These are unsettling times for everyone. In trying times it's easy to forget that we all have a common history in facing uncertain medical crises. While COVID-19 has disrupted the medical community, financial markets, and life as we know it we have faced frightening viruses before. This one will shake us to our core and we will emerge different and stronger. We will learn from this.
A generation before, my father treated patients during the height of the polio epidemic. His first five patients died and he grieved and then worried about whether he could transmit the virus back to his young family. But he never thought about stepping away from the epidemic. Rather, he leaned forward and helped people.
Years later my test would come as AIDS plowed through San Francisco and I was a young surgeon at San Francisco General Hospital. What we learned about science and a sense of humanity changed how we treat the ill and transformed our knowledge of infections like Hepatitis C.
COVID-19 is a game-changer. Our hospital systems will adapt and change. We will discover new antiviral medications. And perhaps we will begin to look to beyond our own front doors and realize what a small, global, and interconnected species we really are. I do not believe we have seen the worst of this pandemic yet. But I am hopeful that when we emerge from this we will have discovered the best of what science, technology, and human kindness have to offer.
March 25, 2020