Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: Chickenpox set example for medical response

Picture a virus that is extremely contagious and spreads like wildfire in groups. For the fortunate it is a nuisance, for the unfortunate it is fundamentally lethal and leaves permanent scars on others. Unlike Ebola, it is nearly perfect in its ability to sustain itself due to keeping most hosts alive as vectors for spread. Many who spread have no symptoms. There is no vaccine so herd immunity was the only real option. The common name of the virus begins with the letter C.
Coronavirus? Yes. There is another strikingly similar virus that we all know very well. The common name is chickenpox, which is not a coronavirus. It left me with some mild scarring but nearly killed one of my best friends who did not get it until she was 26.
I am not advocating any treatment plan but cannot ignore the parallels of the efficient virulence of chickenpox and coronavirus with the completely disparate societal attitude given similar circumstances.  I was very young at the time but remember a thoughtful and methodical effort to protect the young and old together with a common goal of herd immunity based on common sense and experience.  This ethos was successful for decades and now there is a vaccine and Varicella-zoster is a thing of the past with few exceptions. 
Many of us from the era have permanent scars from the infection and are at risk for reactivation, but I certainly have nothing but gratitude for the calm and mature scientific leadership that saved countless lives with limited technology but limitless wisdom.
This was not made into a political issue but rather acceptance that our species cannot outsmart Mother Nature, the best we can do is comply to her rules as passengers on Earth.
Those who ignore the past are doomed not to learn from it. Mother Nature bats last and it is unlikely there is an easy way out of the most recent challenge we have faced, so let us use wisdom and experience to move ahead as we have so many times before.
Anders Holm
Newmarket, N.H.

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