One last note about covid-19 before there is nothing left of it in the news, save politics. As of writing this, Washington state appears to be over the “hump” of the outbreak and I am already seeing social media rewriting our recent history from just the last few months, even last week and yesterday seem to be also up for grabs. But really the gist of this post is about helping us weather this outbreak and some of my thoughts of how to reduce the likelihood or frequency of repeat outbreaks/pandemics.
A virus is an infectious particle that reproduces by “commandeering” a host cell and using its machinery to make more viruses. Viruses reproduce by infecting their host cells and reprogramming them to become virus-making “factories.”
I think that we should all endeavor to not become virus-making factories ourselves because not only will we suffer, but the viruses that we make in our factory will in turn be passed along to others, who will set up their own virus-making factories, and so on and so on and so on. That’s the exponential growth that is a pandemic.
How do we stop today’s pandemic? How do we turn off the virus-making machines?
Well we really can’t stop today’s pandemic, that ship has already sailed around the world. However, we can slow the spread of the covid-19 virus which will ease the burden on healthcare systems around the world, saving lives that would be lost, as well as easing all manner of suffering. Slowing the spread will also buy time for vaccine development which at best could take a year or so and at worst we may not be able to come up with a vaccine at all. My worry is that social media will help pseudoscience, conspiracy nuts and all manner of quackery to go viral contributing to a second wave of of Covid-19 much worse than this first wave. Slowing the spread is not optional, slowing the spread is imperative to the overall health of our nation/world. Here’s the ways I see that we can effectively slow the spread.
- Control Exposure – simplest and most immediate thing we can all do is to lower the dose of this virus that we receive and lower the dose that we pass along to others. Control exposure and in turn transmission of covid-19, so that our immune systems have less to deal with at any one time. Do this through self quarantine, social distancing, barriers such as masks, shield, and glasses, clean environment, clean hands, clean personal protective equipment. The kicker here is that with covid-19 people can infect one and other without even knowing that they are carrying the virus. So, until nearly everyone is tested, I’d just assume (and act) that you are carrying covid and do everything that you can do to not to pass it along to anyone. Remember that a cloth mask is not about protecting you from catching the virus, there are special masks and procedures if that is what you need. Wearing a cloth mask is about slowing the spread of the virus by those of us who are unknowing carriers of the covid virus. Think Golden Rule when it comes to masks, remember “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Link added 4-24-20) And for something a bit ironic, there is this New York Times article which includes George W. Bush’s role in the Untold Story of the Birth of Social Distancing in our nation.
- Bolster Immune System – Our innate immune systems are our first line of defense against all sorts of attacks. They are what can slow down a new virus long enough for our adaptive/acquired immune system to develop antibodies. A more healthy robust innate immune system will leave you in a better position, should you be unable to adequately control your exposure to the virus. Bolstering your immune systems is more of a long term project, however every little bit helps and most of these things are things that we can start right away. And remember, we will all be exposed to this virus someday, it’s just a matter of time.
Ways to bolster your innate immune system include things like:
- Manage Stress – social media distancing can be key (It’s been working for me), don’t stress over things you need, ask for help…and inturn offer help to those in need whether they ask for it or not. Don’t just endure this current situation when you can look ahead and accomplish something with all this “found” time. Read something longer than a meme, walk somewhere further than your mailbox, bike somewhere that is usually too busy to enjoy, go somewhere and listen without the normal din of our world, adopt a pet when you have time to do it right, plant a garden filled with good things to eat and flowers too. Just don’t sit and stew over things that you can’t control.
- Getting Sleep – not because you are bored, but because you may have more time on your hands to get that deep restful sleep that your body needs.
- Be Mindful of What You Eat
- On the flip side, choosing more plant based whole foods will not only help your avoid or recover from these conditions, you will be replacing those foods with nutrient rich foods that bolster your immune system rather than tax it. Even the most optimistic treatments I’m reading about only reduce the lethality of covid-19 by about 10%, which is about right inline with eating better which is available right now over-the-counter at every grocery store.
- Exercise – because it helps with stress, helps with sleep, and exercise along with better food choice reduces the underlying health conditions exacerbated by this virus.
- And it should go without saying, quit tobacco smoking/vaping, layoff excessive use of alcohol, cut out soda, processed foods, especially processed meat products, and most anything else available at a drive through.
How do we better prepare for dealing with future pandemics?
- Individually we should work to change our lifestyles as much as we can to correct our own health, but our elected officials should also have our backs in this effort. Our representatives should represent people first, period. After all, it is We the People, not We the Corporation, not We the Union and certainly not We the Political Party.
- Individually we should prepare for the next time we receive the stay at home news, because it will come just as it is now and as it has been in the past.
- Our State and National legislators, as well as all elected officials, should be making changes necessary to eliminate confusion and misinformation. Information shared by the government should be non-political and based on fact and science. General procedures covering several types of emergency situations should be streamlined and clarified to fit specific types of emergencies.
- Our State and National legislators should be reforming our laws & economy so that those of us in all income brackets can negotiate a stay at home order without financial ruin.
- Nationally it is time to bring healthcare into the realm of national infrastructure just like sidewalks, roads, national defense, social security, medicare, FDA, FAA, ATF, interstate commerce, everything else our taxes go toward…why not nationalized healthcare? At the root of it, many of the things that cause us the most harm are trafficked state to state, disease knows no borders. National healthcare system can be done.
And with that, it is time for me to eat some greens and then go on a bike ride.
but wait….I’ll get on my soapbox now because I can’t go without pointing out that influenza pandemics like the one we are living through right now have one root cause that we need to think about: meat production here and around the world. Yes, meat production and don’t kid yourself; our factory farms, slaughter houses and packaging facilities are not very far removed from Chinese wet markets, they are just hidden behind walls, fences, and Ag-Gag laws which hide the filthy conditions as well as concentration camp like cruelties found in the factory farm industry.
If we quit eating meat and dairy we’d not only all be healthier in general, but we’d also be reducing the number of large scale meat/dairy production facilities which are breeding grounds for diseases like covid-19, SARS, MERS, Spanish Flu, etc and most likely the source of our next epidemic/pandemics.
And without the insane amount of antibiotics that are pumped into factory farmed animals, just so that they stay alive long enough to butcher, doctors would have more effective antibiotics to help us combat complications that may arise in the rare event that we are infected with a virus.
Most of us are living through today’s pandemic and somethings will probably get changed so that we have an even better prognosis for the next pandemic, but which leaders are actually working on the root of the viruses? It is well past time for us to stop listening to politicians and real estate tycoons when it comes to science, medicine and our health. It is sad irony that our news is brimming with stories about amazing drugs for treating covid-19, yet nothing is mentioned of drive-thru windows passing out food that effectively worsens your potential outcome. Going back to our pre-covid-19 lifestyles is leaving the door open for covid-20, covid-21, covid-22…
…stepping off the soapbox now.
Oh wait no. If you want to be blown away while you are sheltering in place spend an hour watching this Michael Gregor Pandemic video from over a decade ago. He’s got this quirky Seinfeld thing going, but this video is worth watching the whole way to the end. What else you going to do, watch some weird dude with 180 tigers? ?