Taking the COVID Pandemic Seriously—A “Middle Narrative”
Two extreme narratives about the COVID pandemic have polarized the American people—splitting families, friends, and communities apart. At one extreme is the narrative promoted by the US COVID Task Force, led by Dr. Anthony Fauci and supported by the CDC, NIH, WHO, and Johns Hopkins University. That narrative, which has been the prevailing one, has emphasized a very fearful perception of the viral threat and a very fearful reaction to it. At the other extreme is the counter-narrative promoted by Mr. Trump, which excessively downplays the threat posed by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
There is a “middle ground” narrative—one that takes the pandemic very seriously but avoids the above extremes. Although this “middle narrative” would likely make great sense to most Americans, the science upon which it is based has not been effectively explained, or at least such explanation has not been widely promoted. As a result, by default, most Americans have chosen to strongly support one of the extreme narratives or have remained silent—the latter out of understandable feelings of confusion, frustration, hopelessness, depression, fear of being shamed, or simply feeling too stressed out or too tired to deal with all this, or too overwhelmed by the scientific complexity of the pandemic, with too little time to study it.
A majority of the American population has seemingly sided with the Task Force narrative; a large minority has preferred the Trump narrative. These two opposing camps have become increasingly intolerant of and incensed by the position of the other camp. Throughout the pandemic there has been a paucity of healthy, respectful dialogue—particularly on the part of the leadership of each extreme narrative. Instead, discourse has been dominated by angry attacks, name calling, over-simplification, shaming, and accusations.
Although the Trump narrative has raised several important questions, it has included misunderstandings, over-statements, and lack of sound science. But, as explained in three accompanying companion articles, the Task Force narrative has also provided mis-leading information and exhibited unsound scientific practices—particularly regarding COVID PCR testing, collection of epidemiological data, development of public policy, and treatment of those with severe COVID illness.
The “middle” narrative acknowledges the seriousness of the pandemic (both the potential harm of the viral infection itself and the harmful consequences of mis-reactions to the viral threat), insists on rigorously scientific collection of quality data, encourages critical thinking and healthy public dialogue, and discourages both excessive fear and excessive complacency. This “middle” narrative focuses on sound science and common sense and seeks to clarify confusing information being promoted by the extreme narratives.
To begin with, the middle narrative critically examines:
- The use and interpretation of the COVID-19 PCR lab test.
- The quality of the data being collected and reported, regarding the numbers of COVID cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.
- The quality of treatment being offered to patients with severe COVID illness, and how treatment could be improved.
The middle narrative offers three companion articles that address the above issues. This trio of articles is intended to bring people in from the extremes, so that they can engage in productive, respectful dialogue.
The most effective way to conquer the COVID pandemic is to take it seriously in a comprehensive, multi-dimensional manner. For example:
- Seriously examine and understand the COVID PCR test that has played the most fundamental role in COVID diagnosis, epidemiologic study, and public policy.
- Seriously examine the quality of the epidemiologic data that have played the major role in creating public policy.
- Seriously examine the quality of clinical care provided to patients with severe COVID illness.
- Seriously examine the wisdom and outcome of governmental and public health responses to the COVID pandemic.
- Seriously examine the safety, efficacy, necessity, science, wisdom, and ethics of the vaccination campaign.
- Seriously examine the origins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and how emergence of future threatening pathogens might be prevented.
- Seriously examine why the COVID pandemic has occurred and unfolded the way it has.
- Seriously examine how this COVID pandemic is transforming Human existence: What path are we now following? What kind of a world is being created in response to this pandemic—economically, geopolitically, socially, technologically, philosophically, culturally, and spiritually?
Only through critical thinking, sound science, quality data, accurate information, healthy public dialogue, and true democracy will we be able to conquer this pandemic and mend the serious damage done by polarization and current pandemic practices and responses. It is hoped that this article and its companion articles might facilitate that process.
(Longer, more detailed and heavily referenced versions of the above three articles, and other relevant articles, may be found on the “notes from the social clinic” website.)
Rob Rennebohm, MD
About the Author: https://notesfromthesocialclinic.org/about-me/