On getting COVID-19

I tested positive for COVID-19 early last week. The first thought in my mind was, “How in the world..?”

Anyone who knows me knows that even during normal times, I like to stay by myself, away from as many humans as I can. During the pandemic, I was more than happy to be able to officially double down on that. I also followed all precautions with utmost care. And yet the virus got through. I’ll never know the source but I suspect I got it from one of the few people I did interact with.

I had no physical symptoms though, which was good. Nevertheless, I got admitted to an isolation center out of precaution for my Mom, who is only partially vaccinated yet due to unavailability of vaccines in India. Since my case was mild, I had been feeling normal throughout. They gave me a lot of injections and tablets though, which I understand are prescribed to every such patient as precautionary general immunity boosters regardless of their body’s state. Basically, it’s just to reduce the chances of the virus finding weak points in your body and taking hold. My stay at the isolation center lasted for 8 days, and now I’m back home perfectly normal.

I continued working while I was there. I published an article on my space blog plus the latest issue of my Moon exploration newsletter, and submitted a draft to a publication. I’d like to publicly thank and credit the brave service workers there for these articles. It’s only because of them that I had my basic needs sorted, and could just focus on working.

While I was there, my respect for the healthcare workers only increased, in major part to the following observations:

  • They sleep for 4 hours.
  • They never complain about their work.
  • They always talk to you with empathy.
  • They never say no to numerous requests by patients.

Remember these facts the next time you feel inconvenienced sitting at home, or complain about your deteriorated lifestyle in the pandemic. People at large have been behaving irresponsibly since this whole fiasco started, with no respect for the pandemic guidelines, and that has only made life harder for every healthcare worker.

Modern medicine

To end this post, I want to note something about anti-vaxxers. About people who claim antibiotics aren’t good for your health. Those who claim that somehow our body is naturally capable of fighting pretty much everything given enough time. Well, here’s a chart of average life expectancy of humans in the last 250 years, pre and post the invention of modern medicine.

Modern medicine has more than doubled average life expectancy throughout the world. Credit: Max Roser, Our World in Data

Now, a key reason for this low number until recent times is the commonality of child death, so the average around the 30-year mark isn’t as bad as it would seem but is nevertheless undesirably low. To contemplate that for most of human history, most people lived no more than 40–50 years is mind boggling. Modern medicine has literally more than doubled life expectancy across the world, and continues to push boundaries. Because it’s based on facts, elaborate experimentation, and a rigorous scientific process. If our so-called ancestors were really so wise and advanced, the world wouldn’t have suffered from a dire history of plagues and outbreaks. If ancient texts really had solutions to modern problems, every country with such history would’ve been exporting products to the world to end the pandemic. We know they didn’t.

If you don’t take vaccines out of some irrational fear of getting side effects, realize that you’re weighing your life against what are arguably minor potential health issues. Not just that, you’re also risking the lives of people around you. Not taking a vaccine isn’t your decision to make alone.

Go out and do the right thing. And thank the right people.

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