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Sunday, July 12, 2020

Coronavirus: Is It Just An Overblown Cold?

Hey you!

Yes...

You...

The person I just shared this link with.

That’s right.

I wrote this entire blog post for you, in the hopes that perhaps you’d take a gander.

 If I sent this link to you, it’s because I care about you, and, because I care about you, I am going to try and address some of the misinformation I may have seen you post, heard you say, or seen you “like,” share, or retweet on social media.

 Firstly, I’d like to start by saying thank you.

 Thank you for taking the time to read this.

 Thank you for understanding that I genuinely care about you as a human being, and, thank you for being the type of person who considers points of view which, let’s be honest, are probably different than your own.

 You’re the type of person I know cares—about yourself, and about others.

 Otherwise, I wouldn’t bother to reach out to you.

 I took the time to write this, because I do care about you, I do respect you, and I probably like you.

 Heck, I may love you.

 You may even be someone close to me—a friend, a family member, or a colleague.
Sharin
 That’s why I’m sharing this data with you.

 That’s why I’ve taken the time to put this together in a way I hope you’ll understand.

 Let’s get the negatives out of the way first.

 You may not even bother to read this.

 You may read a sentence or two, and then discard
The sad fact is, that  I can’t make you look at it.

 But, and here comes the hopefulness—the potential for some real positivity here...

 I hope that you will.

 I hope that you will look over the data I’m sharing. I hope that you will look at the original source material I have painstakingly researched and shared, right here.

 Okay...

 Let’s  talk. 


 Let’s start with what COVID-19 isn’t.

 COVID-19 is not a “bad cold.” It’s not “a flu.” It’s not fake. It’s not planned. And it’s not overblown.

 I know, I know. This is exactly what you THOUGHT I’d say.

 Typical, right?

 What else can you expect from a stubborn know it all with a science degree? Ugh.

 And I agree. I can be very stubborn. And it would be 100% understandable if, given the sheer volume of data and information I’ve been sharing on COVID-19, and on science in general, you called me a know-it-all.

 Point taken.

 But that doesn’t make it wrong...

 While colds are DIFFERENT coronaviruses, this coronavirus is SARS COV-2, which is nothing like the common cold, and the various and ever-changing strains of seasonal influenza are not caused by coronaviruses at all.

 COVID-19, which is caused by a virus called SARS COV-2, is something totally different.

 SARS COV-2 is an rna transcription virus, which causes lifelong complications in those who have it, and kills many outright.

 It weakens the lungs and the immune system. We haven’t seen anything like it before.

 It spreads via respiratory droplets, which can spread up to 6 feet and hang around for up to three days, on surfaces and in the air.

 Its most common means of transmission is through talking—the louder you talk and the closer you stand, the more likely the disease is to be spread.

 The spike proteins bond with the ASE-2 proteins within the cells inside of your body, which triggers mutations in your cells, which causes your body to signal your own immune system to have an extreme reaction, causing the tissue in the lower part of the lungs to become inflamed and prevent oxygen from entering your lungs and reaching your bloodstream and brain properly.

 This, coupled with the severe inflammation and constriction of blood vessels often causes strokes and heart attacks, and if you’re lucky when you get it (oxymoron, right?), and it doesn’t cause either of those potentially fatal complications, it often causes pneumonia, which has killed many COVID-19 patients, and has been directly brought on by COVID-19 ie those who get secondary pneumonia weren’t just going to get pneumonia anyway.

 They didn’t pick it up from a secondary source. It developed directly because they had COVID-19.

 The inflammation in the lungs often causes this characteristic secondary pneumonia infection, which often ends up being the cause of death in COVID-19 patients.

 The origination of this particular mutation of the SARS virus happens to be bats.

 SARS COV-2 mutated from this reservoir species to be able to be transmitted to humans.

 This is what viruses do.

 SARS and MERS are NOT the common cold. They are not the flu.

 They are extremely contagious, horrifically painful, deadly diseases.

 After initial infection with this virus, scar tissue forms in the lungs, often times reducing lung capacity and efficacious transmission of necessary oxygen to the blood and brain for the rest of your life, causing complications you may not even be aware of until later on—though if you’re like many COVID-19 patients, you may find out upfront when you experience hypoxia, and pneumonia.

 Because it is transmitted so easily, it is IMPERATIVE that you wear a mask when and where appropriate.

 Who should we trust for information?

 I totally understand the urge to not trust government, but in this case, we really must trust our governors, who are making decisions which are in our best interests, based on the input they are getting from scientists who study the spread of viruses.

 These folks are known as virologists or epidemiologists, and they follow the scientific method, to gain important knowledge and insight into viruses, and their effects on humans and animals.

 They specifically work on laboratory studies, including rigorous peer reviews (duplicating and attempting to disprove the research of other scientists, which is what the scientific method is about—attempting to disprove, so that what we’re left with is the truth, and continuing that process ad infinitum), as well as and initial research. These folks then publish their findings in scientific journals and journals of medicine.

 Contact tracers and data aggregators also play an important role in public health, sharing up to the minute data with open source data platforms like the two I’ve linked here, and assisting government officials in making decisions which will benefit their constituents (us).

 What can we do to protect ourselves and others?

 Well, we can listen to the experts, and check out firsthand data sources.

We can also wear masks, wash our hands, and use hand sanitizer in between washings. We can generally up our hygiene game, so as to protect ourselves and others.

 We can consider what trips are really essential during a pandemic. Do we need to go to the bar? The clothing store (I shop online right now)? To parties where appropriate personal protection and social distancing may not be observed? On vacation?

 In short, the social and societal aspects of this pandemic will show us what kinds of people we really are, and whether we’re capable of working together for the good of all, or if we will end up acting selfishly and impulsively. For the most part, I’m seeing people acting like decent human beings, and that gives me some hope, but when I see people clinging to misinformation, in order to support their own comfort and privilege, it concerns me, because, like it or not, we truly are all in this together (no hate—that’s how the human brain is designed to work, and, thankfully, we happen to be capable of overcoming that, with some good old higher thought and executive function).

 But back to protection. I know there has been a lot of concern about wearing masks. So, why masks? Are they really that important?

 Masks prevent against ingress AND egress. In other words, they protect you from picking up or spreading the illness. Asymptomatic spread is an issue, and even picking up and transmitting the virus without actually becoming ill yourself is an issue. There is no herd immunity against SARS COV-2. None. SARS-COV-2 evolves and changes so fast, that even if there were herd immunity, it wouldn’t last for long.

But aren’t there treatments?

What we really need, and are currently working toward, is a vaccine.

 A vaccine will be the best way to eradicate SARS-COV-2, and the subsequent COVID-19  illness, that it causes.

 But what about some of the medications we’re hearing about?

  Hydroxychloroquinine and zinc, two of the much hyped supposed preventative/treatment options for COVID-19, have been found, after PEER REVIEWED RESEARCH, not only not to be effective treatments or cures for COVID-19, but hydroxychloroquinine has been found to be dangerous, and even fatal to those who take it.

 Zinc, on the other hand, while not an effective means of treatment or prevention of SARS COV-2 (again, that’s the name of the virus which causes the illness known as COVID-19), although it *MAY* help to prevent you getting COVID-19, if you come into contact with SARS COV-2 viral particles.

 It does not in any way prevent you, however, from spreading the illness to others. Incubation period is between 5-14 days, so even if someone is infected with the SARS COV-2 virus, they may not develop any symptoms until 5-14 days have passed. Please—if this is difficult to understand or seems confusing, ask an expert, or heck, ask me.

 I’ll point you toward www.gisaid.org, https://ourworldindata.org/coronavirus-data or any of the other trustworthy open source data platforms, where up to the minute statistical and scientific data can be found.

 This is very serious.

 Normally, when a pandemic strikes, there are three waves. The first hits quickly, the second is larger, numbers wise, and the third is sort of the dying gasp of the pandemic. But if we do not take appropriate action, this pandemic will last for longer, sicken more people, and kill more people. I know it’s hard to consider that a simple virus could hurt of kill or permanently damage you or someone you love, and I know that because of how it’s wired, the human brain will automatically turn to emotional defensive like confirmation bias (I haven’t died yet; this must be blown out of proportion; it couldn’t REALLY be this bad; the media must just be trying to scare us; law of attraction will keep this illness away; but I eat right, but I exercise; but I take supplements, and so on and so forth), but I assure you that this virus doesn’t discriminate.

 It doesn’t care if you don’t believe it could hurt or kill you or someone you love. It doesn’t care if you practice law of attraction. It doesn’t care if you’ve never been faced with something like this before and you don’t know how to handle it. Viruses are equalizers. They don’t care who you are or what you believe. They just enact the programming they are designed to enact, and do so in a deadly efficient fashion. Please—me disagreeing with you about this is NOT a personal attack. It’s the opposite. I don’t want you to die, to become ill, or to inadvertently cause harm to someone else. I hope you’ll choose to turn a critical eye toward the data I am sharing here. It may save your life.

 Still don’t believe me?

 Please feel free to leave any questions below, and I will do my best to research them and provide answers to them, in as analytical a manner as is possible.

 I would respectfully ask anyone who has read the verifiable, firsthand data and subsequent information that I, and others, have shared, whether, after weighing the facts and the actual data, outside of the personal feelings and positions of those who may be sharing it with you, and outside of their and your own personal biases (which we all have), if your disagreement is truly with the data, or whether it is at least POSSIBLE that your brain is simply doing what human brains are built to do, and protecting you from information which could leave you feeling vulnerable.

 If you’ve asked yourself that question, and your answer is no, then your brain is doing it’s job, and enacting one of it’s many defense mechanisms.

 It’s so tough to step outside that, especially when your brain is telling you not to, but that’s what critical thinking is. I’d like to invite you to engage in some critical thinking with me.

 What specific data points do you disagree with, and why?

 Is there any possibility that you may WANT what you’ve read/heard/watched to be true? If so, is it at least possible that you may want the things you’ve read, heard or watched to be true, because it seems kind of big, frightening, and unfathomable that the data and scientific interpretations of same which I am sharing with you to be true?

 I get it. It’s so scary. It’s unfathomable to some, that something like this could happen in today’s world, and believing that it’s a hoax, a conspiracy, or not really all that bad is super comforting, and is a super convenient and emotionally satisfying explanation, that your mind may literally beg you not to do any further consideration on the matter, because if you did, you might have to consider that some of the things you’ve been living your life believing—wanting—BEING might not be true, and that would be too much.

 Again, that’s what human brains do. They protect our emotions, our sense of safety, and our sense of self, at the risk of causing us physical, mental and emotional harm later. They protect our worldview and our privilege (yes—we all have it) at the expense of ours and others’ safety. This becomes more prominent when we actively seek forms of mental and emotional refuge, in order to keep from accepting shared reality.

 A gap like this between personal and shared reality, however, is both harmful and unsustainable.

 It’s harmful to ourselves and to others. Gaps between our personal reality and shared reality are often tied up in things like privilege, the instinct to either fight or run away from uncomfortable or i convenient truths. Gaps like these, between personal and shared reality are responsible for all manner of wrongs in this world—from racism, to sexism, to classism, to various and sundry forms of tyranny and oppression, both systemic and individual.

 These gaps are responsible for conspiracy theories, whitewashing, gaslighting and avoidance. I would like to invite you to step outside of that paradigm with me. If I can do it, so can you. We are all capable of that. It’s a daily struggle for myself and for everyone else, and it won’t be easy, but it WILL do you and those you love, and pretty much everyone else good on a level so large-scale, it is almost impossible to consider—just as staying in these comfortable mental shackles will cause irreparable harm—even death to many, possibly us—possibly right now.

 If what you’re taking away from this is “Dominique thinks she is better than me, smarter than me, or superior to me,” I want to assure you that, flawed and entirely imperfect individual that I am, that is not my intent. My only intention is to try and help in some small way, by enumerating processes taking place in our brains and in our bodies on a daily basis, that some people may not be aware of. I am far from the final authority on this, or any other matter.

 The beauty of the scientific method is that you don’t have to trust me. You don’t even have to like or respect me. It’s not about the source; it’s about the information.

 Thank you for taking the time to read this. Be well.

 Source material: here you will find data, with no bias and no spin:

https://www.gisaid.org/

https://ourworldindata.org/coronavirus-data

https://weather.com/health/coronavirus

https://datascience.nih.gov/covid-19-open-access-resources

https://github.blog/2020-03-23-open-collaboration-on-covid-19/

https://data.humdata.org/m/dataset/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-cases