York County Medicine Winter 2020 - 5

YO R K C O M E D S O C . O R G

PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE:

The glass is half full,
and half empty
PAUL D. BURCHER, MD, PHD
Incoming President

M

y wife describes me as a " blithering optimist, " and she is
always right. But I am feeling both great optimism and
fear at this moment regarding the coronavirus pandemic.
Both reactions are entirely justified.
	 As several news sources have pointed out, we are losing a 9/11
number of American lives every day right now. Hospitals are beyond
capacity, and with people tired of isolating and the holidays upon us, all
I can see is a peak on top of the current peak. As a residency director
for the Ob/Gyn program at Wellspan, York Hospital, our residents
are now being redeployed to help in the ICU, deferring their specialty
education. In one sense, their educational loss would happen without
redeployment since we have had to once again restrict elective surgery
because of staff and bed shortages from the COVID surge.
	 But the end is near... and I mean not the apocalypse but a vaccine.
Last night the FDA advisory panel approved the Pfizer vaccine, and
Moderna will probably follow shortly. If the roll-out and distribution
problems are manageable, millions of at-risk Americans will be
vaccinated in the next few months. Spring will be the hopeful new
beginning that it metaphorically represents for us in poetry, music,
and art.
	 We should pause to appreciate what science has accomplished. Only
weeks after the outbreak began, China had sequenced the virus and
made this public to the world. Again, it took biotech companies only a
few more weeks to develop mRNA vaccines from the newly sequenced
" spike protein " of the coronavirus, and phase one trials began in March.
The public-private partnership that allowed companies to produce
vaccines at a large scale before phase three trials were complete is also
continued on page 6 >

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York County Medicine Winter 2020

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