Merigian Studios


Can I?

Officials tallied one hundred eighty-one thousand new cases of COVID-19; two hundred forty-four people have died. The election itself is over; President Trump continues his judicial arguments against the results. Pfizer's press release exaggerated the effectiveness of their vaccine, confusing one week's worth of data for efficacy and effectiveness. In some ways, Pzfizer's position is harmonious with the election results. Two business giants believe their scripted narratives, and both are trying to capitalize on them. It's a shameful day in our country.

The pandemic has not stopped with the conclusion of the election. It rages like the wildfires in California. The Santa Ana winds fuel the fires, the COVID-19 deniers refuse to wear masks, social distance, or accept the election results. These issues are entwined, contributing to a hellacious rise in cases. The most skillful surgeon could not separate them apart.

We should not consider rushing the deployment of any COVID-19 vaccine or therapeutic medications without proper evidence that either of them is effective and safe. Quick-fix programs are emerging rapidly, testing healthy human volunteers. Drug development requires manufacturers to cooperate fully with standard procedures; cutting corners might result in a disaster. We trust our government to keep us safe. So far, companies appear to be taking advantage of our circumstances.

How is it that the population of the United States has become so polarized? How is it that many of our citizens have very little respect for anyone else's opinion? I see patients daily; stress and confusion reign in them. Different stories emerge from conversations. It requires everyone to check out the potential truths. I learned many years ago, just because someone states something as fact does not mean it's true.

Twenty years ago, I attended a grand rounds presentation at The University of Tennessee, Memphis. The presenter was an Armenian-American researcher who also was the Dean of a prestigious medical school in the Northeast. He presented data on studies he performed on diabetes patients.

As he spoke and flipped through slide after slide, he discussed the drug's effectiveness on kidney disease in people with diabetes versus the placebo group. There was something unusual about the slides. He was rapidly moving through the tissue results as if he did not want the audience to examine them closely. I thought there was a magnification difference between the treatment group and the control group; it distorted drug treatment effects, making drug treatment look more effective than it was.

After he finished his presentation, I stood up. I asked him if the magnifications were different in the slides he presented; specifically, the treatment group magnified more than the placebo group. He looked stunned as I finished my questions. He answered, "Yes. The magnifications were different. I magnified the treatment group." Before he could say another word, the audience let out a collective "HUMMMM." The Dean was embarrassed that someone asked him a question that revealed his distortion of the data. There was no difference between the treatment and the placebo group. The drug was ineffective at preventing kidney disease in diabetic patients.

After the conclusion of the Grand Rounds conference, the Chairperson of Internal Medicine cornered me. He asked why I chose to embarrass the Dean in front of everyone in the audience. I told them I did not embarrass him; he embarrassed himself by presenting false information to everyone in the audience. The Chairperson was not happy with me nor my response. I clearly saw the honor amongst thieves.

My days in academic medicine were over. I needed to find a place to practice that allowed me the opportunity to work with the best facts in medicine. There is deceitfulness everywhere. It takes great courage and perseverance to find the truth in our world since corruption has excellent financial rewards, especially since many believe the ends justify the means.

In the next months to come, the COVID-19 pandemic will expand beyond everyone's imagination. It is likely another two hundred thousand people will die by the New Year. At the heart of the spread is continued disbelief that each of us must do their part to contain the virus. The public's once uncommon misconception that the news media is creating a false narrative about the Coronavirus is now considered truth by many nationalists.  Society no longer has any sense of delayed gratification for the immediate is the only feeling that matters. Suppose one connects the preposterous claims of vast voter fraud with the same narrative as COVID-19 news media conspiracy. In that case, we get about half of our population desiring to contain and control the virus. As we move forward in the time to come, we need eighty percent or more of our people to cooperate; that's not going to happen anytime soon.

I will continue to look for the truth about the pandemic and the practice of medicine in general. I hope everyone else continues to wear a mask and social distance. Our lives depend on it. Our community depends on it. The question is, can I rely on you to do your part?

Can I?


Posted by Caitlin Chittom at 1:42 PM
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