Most people in developed nations rarely are confronted by an acute illness. Most developed nations have populations that suffer from chronic inflammation instead of sudden death from an overwhelming infection. Many of us have forgotten that people everywhere were once familiar with surprising deaths due to acute infections. Modern sewage treatment and water sanitation have reduced mortality from acute illnesses. Congratulations for being born now.
Several days ago I posted the reminder that our culture still hasn’t managed to cure the common cold. This fact is still all too true. Despite the dramatic comments that are everwhere discussing the danger of covid-19, it is a coronavirus that is a lot like the common cold in two ways. The first is that it is very contagious and the second is that it can’t be controlled. It is lucky for us that it appears to be about as deadly right now as a bad influenza virus that isn’t nearly as deadly as the Spanish flu. The early models about covid-19 that predicted a higher mortality were just wrong.
Yet with all the data that has been collected there continues to be a neurotic call to do more testing. This, in spite of the fact that there are asymptomatic carriers. But we don’t need more testing and there’s no need for further panic if you look at the virus as we have already come to know it.
There have been deaths from covid-19 but the world has mostly been lucky. The luck is that it hasn’t been more deadly. The luck is that not everyone gets sick from it and some people who do get sick have a mild course of illness. The luck is that for those who have more severe symptoms it can be treated with drug combinations that work to get rid of the virus after 5-6 days. The luck is that some of the treatments not only can get rid of the virus but also attenuate the immune response to make our own body systems more gentle on us while they also remain effective against covid-19.
When someone dies from an acute infection, it’s a sad loss. Doctors and nurses that lose patients feel bad that they can’t save them all. Families grieve for their lost loved one. But we are still lucky that the death toll is smaller than what we first feared.
It’s surprising that so much panic has been caused by the fact that we don’t have control over covid-19. We haven’t yet been able to stop it. We haven’t yet been able to control it to keep it from spreading across national borders, across oceans, across to different languages and cultures and traditions of treating illness. Please, can’t we stop trying to lay blame somewhere? There’s no one to litigate. Humans have always been powerless in exactly this way.
We don’t fully understand the origin of the virus. We don’t yet comprehend in detail all of the manifestations of illness that are possible in response to this virus. And this powerlessness is an old story so there’s no reason to panic or to dramatize our situation.
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