Behind the Mask

Frustration In The Face Of COVID

The COVID-19 pandemic left one German pulmonologist with the realization that the healthcare systems he relied upon were much less robust than he had assumed. In particular, he felt that the government, in whom he had placed significant trust, was simply not up to the task.

“In the beginning of COVID in Germany, our politicians said that we are good equipped, our system is massive, our ITS Units are well prepared, the system of diagnostic works, we have enough nurses and doctors. Two weeks later the same politicians said we are afraid, that if we don’t get extra precautions Germany will be like Italy. Ridiculous.”

The idea that a well-organized and wealthy country like Germany could become “like Italy”, (which in his mind was considerably less robust in terms of political organization), was shocking. From his point of view, this boiled down to bad organization, a lack of planning, and a slow reaction to obvious pandemic needs.

“… this is the weakness of our system: millions of Euros spent in the development of medication, but no money is spent in organizing teams…There was no plan against the pandemic, there was no task force, we were too slow by taking decisions and COVID has shown us, that the politicians and the physicians did not have a clear plan.”

Beyond the lack of supplies for medical offices, he didn’t see clear direction or policy from government offices. This lack of leadership exacerbated the pandemic, and revealed a level of government disorganization and dysfunction that led him to question where and how his taxes were being spent:

“Use face mask or not, send kids to school or not, lockdown for all or only for special groups, are you a system relevant worker or not, many questions that the politicians had to answer, and they could not. I ask myself then, for what I pay them? COVID has shown how unorganized the system was.”

But even more frustrating to him, was the similar lack of organization and leadership on display from the medical community.

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“We saw as physicians, that there are no clear structures, when It comes to a correct information of patients and many comments were like: wait and see, or let’s try and see. This is not evidence-based medicine.”

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While physicians are in a better position to provide guidance in times like these, he realized that without structure and clear roles, they are no better off than the government in being able to provide aid to the country.

“…you put 10 physicians on a table and you get 10 opinions.”

In addition to the perceived failures of government and the medical community, this doctor also saw that the pharma companies he felt relied on people like him for their business model, didn’t step in with support in the way he would have hoped.

“I expected from the pharma companies more support. They just said ok now we keep ourselves back, we let you work etc. Exactly at the point where you need support, the most important factor decided to keep distance.”

All in all, he felt unsupported and alone in his fight against pandemic, which left him sounding bitter and angry:

“The pandemic showed me that I cannot trust anyone.”

And after months of practicing without the support he’s needed, the path forward is clear.

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COVID showed us that we are actually fully unprepared for such a scenario, and that we need more strategical plans when it comes to health system, and simulate such situations with a better approach to reality.

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He’s hoping to see real dedication behind crucial changes in the coming months and years to prevent this type of faltering in the future. The COVID-19 pandemic has provided an opportunity for governments and medical communities across the world to learn critical lessons about what does and does not work in times of crisis; lessons they should have already known, but which now have an urgency to address.

Typically, the German people view their government as being competent, stable, and efficient when compared to the views of other EU citizens and their governments; perhaps this was the reason why this doctor was so surprised to find them, and medical communities, so vulnerable and unprepared when pandemic hit. He sees an across the board need for better preparation:

“Politicians, health institutes, pharmacy companies should invest time, money and effort to make the system more resistant to such attacks.”

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