We’re in a crisis that only doctors, scientists and Big Pharma can end

globe with a mask and text coronavirus

I spend a lot of time writing to, for and about people who are profoundly cynical regarding medicine, science and pharmaceutical companies. Some are sure that doctors are useless, if not harmful. They feel free to ignore expert scientific advice (e.g. climate change) and they are absolutely certain that Big Pharma provides nothing that has value beyond making a profit.

Now all of us, including the cynical, are in the midst of a global crisis that will ONLY be treated and solved by healthcare, medications/medical devices and ultimately vaccines.

What do you think of doctors, scientists and Big Pharma now?

I’d like to ask the cynical: what do you think of doctors, scientists and Big Pharma now?

What do you think of doctors now?

Still think they care only about themselves? Then why are they working flat out in hospitals, exposing themselves to a virus that could be just as deadly for them as it is for you?

Still think they’re arrogant? Then why are they the first to admit that they don’t know much about the novel coronavirus? Why are they telling anyone who will listen that they have no specific medications to treat it, not enough ventilators to care for the most severely affected patients and no vaccines to prevent it?

Still think they only provide services for profit? Then why are they caring for anyone who is ill, regardless of ability to pay?

What do you think of scientists now?

Still think it’s okay to ignore their warnings? Then why did the countries who responded immediately and aggressively manage to “flatten the curve” so their healthcare systems aren’t overwhelmed? Why is it that China, a country that ruthlessly instituted every public health recommendation, has managed to contain the epidemic when others cannot?

Still think their work is esoteric and impractical? Then how did they manage to sequence the COVID 19 genome in only a few weeks, the first step to understanding how to get this pandemic under control?

Still think we don’t need basic science research? Would it change your mind to know that scientists had been developing a vaccine for coronaviruses in preparation for future epidemics but had their Federal funding cut and had to give up? Imagine how many things would be different now if a vaccine existed or were far along in clinical trials. We would not be facing a mounting death toll, our economy would not be grinding to a halt, we would not be stuck in our homes because our only tool of prevention is social distancing.

What do you think of Big Pharma now?

Still think their products exist only for profit? If you get very sick are you planning to refuse the antiviral medications that might help you recover faster? If you have severe difficulty breathing will you refuse the ventilator that would keep you alive?

Still think vaccines are ineffective? Then why doesn’t Big Pharma simply announce they have a coronavirus vaccine? Who would be able to tell the difference if vaccines don’t work anyway?

Still think Big Pharma shouldn’t have special legal protections to induce them to produce a vaccine that — because it will never be perfect — will end up spawning lawsuits that make the production unprofitable? An effective vaccine against COVID 19 could end the pandemic in days, not the weeks or months we are looking at now.

How fast do you want it developed? Do you want Big Pharma to spend years testing it and refusing to release it until they satisfy themselves that it won’t cause them to lose money from lawsuits? Or do you want them to bring it to market as soon as reasonably possible with the understanding that a small number of people may be harmed?

Still deeply cynical about doctors, scientists and Big Pharma? Who do you think will save you if not them?