Dr. Jon LaPook: This is not the time to abandon science

Dr. Jon LaPook: No time to abandon science
Dr. Jon LaPook: No time to abandon science 01:56

Four days ago, Dr. Anthony Fauci announced that the drug remdesivir was an effective treatment for COVID-19 – not a cure, but a huge step forward.  He said it reminded him of 1986, when there was finally a drug effective in treating HIV-AIDS.    

For me, memories came flooding back.

You see, I was an intern in March 1981 when I saw the very first case of AIDS in the hospital where I trained, first bed on the left in the intensive care unit. I could still tell you his name.  

I was a newly-minted doctor, and I thought I was going to save the world, but then for years, every single patient with AIDS that I treated died.  

Every one.

Then, in 1986, a young doctor named Anthony Fauci announced that the drug AZT was effective in treating HIV-AIDS.

Science. Good ol' reliable science! Something to cherish and embrace.

A lab technician visually inspects a filled vial of investigational remdesivir at a Gilead Sciences facility in La Verne
A lab technician visually inspects a filled vial of investigational coronavirus disease (COVID-19) treatment drug remdesivir at a Gilead Sciences facility in La Verne, California, March 11, 2020. Gilead Sciences Inc./via REUTERS

Which brings us to right now.  We can understand why people are starting to get fed up with staying home, and some states are tempted to open up sooner than they should.  

But this is the moment to double down on science, not abandon it.

That said, give yourself a break.  This is hard. And it's been months of fewer hugs.

In 2009, my mother died.  My parents had been married for 66 years, and after a few months, my dad said to me, "Is it OK I'm pretending she's still at the hairdresser?"  His defense mechanism – denial – was crumbling, and he was finally coming to grips with the reality that she was not coming back.  

That's where many of us are now, realizing we're in this for the long run.  But remember: the long run includes talented, devoted scientists, like Dr. Anthony Fauci.

There are still challenges ahead.  But we're making serious progress. And we have to continue to have faith in science.

           
Story produced by Amol Mhatre. Editor: Chad Cardin. 

          
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  • Jon Lapook
    Jonathan LaPook

    Dr. Jonathan LaPook is the chief medical correspondent for CBS News. Follow him on Twitter at @DrLaPook