Dear Editor:

One of the best sources for helpful information on the COVID-19 epidemic has been Bloomberg School of Public Health located at John Hopkins University. If you subscribe, you receive emails or you can get podcasts and Instagram updates (https://www.instagram.com/p/CZZ1qfihmC2/) on its website. The COVID-19 Instagram graphics are some of the best available. They can be especially good educational materials for grade school and high school teachers.

Recently Bloomberg School epidemiologist David Dowdy wrote that when it’s working, public health is invisible: Its success is measured in injuries that didn’t happen or outbreaks that didn’t occur. However, COVID-19 put public health failures in the spotlight. News concerning public health over the past two years has been mostly bad. Why all the controversies and changes in recommendations? Dr. Dowdy suggests it is time to consider the major “pandemic successes”:

1. Vaccines saved over 1 million lives in the U.S. That’s equivalent to the population of San Jose.

2. During last winter’s outbreak, public health measures like physical distancing and wearing masks helped evade 5,000 deaths a day.

3. These successes were accomplished while getting unemployment back nearly to pre-pandemic levels.

The current Omicron wave didn’t limit public mobility and we are “living almost at the same level as we were before the pandemic, just with masks on, in some places,” and this was made possible by “vaccination, testing and other public health action.”

Dr. Dowdy concluded that the pandemic has been “the biggest public health threat of our time,” and the response has not always been perfect, but the accomplishments are incredible. The mRNA vaccines were the work of the prior decade of research that came available at the right time. This pandemic has spurred research to new levels that should give us better tools.

Maybe some talented young people will become interested in careers in public health.

Vic Froelicher

Half Moon Bay

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