Dr. Ricardo Maldonado

I am not asking to change your political views or your faith. All I am asking is for you to truly think about who to trust when it comes to Covid-19.

Infectious disease experts have trained continually throughout their professional careers to fight infections and pandemics. We know how to understand and interpret research papers and studies. We can go through medical information quickly and differentiate between what is a good study and what is a bad study. 

Trying to do that yourself is like trying to put together complicated artillery equipment when the enemy is pointing their guns at us. It’s time to let the experts guide you.

During this time of reflection, please allow me to address certain concerns and/or false information:  

1. Covid-19 is not bad; it only kills 1 percent. Do you think 1 out of 100 is good? Would you raffle your life with those odds? One in a hundred chances of dying is awful. That would be over 3.3 million deaths in the U.S. alone. The argument is just plain wrong.

2. Masks and vaccines are for scared people. Covid-19 can kill anyone, even healthy people. I had Covid-19 in August 2020. I had mild symptoms for a day. If I had not needed to get tested for my job, I probably wouldn’t have been tested. I am not scared of Covid-19, but I am fully vaccinated because it decreases the chances of transmitting the virus to others and decreases the chances of hospitalization. My wish is that people would look at who all have chosen to be vaccinated (95 percent of physicians and almost every political leader) and know that we would not choose the vaccine if we felt there was any concern. Please join me in leading by example, so that together we can save the lives of friends and family.  

3. Vaccines for Covid-19 should not be mandatory (My body, my choice). I agree, vaccines should not have to be mandatory, but I say that because it is safe and effective. Anyone with a sense of responsibility for themselves, their families and their communities should do it. There should be no need for mandates. 

4. God made us perfect, including our immune system. We are indeed made in the image of God, but we live in an imperfect world. As human beings, we are all flawed. As such, we need a combination of God’s help and the best available resources to cope with the imperfections of this world. Our immune systems are not perfect and that is why we have antibiotics and vaccines. They are the reason we live longer than our ancestors.

5. I will trust my health and my family’s health to God. I also trust God and ask for His protection and guidance daily to help fight Covid-19. During 2020, we all prayed for deliverance from this modern-day plague. I believe the vaccines for Covid-19 are the answer to our prayers. With help from God (the “Divine Physician”), the vaccines, and the Covid infusions, we will defeat this terrible virus. This partnership sustains me and our healthcare team, and gives us hope.

6. I am tougher than this virus. This virus has killed more people than any illness in our lifetime. If you are lucky enough/healthy enough to only have a mild illness — and act like everything is normal — you could be spreading it to someone that it may kill. Please use your toughness and courage to think and care about others in our community. That is real strength and power.  

7. I have a friend who took hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) or ivermectin and after 5 days, he was fine. It works! No, it doesn’t. Many patients will get better without any treatment (remember the 90-99 percent survival rate?). Those patients will survive Covid-19 because they were going to survive Covid-19 anyway, like over 90 percent do. It was not the ivermectin he took, or your friend relying solely on vitamins. The only way to know if a medication works is to do a thorough study that can be interpreted by experts. 

8. Covid-19 is easy to treat with hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and ivermectin: We tried hydroxychloroquine at the beginning of the pandemic as we were desperate to find something to treat Covid-19. Our experience was expectedly bad as we learned later on from studies that it did not show any benefit.

Ivermectin was used extensively in countries where it is almost free and is an over-the-counter medication (like in my home country of Peru). So, how did that work for them? They had the highest death rates in the world. Sorry, but HCQ or ivermectin will NOT save your life. If your physician is still promoting the use of those drugs instead of promoting a safe and effective vaccine, you should start questioning this advice.    

Let me assure you that there’s plenty of excellent information about the safety of vaccines — including the Covid-19 vaccines. Please understand that if everyone were vaccinated, our ICU would not be full of Covid-19 patients, including parents of young children. The vaccines are not perfect, but they are very good, and are the best option we have right now. There is also good information about monoclonal antibodies helping in early cases, but availability is an issue.     

Trust me, Covid-19 vaccines and monoclonal antibody infusions—in that order—are the best weapons we have. Trying to rely on ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine is like bringing nail clippers to a war as your weapon of choice. 

Ricardo Maldonado, M.D. is an Infectious Diseases specialist and is the sole practitioner with East Alabama Infectious Disease. He joined the medical staff at EAMC in 2009. Dr. Maldonado is leading the clinical response to Covid-19 at East Alabama Medical Center.

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