By Dr. Anthony Policastro

In 1945 World War II had just ended. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was founded as part of the peace process.

The UNESCO Constitution started with a simple but powerful thought. It said: “Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed.”

They were pointing out that taking sides mentally was the beginning of conflict. That was true even if it was not visible.

It goes on to say: “Ignorance of each other’s ways and lives has been a common cause, throughout the history of mankind, of that suspicion and mistrust between the peoples of the world through which their differences have all too often broken into war.” The basic point is that it is important to understand what someone else thinks. That is especially true if you disagree with them.

Much of that is basic human psychology. I have written in the past about Transactional Analysis. Basically, it says that the only way to truly communicate is on an adult to adult level.

If someone behaves like a child, it brings out adult behavior in the person they are interacting with. If someone comes on like a know-it-all adult, it encourages the other person to become childish. We have recently seen that acting out in what happened in the Capitol on January 6. The response has been primarily legal in nature. There have been concerns about other individuals carrying out similar behaviors.

The behaviors are somewhat childish in nature. The legal system is parental by its very nature. However, neither of those two approaches are what is needed for reaching long-term solutions.

It is the same kind of thing with the anti-maskers. Shaming them is not going to make them change their behavior. Understanding the behavior and trying to come to a plan based upon that understanding makes more sense.

Each side blames the other. Neither tries to understand where the other is coming from. Basic human psychology does not come into play. That is the kind of things that UNESCO was trying to point out.

In this case there is not an issue between countries. There is an issue within a country. Dialogue and understanding are necessary by both sides. Otherwise, they each talk in a vacuum.

It is not a war that is necessary. It is an understanding of the things that people value. Different perspectives create different values. Those values need to be understood. They cannot just be shoved aside.

UNESCO put out its Constitution in the aftermath of a World War. The purpose was to create a construct that is built on understanding what others are thinking. It is based upon why they are thinking that way.

The goal is to arrive at a solution that is acceptable to everyone. That cannot happen if feelings are so entrenched that people lose effective communication with each other.


It was a year ago this week that the Wuhan Market was closed down due to COVID-19.

For the last week, total new cases have been below 200,000 six days out of seven. That is the lowest amount since before Thanksgiving. It would appear that the holiday surge has finally begun to slow down nationally.

Sussex County continues to have between 150 – 250 new cases daily. Therefore, it does not reflect the same national decrease in total daily numbers.

We have moved from 9th highest death rate in the world to 8th highest death rate. So the number of deaths continues to be more of an issue than the number of cases. We currently sit at about 430,000 total deaths.

Truth vs myth

My wife and I both received doses of the Moderna vaccine on January 22nd. The reaction was a painful arm. It was very similar to what happens with the annual flu vaccine.

We got a card documenting the vaccine date and type. The conspiracy theorists are trying to say that the card is going to be used to track you.

Actually, the only tracking is in the medical record of the people giving the vaccine. You don’t need the card. You can go back to your medical record to get the information. That is like every other vaccine we give.


The CDC has issued a new recommendation regarding masks. The suggestion is that wearing two masks over each other is more protective than just one. An alternative is wearing a mask with a filter in it. This also provides an extra layer.

Another issue is related to how to wear a mask. A mask needs to cover both nose and mouth. Covering the mouth only is insufficient. People who wear masks that do not cover their nose have a false sense of security. It does not work that way.

A study out of Vermont looked at mask mandates as a sole approach to COVID-19. They found that just saying wear a mask gives people a false sense of security.

They make unnecessary trips. They spend additional time with other masked individuals. The result is increased exposure to the virus.

Thus simply stating that someone should wear a mask is insufficient. People need to avoid exposure when possible. You can’t do whatever you feel like just because you have a mask on.

People tend to forget that the mask protects others from you. It does not keep you from getting a virus on your hands. That is the main means of transmission.

A recent study in England was published in The Proceedings of the Royal Society. It showed that poor ventilation is more important than social distancing. Thus people who think that taking off their masks indoors if they practice social distancing are wrong.

Speaking for 30 seconds in a poorly ventilated room spreads the same amount of virus as a short cough does.

This would apply to indoor meetings. It would apply to how much maskless conversation there is in a restaurant setting. It would apply to office workers.

The evidence continues to show that those people who do not believe in wearing a mask are not thinking like rational human beings.

They are using their emotions to guide decisions. Mr. Spock from Star Trek would not be happy with them.


Antibody studies have been done to look at protection of the COVID-19 variant strains with the vaccine. The vaccine produces multiple different types of antibodies against various portions of the virus.

The mutations did interfere with some of these antibodies. However, there were so many others produced that there was little difference in immunity. This makes the news about the variants much ado about nothing.

Johnson and Johnson is producing a single dose vaccine. Results of Phase III trials are due any day. Phase I and II studies looked very promising in terms of effectiveness.