The following open letter was issued by Dr. Joycelyn Elders, former U.S. Surgeon General and Co-Initiator of the Committee for the Coincidence of Opposites.
It is unfortunate that while the world is now 20 months into the coronavirus pandemic, it has yet to adopt a unified educational and public information campaign to educate all of the world’s people as to what we all must do. Pandemics do not respond to election cycles, declarations of war, stock market fluctuations or media campaigns. They respond to vigorous, competent, relentless public health measures, in combination with medical breakthroughs required to address new situations. Pandemics, by their nature, cannot be defeated locally or regionally, but must be addressed globally, with global cooperation and collaboration.
Though different governments have experienced varying degrees of success, we all know the sobering reality. We have now passed the grim milestone of over 5 million deaths worldwide from COVID-19. This figure is undoubtedly higher, since many deaths in parts of the world may not have been reported.
New cases of COVID-19 are now skyrocketing in parts of Europe. In Austria, a new lockdown has been imposed. In Germany, 5,000 ICU beds have been eliminated over the last year, during the pandemic, and medical triage is now being contemplated for critically ill patients requiring ICU care. The United States is far from out of the woods, with over 1,000 deaths per day for the past several weeks. Large portions of Africa, Asia, and South America, and other parts of the world with impoverished and famine-stricken populations await, like Petri dishes, for the arrival of the next wave of devastating infections.
Yet still now, after 20 months of suffering the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world still does not have an adequate, comprehensive, unified approach to solving this crisis. The lack of information or outright disinformation, on the part of far too many people, is contributing to an increasingly untenable situation.
On behalf of the Committee for the Coincidence of Opposites, I am calling upon virologists and medical experts throughout the globe to undertake an international, coordinated and integrated educational campaign to establish a sane approach to deal with this and potentially future pandemics.
This campaign should include clear exposition of the following:
- What is a pandemic?
- How must a pandemic be fought?
- What is public health and how must we join forces to implement tried and tested basic public health measures, including sanitation, clean water and nutritious food, and the provision of preventive and ameliorative medicines, including vaccines, essential to defeating this pandemic?
- What is the comparative efficacy of the various vaccines and other measures now deployed in different nations and regions in preventing serious illness and death?
- How do we provide adequate numbers of hospitals, health facilities and medical personnel in every nation, including the systematic recruitment of youth community health workers to assist now, as the pandemic is brought under control?
Seventy-six years ago, at the close of World War II, the world said “Never Again” to “depraved indifference,” which is the deadly virus that must be fought to prevent the uncontrolled spread of death and disease. What the world now requires, to address the ensemble of diseases we could be facing, is the establishment of a modern healthcare system in every nation, including food, clean and safe water, electricity, decent housing, sanitation, roads and other infrastructure.
The world’s healers must step up now, to do the job that has not been done. We must educate the people so that Science may supersede superstition, hope may conquer despair, and concern for all humanity overturns a self-destructive concern for just a select few of humanity. I ask the worldwide medical community to join this effort.
Dr. Joycelyn Elders
Former Surgeon General of the United States
Co-Initiator Committee for the Coincidence of Opposites
November 23, 2021