Let’s talk about your actual risk of dying in the time of Corona-phobia. Are you afraid of getting old? Probably not. But you should be because it not only is the main determinant of dying from Corona but it also contributes to all the other causes of dying. Which problem is the mountain and which is the molehill?
It is clear to me from some of the negative reactions to my first post about COVID-19 and public health that most people are scared although some are skeptical of the dramatic changes we have seen in civilization in just a few days.
So I’m a tripling down on my appeal to reason in this blog. Get your “with all due respect” and “you can’t honestly believe” and “you’re an ass hat” responses ready because I am going to again argue that creating an apocalypse is no sensible way to prevent one that is just the common cold.
Deep within the human psyche is the need for safety. Maslow and the Vedas agree: if you don’t feel safe, nothing else matters and you can’t function like healthy person.
Everyone knows because everyone believes. It is a religion. In a few days, we went from mocking those hoarding toilet paper to “can you spare a square?” and Googling “DIY bidets” or what leaf makes for the best TP replacement.
People feel very unsafe these days. They are bathing 24/7 in fear generated by the media (both mainstream and social) and now it has saturated and short-circuited their reasoning systems. The only people who feel safe are those administrators who realize that pulling the trigger on harmful draconian measures doesn’t threaten their job security in the current climate. Yesterday, the Governor of Hawaii shut down all of the islands in his state to foreign travel for 30 days despite having only one confirmed case acquired from outside the island of Oahu. For that economy, this was tantamount to cutting off the nose to save the face because someone may have seen a leper. Two days ago, the people running San Francisco ordered everyone to stay at home. All around the nation, meetings, churches, schools, restaurants, and bars are being closed.
The larger repercussions of such decisions are that politicians are suddenly willing bail out the markets with $2.2 trillion non-existent fiat dollars, lower interest rates to zero, forgive debt, shelter the homeless (as in California), and write universal basic income checks. We have swung the pendulum way past Bernie’s minimum wage and Andrew Yang’s UBI to uncharted socialist territory as a result of the poor judgement of those in power.
Agoraphobia is a term for fear for going to the agora, or the public meeting space. People feel it and the authorities are legally compelling agoraphobia now. The sad thing is that the risks for increased economic disruption, social disorder, suicide, and crime are now enhanced.
And what benefit did we gain from this? We avoided the impending collapse of the health care system and saved countless lives, experts on Facebook’s echo-chambers reassure each other.
Firstly, the herd feels safer generally because everyone “knows” this is pandemic like no other. How do we know this? It is not from the absolute numbers, which are dwarfed by the 1000X greater spread and death toll of the annual seasonal flu. Both are exponentially growing and kill the elderly, but the flu actually kills children- that is even more scary, right? But you scream about unprecedented death rates, not enough ventilators, Italian corpses, front-line doctors and 21-yo soccer coaches dying and I agree, it is quite terrifying! But there are reasons that we have six other chakras to work with besides the lowest fear-based one. What are the data that should inform serious policy choices with genuinely apocalyptic repercussions?
Before we explore the contrarian views of three public health experts, let us consider your real risks of dying? In the US, these thing are most likely to kill you and all are related to aging because it weakens immunity and degrades physiology. At the present time, your risk of dying from aging is 99.9% over your lifetime.
Aging does this primarily, I believe, via three mechanisms:
1) stem cell epigenetic changes- primarily gene silencing
2) stem cell mutation from telomere erosion leading to chromosome breaks
3) stem cell depletion from the previous two processes
Here is a diagram from my first non-fiction book, Telomere Timebombs: Defusing the Terror of Aging. It visualizes my stem cell/telomere theory of aging and you can learn this simple mechanism by picking up my book.
Why don’t people freak out about aging like they do this old Coronavirus? I deal with this quite a lot and I will list the top 10 reasons.
10) No one takes it seriously
There are many scientists who do take it seriously although most of the effort and funding pours into mitigating disease for profit (i.e. drug companies). If you are doing research refuting man-made climate change, how much money do you think you get these days?
9) It is depressing
Not thinking about your number one contributor to death is one strategy but people without prejudice should work through the stages of denial, depression, anger, and bargaining to get to acceptance.
8) I don’t want to have false hope
This is a fear of feeling like a fool for being tricked. I rarely get this response from users of adaptogens like TA-65 or Recharge. They recognize the benefits and some, over the course of time, take for granted that they don’t feel older. Some will stop but few feel they were tricked.
7) Aging is natural
This illogical stance gets traction from both atheists and theists alike. Of course the naturalists wear clothing, drive cars, take antibiotics,
6) I don’t want to be sick and old anyway
A little misunderstanding here because of the normal coupling of the two. We are talking about getting older without losing function or becoming decrepit. We all see folks in their 70s who look amazing but what if their immune systems and internal organs were as good as their outsides? That is the goal of anti-aging.
5) There are a lot of charlatans
No argument here. Buyer beware when it comes to anyone selling anything. Try things for yourself and if there is no benefit, then drop them.
4) No one understands what causes aging
Hard to say if that is true. There are many camps and some overlap, agree, or are openly hostile. That is just tribalism. The truth is that stem cell depletion and dysfunction are universal signs of human aging and although people differ on the causes and remedies, there is a fair amount of agreement on this subject.
3) I have more important things to worry about
No one is safe from aging and it contributes to all of the leading causes of mortality…so what exactly could be more important to your safety in the grand scheme of things? I’m not saying to buy my products or books but without health and time, you soon won’t have any more bills to pay or social obligations to worry about. The only way to avoid the risk of dying is….(wait for it)… is to die!
2) I can’t afford it
$100 a month may be too much for many but if it is not, go to www.rechargebiomedical.com or www.lokahi.guru to learn about adaptogens that can help fight colds and flu. If you want to invest once to learn about antiaging, you can order my book on Kindle, The Telomere Miracle: Scientific Secrets to feel great, fight aging, and turn back the clock on aging. In it, you will learn the ways in which understanding the six “pistons” of health maintenance work and can be optimized. They are breathing, mindset, sleep, exercise, diet, and supplements.
1) What will I do with more time anyway?
That is a good question and the answer is totally up to you. I am thinking of a life with good health, fulfilling relationships, and freedom. What you do with your time is your own business (and pleasure).
The fact is that when this Corona fear has lessened and to the level fear from Ebola, Y2K, or shoe bombing, the biggest threat to humanity will still be there. Aging is the common enemy as the COVID-19 situation has revealed. Your 10 assumptions about why you don’t need to learn about slowing or halting it are a defense mechanism. If you want to take all this extra shut in time and put it to good use, you could binge watch my videos on YouTube under the channel “drpark65”. There you will find a new way of thinking about aging and hear from people who have already taken steps to slow the spread of the real killer that we allow to stalk us.
Back to Corona now…
The Italian population was disproportionately old so the death rates were higher. The most important thing you need to understand is that given the hysteria over this diagnosis, there is widespread under testing, especially among your people with mild or no symptoms and very high penalties for positive results. Most importantly, in the early part of the perceived crisis, testing kits were not widely available in outbreak areas.
Lack of testing inflates the mortality statistics. People don’t think clearly about this cold outbreak because they haven’t considered that it is more similar than different to other colds. We never had daily death toll posts and 24-hour hysteria about the flu but if we did, the actual death tolls would be 1000X worse, the exponential growth would be the same or worse, and the mortality would be even more terrifying as it also takes the lives of young people without developed immune systems.
But you wonder…”why would talking heads and the media exaggerate the risk?” Well, if you ask a public health expert whether you should panic, what do you think they will say? If you ask an FBI agent whether domestic terrorism is a problem, what will they say? If you ask a retirement specialist whether you should have a 401k, what will they say? If you ask an arms maker whether more weapons make the world a safer place, what would they say?
I agree that the Covid-19 “pandemic” is now the worst calamity that we have ever seen but that is because of the overreaction to it. Every year 600,000 people die of the incurable, exponentially-spreading flu and yet with 1000x less the impact the entire world is on lock down with the reshaping of economy and society over this new religion. Yes, COVID-19 is already the worst plague we have ever faced but as with the “cytokine storm” that destroys the lungs of the seriously ill, it was our reaction to the fear of pandemic that did us in.
I believe the reason for the alarming death rates is that clusters like Italy and the Diamond Princess have older, sick people and that testing is not being done. Mass screening in Korea showed the mortality rate was around 0.6% which may still be way too high. It is actually probably much lower because most young people won’t get tested because of fear of stigma and quarantine. This public health doctor explains the denominator problem well. She writes:
- If you don’t test, you have no cases. 0/0 = 0% mortality
- If you test only people who show up really sick at the hospital, you’ll have a few cases but a high mortality rate. 5/10 = 50% mortality
- If you test everyone with cold symptoms going to the doctor, you’ll detect a ton more cases but now have a lower mortality rate. 10/100 = 10% mortality
- If you stand at the entrance of every building and test everyone going in and out with a fever, you will find even more cases, lower mortality still. 20 deaths / 1000 confirmed infected people = 2% mortality (This is what China is doing now February 28. As of mid-March, they are only scanning temperature once a day when people report to work in the Shenzhen area, where there have been no new cases lately.)
- If you test every single person in a town, we can only guess that there would be even lower mortality. 20 deaths / 1500 confirmed infected people = 1.3% mortality South Korea has come closest to this, so we will look to their mortality rates to make projections.
Take a look at the WHO data from today (3/18/2020) with countries that are admittedly early in their spreads. The death rates are single digits and below 1% for many of them although they will rise because most deaths take 2-3 weeks to manifest and they do so in the elderly. Thankfully, many people are using supplements and other medications to shorten the severity and duration of this illness. The fact is that most of the curves from other nations have single digit deaths and 99+% survival. That is because of under testing and under diagnosis in many cases but it really seems that the Diamond Princess and the Italy cluster are exceptions when comparing the live data.
The truth that is rarely mentioned is is that most people who are exposed, will not contract the clinical disease. Most people who get the clinical disease do not become seriously ill unless they have existing medical problems like being old (and diabetic, hypertensive, COPD etc.). In Italy, 99% of those that died had other illnesses which are are related to aging. Sadly, if you are making policy decision based on the horrors of watching old people die, then the world would not have been functional for decades due to the flu. The flu is, by every objective measure, worse and yet humanity never destroyed itself over it. Can you imaging what the morbid daily death posters would have done with 5 million serious cases (and 500 million non-serious cases) resulting in 600,000 influenza deaths globally? The answer, strangely, is that they would have been roundly ignored because people wrongly consider the flu to be like bee stings and paper cuts despite affecting 1000X more people. That’s why I say Coronavirus exceptionalism is a religion; no amount of data will convince true believers that the flu is worse and that we have faced Coronaviruses like this before.
Consider this article written by an Israeli infection disease epidemiologist, who has 30 more years of experience than the posters on Facebook, who only recently became experts on exponential growth, survival of viruses on fomites, asymptomatic transmission of epidemics, and ICU ventilator utilization.
It is precisely because this cold virus is just like all the others that young people carry it and don’t succumb that the numbers people are using are horribly wrong. The only thing new here is that hysteria has led to a faulty denominator and wildly inflated mortality.
If you tell someone you had a cold last week, they will say, “so what? I had it three times this year”. But them you have Coronavirus, they will pity and shun you and feel horrified….But now tell them you had a cold virus, commonly known as the Coronavirus, and they will think you are a crazy idiot because of cognitive dissonance. The Coronavirus is one of the cold viruses we face every year and just because it got all this press, it is far from proven that this is genetically or phylogenetically different. You may already have gotten it many times in your life!
Coronavirus exceptionalism is based on inflated mortality statistics from two instances (one a confined cruise ship with old people and another from an elderly, very physically intimate culture that often greet by kissing both cheeks. The sad thing is that when all is said and done and the final impact in terms of lives lost is one thousandth that of influenza, you true believers will say “thank god we took measures to make sure it wasn’t worse!”
If you don’t believe we have a denominator problem producing inflated mortality, read this article by a Stanford professor and epidemiologist who called it a “once-in-a-century fiasco”.
You may find me less than credible but at last, these three public health experts are clearly speaking about an alternative reality in an attempt to diffuse the hysteria that has already brought about an apocalypse worse than the one we conjured in our imaginations.