Saturday, July 31, 2021

Sunetra Gupta explains how viruses work

A Framework for Understanding Pathogens, Explained by Sunetra Gupta | Brownstone Institute - Jeffrey A. Tucker: 

June 19, 2021 - "Early last year, ... the lockdown lobby relied on argument by intimidation. They know about viruses. You do not. They know about public health. You do not. They have precise and complex models. You do not. They have university appointments and positions of power. You do not. People who would normally favor the primacy of liberty, property, and law fell silent, as if intellectually outgunned. The public, lacking knowledge too, acquiesced to lockdowns. The politicians panicked, throwing out everything they thought they knew about good governance.... 

"Thus did I embark on a long journey to learn about the history of pandemics, the cell biology of viruses and their interaction with the human population, the relationship between pandemics and the eventual endemic equilibrium, herd immunity and vaccinations, and all of the other features of infectious disease that have become so heavily debated this year.... I’ve lost count of the number of books I’ve read, including even medical school textbooks on viruses (what a slog!) as well as countless papers, in addition to probably one hundred hours of lectures online.... 

"I just finished one book that stands out, and that I wish I had read a year and a half ago. It’s brilliant, erudite, precise, evocative to the point of being visionary, and capable of completely shifting one’s view toward pathogens and the social order. It is a work of genius.... The author is the legendary Oxford University theoretical epidemiologist Sunetra Gupta, one of the signers of the Great Barrington Declaration. The title of the book I find rather regrettable because it sounds coldly clinical rather than literary: Pandemics: Our Fears and the Facts.... Dr. Gupta, I suspect, wrote this book to familiarize readers with the normalcy of pathogens, and to explain why it is not likely that an entirely new and deadly disease will arrive to wipe out large swaths of the human race.... 

"With computer viruses, the way to deal with them is to block them.... One exposure could mean data loss, identity theft, and even machine death. Despite what Bill Gates seems to believe, our bodies are not the same. Exposure to milder forms of germs works to protect us against more severe forms. The cell memory of our body is trained through experience, not by blocking all bugs but by incorporating the capacity to fight them off into our biology. This is the essence of how vaccines work, but more than that, it is how our whole immune system works. Pursuing an agenda of zero-pathogenic exposure is the road to disaster and death. We did not evolve that way and we cannot live this way. Indeed we will die if we take the route. 

"I hesitate to put any words in Professor Gupta’s mouth but I will try to summarize the one major lesson of this book. Pathogens will always be with us, their forms always changing, and thus the best protection we have against severe outcomes from those that threaten us is immunities built by exposure to milder forms of them. She explores this idea in great depth, applies it to past pandemics, and examines the implications for the future....

"The applications of this general principle are wide. Why was the Spanish flu so virulent against young people while mainly sparing old people? She speculates that there had been a whole generation of young people who had lacked exposure to influenzas. The records indicate that for the 20 years prior, there had been no major flu outbreaks, so when this one hit following the Great War, it was particularly cruel against those with naive immune systems, most of whom were between 20 and 40 years old. By contrast, the elderly had been exposed to a flu earlier in their lives that imbued them with natural immunity from this more deadly one.

"Does this mean that with every new pathogen we can and must expect widespread death before its harms are minimized? Not at all. With most pathogens, there is a negative correlation between severity and prevalence. Viruses with unimpressive performance kill their host quickly and thereby do not spread – Ebola is the classic case here.... 

"However, widespread death isn’t necessary before the pathogen population collapses and dies — there will come a point in the natural course of every epidemic when a non-immune host will become very hard to find, and most infections will have been cleared before they’ve had a chance to transmit. This is because the density of susceptible hosts will have fallen, either because they are now immune or dead. And so the epidemic will start to diminish and will eventually burn itself out. Once the disease has run its course, the host population can start to recover and attempt to return to its original density. In time, the proportion of susceptible individuals in a population becomes high enough for the disease to make a comeback, but — unless a disease does not revisit a population for a very long time — the second epidemic will always be smaller, and the third time, smaller still. This is because much of the population will still be immune each time another epidemic occurs. Eventually, an equilibrium is reached where the infectious agent kills a constant number of individuals every year, which is a very small proportion of what it could achieve in ‘virgin soil’. At this stage, the disease is said to be ‘endemic’ rather than epidemic.

"To be sure, the reaching of this endemic equilibrium does not mean that the virus is no longer a threat. When a virus encounters a generation or a tribe or a territory where immune memory is unprepared, it can indeed be wicked once again. The struggle between us and the bugs is unending but our bodies have well equipped us with huge advantages, so long as we are wise about its biological management."

Read more: https://brownstone.org/articles/a-framework-for-understanding-pathogens-explained-by-sunetra-gupta/

Pandemics: Our Fears and the Facts on Amazon

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