What have we learned from COVID-19
By Kraig Peel, Ph.D.
This has been a crazy time for all of us. I will admit that I have been surprised by some things but simultaneously not even shocked regarding other events. We have lost freedom and have been continuously bombarded with a steady dose of fear. I can only speak for myself and I want to share some things that I have learned through this ordeal.
I have been disappointed by the blind following of so many Americans. We were told early on that there would be millions of people die in the United States. As of the exact time of this writing, there are 66,075 deaths that have been attributed to Covid 19. I am not in any way minimizing the loss of these people and my heart is broken for their families. My point is the early predictions were very wrong. Our country was closed down, our economy wrecked, and freedoms taken away because of the error. I would like an explanation as to why the predictions were so wrong.
I expected Americans to push back on the limitations of our freedoms. It is only recently that people have started pushing back. I am amused by the people wearing masks while driving in their cars. Do they really think the virus is going to be on the street, sucked in through the air conditioning and then sprayed in their face? How about people walking around on the sidewalk? Come on people, think for yourself! Masks are only to keep you from giving it to other people. It will not prevent you from inhaling the virus. There are a few masks that will filter the virus but most will not. The primary vector for infection is from hands to the face. Most of the people I see with a mask are actually touching their face more because they are constantly adjusting the mask. I see a lot of people wearing gloves. They will not help a bit if you get the virus on the glove and then touch your face! What ever happened to some good common sense?
Common sense is to stay away from people who are sick and to practice good hygiene. We should all be washing our hands and not touching public surfaces. Working with livestock and catching some bad things in grad school taught me to wash my hands probably more often than most. I even carry hand cleaner and paper towels in my tool box and use them regularly. Did you know that GoJo orange is the only thing that will take cow manure off perfectly? Just a side note and I am pretty sure it kills a lot of pathogens! Everyone can learn something from this in more frequent hand washing will help you not to get sick especially when you are traveling.
I hope that Americans will understand this wake up call for our country. We have been outsourcing so many things to China because they can make it cheaper. We have not been able to compete with many of these products because of extreme regulations and oftentimes labor unions have priced themselves out of business. The big wake up for me was pharmaceutical production. We should not have to depend on anyone else for our medications in this country. We were slow to get the medications we needed because they were all made in China!
We should also learn that we cannot trust China for anything. They knew this virus was serious. They stopped domestic travel out of Wuhan but allowed international travel. We should have caught onto this much sooner. When our economy started to collapse, Russia and Opec saw a great opportunity. They pushed their oil production as a way to do more damage to our economy when they saw our oil prices fall. When we became energy independent, other oil production countries saw their position weaken in the world as the U.S. was a major buyer until the last 5 years. China started it and then Russia and the middle eastern oil producers piled on. The result has been devastating for the price of oil. Many of my family in West Texas have lost their jobs as a result.
I am worried about our response to this virus. The entire country has basically been in hiding for 6 weeks. There are less people who are infecting others so the incidence rate has declined. I am worried that there are so many who are still susceptible and as people start to move around again, we will see the rate increase again. I am encouraged by some recent data from antibody tests. Preliminary data suggest that far more people have had covid 19 than previously thought and the virus may have been in the U.S. since as early as last fall. If this data continues and is confirmed, the result is going to be that the death rate is going to be much closer to influenza than previously thought. If you did not get it this time, guess what, you may still have to opportunity. The virus is not going anywhere and the hope that it is temperature sensitive has not proven true yet.
I like Sweden’s approach. They were very deliberate in giving their public the facts and then trusted the Swedish people to do their part. The result has been a very small interruption in their economy but they did have significant death loss. The part that I believe was the best is the opportunity for the public to reach a level of herd immunity. This means that at least 20% of the population has the antibodies for the virus and likely will not get it again.
I encourage readers to use some common sense and to seek the facts. The facts are not readily available so you will have to work hard to find the truth. You will have to piece it together from a variety of sources. A response from a place of fear will not yield positive results. Please remember, this virus has a 98% recovery rate!