While I’m not as charismatic, rugged or as reckless as Dominic Toretto, I want to take a chance and jump into the driving seat; but unlike Toretto, I have no desire to be fast nor furious. I want to take my foot OFF the pedal and switch to a lower gear because it’s slow and steady that’s going to win this race.
Coronavirus may be the biggest global pandemic, facing humanity, however the COVID-19 outbreak comes with an unprecedented set of circumstances, making the reach of this biological contagion feel all encompassing…
24-hour news coverage and social media.
The relentless high-pitched scream of social media and 24-hour news coverage making the iconic Edvard Munch painting feel like a careless whisper. You’ll constantly hear the words quarantine, lockdown, isolation and death. I don’t ask the media to shy away from the realities of what we are facing, but like Lieutenant Daniel Keffee “I want the truth!” I don’t want a self-serving, attention seeking, blinkered perspective. I want a media that circles for credible information to provide me with a 360-degree view that reflects the actual reality I live.
If we crunch the numbers for the United Kingdom; a total population of approximately 67, 807, 457. The total number of confirmed deaths from the virus are 8, 958 which is 0.01% (rounded up) of the total population. This does not make the speed and infection rate any less alarming, but I am reporting numbers that anyone with a Google search engine can find…with a death rate that is unfortunately due to increase by the time this is posted.
During the early coverage of this situation, there was a time when the media irresponsibly portrayed this as an old people disease. I’m not entirely sure why? Older people tend to be less physically active, due to accumulated years of a sedentary lifestyle. Less and less physicality tends to contribute to the development of certain medical conditions such as diabetes, obesity, sepsis, high blood pressure and or heart/lung related conditions.
The media straight flushed its audience by revealing every old person stereotype it could play. Interviewing elderly residents in nursing homes, with walking sticks and zimmer frames. While these elderly individuals have earned the right to be spotlighted in the media…is that a true reflection of all people over 65? Where was the representation of the independent, regularly active, socially engaged older members of our society? Why was the story of 103-year-old Zheng Guagfen, who made a full recovery from the infectious disease not given more prominence?
“I think it’s easy to get a perception that if you are older and you get this virus then you’re a goner – absolutely not, the great majority of people will recover from this virus, even if they are in their 80s.”
Chris Whitty, UK Chief Medical Officer
But you won’t hear any follow up stories from that perspective, because it’s not enough to keep us glued to the screens of our choice. There has been studies carried out on the immune systems of active older people (in this case cyclists) with results that found some 80 year olds had the immunity of a 20 year old. But rather than use quotes to support my openly bias point of view the link is below, for your consideration.
However, it was noted that T cells, are an important function for an effective immune system which doesn’t necessarily have to decline just because we get older. To be fair, the media findings at the time we’re based on early information coming out of China, but we now know that smoking was a significant factor for those that died and still puts people at an increased risk.
A virus that attacks the immune system with no cure in sight, would it not be beneficial to provide a long-term strategy to improve the immune system, once the infection rate from COVID 19 starts to decline? If you have a virus that makes those with underlying health conditions more vulnerable (regardless of age) then shouldn’t the antidote be related to health?
According to the Harvard Health Medical school a few ways to boost our immune system, includes not smoking and drinking alcohol moderately. But how exactly does that work in a society where pubs and bars are a social crutch of the culture?
I have yet to hear any politician, president or prime minster suggest new policies to help regulate alcohol consumption; or that of processed fast foods filled with refined sugar, fats and salt…which are a direct and/or indirect cause of some of the underlying health conditions that make people vulnerable in the first place.
“Ty, have you lost your goddam mind? As a grown adult I have the right to eat and drink whatever the hell I want!”
You won’t hear an opposing argument from me on that. I’ve just finished a whole bag of M&M peanuts while writing this and I’m still contemplating whether or not I should finish the two thirds of Haagen Daaz peanut butter crunch sitting in the freezer.
But how crazy is it that a virus known for attacking our biological immune system has a bizarre collective societal “fight or flight” response by going out and stockpiling on toilet paper? Yet the fruit and vegetable isle in my local supermarket is overflowing with abundance?
Physical health is going to be something governments have got to attempt to promote with a little more effort. I’m not talking superficial insta “I don’t break a sweat while working out” social influencers either. But one of the keys to the castle is taking an honest look at the side effects a comfortable, sedentary, western lifestyle of abundance can bring.
Some claim this is a turning point and I think it can be but we’ve gotta take collective responsibility for our own physical and mental health. Get a good night’s sleep, don’t sweat the small stuff, move more, eat those awful tasting green things called vegetables and sprinkle our collective diets with nutritional vitamins from A – Zinc.
There are some really valuable lessons we can learn, maybe we can allow more people to work from home, perhaps we shouldn’t allow people to regularly overcrowd public transportation systems and washing hands more regularly isn’t such a bad habit to adopt. But, if at the end of it all, we just want to rush back to the way things were then what was it all for?
The speed in which this virus moves is unlike anything I’ve known in my lifetime, but misinformation spreads faster. At present the media is taking on a new narrative; this virus disproportionately impacts people from certain ethnic backgrounds. This is a genuine concern; however, the danger is you tilt the mirror to reflect a race angle, when it should be realigned to focus on general health.
The loss of life is tragic under any circumstance, I purposefully avoided including comparative death statics because I would be doing exactly what I am criticising the mass media for. But I can say this; if the percentage of people dying from this disease is relatively small this means that 99% (globally) of people are doing well and recovering. It would be nice to get some qualitative data of who these people are and what commonality of conditions helped them to make it through.
Until next time.
I’d like to reply at length, Ty, and maybe I will in email one day, but a few points for now:
The reported number of people dying is just those in hospitals. There have been more in care homes, and there will be far more of people dying in their own homes and elsewhere. This is a terrible disease and is taking out far more people than have been reported in mainstream media. The figures are distorted. You need to look further afield than the BBC and similar sites, to find more info. It’s difficult at the moment because (I think) there’s censorship going on at the moment, but it’s possible. Try blogs – for instance, the blogs of doctors and nurses working on the front line.
I’m actually happy that the media are over-emphasising the ‘old people’ angle, because the more that people are made aware that they need to protect the old and vulnerable, the better. This will all pass one day – like everything else has done, including other pandemics and, of course wars – and so too will the media-frenzy.
I do have more to say, but I’ll leave it at this for the moment.
I’ll look into finding out more information because so far my only research has only been based on the immune system.
In relation to vulnerable people…I just wasn’t sure if it was just “age” alone. For example is an obese 40 less vulnerable than a fit 70 year old?
But as you say Val, we are still in the early stages…and I hope you stay safe until this is over. ❤️
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Until a vaccine is found, Ty, we are all vulnerable to this virus. As for more vulnerable, anyone with underlying health disorders or already weakened bodies (doesn’t even have to be weakened immune systems) is likely to have more serious effects if they catch it.
Thanks for your email. Will reply when I can. x