The New Paradigm

Living with Coronavirus
Sunday April 4, 2021

12:00 Noon

“Early morning, April four
A shot rings out in the Memphis sky
Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your pride”

Happy Easter. 

I do not celebrate this day.  I neither worship the fertility Goddess Easter nor do I follow the Christian faith and believe in resurrection of the dead.  Although I often wonder why so few Christians miss the huge issue with the resurrection of Jesus in their faith.  Set aside all the science and lack of data; The resurrection of Jesus undoes their own dogma.

In Christian dogma an all-powerful deity cannot forgive humanity without a blood sacrifice, this is a carryover from Judaism.  Christians think that since Jesus was the last, perfect sacrifice, that God does not need or want any further sacrifices.  So, lets set aside restrictions placed on an all-powerful deity like being unable to forgive without a sacrifice, and instead focus on the lack off any sacrifice whatsoever.

 A sacrifice is a permanent loss.
 NOUN-an act of slaughtering an animal or person or surrendering a possession as an offering to God or to a divine or supernatural figure.
 VERB-offer or kill as a religious sacrifice.

No take backs allowed.  If I sacrifice a lamb to god the lamb is killed and burned with nothing but ashes left.  However, in the Christian dogma Jesus is sacrificed, then unsacrificed via resurrection.  Jesus is not actually sacrificed, he is tortured and executed only to rise back up three days later, or unsacrificed.  Do you imagine that a deity would accept a lamb you sacrificed if you still had the lamb?  How is it any different for Jesus?

The answer is always a form of special pleading from those who believe.
Special Pleading is a logical fallacy.
Special pleading
“argument in which the speaker deliberately ignores aspects that are unfavorable to their point of view.”
“appeals to give a particular interest group special treatment.”

It is now 1 year and three days since I began this record of this unfortunately historic Pandemic.  We have an endemic disease in Covid-19 which will remain a pandemic as long as it meets the criteria to be declared such. “A Pandemic is an epidemic of an infectious disease that has spread across a large region, for instance multiple continents or worldwide, affecting a substantial number of people. A widespread endemic disease with a stable number of infected people is not a pandemic.”-Wiki

Take close note of the last sentence there; “A widespread endemic disease with a stable number of infected people is not a pandemic.”  SARS-CoV-2 is now both, it is endemic: “a disease regularly found among particular people or in a certain area”; and it is a Pandemic because it is not stable in the number of people infected.  Flu is endemic and every year we take vaccines to avoid a Flu pandemic, that is uncontrolled growth of infection rates.  Flu itself is here to stay, it is endemic because it is not uncontrolled.  We regulate infection rates via vaccines and medicine.

This last year there was almost no flu epidemic, that is Flu did not bloom as it always does, at least at first appearance.  We did have a flu season, as we always do, but media was not reporting on flu this year.  Flu was usurped as a cause for concern by Covid 19.  The Covid Pandemic eclipsed the flu reports, so it looks like we did not have any.  Apparently, some BS on Social Media is claiming we did not have any, which is false.  We did reduce the severity and duration of our flu season by our actions to prevent Covid-19.

“It ought to be noted, however, that the proportion of positive flu tests dropped more sharply in April of the current season than in previous flu seasons. This phenomenon was also observed in other regions such as Singapore, Japan, and Australia and is therefore not limited to the U.S. Researchers from the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health at the National University of Singapore have suggested that the prophylactic measures taken to curb the spread of SARS-CoV-2, such as hand washing, masks, and social distancing, have also contributed to a quicker termination of the current flu season. Researchers from the University of Tokyo reached similar conclusions.”

I saw Dr. Brilliant speak online about SARS-CoV-2 the other day.  I have seen Dr. Brilliant as a man to be admired for decades.  Dr, Brilliant became known as the ‘hippie doctor” in the 60’s and 70’s, and was seen with Wavy Gravy and the Grateful Dead, with whom he was doing outreach for relief efforts.  Dr. Brilliant is the man who killed off smallpox, eradicated it from the earth, but will be the first to say he was only following his own mentor’s plan. Dr. Brilliant has the honor, and horror, of being the last doctor to have to treat a patient with wild smallpox.

That plan, the circle or target plan, was how we eradicated smallpox.  Then, as it is now with SARS-CoV-2, we did not have enough vaccine to inoculate the planet in order to eradicate smallpox. The circle plan is simple, whenever you get a case of smallpox draw a circle thirty miles around it and vaccinate everyone inside that circle thereby targeting the most likely areas for infection.  It worked.

Dr. Brilliant thinks that we have to do the same with SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes the disease Covid-19.  Unfortunately to do that we need a lot more testing, and more vaccines, and a public that is willing to do whatever they have to in order to end the Pandemic.  We do not have that.  Far too many people feel insulated, far too many feel any infringement on liberty for public health is unacceptable.  As long as we have so many who flout public health measures or those who use political positions of power to downplay or remove public health measures, we shall never get the caseload low enough to use the circle plan. 

Smallpox (30% fatal), like Ebola (50% fatal), is such a horrid disease that people will do anything to avoid it. SARS-CoV-2’s lethality is not yet known, but seems at this point to be between 1 and 3%.  Thus, despite its horror, SARS-CoV-2 does not terrify humans into compliance.  Instead, we have to rely on human’s compassion, empathy, and willingness to suffer a little oneself for the good of all.

In other words, don’t hold your fucking breath.

Humans like to boast of our empathy, our compassion and our concern for the plights of others, but we don’t do a lot about it.  We could easily end hunger, homelessness, and most disease by applying ourselves to those problems diligently as a society.  However, whenever it comes to these issues those with the most to lose see their personal retention of their wealth of more import than the betterment of all humans.  So, a small group of deeply empathetic humans struggle endlessly against problems that the wealthiest among us refuse to address, because it is not their personal problem.

As evolved beings we only see about 125 people deep.  That is the average number most people can keep track of and hold personal empathy for.  Your tribe is likely smaller than that.  My tribe is less still.  Outside of our tribes everyone is intangible.  They have intellectual weight, but lack emotional weight.  The horrid commercial showing starving children is designed to provoke the emotional response, to get us to donate funds to aid those children, and we feel for them in a distant way.  If it was your child, your family that was actually starving on the other hand, you would move mountains to feed them. Some starving kid in a far-flung land, not so much.  We don’t “feel” the need, we see it intellectually and can easily rationalize doing nothing.

I thus expect what are seeing, what we have seen in the last year, to be our new normal; The New Paradigm.  Some will mask and vaccinate, wash their hands, and keep a distance by avoiding large gatherings.  Others will ignore or rationalize away any need to follow public health measures, until it directly affects their tribe.  At that juncture they will “feel” the need to do all those things and may well see themselves in an ill light for not realizing it sooner.

So where did SARS-CoV-2 come from?

We have three schools of thought.  First, and most espoused on TV and online, is that SARS-CoV-2 is a wild virus.  That it jumped from bats, to pangolin, to humans, and then from human to human.  Second, and oft derided or ignored by media is that it an escapee from China’s research lab in Wuhan.  The third option is a Dr. No scenario where a madman loosed it upon us all. 

Largely because of Trump and our divided political society, anyone mentioning China is painted as ‘anti-Chinese’.  There is a reflex response from the left, pointing to the rise of violence against the Asian community.  As such the left avoids talking about the possibility that the virus escaped.  The rise in violence against Asians is not the result of people wondering where SARS-CoV-2 came from, but from Donald Trump laying blame on China for not responding, not stopping it from escaping China, for not doing enough fast enough. All of which was done in order to deflect from his own administrations inaction and failures.

As a result, the left leaning media tends to avoid the origin topic or claim it is simply a zootrophic switch, a so-called wild virus.  The right leaning media does the opposite, they blame China, which stirs up angst and anger in the populace and lets them change the narrative away from what they did or did not do. The end result is very few even broach the origin as a topic.

So politics is affecting our understanding of the origin of the virus.  Other issues also cloud this knowledge.  For instance, let’s assume it was an escapee from a virologic research institute.  Do you imagine that research virologists work for free?  Virologists and Epidemiologists are dependent on grants for funding.  Do you think they would get more or less money for research if we found out it had escaped, or would we insist on lots of new protocols and safety procedures, perhaps even restricting methods of research we found too risky?

In this manner all epidemiologists and virologists have a rather large career impact consideration.  To even talk about the possibility it escaped, calls their entire profession into scrutiny, does it not?  Add to that our best chance for getting through this pandemic is those very same people.  In order to get through this the public needs to trust that profession.  A lack of public trust in epidemiologists because we blame epidemiologists for the pandemic itself would undermine any and all confidence in public health measures and their effectiveness.

So, we have political, career, public health and public safety motivations all influencing how folks talk about the origins of SARS-CoV-2.

Then there is the elephant in the room; global thermonuclear war.  If it escaped from a Chinese lab, we have to determine if it was an accident, don’t we?  We have to consider the Dr. No scenario with China as Dr. No.  If we do such publicly, would there not inevitably be someone who believed that was true? Someone who then blamed China and sought to escalate tensions or even declare war. We all know where that line of reasoning ends up: global thermonuclear war.

So, the world has decided, “let’s not even go there, ok? First let’s stop the Pandemic, then we can think about where it came from.”

The data though is unrelenting.  We have numerous reasons to suspect SARS-CoV-2 is an escapee.  First if the bug mutated in the lab and jumped to a human researcher; it could then easily jump from human to human with ease because it had already been evolved to jump from human to human in the lab.  We have odd, rare changes in the genetic structure which would be common in a lab setting, but rare as hell in the wild, present in SARS-CoV-2. We also have China’s reticence and slow times in sharing data and allowing access, which for some seems like a guilty act, whereas it may just be avoiding a discussion which can have no good outcome.

Then we have data holes.  Zootrophic virus which jump to humans are not usually very contagious, but SARS-CoV-2 is very catchy.  In other wild virus we can see where it evolved from, what stages it went through to become contagious to humans.  We can see these changes in the virus structure, but in SARS-CoV-2 we see what it is, but we see no evolutionary path.  It is as if it came as is and never evolved to from SARS, MERS, or anything else, to SARS-CoV-2; but instead appeared as SARS-CoV-2 right out of the gate.

To my untrained and undereducated eye, it looks as if it is far more likely an escapee than a wild virus at this point, but both are possible and I am not at all sure we shall ever know the truth of it.  Our main objective cannot be its origin, but it’s demise and our own personal survival.  It is because of this last line that you will see scant coverage on the origin of SARS-CoV-2, it can serve no good purpose at this juncture. 

Our main objective must be the demise of SARS-CoV-2 before it mutates into a thousand strains so that we have an ‘Endemic Pandemic’; ‘an epidemic of an infectious disease that has spread across a large region, for instance multiple continents or worldwide, and remains at pandemic levels long enough to become the norm.”  A world where the SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic is endemic in and of itself, that is, it is persistently stable at pandemic levels of infection. 

I just created that term ‘endemic pandemic’ to describe the world I fear will be our new paradigm.  Since SARS-CoV-2 is not as lethal as Ebola, and since SARS-CoV-2 is 50% asymptomatic, and since almost half our population is unconcerned with public health measures, I fear we may well be creating just such a reality.  I fear we will vaccinate some, and in others SARS-CoV-2 will mutate again and again until the vaccines do not work.  Then we will start again, over and over again.  Having just enough science to survive, and not enough to ensure its demise for all the complex, interwoven ideas above.

A ‘Fallout’ reality, where one must always and forevermore be vigilant.  Keep one’s distance from crowds, limit social gatherings, mask in crowded situations like work, and always be in line for the next vaccine.  I hope we are smarter than that, but experience tells me otherwise.  I fear we will add these considerations to the ongoing problems manifesting from Climate Change, problems which will intensify and worsen over the next decade.  Those two combined, Climate Change and Pandemic.

That is our new reality; The New Paradigm we are already in.  How much worse we let it get is up to us.

Global Infected 126,821,835                        130,917,035
Increase        4,095,200
7-day average   585,028 infections diagnosed daily –UP

Global Dead     2,778,429                               2,848,439
Increase        70,010
7-day average   10,001 deaths daily –UP

USA Infected    30,219,071                            30,673,277
Increase        454,206
7-day average   64,886 infections diagnosed daily –UP

USA C-19 deaths 548,828                                               554,781
Increase        5,953
7-day average   850 deaths daily –DOWN

Maine Infected 49,653                                   51,763  
Increase        2,110
7-day average   301 infections diagnosed daily –UP

Maine deaths    736                                         745
Increase        9
7-day average   1.2857 deaths daily –UP

While I hid in my hilltop retreat 70,010 of my fellow humans died of Covid-19, of those 5,953 were my fellow Americans, of those 1 was a fellow Mainer.

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