• Nassir Ghaemi

Pandemic diary: Darkness before dawn

It’s darkest just before dawn. The cure is here. The vaccines have been given now to the first people: a nurse here, a hospital epidemiologist there. The cure is here; it exists, but it’ll arrive to each of us slowly.

Meanwhile as if to prove the rule that nature loves opposites, the daily deaths and cases peak. We're seeing 3,000 deaths per day: a daily Gettysburg. How we mourn Gettysburg – solemn ceremonies for over a century, a beautiful battlefield park visited with reverence, stories of gallantry told and retold. We honor the sacrifice of Gettysburg. But an equal number die every day of the week, week after week - and nothing. No ceremonies for them. No public parks to be visited by descendants a century from now. If all men are created equal, we do all deaths not count equal.

Some die with a bang. Most die with a whimper.

And yet those faces of glee are seen in the hospitals, as the vaccines arrive. My hospital emailed me recently. Sign up for the vaccine, the note said; click here. I clicked immediately. I opted in but had to say that I’m not in direct patient contact now, so I was put on a waiting list, and received it a few weeks later.

At least I was on a list. That’s better than not being on a list. What a list.

The Nazis infamously had lists for those who would die - lists of the mentally ill, of Jews, of Communists. This list is for those who will live. I’m on that list, part of less than 1% of the US population with that privilege. And yet we say all lives matter.

So the cure is here, but most people can’t get it yet, and the coronavirus, as if knowing it’s time is limited, has sped up its vicious path, while it still can.

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