This Too Shall Pass
How do viruses spread? Viruses are not actually alive. They are rogue strands of RNA (not even a full DNA strand) that need a host body to function. Once they infect you, usually through breathing into the lungs, or blood or other bodily fluid contact, they begin attaching themselves to your cells and effectively reprogramming them. Your cells become virus factories, replicating the virus until the cell explodes, releasing thousands of viruses, who go on to do the same thing to other cells, until the host is full of them. All the while, you are carrying payloads of them everywhere you go and spreading the virus to everyone you contact (think John Carpenter’s The Thing).
There is a sliding scale of infection rates. It is called an R0 or an R naught scale. So for the 1918 Spanish Flu, there was a value of between R1.4 and R2.8, which means every infected person infects 2.8 people (the .8 person gets the short end of the stick). By contrast, AIDS has an R4. Measles has an R18. WuFlu has an infection rate of R5.7, which is why it spread so fast.
There is also a sliding scale of mortality rates. Of the people infected, how many die from it? With Spanish flu, it was 2.5%. 50 million (yes million) died from it worldwide. Ebola is 50%. WuFlu is about like influenza: between 0.1% and 0.2%.
So WuFlu has a high infection rate, but a LOW mortality rate. And the people who politicize fear are incorrectly counting deaths WITH WuFlu alongside deaths FROM WuFlu to pump the low mortality rate up higher so they can claim more government power.
Which brings us to herd immunity. We have very few vaccines for viruses. Because of the nature of how they work (they are not technically alive) and because of how small they are compared to bacteria, we have no effective means to kill them. We had the same problem with bacteria before Alexander Fleming discovered antibiotics. In order to stop a virus like WuFlu that has HIGH infection rates but LOW mortality rates, we need to achieve herd immunity soonest. We need people to become immune in order to deny the virus host bodies in which to replicate and spread.
You can achieve herd immunity two ways. The most common, thanks to medical pioneer Louis Pasteur, is with vaccines. You spread the immunity using a weakened variant of the disease. This triggers your immune system, which creates antibodies, but it does not kill you. And then you don’t get the full blown version and die. I live in a third world country most of the time when not trapped in America by pandemics. So my family has ALL the vaccines. In the case of WuFlu, we have no vaccine, and the mortality rate is low. So that brings us to the second method – getting the disease and recovering from it.
“Flattening the curve” as we have been hearing about endlessly, was never meant to stop people from getting sick. That is impossible. This thing has an R5.7. You are GOING to get it eventually. My family got it back in January in San Francisco, which, as you may have heard, has a substantial Chinese population. Nobody knew what it was then. We just thought it was a nasty cold, with a bad cough. We got it. We got better. We got immunity. So back to flattening the curve. The purpose was to slow the spread, not to stop infections. The reasoning was, if the number of bad cases, the 0.1% that could result in death, was to spike, then our hospitals would be overwhelmed, and more people would die than we would like.
Thanks to the Swine Flu back in 2009, our national stockpile of ventilators and masks had been depleted, and thanks to our useless President Obama, were NEVER REPLENISHED. For years the CDC had been warning about a flu pandemic and the need for stockpiles, but the Obama economy was so bad, that the medical supplies were never replaced (ventilators are expensive to manufacture).
We had to slow the spread to avoid ending up like Italy. We have achieved our goal. We have replenished our supplies of ventilators and masks. We slowed the spread until hospitals could get on a disease fighting footing. Now we need to go outside, get the disease if you haven’t already (chances are you have, but you didn’t know that’s what it was). We keep the most vulnerable, the old and immune compromised, isolated, while the rest of us spread that herd immunity around. In the absence of a vaccine, which we will probably never get (we still don’t have a vaccine for AIDS, for example), this is how we kill this thing off. We fill our society with immune people, deny the virus host bodies in which to replicate, and let it die out naturally. With an R0 of 5.7, we need 82% herd immunity to stop this plague.
Which means, we need to get people out, back to work, back to school, and spread the immunity far and wide.
So for the LOVE OF GOD, stop posting memes comparing the Spanish Flu to WuFlu. They are not remotely the same thing. Stop virus shaming people who want to get back to work. And stop repeating the lies of Chinese state media, which are being repeated by American fake news media, who are themselves often partly owned by Chinese state media.
Our biggest enemy is panic, and a too great willingness to give up our rights for the illusion of security.