Pathogens in One Lesson

GalaxiesLockdowns are a terrible idea. This of course goes against our “common sense” but the problem is that we are not equipped by nature to have the correct common sense. On top of that, our naïve common sense is distorted by the media and politicians. They are in the business of selling panic to people so that they obey their commands.
It is hard to unlearn a lesson that has been repeated for years. If it took 20 years to push a wrong idea into some’s head, the idea cannot be expelled from the mind in 20 minutes. That is why “allah hu akbar” is so tenacious. They repeat it 5 times a day since birth. By the time a Muslim grows up, AHA is part of his DNA.
For over a year now, the peddlers of panic have been pushing their agenda. It’s hard not to be influenced by their reality-distorting propaganda. But it is possible to see through their bullshit.
The truth — as far as humans are able to discover some part of it — is accessible, provided one is open to reason. Fortunately, we have almost instantaneous access to what domain specialists and experts understand to be true. We have to rely on them and are better off for their expertise. Unfortunately, social media has poisoned the well by the constant barrage of senseless forwards of idiocy. In that cacophony, the quite voice of reason gets drowned.We can spend every minute of everyday watching the news and reading social media without coming anywhere within earshot of what we must know essentially. That’s the problem — reading, watching, and listening to news is not a good way to understand the world.
With that preamble, let me suggest what you should read instead. It’s a brief article by Jeffrey Tucker. In it he talks about a book published in 2013. The author is the epidemiologist Dr Sunetra Gupta, one of the three authors of the Great Barrington Declaration. The book title is “Pandemics: Our Fears and the Facts.”
Note that the book was written in 2013. The book is immensely important for how we understand, and respond to, the current pandemic. I don’t think too many people will have the time to read the book. Fortunately, Jeffrey Tucker has done an excellent job of summarizing the book’s message as it applied to Covid-19. Here are a few excerpts (in order from the text but with major gaps) from Tucker’s article.
Gupta, I suspect, wrote this book to familiarize readers with the normalcy of pathogens, and to explain why it is not likely that an entirely new and deadly disease will arrive to wipe out large swaths of the human race. She had solid reasons to doubt that there was a case for panic. In all human experience, taking on germs and minimizing their threat took place with marginal steps toward better therapeutics, medical attention, better sanitation, vaccines, and, above all else, exposure. Much of this text is about exposure – not as a bad thing but as a hack to protect the human body against severe outcomes.
I will try to summarize the one major lesson of this book. Pathogens will always be with us, their forms always changing, and thus the best protection we have against severe outcomes from those that threaten us is immunities built by exposure to milder forms of them. She explores this idea in great depth, applies it to past pandemics, and examines the implications for the future.
As another fascinating observation, she speculates that the technology of travel has led to a wider exposure to pathogens in the 20th century than had ever been experienced in history. This might have made a major contribution to the astonishing extension of life spans in the course of the 20th century, generally from 48 years to 78 years. We are perhaps accustomed to crediting better diet and better medicine but this simple explanation neglects the major contribution of well-trained immune systems all over the world. I’ll say it here: I find this insight to be nothing short of astonishing.
The main import of this evocative book is to bring not panic about pathogens but rather a calming wisdom. We evolved alongside them. We understand them better than ever before. Our life experiences have granted us remarkable resilience. In nature’s dangerous dance between our bodies and the bugs, we enjoy a greater advantage now than ever before in history.
That is not to say that there is not a scary aspect of this book. I left the text not with a fear of disease but with a different fear, that of a naive immune system. When viruses kill most efficiently it is when they find a host that is completely untrained to take them on. That is the terror that should keep us up at night.
The book nowhere discusses lockdowns as such. It is not a political book. But we know precisely where the author stands on the question thanks to her many interviews and writings over the course of this pandemic. She finds them to be disastrous, not only because they do nothing to mitigate the virus, and not only because they create vast collateral damage, but also because they take us in exactly the opposite direction of where we should be going.
End excerpts. The full article — Pathogens in One Lesson, Courtesy of Sunetra Gupta — is worth a read.

Author: Atanu Dey


One thought on “Pathogens in One Lesson”

  1. Even though “lockdown” was formally declared in India early in 2020, ground reality prevented hundreds of millions from exercising even the most basic distancing requirements. After the first wave waned, there wasn’t even any pretense of distancing. Therefore, India has mostly been practicing precisely what Gupta recommends, with excellent results. The survivors will very likely be very hardy individuals well suited to a post-apocalyptic ecosphere. Too bad the rest won’t be able to leave their frail bodies behind and upload themselves into The Cloud in time.

    Liked by 1 person

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