To the editor:

I want to thank Pam Poulin for her letter to the editor of May 20 (“Don’t compare coronavirus to the flu”).

In that letter, Ms. Poulin refuted the assertions made by an earlier letter writer that the COVID-19 pandemic is little more than a seasonal flu, and that efforts to contain it amount to “government overreach.”

On both counts, nothing could be further from the truth.

Ms. Poulin cited various statistics to back up her position.

I’d like to provide a few more.

The White House’s own coronavirus task force has calculated that, by early June, the United States will likely be experiencing 3,000 COViD-19 deaths daily.

That same task force projects the number of new infections could reach as many as 200,000 per day nationally over the course of the summer — especially if mitigation and prevention efforts are relaxed or ended prematurely.

In addition, evidence is quickly mounting that COVID-19 is anything but a typical influenza.

This virus, much like HIV, can cross the blood-brain barrier. The result is, over the last few months, doctors have seen an alarming number of people in their 30s and 40s suffering often debilitating strokes weeks after having seemed to recover from the initial infection.

The virus causes circulatory system problems that result in people needing to have toes, fingers and even portions of limbs amputated.

Acutely ill patients can experience kidney problems so severe that dialysis is required to treat them

Studies coming out of Singapore, South Korea and Vietnam indicate perhaps as many as 4 in 10 “recovered” patients can lose as much as 30% percent of their pre-infection lung capacity.

And now there is a virus-related Kawasaki disease-like syndrome causing severe illness and death in growing numbers of children and teens.

In short, as Ms. Poulin pointed out in her letter, COVID-19 is no ordinary influenza, nor are the efforts to contain and control it “government overreach.”

This June will mark the 39th “anniversary” of the dawn of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the United States. For the 20 years that followed, that pandemic dominated my personal and professional life.

I always thought the AIDS pandemic would be the worst and scariest public health crisis I would witness in my lifetime. I was wrong.

The coronavirus pandemic makes the HIV/AIDS pandemic look like a day at the beach. Why? Because, unlike HIV, the Corona/Covid virus is efficiently spread through the kinds of everyday, casual contact we have taken for granted all our lives.

Finally, on my walks around the city, I have heard growing numbers of people talking about a vaccine, as if one is right around the corner.

To those folks I say, “It has been 39 years since the dawn of the AIDS pandemic, and the world is still waiting for a vaccine.”

Michael Cook


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