Are we going to find a cure to COVID-19? Maybe or maybe not. World has seen numerous outbreaks, epidemics and pandemics through centuries. Sometimes they were named as plagues and sometimes we didn’t even know what hit us. Most importantly, we did not find cure every time. We have reached to the moon and the mars with our machines, we try to understand the black hole and yet, we are far from understanding the world inside us.
Finding a cure to COVID-19 would be a great thing. However, there are almost equal or greater chances that we’ll fail at it. So why not explore options to prevent it? (Locking down people in their homes is not prevention, it’s a primitive measure that will be a stepping stone to define new way of living, more on that later).
Take example of Measles, a disease caused by rubella virus from paramyxovirus family. (If families of viruses would have a country, this group would be among the elites/incurable and deadly right along with coronavirus). First case of measles was detected in 1765, death toll was about 6000 a year (World population was in millions back then, not billions. I guess humans were less fucked up, pun intended). Symptoms of measles includes systematic infection with fever and respiratory involvement. It even triggers other conditions like encephalitis. Sounds familiar to COVID-19 already? There’s more to it. It took almost 2 centuries to find a prevention. Vaccination started in 1963 and took another 40 years or so to near-eradication. Bummer is: there’s no cure for measles. Not till date.
With bio-tech of 21st century and globalization, we might be able to speed up the process and cook up a cure. Will that solve the problem? Problem of we, the mighty humans, coming to heels to a sub microscopic infectious agents that enter our system and hack it to shit without our knowledge. Our capability to find a solution is not questionable. Look at Info-tech revolution, it gave a lot of engineers the power of creation, an ability to breathe life into machines. With AI, there’s a chance that machines will have independent decision making. We also created viruses, ransom virus was an interesting episode. Creating a hostile situation over ownership of data and machine is a study in itself. In short, we have virtually been to both sides: attackers and victims.
What’s questionable is our will to channel this innovation towards biotech. An industry that mostly runs on the probabilistic attitudes and trying to recreate the miracle that happened with Alexander Fleming in 1928. He found a mysterious antibacterial fungus grown on a petri dish he had forgotten to cover in his laboratory. And penicillin was found, by accident. Yes, I’m oversimplifying one of the greatest breakthroughs in medicine by focusing on chances and ignoring the underlying scientific struggle. That’s exactly the point with present pharma industry. Alexander Fleming reported his findings to British Journal of Experimental Pathology in 1929 and worked for next 12 years on it, to grow a stable form for mass production. How many startups are willing to invest even third of that time to pursue a research that could change the world? Or how many even has a research worth spending half the time Mr. Fleming spent? Let me give an example: Paul Allen co-founded Microsoft that achieved monumental successes, he also founded a biotech company for brain and neuroscience research that has done the one thing in 17 years: Just Research. Relying on biotech and pharma industry to find a cure is like betting on Pakistan to curb terrorism – they are confused as hell and don’t know where to start (Not to mention everytime they try to solve a problem, they create 2 more).
Back to COVID-19, it’ll not be enough to find a vaccine that defeats the virus by curing or preventing it to hack our body. We’ll also need to fight off stupidity as well. We are better in pursuing things than appreciating them once achieved. We fought measles for 200+ years and near-eradicated it by 2000. In less than 20 years, there are populations protesting against vaccinations. Turns out injecting people with a substance they may or may not like is a complicated question. Some even went on to say that vaccines are agendas to rack up corporate coffers and it can cause autism. Result? Opting out of vaccination became an enlightened choice! First we worked tirelessly to bring a drop in death toll due to measles, now there are people working tirelessly to bring a drop in number of vaccinated population.
How do we take steps to contain COVID-19 other than locking ourselves in our homes? Being at home gives us a lot of time. Let’s look at our diet, routine and above all, let’s look at ourselves in mirror and notice the bulges. Let’s take out some time and workout at the time that suits most to our calendar. Let’s look at our diet and draw a line on sugar, fat and carbs. If we’re living with older adults, let’s push them for walks and warmups every morning or when they’re least cranky. Yes, it is going to require a lot of research because we barely know what to eat from available options and how to workout without getting hamstrung. Hey, most of the world is under lockdown. You have a lot of time to pull your shit together. Most potent response to this problem/infection is: Strong Immunity.
Possibility of vaccine is working against rather than towards fixing the problem at this point. Everyone seems certain that there is a solution and the solution will be a vaccine. This discourages and curtails out of the box thinking to fix, the innovation. Why does it have to be a vaccine or an antibiotic? Don’t we have enough of them already? Why can’t it be a soup, herbal remedy or yoga? Charak Samhita, one of the largest library of ayurvedic remedies in India does not have herbs as solution to every problem, it has Padmapatradi Yoga and Tamaka Swasa to fight asthma. Our inclination to getting a solution in form of vaccine or tablet points towards a bigger problem than infection: our rigid expectations that leads to consolidation of resources, more on that later.
Moral of the story – let’s hope for the best where everyone finding a cure to COVID-19 succeeds and we’re through this for once and all; however, let’s do our bit to prepare for worst case scenario where it might take 2 centuries or more to find a solution to this shit. Let’s start with three steps: Workout, eat right and make ourselves productive (Not literally, that would lead us to another problem of overcrowding the world).