While I am practicing social distancing, I am constantly listening to the news and read about the new virus and epidemic. My attention was attracted to an Opinion article, written by Dr. Ioannidis, a Greek immigrant, professor in epidemiology at Stanford University, cited in the New York Times. He is of the opinion that “draconian measures to fight the epidemic might produce more damage rather than benefit”. It gives an example of an elephant (humanity) being attacked by a house cat (virus). The elephant, frustrated, is trying to avoid the cat (measures against the epidemic), and accidentally jumps off a cliff and dies. These thoughts make you think about whether we should follow these strong policies. In the same section another epidemiologist, Dr. Marc Lipsitch of Harvard, writes and states clearly, using scientific arguments, that “even if we don’t have a lot of important scientific data, we know enough to act, and it is imperative that we act strongly and swiftly.” He concludes “waiting and hoping for a miracle is not an option.” As I am trying to analyze all these conflicting opinions my attention is next attracted by an article of dear Mr. Diamataris. The title: Do we act in a hurry under the threat of fear? Now I am thinking. What should I feel after these mixed messages, this confusion about the situation? How severe is it? What measures do we need or don’t need to take in reaction to the epidemic, which has now spread to the media and the entire public?
As I hold the newspaper, my mind is travelling and soon arrives in a historic and tragic place of our homeland. Mesolongi. I recall the secret attempt of Mesolongites to escape from the Turkish siege in the middle of the night. As a result of confusing messages from the leaders, they act improperly, they panic, and they get slaughtered by the Turks. I begin dreaming of a leader who will organize a virtual conference of epidemiologists who will put down their knowledge and whatever science they have and decide about optimal solutions to which they all agree. The leader will apply their recommendations. As I come out of dreaming, I am thinking that I need to act. And I start writing.
George C Andrinopoulos, MD, FACOG