Covid testing measures the presence of pathogens, omitting the absence of immunity. It is more difficult to test immune resistance but it is, arguably as much a cause of infection as is transmission of the pathogen. Immunity and immune defences are insufficiently recognised in controlling the Covid pandemic.
Husserl’s revolution (1859-1938) in discovering phenomenology was to pull back the focus of objectivity, from the material out there in the environment, to the psychological perception of the observer. It was a new perspective of reality, called existential phenomenology and it is still popular today in understanding ‘being’. Virology seems to be stuck with focus on germs but could have its own Husserl who would give more emphasis to a person’s immune system.
Objectivity in traditional health’s description of infection is preoccupied with pathogens and pays little attention to immune defences. Pasteur’s germ theory focussed on pathogen transmission (objective). Bechamp (1816-1908), a contemporary of Pasteur, extolled the virtues of immunity (subjective) but for some reason his theory has been overlooked in a controversy from which germs emerged victorious. Bechamp argued that the underlying condition of our body determines the risk of disease, not just the germs itself. In his “terrain theory” he postulated that a weak body attracted disease, while a healthy body resisted it, Rumor has it that Louis Pasteur himself admitted on his death bed that there was more merit to the terrain theory, but modern medicine had set out on a new course by then.Essential nutrients, clean whole foods, reducing toxic exposures, supporting gut bacteria, etc go a long way towards creating a healthy terrain.
If immunity was considered more important, public restrictions would less severely constrain exercise, healthy eating, social gatherings, fresh air, relaxation, morale, jobs, school attendance and economic activities. These are more than places for pathogens to invade: they are places we use to strengthen our immune systems. I ask authorities to un-restrict them pronto. We may not be able to rely on vaccines to provide all our immunity!
These comments need validation before action.
My writing on Covid is at https://martinknox.com
Immune responses are strengthened by diet, exercise and sleep. Underlying conditions such as pneumonia, cancer and diabetes can weaken them. They are deactivated by emotional problems such as stress, anxiety, anger and depression. Poor lifestyle, ill health and emotional difficulties reduce longevity, prevent happiness and cause premature death. Without the will to live, death is how people obtain peace.
It is a harsh call on anyone, a cynical and pessimistic outlook, to observe that many people succumb to various illnesses and death as withdrawal, when their life has become intolerable. Seligman in ‘Learned Optimism’ measured how absence of choice and control increased longevity of residents in retirement accommodation. The mechanism theorised was deactivation of their immune systems by psychological learned helplessness.
Immunity from good physical and emotional health, together with psychological control, could be critical for resisting an infection like COVID-19, without risking becoming a victim or waiting for a vaccine.
Herd immunity is the resistance to the spread of a contagious disease within a population that results if a sufficiently high proportion of individuals are immune to the disease, especially through vaccination.
The prospects for a vaccine are, according to New Scientist, 21 March 2020, p45, ‘. . . the fastest we have ever cranked out a vaccine in response to an outbreak was with Ebola – and that took five years . . .‘
The other way is to allow 50-80% of the population to become infected quickly so that survivors will be in an immune herd. The strategy has ethical objections that it practices eugenics, aiming to improve the genetic quality of a human population. Some consider it is more ethical and politically viable to suppress the pandemic with economic and social restrictions that wreck the economy.
An article in aljazeera asks: Which countries have allowed the elderly and the sick to die in numbers, as an alternative to widespread economic damage caused by more stringent suppression measures?
Countries have responded differently, as is evident from this table.
|Deaths per million|
It remains to be seen if stringent suppression has merely delayed deaths until later, with more and longer lasting economic damage. A short sharp economic shock from epidemic virulence could possibly be less damaging overall, except for people who are without medical treatment. Countries that adopt a balance between medical and economic constraints may be best placed to countenance the uncertainties.
A possible philosophy is to keep hospital beds treating as many COVID-19 cases as possible.
Data: https://www.worldometers.info/ April 16th, 2020
Jenner’s 1796 cowpox vaccine generated lymphocytes to attack the smallpox pathogen. According to New Scientist 21/03 vaccine development takes 5 years.
In the meantime, Louis Pasteur’s (1822-1895) theory is to prevent and treat disease by killing germs. Alternatively, Antoine Béchamp (1816 -1908) proposed his ‘cellular theory’ or ‘biological terrain’, based on fostering good health. Principia Scientific on April 7th, 2020 updated respect for his theory.
Towards the end of his life, Pasteur renounced his germ theory and admitted that Bechamp was right all along.
All three theories are in use against COVID-19. A vaccine is being attempted, Pasteur’s method is trying to prevent spreading, transmission and inhalation of germs, using distance, barriers and disinfectants. Bechamp’s method strengthens immune system responses with diet, hygiene, fresh air and exercise. The three are complements but reducing exercise and fresh air would be contrary to Bechamp’s and anything enabling germ access would oppose Pasteur’s.
Public health advice has elements of all three approaches. Whether a person follows ‘germ theory’, or ‘vaccination’, or ‘cellular theory’, empirical validation would relate it to the health outturn.