Medicine is a Moving Missile, Aiming for a Dangerous, Elusive Target

By HANS DUVEFELT

(Desperate times called for desperate measures.)

In the tech world, we have come to expect our devices to become outdated and obsolete very quickly. The biggest tech companies in the world didn’t even exist a few years ago. Bitcoin, a virtual currency which at least I can’t wrap my head around, seems to be more attractive than gold.

I get the sense most people embrace or at least accept the speed of change in tech.

But medical advances that occur rapidly are frightening to many people. Vaccine hesitancy, for example, involves concerns and characterizations like “unproven” and “guinea pigs”.

But can we as a society strive for and reward rapid progress in one area and reject it in another, especially if we feel threatened by outside forces or phenomena – be that a virus, climate change or the collapse of our economy’s infrastructure like supply chains and raw materials.

Tech has its own momentum, more driven by profit motives than altruistism or a desire just to make peoples lives better. Medicine clearly has profit as a driving force, but also a goal of improving life for people. Curing or mitigating disease must rank higher than making life more convenient.

But when a pandemic begins and its magnitude cannot be estimated, when the future of mankind and life on earth appear to be at stake – can we afford not to deploy the know-how and resources of medical science?

I am not an early adopter when it comes to drugs that claim to undo what people bring on themselves through their lifestyle choices. I’d rather nag them to do the non-drug things we know to be safe and effective. But facing a pandemic, what choice does mankind really have?

It seems easy now, a couple of years into the pandemic, to say that it isn’t as bad as it might have been. But we don’t know that for sure, we haven’t seen the end of it yet – the virus keeps mutating, in case anybody forgot.

You can’t stop innovation and we already live in a society where citizens are told to wear helmets, use seat belts, not drink and drive, not litter or pollute, not steal, rape or murder – and to get vaccinated before starting public school.

Freedom without concern for others is selfish. It breeds anarchy.

Hans Duvefelt is a Swedish-born rural Family Physician in Maine. This post originally appeared on his blog, A Country Doctor Writes, here.



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