Asking questions can get you in a lot of trouble. Don't ask why. No, just kidding. Questions are wonderful things, because they can lead to understanding, and with understanding a pathway to wisdom is cleared before us. However, questions also can subvert an order, an accepted way of understanding, upon which we depend for guidance, Losing that order is like
losing a foundation, and without foundation, we can feel rootless. No-one wants to feel rootless.
One of my former medical mentors once told me I think too much, which greatly upset me at the time. I'm kind of sensitive to criticism, for one, especially coming from a supervisor, but also I didn't understand how thinking could be done to excess, and this riled me. Growing up with mentors who seemed generally hungry to hear new ideas from their young protégées, I had always imagined that my thoughtful questions would be welcomed with open arms. It was confusing to have my pursuit of understanding stifled by orthodoxy. Only years later did I realize that orthodoxy was part of the culture of medicine, even as it professed to be open to the scientific method. And years after that I realized that while many people value the truth, confronting it can be too hard for many people. Like raw meat, it can be too hard to digest, and it is needed for them that it be cooked, seasoned, smoked, or somehow rendered into some more digestible form before they can even think of sampling it. Even then, indigestion may result, and much of the meat may remain untouched or even pushed away.
What does this have to do with coronavirus, you may ask? As some of you have already guessed, I have "too many questions" about coronavirus. While volumes are published in nearly every written or online media publication, most of these simple questions seem to be addressed by almost no-one, other than a few out-of-the-box thinkers. I find that many of the questions being asked are the wrong questions, not at all the ones we need to be trying to answer, and ones which can not conceivably illuminate a wise way forward. Let me list some of them and why I think they are important. By the end, you may feel like telling me, like my supervisor, that I think too much. Maybe like him, you will just want me to shut up.
Why is it that such a big deal has been made about the fact that people who die from coronavirus mostly have underlying health problems, but government policy seems to presently ignore this? In Italy around 99% of COVID-19 deaths were reported in mid-March by Bloomberg News to be in people with underlying health problems. In late April, it was reported by News 7 Boston that over 98% of COVID-19 deaths are in people with underlying illness. State officials in Minnesota, according to a May FOX-9 news, reported similar rates of over 98%. Chronic conditions strongly suspected of placing people at increased risk of mortality include diabetes, hypertension, vascular disease, chronic, pulmonary disease, chronic kidney disease, obesity, and possibly others. Even children who suffered from more severe COVID-19 symptoms had underlying health problems at least 80% of the time, according to research published in JAMA Pediatrics in May. Yet policy has not been crafted specifically around protecting this vulnerable population, or if it has, it has been completely hidden from public awareness. That the chronic illnesses associated with worse COVID-19 outcomes are related by their propensity to cause elevated levels of plasminogen (plasmin) in the blood seems to get little attention as well as therapeutic options (proteases) that reduce plasmin levels. Improving people's health status also gets little attention, even though it would make sense to try to reduce the severity of illness in those with diabetes, vascular disease, obesity, hypertension, pulmonary disease or other chronic illness. Why? I find the silence deafening.
If mostly chronically ill people are vulnerable to COVID-19 illness (indeed it has been estimated that at least 80% of people who contract the virus will remain asymptomatic or only have mild cases, according to the Center for Evidence Based Medicine) what are the rest of us doing in quarantine? It seems more helpful to quarantine those with chronic illness, many of whom will already be too sick to work or circulate in public. Many are in nursing homes, in their 80's, 90's or 100's. Wouldn't it make more sense to recommend quarantining for these individuals with chronic illness than for those for whom the virus presents little or no mortal threat?
Similarly, at least 80% of people who die from the SARS-CoV-2 virus are over the age of 65. These people are mostly retired, and hence not going into the office in most cases, or commingling with others in the workplace. Yet we are quarantining the healthy workforce who is least vulnerable to dying from the virus to protect the people who are not likely to get seriously ill from us because they are not there with us at work. We're essentially shutting down the economy to protect people who don't even need protection from it, since most are not even participating in it. Why is this not being talked about by government spokespersons or the media? Wouldn't it make more sense to quarantine those with chronic illness, of whatever age? Most of these people will be in their 60's or later, although clearly even children and middle aged people with chronic illness are vulnerable. People who are working and not suffering chronic illness do not need to be protected by forcing them to stay at home, at least according to the epidemiological data.
Clearly SARS-COV-2 is a virus, so if you are going to survive it, it will be most likely with the assistance of your immune system, which is the main weapon we own to fight back against infection. Yet, in spite of this common knowledge, which one need not have a medical degree to comprehend, and the fact that research has suggested that simple vitamin and mineral supplementation with Vitamin C, Vitamin D and Zinc are likely to improve immune function, reduce severity of COVID-19, or possibly prevent it, no public health officials have gone on record recommending these and other simple immune-enhancing interventions that are safe, cheap, and widely available. These include, in addition to the above-named supplements, Magnesium, L-Lysine, garlic, ginger, and other anti-viral herbs such as elderberry, licorice, lomatium, rosemary, sage, thyme and oregano. Many people are finding out about these safe interventions through the internet, out of frustration or fear coming from the failure of the medical establishment or government to offer anything beyond locking oneself up indoors, using masks and gloves, or otherwise preventing contact with what is invisible and untraceable. Dr. David Brownstein was even forced by the FTC in May to remove advice from his website about protecting oneself from COVID-19 by natural methods because they hadn't been demonstrated to be effective by randomized controlled trials. Why is our government and why are our public health officials so uninterested in safe ways of protecting the community? They seem to want to protect us from being protected. Even if they don't believe Vitamin C will help, why not demonstrate some interest in it? Why shut down people who are interested in these entirely benign interventions (assuming they are not taken at massive doses) when no other safe alternatives exist?
Lastly (and I promise to stop here, although not forever), why does government and the medical industry seem to want to put all of its chips on the development of a vaccine when previous efforts at creating a coronavirus vaccine have been such a dismal failure? Is there some new vaccine technology that will make the new coronavirus vaccine safer and more effective? And if so, why hasn't this been revealed in the press? How is it that vaccine officials said it would take 12-18 months to develop a safe vaccine, but now, it is being "warp-speeded" into production in as little as 6 months' time? If 8 billion people got the vaccine and as few as 0.1% died from the vaccine, this would be 8 million people, more than 10 times the number who have died from the virus itself. Where does the confidence in the vaccine come from, or is it less confidence than spin?
Like these questions or not, there are no easy answers to them. Until they are answered, I will continue to use my independent reasoning skills to make decisions about taking care of myself and my family, to the extent the government allows me too. My own reasoning powers certainly are limited (perhaps you will agree too readily from reading this article), and I do not understand the truth about this virus or its treatment better than anyone else, but I do have enough reasoning powers to know that when many questions remain unanswered, one can't behave as if they have been.