TV Doctors

By Scott LaFee

January 6, 2021 6 min read

The pandemic has introduced TV viewers to a host of new "experts," but relatively few are actually medical doctors. A published survey of prime-time programming from Fox News, CNN and MSNBC found that only about 1 in 5 of the experts brought on to talk about the coronavirus was a doctor.

The survey covered mid-May to mid-June 2020 and featured a total of 220 experts.

STAT News reports that of the physicians who did get screen time, only a quarter were women, and they got just 15% of the talk time given to doctors. Women were also less likely to be interviewed more than once: Only two of the 12 female physicians featured were on shows three or more times. In contrast, nearly 30% of the male physicians were featured three or more times.

Mr. Vaccine

Maurice Hilleman died in 2005 at the age of 85. You've probably never heard of him, but he's a good reason why a lot of people are alive today. Hilleman was a microbiologist who specialized in vaccine development and helped create more than 40 vaccines, including eight of 14 recommended in current U.S. vaccine schedules: measles, mumps, chickenpox, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, Neisseria meningitis, Streptococcus pneumonia and Haemophilus influenza bacteria.

He also played a role in the discovery of cold-producing adenoviruses, the hepatitis viruses and the potentially cancer-causing simian virus 40.

As you wait for your opportunity to be vaccinated for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, take a moment to silently thank Hilleman for all of the diseases you don't have to worry so much about.

Body of Knowledge

The Sedlec Ossuary is a small Roman Catholic chapel located beneath the Cemetery Church of All Saints in the Czech Republic. It is believed to contain the skeletons of 40,000 to 70,000 people, accrued over centuries. It also features a chandelier reportedly built with at least one of every bone in the human body. That's 206 bones at minimum.

Mark Your Calendar

January is awareness month for Alzheimer's disease, cervical health, glaucoma, birth defects prevention, blood donations and thyroids, the last of which is a butterfly-shaped gland that sits low on the front of the neck. It produces several hormones and, when dysfunctional, can result in a number of serious or life-threatening diseases.

Stories for the Waiting Room

In ancient Rome, Pliny the Elder reported that a popular treatment for rabies was to have the bite wound from a rabid animal cut open and covered with raw veal. The patient should then eat a meal of lime and hog's fat, followed by a concoction of wine and boiled badger dung.

Counts

30: estimated cost, in dollars, of the newly approved Ellume COVID-19 home test

Source: Ellume

Doc Talk

Bezoar: a small, stony concretion that forms in the stomachs of certain animals, especially ruminants, such as cows and deer, and was once used as an antidote for various ailments and poisons

Phobia of the week

Alektorophobia: fear of chickens

Food for Thought

Glycerin, which is primarily derived from vegetable oils (but also animal fats and sugar cane), is used as a sweetener, thickener and preservative and helps keep foods from drying out. It's generally deemed safe in the amounts used in foods. It's also, interestingly, found in soap.

Best Medicine

Statistically speaking, 9 out of 10 injections are in vein.

Observation

"I never smoked a cigarette until I was nine." — American satirist H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

Medical History

This week in 1971, scientists at the University of California, Berkeley announced production of the first synthetic growth hormones.

Sum Body

Five tips for coping with panic attacks:

1. Control your breathing. Breathe deep. Focus on what you're doing. It will slow your heart rate and stabilize your pulse.

2. Connect with your environment. Engage your senses. Count how many things you see, hear and smell around you.

3. Grab an ice cube. Hold it in your hand for as long as you can or in your mouth until it melts. Both trigger responses that divert attention from panic.

4. Relax your muscles.

5. Challenge your brain. Distract yourself from negative thoughts by doing something like reciting the alphabet backward or naming every color you can think of or see.

Med School

Can you identify the disease or condition from its older name?

1. Bloody flux

2. Scrivener's palsy

3. Winde

4. Milk leg

5. Quinsy

Answers: 1. Dysentery. 2. Writer's cramp. 3. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder. 4. Phlegmasia alba dolens (a form of venous thrombosis that creates painful, white inflammation in the legs). 5. Peritonsillar abscess (a bacterial infection, usually a complication of untreated strep throat).

Epitaphs

"If, after I depart this vale, you ever remember me and have thought to please my ghost, forgive some sinner and wink your eye at some homely girl." — H.L. Mencken, on his tombstone in Baltimore's Loudon Park Cemetery

To find out more about Scott LaFee and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Photo credit: Free-Photos at Pixabay

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