Five Ways We Survive a Pandemic
Coronavirus Shows We're Not Ready
The Coronavirus (COVID19) has already infected 47,000 people: or reference, that is six times the number of people ever infected by SARS.
Sh*t is getting real folks.
“There are only three things that are inevitable in this world — death, taxes, and flu pandemics.”~ Allison McGeer, Former Director of Infection Control at Mount Sinai Hospital.
We cannot stop the next pandemic from happening, but we can decrease the number of people affected and decreasing the numbers is everything. It is a matter of our survival vs the extinction of the entire human race.
The outbreaks of flu that we are seeing will continue and each one will be different. So different that by the time we come up with a vaccine for one strain -- another strain will have started its devastating march across the globe.
It takes an average of five years from the onset of a new strain of flu to the development of a vaccine for that strain. We are constantly playing catch up and that will one day kill us.
SARS was a weak virus — a virus so weak that it died off all on its own.
We got so so lucky.
Imagine five years of SARS with no vaccine.
Now, imagine five years of SARS with a much higher fatality rate AND no vaccine — the population of the world would die off until there were not enough scientists or resources left to even continue research for a vaccine.
This is the most likely scenario for human extinction. It is not a worldwide nuclear war nor an asteroid impact -- it’s the flu.
It is also possible that global warming may beat out a pandemic as the cause of our demise. Who knows, but it should come as no surprise that both of the things that may kill our species are things actually caused by our species.
We are little a-hole monkeys and losing our body hair did not make us lose our tendency to focus on a small bug in somebody else’s fur, instead of taking care of our own problems.
The dinosaurs did not summon the comet that caused their extinction, nor did they fail to prepare when given more than an adequate warning. One day they were alive doing dinosaur things (rawr) and the next a big ash cloud had blocked out the sun.
The dinosaurs did not walk around saying YOLO, they didn’t search out probiotics for a healthy gut, eat organic and maybe even vegan but definitely from a local source while being unsure about the possible link between vaccines and autism and hey, are we really sure that humans cause global warming?
No, the dinosaurs were dinosaurs until they died, but if they could have prevented the comet, if there were a chance that they could have survived, the dinosaurs would have taken it, not ignored the facts and looked for something else to focus on.
We have a chance to survive. Let’s stop being stupid and take it, shall we?
FIVE WAYS WE CAN SURVIVE THE NEXT PANDEMIC
One: We Have To Focus on Animals.
Who knew that the survival-thing would also be the right thing?
The viruses that are most likely to cause a pandemic are zoonotic viruses — viruses that originate in animals, mutate and then spread to humans.
Coronavirus is a zoonotic virus.
The Spanish Flu was most likely the result of a bird (with bird flu) and a human (with human flu) both interacting with the same pig in Kansas (in whose body the bird flu and human flu combined to become H1N1.)
H1N1 infected one out of every three people on the planet and killed five percent of the population of Earth over the course of two years.
The first case of SARS showed up in Foshan, China in 2002.
A man got sick after eating a stew filled with meats he had purchased in one of the areas “wet” markets, where animals are brought to market alive and slaughtered on site.
The animals are stored in cages, one on top of the other, and the viruses of all the different species get to mingle and mutate. In this case, they mutated into SARS.
The World Health Organization has not determined the animal that the Coronavirus originated from, but it too is a zoonotic virus.
And no, the answer is not to get rid of your pets (you a-hole).
Nor is the answer to blame China in some fit of nationalistic racism (you bigger a-hole).
Not only do both of those things make you a jerk, but they also will do NOTHING to stop the development of the next pandemic.
We need international cooperation (pandemics are, um, worldwide) and we need to shut down the wet markets that exist worldwide AND shut down the factory farming industry in the U.S. where animals are kept in conditions that are the perfect incubator for disease.
And none of this has anything to do with your cat or your dog. Must we always blame everyone but ourselves for everything? The pets do not need to go to the pound. It is us that need to do better by the farm animals serving us in the meat industry around the world.
Two: We Need To Fully Fund CEPI
CEPI is the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and they are working to develop a vaccine for Disease X.
Remember that part before where I said we were lucky that SARS was such a weak virus? Well, Disease X is not SARS.
First rule of Disease X club is that you better be prepared for Disease X.
Like having a vaccine ready to go when Disease X hits kind of ready.
Or we die … all of us humans die. Or at least enough of us that this whole civilization thing could become quite tricky for quite a while.
What is Disease X?
It is the next SARS and Coronavirus, but with a much higher fatality rate.
Disease X will be very contagious, like the flu, but very very deadly — the Black Death of the 21st Century.
In Hong Kong in 2003, one resident of an apartment complex became infected with SARS and stayed home, as recommended, to avoid infecting others.
He got diarrhea and when he flushed his toilet, the SARS virus was carried through the pipes and into the apartment unit below him, where a fan blew the virus through the ventilation system of the whole building.
Three hundred and twenty nine residents of the apartment complex tested positive for SARS.
People who lived on different floors and had never been in contact with an infected person, people who were sure they had not been exposed to the virus, became infected.
If that virus had been the Pneumonic Plague, which has a one hundred percent fatality rate, I would not be writing this article.
I live in the U.S., but that virus would have spread to here and would’ve been so thorough that even if I’d not been infected, there might be no infrastructure functional enough to provide internet and electricity.
Maybe I still would have written this article using one of the last pens on earth, or scratched it into the wall of some cave I had taken up disease-free residence in, but it would do no good.
It would be too late.
There would be no CEPI to fully fund.
A vaccine for Disease X — a vaccine for almost any and all viruses — is possible and CEPI has dedicated itself to that mission.
Our current vaccines inject protein molecules from a virus into us and then our immune systems form antibodies to those proteins.
When the vaccinated person is exposed to the virus in the future, their immune system recognizes the proteins and already has the antibodies on hand to be able to defeat the virus and prevent infection.
But vaccines take about five years to develop and in a high-mortality rate pandemic, the human race would not have five years.
What CEPI is working on is a vaccine without proteins, a vaccine composed of genetic material that tells your body to make those proteins itself, and it is adaptable for use with almost any virus nature can throw at us, including the Coronavirus.
Come on folks, do you really want your neighbor’s diarrhea to kill you?
Why are we not giving CEPI every dime on the planet in funding right now?
“The big problem of a pandemic is we don’t know when it will come and so it’s very easy to put off to another day.” ~ Bill Gates
Three: We Need Internet EVERYWHERE
None of our efforts will total up to one hundred percent certain safety. There will be an outbreak of something somewhere and the way we stop an individual tragedy from becoming a worldwide calamity is with communication.
City A has a patient with suspicious symptoms show up to an ER.
Before the patient is even admitted to the hospital, the triage doctor could contact the CDC via the internet and the world would be working on a response beginning from patient zero.
The virus would not spread.
Many areas of the world remain offline. To say that is unacceptable is a huge understatement.
People will die because of poverty — that is nothing new, but the virus that spreads around the world won’t bypass the rich, it just won’t start with them.
What a sad truth it is that the virus that will take down humanity will be able to do so because of our lack of humanity.
The internet is for the people, for all of the people, for many many reasons.
Pandemics and death are right at the top of the list of why profit needs to matter less than people.
We need something like the Peace Corps to go into unconnected areas of the world and get them online.
The Connection Corps? The Net Ninjas? Call it what you will, just do it.
Four: Quarantines Are Necessary … And So Is Being Able to Trust Your Government
Those two hundred and eighteen passengers onboard the cruise ship that recently all tested positive for the Coronavirus are probably frustrated (in addition to fluey) but I am so glad that they are quarantined on the boat.
But when I think of Trump being the one to order a quarantine of anyone, I shudder.
I think of Japanese Internment camps.
I think of HIV positive people in Cuba quarantined for no reason.
I think of the pink triangle, worn by homosexuals in the concentration camps.
I think of the “showers” where six million Jewish people died.
I think of the Tuskegee experiments…
No, Trump cannot have the power to decide who gets quarantined and neither can Vladimir Putin in Russia or Kim Jong-un in North Korea or Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey.
Autocracy is everywhere right now and quarantine would just be another tool in their arsenal of oppression.
Because even though I say that Trump shouldn’t have that power, if a supervirus hit the U.S. and a quarantine was established by him, I would follow it.
And I cannot tell you, dear reader, to disobey either because I know a quarantine is the first line of defense against a pandemic.
So, what do we do?
Follow the science and make sure the quarantine is because of an actual virus and not suddenly occurring on election day to depress the vote. Follow the CDC recommendations.
And get tyrants out of power. We’ll all feel better that way.
Five: We Need International Communication and Cooperation
In order to save the human race, we have to act in concert as the human race.