My Turn, Aerik Williams: Some things remain certain about COVID-19 pandemic

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 30, 2020

By Aerik Williams

COVID-19 has been an unwelcome guest in our country for many months now.

In its wake lies the gains realized by our economy, the employment of millions of Americans and the many lives lost to this pernicious virus. Despite the calamity Americans remain resolute and ready to get back to “normal,” though it seems obvious to me that a new “normal” is on our horizon.

There are many unanswered questions regarding our future direction. When can our kids go back to school full-time? When will we be able to shake hands again? When will we be able to breathe within 6 feet of other human beings without wearing a mask? Will people ever stop giving me a death stare for coughing in public?

There is no individual who can answer these questions with surety. I would beware anyone who suggests otherwise. The complexities of COVID-19 are endless. There is concern that the virus will mutate, rendering those with history of prior infection susceptible to an ever-changing strain. There is concern that those with history of prior infection will not create neutralizing antibodies, essentially eliminating any hope for protection. After all, the coronavirus is a cause of common cold and kids rarely get sick only once per year. Dr. Anthony Fauci warns that COVID may mimic the influenza virus, becoming more virulent in the late fall and winter months.

We are seeing such in the Southern Hemisphere, which is currently experiencing the turn to colder weather.

As a trained clinical immunologist, this is the first time I’ve experienced such uncertainty, and I can say without hesitation that this is also true for the majority of my colleagues. Senior physicians have told me that current times evoke eerie remembrances of the HIV epidemic. There is no person or entity that has a firm grasp on this virus or its trends.

With that being said, there are a few things of which I am certain. It is advantageous for all of us to wash our hands, socially distance and wear a mask when appropriate. I’m pleased to work in a community that has taken these recommendations seriously, hence the few number of deaths outside certain hotspots.

I also encourage those willing to follow many of our leads and participate in a clinical trial for a vaccine at PMG Research of Salisbury. In my years as a physician, the greatest blessing I’ve been bestowed is saving a human life. We are all now charged with this responsibility.

Dr. Aerik Williams is a practicing Allergist and Immunologist at Allergy Partners of Rowan-Salisbury and author of a memoir “Aerik’s Anatomy.”