THE KDK REPORT: The world shuts down

THERE are some days when getting out of bed comes with great ease and other times when it is a hard-fought mountainous struggle.

The latter rang true for a 40-year-old married mother-of-two in early March 2020. On the heels of losing both her mother and father-in law in a tragic accident, she awoke to a feeling of complete fatigue with a nagging headache. As a non-insulin dependent diabetic, she immediately checked her blood sugar but it was within the normal range.

Her husband, a police officer, exhibited similar symptoms the week prior so she assumed it was the flu and proceeded with her day. Over the next few days her symptoms worsened to include fever, a dry cough, diffuse body ache and chest pain.

She saw her family doctor, was diagnosed with the flu and prescribed Tylex Flu and Allegra. When that didn’t work, she returned and was prescribed a course of oral steroids and antibiotics which helped for two days. Her breathing soon became so constricted and laboured that walking less than five steps caused severe gasping for air. She was rushed to the Princess Margaret Hospital and immediately placed on oxygen. A COVID-19 test was additionally performed two weeks after her symptoms first appeared and results were positive.

At the time, the number of cases in The Bahamas was less than 50 (we’re now at 14,654 recovered and 2883 active) and very little was known about this virus so treatment options were few and far between. Accordingly, she was released from the hospital after one night and advised to take over-the-counter cough medicine as needed.

Every time she coughed it sounded like an intense drum beat; the vibrations rocking both her chest and vocal cords. Her symptoms persisted unabated and were so severe she opted to self-treat with a nebulizer, oral antibiotics, ginger tea and vitamins.

During this time several other members of her family exhibited COVIS- 19 symptoms, albeit not as severely. It took six weeks for her symptoms to subside entirely and to this day she describes it as one of the scariest times in her life.

Her sister continues to experience shortness of breath a full year later and has to be nebulized at least once a week. Her struggles were exacerbated by the fact that 11 months after contracting COVID-19 her husband’s aorta burst and he had to have emergency heart surgery. Fortunately, he survived but questions remain regarding what role, if any, COVID-19 played in his disease progress.

This pandemic has plagued the entire world and wrought global economic devastation most disconcertingly felt by Third World countries. We remain knee-deep in this health crisis which in fact appears to have only gotten worse after a brief sabbatical of confident assurance that we were winning the battle.

While most people infected with COVID-19 will develop only mild to moderate symptoms and recover without hospitalization, in less than two years since its emergence there remains 196 million cases and over four million deaths worldwide attributed to this disease.

The greatest safeguard currently at our disposal is to get vaccinated but the stigma and misinformation surrounding the various vaccines available has left The Bahamas lagging at near last with regards to country inoculation rates.


Dr Merceline Dahl-Regis

Dr Merceline Dahl- Regis, public health pioneer and former Chief Medical Officer, has continuously expounded the virtues of getting vaccinated but even health care workers within the public hospital system (whom arguably have the absolute greatest exposure risk) are refusing to do so.

The argument among detractors that it causes blood clots and poses an unnecessary health risk are not without merit but that risk is mitigated by the chance of dying from COVID-19 and the fact that blood clots are similarly associated with taking birth control, pregnancy, surgery, smoking, prolonged inactivity and obesity to name a few.

Other arguments like it’s a way for Bill Gates and the government to control the world population, implant magnetic chips and track us, create zombies and/or give rise to mass extinction quite literally spans the absolute vortex of absurdity.

Others that state the vaccine was made too quickly so they want to wait and see have little understanding of the fact that the vaccine wasn’t synthesized from scratch. There are hundreds of coronaviruses – most notably those that cause the common cold and were blamed for the SARS epidemic in 2002 - so their structure, genome and life cycle have been studied for over 50 years. Having access to that existing data, early funding and removal of government red-tape is what fostered and accelerated COVID-19 vaccine development.

French President Emmanuel Macron in mid- July stated that citizens of France must be fully vaccinated to shop in grocery stores. This rule already exists in Italy, where you also have to be fully vaccinated to enter shops and sporting arenas. Germany appears to be following suit as will Russia and China should their numbers continue to spike unabated.

The Bahamas already restricts indoor dining to only the fully vaccinated and I suspect further restrictions will come once it is mainstream in the US and Canada. Since it’s been safe for airlines to resume travel, it’s been postulated that they will restrict flights as well.

I believe that in short order getting vaccinated will be paramount should citizens wish to maintain their civil liberties and not have them encroached further. That then calls into question how much of these liberties are we as a nation willing to forego to protect ourselves and our loved ones? And will these protectionary measures in time be viewed as sound measures of national security or purely bombastic government over-reach? It also beggars the question, what responsibility do we hold to protect those around us and what are their responsibilities to us?

The ramifications of this pandemic are far reaching and it will be with us for many, many years to come. I encourage everyone to consult with your family physician and loved ones and give serious consideration to getting vaccinated as soon as possible. Wear a mask, sanitize frequently and please call your healthcare provider immediately if you are having any symptoms or have been exposed to anyone with symptoms of COVID-19.

Nick-named ‘The Prince of Podiatry’, Dr Kenneth D. Kemp is the founder and medical director of Bahamas Foot and Ankle located in Caves Village, Western New Providence. He served as the Deputy chairman for the Health Council for 5 years and he currently sits on the board of directors for the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation in his role as co-Vice-chairman.


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