As the host of the TV series “The Doctors,” Dr. Ian Smith has been covering the COVID-19 pandemic from just about every angle. And while news about successful vaccine trials is a welcome light at the end of this long, dark tunnel, there’s plenty to do before any vaccine can help bring about a return to normal.
Since October, Smith has taken on solo hosting duties for “The Doctors” and says the pandemic has changed just about everything about how the show is produced.
“We shoot on a much smaller stage, we have a much smaller crew, we even have a compliance officer who’s in the studio making sure we’re 6 feet apart,” Smith said.
As for COVID-19 vaccines on the horizon, Smith is optimistic.
“We do know they’re very effective,” he said. “We don’t have all the safety data in but the preliminary data shows that there are very few side effects.”
But equitable distribution of a coronavirus vaccine is key for bringing an end to the pandemic, he said.
“We have to have 75% of the population take the vaccine for it to be effective for all of us. We have to make sure that everyone has access to the vaccine … everyone from all walks of life must have equal access to this vaccine,” he said.
And that’s where he says medical professionals have more work to do, particularly in the Black community, where anxiety surrounding the practice of medicine has a historical foundation in events such as the Tuskegee experiments.
“Even though that was a while ago, there is still that feeling in the Black community about whether or not we’re guinea pigs, whether or not there’s some kind of agenda going on. So the medical establishment must reach out and get African Americans to understand that this is safe, it’s effective,” he said. “And they have to be very transparent, because if you don’t have enough African Americans also taking the vaccine, then the population still will not be protected. This is about doing it together. You can’t have one segment of the population do it and not the other. We are interconnected here whether people like it or not.”
Smith is perhaps best known for the many wellness books he’s written, but he’s also a crime fiction writer. His third novel, “The Unspoken,” follows a private investigator and former police officer as he searches for answers in the disappearance of a wealthy young woman. The story is set in Chicago, and Smith calls it an “ode” to his adoptive city.
“Chicago is a character. We go to the South Side, to the West Side, to the North Side, to the lake,” he said. “I’m excited for Chicagoans to read this book because you’re going to recognize all these places that we frequent in our daily lives.”
As for Thanksgiving celebrations, Smith says he and his family are riding this one out at home – and he implores everyone else to do the same.
“This is not a joke, we have to take this very seriously. We have a lot of cases, the numbers are through the roof,” he said. “There is light at the end of the tunnel, so if everyone can just slow down, be patient, we’re going to get through this.”