COVID-19: A New Reality
On the morning of September 11, 2001, I was rudely awakened by an incessant buzzing from my cell phone. It had vibrated so much that it was on the floor next to my bed. I answered the phone and my coworker, David Billson just said, “Turn on the TV.”
“Why?” I said, still rubbing the sleep from my eyes. I had been awake for a solid 30 hours prior working on a project.
“Just turn on the TV!”
Somewhere in the recesses of my brain, a command to release some adrenaline sort of fired off within my exhausted body. Still, I was trying to figure out what was going on and I asked, “What channel?”
“Any channel. Just turn on the TV,” my associate implored.
For a moment, I realized that today was going to be different. The dread that I had felt in that moment has never truly left me. As I turned on the TV, I realized that this would be the dawn of a new reality.
The New Reality of COVID-19
When COVID-19 made its’ first appearance last year, the news reports were not encouraging at all. The virus spreading rapidly and the authorities in China had been suppressing all news and information about it. This is a virus that transcends politics and religion. It operates right here in the real world in a simple mechanical way.
The first Doctor to become rather alarmed by this outbreak was, unfortunately, one of the first doctors to also die from this disease. Li Wenliang wrote to his peers in a WeChat group on December 30 about this viral outbreak and was attempting to alert the authorities. This was three weeks after the first patient walked into a hospital with this disease. Instead of treating the matter seriously, Chinese authorities required Li to sign a letter that said he was “making false statements.” As a scientist, I would imagine that he was feeling irritation and anger at such an act. Still, to the end and realizing that he might die, he continued to post on social media that he would continue fighting this disease. Efforts to regard Li has a hero have also been wiped from China’s social media by authorities.
As the virus continued to spread in early 2020, a large majority of the world was reeling in fear about fires in Australia and a possible war with Iran. It wasn’t until January 25 with nearly 2,000 cases of the disease that the virus was identified. Its’ genome was rather rapidly sequenced. Perhaps it was Li’s insistence along with the quick actions of many Chinese doctors that led to this rapid identification of the disease. The article cites that the CV-19 DNA was taken from “a single patient who was a worker at the market and was [admitted to the hospital].” The fact that doctors were able to identify the virus so close to the epicenter of the outbreak is incredible. It is also interesting that a large majority of the CV-19 DNA (90%) resembles the virus that is typically found in bats in China. While the exposure may have happened at the wild animal market, this market did not have bats for sale. They had hedgehogs, badgers, snakes and turtle doves as well as other animal meats. There were no live chickens as well.
Further research by another lab in Guangzhou, China that studied the virus said that the DNA was also similar to the pangolin DNA (99%). Still it wasn’t a precise match on either species for it to easily infect humans. Both the bats and the pangolins naturally coexist with this virus. It appears that this virus is a chimera of both bat DNA and pangolin DNA in such a way that it could easily infect humans.
On January 21, health officials confirmed the first case of COVID-19 in the United States. Any news associated with this event was likely drowned out by the heartbreak and sorrow around the death of a popular athlete, Kobe Bryant, in America. The virus did not stop to grieve or to mourn during this time.
Any chance that the United States had at controlling the outbreak during this early stage was stopped during the early days of the Trump Administration. In 2018, the Trump administration fired the U.S. pandemic response team to control costs. The CDC’s budget was reduced by 1 billion in 2018 and by another 1 billion in 2019. Most notably, the Public Health Preparedness and Response portion of the agency had its’ budget slashed by nearly 50%.
Still, the massively underfunded CDC responded quickly throughout this time. They published a health advisory. They dispatched staffers without protective gear to major airports. They held a news conference on January 21 stating that they expect more cases in the United states. But because there was not a White House Pandemic Response Unit, Trump said on January 22, “It’s one person coming in from China and we have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.”
How could a Pandemic Response Unit make a difference? Such a unit might have the intelligence to understand the global nature of this outbreak. Although Trump banned foreigners from China on January 31, the virus had already spread to many other countries by this time. This is why, the next day, the World Health Organization said that there more than 10,000 confirmed cases worldwide. A stronger response by officials could have raised the alarm within Congress and the Senate so that a February 4th warning could have been heard more clearly.
Thinking that the virus was only in China, Trump tweets that “China will stop the virus” on February 7 and that warm weather will kill it too. As the virus spreads in America, Trump and other political candidates continue to hold large rallies. Even as CDC officials continued their warnings throughout February stating that COVID-19 “is probably with us beyond this season, beyond this year”, the virus continued to spread.
It was not until February 24 when the White House requested $2.5 billion (and got more than that from the House) that Americans began to realize something was different about this virus. Even during this time and despite numerous warnings from the CDC and the WHO, leaders and news stations continued to downplay the seriousness of this outbreak comparing it to influenza or other mild diseases.
While other countries, such as China, South Korea and Italy, rapidly responded to the outbreak with testing and strong quarantine measures, the United States continues to permit assemblies on beaches in Florida and churches continue to allow thousands of people to congregate. As of March 19, there has been no attempt by any central authority in America to strongly control the spread of this disease. This means that the CDC’s prediction that this disease will remain past this year is likely true.
Even as China is reporting success with their massively strong quarantine measures, the United States is still very slow to respond to the outbreak. The leaders of America have only focused on economic measures and are completely disregarding the nature of this virus.
While people all over the world struggle to feed themselves and their families while living at home in these uncertain times, scientists and front line health care workers are struggling to deal with this virus.
What is COVID-19?
Sun Tzu has famously written, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” This virus has several properties that has allowed the undetected spread among the global population. It is important to understand the incubation period, how the virus harms humans and what can be done to mitigate these effects. In so doing, we can be better prepared to fight this disease
The virus has a 14 day incubation period in most people. However, some people have had it for longer than 14 days before showing any symptoms. During this 14-day time, the virus is active and can be spread to other people. A 21 to 24-day quarantine would likely be more effective to completely stop the spread of this disease.
The virus hurts the nose and lungs of human beings. People with lung problems, either from decades of toxic smog exposures from diesel automobiles and factories or from decades of smoking are most at risk from dying from this virus. This is because COVID-19 infects those types of lung cells and kills them. This leads to pneumonia as well as a decreased lung capacity for survivors of this infection.
Because the virus affects the lungs, the mortality rate is much higher among the elderly and persons under 10 years old seem to be fine. At minimum, the mortality rate with COVID-19 is ten times worse than the flu. It seems that the reason COVID-19 is far worse in Italy than South Korea is because there are more elderly in Italy and the response was not as strong. These metrics may change as the virus continues its’ spread. Furthermore, the virus could reinfect persons that have already recovered from the illness suggesting that natural immunities may not work against this disease.
Experts have recommended hand washing, social distancing and other measures to limit the spread of this disease. This is effective against pathogens that are spread by person to person and person to surface contact. But COVID-19 is also an airborne disease. This means that it can spread in passing while browsing at a Wal-Mart for toilet paper. The virus is small enough to pass through most consumer grade masks as well.
Outside of vaccines, the only effective measure to completely kill this disease would be a massive global in place quarantine as China has done for a 21 to 24-day period. In a twisted since of irony, the virus has already aggressively mutated and spread. Further studies would need to be done to determine if the virus is continuing to mutate. If the virus continues to mutate, this could potentially thwart efforts to create a vaccine against this disease. The potential vaccines that exists may only work against one strand or a few strands of this virus leading to a seasonal problem.
COVID-19’s Long Term Threats
The design of the fiat economy left it vulnerable to this type of outbreak. In its’ current form, the fiat economy demands continuous and ever-increasing amounts of production in order to sustain the system. This is because of the nature of reinforced implied scarcity in the system. In other words, because some people say that there isn’t enough of whatever to go around to everyone, there must be some method by which we can select who can have something and who cannot. Even when it is possible for everyone to have one of something, the system demands that some people have more of this while others have less.
This very aspect of the system is most exploited by the COVID-19 fallout and the evidence of this can be seen both in the reaction of the markets entering a recessionary period and in the feeble attempts of the world’s government to mitigate the worse effects of this through massive cash infusions to the population. This, however, further exacerbates the problem of the fiat economy system.
One economist expects between 5 and 15 million people to die as a result of the economic slowdown. And the battle has only just begun. Another epidemiologist that tried to prepare us for this new reality has said that this virus could be around for a long time to come. And this is a virus that could potentially kill millions of people every year. With a 1.4% mortality rate, it could be a devastating annual disease if we do not protect ourselves against this virus. Even if we can vaccinate ourselves against this particular virus, we must adapt to this new reality or face the consequence of being continually underprepared.
The New Reality of Unlimited Opportunities
Cryptocurrency remains a stronghold and a useful hedge against the inflationary pressures of the fiat economy. Really, the only tool that the people using fiat have is to continually increase the supply of dollars in order to try to make sure that some of the people that do not have something have something. As the fiat economy continues to inflate, any currency that does not have a strong inflationary pressure, such as Bitcoin, will likely see a raise in the ratio against an inflationary currency, such as the United States Dollar.
During this time, there remains the possibility and the opportunity to design a more useful and rational system by which transactional events can be handled. In truth, there is an abundance of wealth right here in our solar system. The opportunities for the growth and advancement of our species is right at hand. We just have to reach out and grab hold of these opportunities and we can all collectively rise. The main challenge remains how to handle resource acquisition, processing and allocation. An AI-based blockchain system could do this quite effectively.
Consider the current system by which we humans attempt to feebly respond to this outbreak. Decisions are made about resources in a very inefficient manner. This leads to an excessive amount of waste – of time, materials and even of human allocations to challenges and problems. An AI-based blockchain system that completely handles the resource allocation system would make sure that production is ramped up way sooner for materials.
Furthermore, such a system would free us humans from attempting to figure out this money thing. All the resources needed for projects and systems would be freely available to anyone needing it. Collaboration between humans on projects would be the new ideal way to accomplish goals and objectives, such as becoming a spacefaring species.
The only shortage that we have right now is the shortage of imagination. As Adi Da once said, “Not Two Is Peace.” We must learn to look past our ideological differences and to work together as a common collective towards “a more perfect union”.