Conversations and healthy debate about issues facing our industry and the health care system are critical to addressing some of today’s challenges and opportunities. The PhRMA blog welcomes guest contributors, including patients, stakeholders, innovators and others, to share their perspectives and point of view.
Today, we are pleased to welcome a guest post from Phil Patent, a survivor of COVID-19 who continues to have long-term side effects from the virus. Phil is an advocate for continued medical innovation through Voters for Cures and is recommending everyone who is eligible get vaccinated against the virus.
I contracted COVID-19 one year ago, in July 2020. The disease almost took my life and I’m still suffering the aftermath today. Now as I watch caseloads rise in under-vaccinated regions of our country, I want desperately for people to hear my story so they can make good decisions about vaccination, for themselves, their families and their community.
I was 65 years old, just recently a senior citizen, when I had my brush with death. Only a few months before, I had undergone open heart surgery. Pre-existing heart disease, along with my age, put me at high risk of serious illness from COVID-19.
Despite my efforts to protect myself, I caught COVID-19 in July of 2020. I developed a deep cough and later struggled to breathe. Ultimately, I was admitted to the hospital, where I stayed for over two weeks. Thanks to attentive treatment and supportive therapies, I made it through. I was one of the lucky ones.
I credit the biopharmaceutical industry for saving my life. Even before many current, effective treatments were made available to patients, my doctors availed themselves of various medications to help my body cope during an intense viral onslaught.
As grateful as I am to have survived, my case isn’t a simple “happily ever after.” It’s been a full 12 months since I “recovered” and I’m still dealing with symptoms. Most frustrating, the damage to my lungs left me reliant on oxygen. I’m strapped to a canister at home and have to take a contraption everywhere I go. Obviously, this wasn’t the “return to normal” I’d envisioned.
That’s why it upsets me to hear people talk about COVID-19 as if it’s a passing illness, like a mild cold. First of all, a single unnecessary death from this virus is too many when we have the vaccine technology to help in most cases prevent it. What’s more, focusing solely on the mortality rate is to put blinders on to other devastating impacts of COVID-19.
Millions of people who contracted this disease are now, like me, long-haulers. Some pass out if they climb a set of stairs. Others suffer brain fog so bad they can barely work. Still others are dealing with fatigue, headaches, vision problems, psychiatric issues and more.
There’s no way I would take my chances with COVID-19 again. As soon my age group qualified, I received one of the authorized mRNA vaccines. After getting both doses, I felt immense relief for myself and was glad I’d helped protect others.
I wish more Americans would do the same. Stubbornness on vaccines is permitting the Delta variant to spread far and wide. Delta is more contagious than the COVID-19 I had and more likely to reinfect people – unless they get vaccinated. Only high rates of vaccination can suppress viral transmission, keep hospitals from being overwhelmed again, and help prevent further mutations, which could result in even more dangerous versions of COVID-19.
Take it from me, vaccination is the right choice. I got my shots nearly six months ago and was fine. On the other hand, catching COVID-19 almost cost me my life, stole my stamina, and left me permanently tied to an oxygen machine.
No one would voluntarily accept the outcome I now live with, but it’s the lottery you’re in if you remain unvaccinated. Please, don’t come to regret your decision – get your COVID-19 shots today.
Guest Contributor The PhRMA blog welcomes guest contributors, including patients, stakeholders, innovators and others, to share their perspectives and point of view on issues facing our industry and the health care system.