CMDA's The Point

The World in Need

May 27, 2021

by Amy Givler, MD

When John Donne wrote “No Man Is an Island,” he was lying on his sickbed, thinking, perhaps, it would be his deathbed. When he heard the church bells tolling for a person recently deceased, it got him thinking. His life­—everyone’s life—was diminished by the death of that unknown person. We are all connected.

Human life is precious. Every death due to COVID-19 is a loss to us all. I ache when I read of the recent surge of COVID deaths in India. What is happening there is a tragedy. Though they are scrambling to vaccinate their population, administering as many as four million doses a day, it is not making much of a dent because of their nearly 1.4 billion population. And besides, you can’t vaccinate yourself out of a surge. The vaccines need to be given beforehand.

And that leads to the crux of the matter: Vaccines. How can these be distributed quickly enough to avert ongoing tragedies?

The U.S. is administering just under two million doses of COVID-19 vaccines every day, and now half our population has received at least one dose, and 40 percent are fully vaccinated. Happily, 85 percent of those 65 and older have had at least one dose, and 74 percent are fully vaccinated. Some states are doing a much better job of vaccinating than others. But the bad news is that the rate of vaccination is slowing.

Some of that is due to access. That is, the people who were highly motivated to get the vaccine got it early on. They were willing to endure long waits holding on the phone trying to get a vaccine appointment. Most of my patients (I’m a family physician at a Louisiana indigent-care hospital) were not in the category of “highly motivated.” However, now it is easy to get an appointment, and, in many places, people can walk in to get the vaccine, no appointment necessary.

Most people seem to need only a gentle push. Of the 11 outpatients I saw Friday, two were vaccinated, one was adamantly opposed to getting it and the other eight just needed a discussion on the value of this vaccination before they said they would get it. I gave each of them the phone number of our hospital’s vaccine clinic, with its hours of operation, on a paper prescription. (Yes, I still have a prescription pad for just such important take-home messages as this one.)

Alas, public health officials are no longer talking about the possibility of herd immunity, which is when some elusive percentage of people are immune, at which point transmission is dampened down enough to protect even those who can’t, or won’t, get vaccinated. Herd immunity seems to be out of reach. Without it, outbreaks of the virus will still happen, but the hope is for these outbreaks to be rapidly contained.

So, even though there are regional differences (check out your state’s and your county’s vaccination rates), the United States seems to be on the downward slope of this pandemic.

Not so the rest of the world.

Compared to the rate of vaccination in the 50 poorest countries of the world, the rate in the 50 richest countries is 27 times higher. The continent of Africa accounts for 14 percent of the world’s population, yet only 1 percent of the world’s vaccine doses have been administered there. The COVID surge that is happening in India could happen in any country with a vulnerable population. The time to vaccinate is now.

To put it another way, as we read about the loss of precious human beings around the world, 10,000 a day at this point (and 3.5 million since the pandemic began), we can hear the echoes of the tolling of the bells announcing their deaths. With a nod to John Donne, I say that each one of those deaths diminishes each one of us, because we are involved in mankind.

Let us not ignore those tolling bells just because they are coming from across an ocean.

They toll for us.

Amy Givler, MD

About Amy Givler, MD

Amy Givler is a family physician in Monroe, Louisiana. She and her husband Don met in 1980 at a CMDA student event her first year of medical school, and they have both been active members of CMDA ever since. Amy graduated from Wellesley College and Georgetown University School of Medicine, and she then completed her family medicine residency at the same indigent-care hospital where she now works part time. She also works at an urgent-care clinic and is the medical director for a Shots for Tots clinic. Amy loves to write and has written many articles and one book, Hope in the Face of Cancer: A Survival Guide for the Journey You Did Not Choose. She and Don have a heart for missions, and hope to do more short-term trips now that their three children have launched from the nest.


  1. Avatar Art Sprunger, PhD DD LHD on May 27, 2021 at 7:56 pm

    I am sadly not in disagreement with your heartfelt compassion, but in your conclusion about the attempts to fight evil with evil. We will soon see what we have bought into. God forbid that the “cure” is worse than which was genetically engineered for evil purposes. God is still able to change that which meant for evil for good.

  2. Avatar Gloria Halverson on June 1, 2021 at 10:40 am

    Well said, Amy.
    We are citizens of the world.

  3. Avatar Daniel VanHamersveld on June 1, 2021 at 8:22 pm

    Where to start? We as Christian physicians especially need to understand the big picture of things and to recognize evil when it is all around us.

    The “China flu virus” was artificially altered to create a bio weapon. This was a “plandemic” with several nefarious purposes, one of which was to reduce the global population significantly. Eugenics is still alive and well.

    This is an unimproved procedure that is not a vaccine but rather an injection of genetic material. It has a specifically altered spike protein that hijacks our cells to force them to make artificial spike protein which then causes significant disease throughout the body, and which sheds from these individuals to affect on vaccinated people. Numerous chronic illnesses will result, for which there is going to be little chance of cure. I do not think this is the kind of world any of us would want.

    We need to wake up to the big picture and recognize this he will for what it is. Many Christian physicians understand this and they also recognize that permanent changes will occur to one’s DNA, and it is very hard to believe that God’s will is in any of this.

    I pray that Christians will wake up to this global disaster.

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