scientific method to answer the unknown. We generate a hypothesis, runs tests, and then prove or disprove the theory
Science is a search for the truth, not an effort to bolster our belief system.
SARS-CoV-2 is a bipartisan killer
Planet Earth has been exposed to a novel virus. No human is immune to COVID-19. Until a vaccine or an effective treatment is available, the safest course of action is for every American to live as though we are all asymptomatic carriers.
The current scientific evidence demonstrates the coronavirus pandemic is not a hoax or a left-wing conspiracy.
COVID-19 is a bipartisan killer.
Our Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC friends, families, and coworkers are catching COVID-19. Many will be hospitalized. Others will die. Each day the chances are increasing; each of us will be exposed to or know someone with coronavirus.
The evidence-based data shows the best way to fight the pandemic is to cover our face, respect social distancing, and wash our hands.
My strong opinions wanting the virus to go away will not change reality.
In the meantime, perhaps my life-saving mask will deter me from eating another Tiff’s Treat cookie.
Blog Author: Dr. Jeff Livingston
Main blog photo by: baiajaku Istock by Getty