COVID 19: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (profitable)

12 Responses to COVID 19: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (profitable)

  1. alephrellik says:

    Hello, Brian thank you for your insights.

    I was wandering do you have any journal articles following a similar critique to modern medicine based on the Covid mortality rates?

  2. Anti-Capital says:

    Bad things generally happen when you think Marxism can substitute for actual scientific investigation:

    1.Brian tells us there are three critical facets, with “the underlying health of the nation being the most important.” So we should ask how do we measure the underlying health of the society? Access to clean water and sanitation? Infant mortality? Maternal mortality in childbirth? Percentage of children below 90% of their age appropriate weight? Or are we using what has to be proven as the measure, that mortality and morbidity from Covid 19 are the measures of relative health? The reasoning is circular from Jump Street.

    2. Brian leaves out the critical factor in the mortality and morbidity rates associated with Covid 19– and that is the ability to reduce exposure. The virus did not selectively attack elderly in nursing homes and facilities because those elderly had underlying morbidities. The rates of infection and fatality were driven by the inability to reduce exposure. Certainly underlying health conditions and age matter, but the fact that fatalities were so concentrated in those who were older than the average life expectancy tells us that we cannot, and should not, try to measure the health of the society by this rate of incidence and mortality.

    3. The virus has not “been highly selective, targeting the unhealthy, underbelly of society.” It’s most severe impact has been on certain portions of society. What is common to all those portions, from New York city transit workers to medical care personnel, is the inability to reduce exposure.

    4. Brian says “The purpose of a virus, inter alia, is to cull that part of any specie, whether plant animal fungi, which is unhealthy.” That is bollocks, just plain old ignorance. The only purpose a virus has is to make more copies of the virus. That’s it. There is no “purpose” to it, as if a virus could have a “telos” a project, an intention. What garbage. The measles virus has and had no such culling purpose, unless you think there are too many children. Brian slips into Social Darwinism without even blinking an eye. Polio only killed about 2000 per year in the US in the period preceding the creation of the vaccines. Where’s the culling in that? Smallpox took the strong and the weak. That’s the way a virus works. It takes over the cellular reproductive machinery.

    A true epidemic, or pandemic, takes its toll on the healthy and unhealthy Here’s the best example I can think– the 90% drop in the indigenous population of Mexico within the first century after the Spanish conquest. Had nothing to do with the underlying health of the indigenous population. Had everything to do with exposure to diseases that the organisms as a whole had not previously encountered.

    5. Brain again “I said quite the contrary, arguing that because the poor countries were less medicalized, they were more robust and that this single factor would outweigh the poverty and lack of access to medical facilities.” Look if “less medicalized”– a phrase so unscientific it should be stricken from the discussion– determined medical “robustness,”– another unquantified and unquantifiable term that should be stricken– then how do we explain the susceptibility of such populations to diseases IN THE ABSENCE OF VACCINES? How to explain the toll HIV took and still takes on the people of Africa? Or Ebola? Or Malaria? How to explain the recent return of diphtheria to India? Increase of polio in Pakistan?

    6. If the populations of sub-Saharan Africa are really less susceptible to Covid19, it is more that just a little likely, in fact it is almost certain, that the key to the resistance is found in certain specifics of the genome that is shared by those populations. In fact, it has to be, since we are talking about a resistance of an entire population; regardless of class, access to medical care, or basic sanitation.

    7. Then we get this which is shocking in its ignorance, and unscientific basis: The secret to lower reported rates of infection and mortality in India is based on “in India there are herds of cows walking around with cow dung everywhere.” Really? What scientific evidence is there that the prevalence of cow dung has a positive correlation with human immunity?

    I could go on, but after a claim such as that by Brian, there is simply no further need. He’s spreading the curative powers of bullshit.

    • I always believe criticism should be used as an opportunity for clarification and elaboration, even if the critic does not rise above the label of being a mere irritant. What is an obscenity of course is that Sartesian’s view is at odds with every public health official who recognises that preventative medicine is all about resilience, and resilience is all about health and the factors that improve health.

      I will proceed, not in the order set out by Sartesian, but in a more logical way. He states in a completely one sided and unsatisfactory way that the purpose of a virus is to copy itself. “The purpose of a virus, inter alia, is to cull that part of any specie, whether plant animal fungi, which is unhealthy.” That is bollocks, just plain old ignorance. The only purpose a virus has is to make more copies of the virus.” That is as profound as saying the purpose of life is to separate birth from death. He fails to answer the question, if the purpose, rather than the mechanism of a virus, is to simply reproduce ad infinitum, how is it the case that we have such a diversity of life on the planet. Why did viruses not kill off all life if their purpose is to simply reproduce. The typical answer to that contradicts Sartesian’s assertion and is equally wrong; a virus has an interest in keeping its host alive so it can reproduce, which somehow ascribes intelligence to a virus.

      He should have also included that the purpose of the host, because after all a virus is a non-living parasite, is to protect itself from the virus and to adapt to it. But even here Sartesian is not only being one sided but fractionally one sided if that is possible. We are bathed and infused in a soup of viruses, countless trillions day in and day out. The study of the Virome teaches us that the majority of viruses are beneficial not harmful. They play a regulatory role in life keeping micro environments viable and in balance.

      Sartesian reminds me of the old-fashioned doctor who said the colon was simply a shit forming organ. Today we know it is a complex biosphere called the gut microbiome. It is no accident that two thirds of our immune system is wrapped around our intestines because this is where the world travels through us. It is no accident that we have thousands of virus species, hundreds of bacterium and tens of fungi cohabiting in our intestines. We have more foreign cells in our intestines than cells in our body. They form a template of the biosphere found in the outside world, scouts which warn the immune system to external changes so the immune system can react rather than over-react. We either get sick, degenerate or die when this biome fails in its function.

      But why should this biome become dysfunctional. The answer is poor diet, stress and age. All of this contributes to a breakdown in regulation in the GI tract. Pathogenic bacterium and viruses can now colonise the colon, a nice turn of phrase. But hang on, according to Sartesian the purpose of viruses is simply to reproduce. So, the viruses (bacteriophages) in our gut which have evolved to regulate the bacteria in our gut, and which improves the ecology of the gut, are simply there to reproduce. Perhaps Sartesian has found the meaning of life, life is just one big viral replicator. Sartesian reduces complexity to banality and he has the cheek to call me a Social Darwinian.

      Next, he talks of HIV to debunk the view that viruses discriminate. Now no biologist ever compares a sexually transmitted virus to an airborne transmitted virus. In the early days bigots did just this, implying you could catch aids by kissing or even having the patient breathe on you. What is not well understood is that semen is considered by the recipient body to be a foreign body, a pathogen if you like. It always elicits an immune response which begins with inflammation regardless of whether that semen is infected with a bacterium or a virus. The vagina has evolved to moderate this having more secretions, a thicker barrier and a more modulated immune response.

      On the other hand, the anus has a thinner barrier and is more prone to inflammation from semen. Thus, as a barrier to infection it is inferior to the vagina or uterus, actually 18 times more inferior. (https://www.nature.com/articles/mi201697) I say this not to discourage different forms of sex, but to state biological fact in order to sweep aside Sartesian’s criticisms. HIV did not discriminate between the rich and the poor, the healthy and not so healthy, because of its mode of transmission.

      He throws in all the other childhood diseases that inflict poor countries in order to wrong foot me. But there is a common thread with susceptibility to all these diseases – malnutrition, especially Vitamin A deficiency. The one medical intervention that saves more lives than any other is the double injection of water-based Vitamin A at 200,000iu given to under 2s. It reduces infant mortality by between 35 and 50% percent in Vitamin A deficient societies. Thus tens of millions of lives are saved annually despite the presence of the same viruses. Why, because Vitamin A is nature’s anti-microbial. It makes infants healthier, more resilient and it modulates their interaction with viruses.

      Sartesian talks of Measles, the continuing scourge found in richer countries. But here again, Vitamin A deficiency plays a major role. There is a mountain of research showing that the most severe cases are associated with Vitamin A deficiency. So much so that post-mortem studies of deaths in the 1990s outbreak in California showed the only common factor to be acute vitamin A deficiency. Twist and turn, Sartesian cannot evade the fact that our interaction with nature is a question of health. Nature takes no prisoners.

      I will now return to his point 1. He asks how do we measure the health of society? There are a number of accepted measures, one being the absence of underlying illness. I did not choose this criterium. It was chosen by epidemiologists who identified it as one of the two primary risk factors associated with COVID. So why throw in all the other factors Sartesian? That is just being clever in a stupid way.

      Point 2 deserves a bigger discussion on age, how we remain healthy into old age, how we look after and care for the old, the role of drugs in extending life and so on. So, I will pass on this point, except to say that when you concentrate a cohort of unhealthy people in a confined area, you need the level of protection and surveillance of disease normally found in battery farms.

      Point 3 is where Sartesian makes an important point. Exposure and volume of exposure to the virus is a risk factor. In London, the fatality rate of bus drivers was much higher than the general population, because not only did they have higher levels of exposure, but their lungs had previously been damaged by particulates emitted by diesel engines.

      Point 4. The collapse in population in the Americas was primarily due to the fact that the Europeans had become a pastoral society thousands of years previously (herding and living with animals) and that their immune systems had long since adapted to zoonotic transmissions. Europeans had come to share a common biosphere with their animals. The same cannot be said of the Aztecs who had only domesticated dogs and turkeys. Where Sartesian is right, is that the Aztecs did not have any underlying conditions, except an immune system ill equipped to deal with the host of viruses carried by European sailors. So yes, novelty is important, which is why COVID has been designated a novel virus. It still does not detract from the fact that, novel or not, resilience to COVID is a health issue.

      Point 5. Medicalised was used by me in a specific sense, the use of drugs to treat symptoms, not to cure them. Vaccinations do not treat symptoms they are a cure. So why throw in all these diseases for which a cure exists in the form of a vaccine. Sartesian pretends to be ignorant as to my specific use of the term in order to muddy it. In layman’s terms that is called being disingenuous.

      Point 6. Irrelevant. They thought the Neanderthal gene played a role in this, disproved by India.

      Point 7. Actually, it is true, hence the famous phrase Delhi Belly, the susceptibility of westerners eating street food in India.

      Sartesian, I will not let you onto this site if you conduct yourself in this manner. You distort arguments, strip them of meaning, add in extraneous facts that lead not to clarity but to its opposite, and your language is immoderate. I would hate to vaccinate this site against your comments, as I value some of the work you have done elsewhere.

  3. Anti-Capital says:

    You publish not just misinformation, but dangerous misinformation when it comes to public health and both the origin of a disease and effective remedies. I’ve been thrown out of better places than this.

  4. Anti-Capital says:

    Fantasize about having absolute power, much, do you? Go hawk the amazing curative powers of cow dung. Quack, quack, quack

  5. Anti-Capital says:

    Care to show how you’re theory stacks up against events in Brazil?

  6. Anti-Capital says:

    The increased rates of hospitalization and fatality rates due to Covid 19 among those with underlying health conditions has been known since the first 3 weeks of the outbreak. No surprise there. And not an argument. That’s never been in question. Put in terms of logical connections it reads: “If there are underlying health conditions, then those with those underlying conditions will succumb more frequently to Covid 19.”
    That’s not your argument.
    Your argument is “If lower fatality rates due Covid19 are found, then there must be a lower rate of co-morbidities.” That’s the converse of the original statement.
    You follow that with the claim that lower rates of co-morbidities are due to a “less medicalized” society where immune systems of the population are more robust.
    You provide zero evidence for either claim, and there is considerable evidence refuting such claims.
    You argue that “medicalization” is the determining factor, one that even outweighs healthcare access and capabilities of the society, or the class-based distribution of those capabilities.
    And you claim such over-medicalization is due to the influence of Big Pharma.
    Now you claim that the co-morbidity you site as “evidence” isn’t even the responsibility of Big Pharma.
    So how does your “theory” ( a charitable characterization) account for Brazil, or Ecuador, or Mexico? Not enough cow dung on the streets?

    • Formal logic is no substitute for drawing connections. Why the use of the metric over-medicalized. For example in the US the CDC now considers 40% of under 20s to be chronically ill. The US medical model takes advantage of this by not returning patients to a state of well being but of co-opting these patients. The treatment of chronically ill patients by means of suppressing symptoms and if not suppressing symptoms then managing them, means these people are getting sicker, therefore more vulnerable to pandemics. Such a simple point to make. Thus it goes without saying that highly medicalized societies are synonymous with generalized aggravated ill health. Look, according to NIPA Table 2.3.5 food expenditures as a share of total consumer outlays is 8% while that on healthcare is 16.3% (Rows 9 and 16 respectively.) And of course that does not include government expenditure on public health. Therefore we can say without fear of contradiction that total health care expenditure is triple that of expenditure on food. Does it make sense that 20% of national income is consumed by healthcare even if some of it is monopolised by the rich. Crap food leading to crap medicine. It is as though the food industry has become the pimp for Big Pharma. My criticism all along has been very specific. The Big Pharma model of medicine has made a bad situation worse. End of. Can we leave it at that.

  7. Anti-Capital says:

    Right, logic is only necessary for drawing rational, demonstrable, accurate conclusions from real data. Since you provide neither accurate conclusions nor real data to back up this:

    “I said quite the contrary, arguing that because the poor countries were less medicalized, they were more robust and that this single factor would outweigh the poverty and lack of access to medical facilities.”

    you have no need for logic… or for explaining the “exceptions” to your assertion, like on the one hand, Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico, and on the other hand, Australia, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Canada, Taiwan, South Korea.

    That’s where we can leave it.

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