Let's Face It, Covid Trashed Our Immune Systems
We're in trouble.
Given the erosion of public health and our immune systems, it's not shocking to see major outbreaks of diseases all over the world. The U.S. is dealing with epidemic levels of RSV, Covid, flu, and other respiratory infections. China is seeing a surge in the same pathogens, along with pneumonia. It's hitting children especially hard, overrunning hospitals. Europe is also seeing a surge in diseases ranging from Covid to dengue fever, but you don't hear about that.
Things are not okay.
As you might expect, there's much less coverage of these disease outbreaks in other countries. Everyone's focusing on China, because that makes it easier to recycle the same tired lies about immunity debt that turned out to be completely false last year.
Immunity debt is health propaganda. Several pieces finally concluded that immunity debt is not a thing, it's a problematic term for reporters, there's no evidence to support it, and it's essentially misinformation. Even Bloomberg stated, "Don't blame 'immunity debt' if you get sick this winter." These pieces all feature actual immunologists and infectious disease experts who are willing to tell the truth instead of what the public wants to hear.
Meanwhile, it's not just pneumonia. It's not just flu and RSV. Infections like tuberculosis are making a comeback. Over the last year, TB cases have reached record levels, with more than 7 million infections. Schools and daycares have been reporting more cases over the last year, including 500 exposed at a YMCA in Nebraska and at least one case in Boston. Tuberculosis spreads through the air.
So what's really going on?
Well, it turns out that prior Covid infections most definitely weaken your immune system.
A study in Family Medicine and Community Health found that Covid infections made children five and younger much more vulnerable to respiratory infections like RSV. As they conclude, "COVID-19 contributed to the 2022 surge of RSV cases in young children through the large buildup of COVID-19-infected children and the potential long-term adverse effects of COVID-19 on the immune and respiratory system." That's just the tip of the iceberg.
In October the CDC finally released a report describing the last flu season as "high severity compared with thresholds based on previous seasons' data."
The drug manufacturer Merck now lists Covid as the third most common cause of lymphocytopenia, right behind HIV infection. What's lymphocytopenia?
This condition happens when your body doesn't produce enough white blood cells (lymphocytes) to fight off infections. As Merck says, "COVID-19 can directly infect lymphocytes, and a cytokine-related apoptosis of the cells is likely." A pharmaceutical giant like Merck doesn't say something like that unless it's definitive.
Over the last year, study after study has shown the evidence for what a handful of researchers tried to warn everyone about, that catching Covid would make everyone more vulnerable to a wide range of diseases that were on the decline. A study in BMC Medicine found that even a mild case of Covid can disrupt your immune system for months. Another study in Cell found that the disruption can last for at least a year, maybe longer.
It could be permanent.
Back in January, Wesley Ely unpacked a major study in Nature. He declared, "We're immunocompromised... my spidey senses tell me to stay as protected as possible." Not only does Covid attack your white blood cells, it reprograms them to cause blood clots. For all the noise about "offensive" and "alarmist" comparisons between Covid and HIV, the research now tells us that Covid acts a lot like HIV.
It takes years for HIV to develop into full blown immunodeficiency. According to the National Institutes of Health, "chronic HIV infection usually advances to AIDS in 10 years or longer, though in some people it may advance faster."
You can look at a handful of studies and reports on the immune damage and disruption Covid does below. In short, it exhausts and warps your body's ability to fight off other infections. Since we've only known about Covid for three years now, we're still learning about it. We know enough that we shouldn't be shrugging it off.
Most people don't understand how our immune systems actually work. It's not a muscle you train. It doesn't get stronger the more times you get sick. That's misinformation and folklore.
If you want to know how your immune system really works, here's Ana Maldonado Contreras with the UMass Chan Medical School. As she explains, your immune system acts more like a rainforest that resides primarily in your gut:
Bacteria in our guts can elicit an effective immune response against viruses that not only infect the gut, such as norovirus and rotavirus, but also those infecting the lungs, such as the flu virus. The beneficial gut microbes do this by ordering specialized immune cells to produce potent antiviral proteins that ultimately eliminate viral infections. And the body of a person lacking these beneficial gut bacteria won’t have as strong an immune response to invading viruses. As a result, infections might go unchecked, taking a toll on health.
You don't build up your immune system by getting sick. You build up your immune system by exposing yourself to microbes, not pathogens. Everyone should be spending time outside and eating a wide variety of foods. They could also take probiotics, although there's some debate on how much that actually helps.
So, there's good news.
First, masks and air purifiers work against all germs, including the bacteria that cause tuberculosis. In case you're still not sure, you can refer to a 2016 article in Tuberculosis and Respiratory Diseases that recommends ventilation, HEPA filtration, and masks to reduce spread. Nose sprays also provide protection, including ones with nitric oxide, carrageenans, and xylitol. A study in PLOS One found that you can combine carrageenan and xylitol in various doses, and all of them work pretty well. You can read more here.
We have a world population with weakened immune systems. We can expect bad winters full of Covid, RSV, flu, strep, pneumonia, measles, fungal infections, and tuberculosis. Will it be on the news? Probably not. Because it's not news, not anymore. It's just a bunch of sick people, everywhere you go, and with hospitals too degraded to respond properly. It's going to be like living in the early 20th century. And it's downhill from there.
Of course, the media is hyperfocusing on China now because that feeds and reinforces western propaganda.
This is happening everywhere.
The collapse of our climate is driving accelerated mutation of viruses and increasing the odds of pandemics from zoonotic diseases, like avian flu and Nipah. Just recently, Fortune ran a story on multiple potential pandemic viruses, all of them circulating and spreading. They don't even have to reach pandemic status to cause major problems, just larger and larger outbreaks and epidemics. Scientists are calling for "urgent action." Meanwhile, all you see online are smiling selfies from figureheads who deny airborne spread. If we were smart, we would take advantage of the tools we have that fight all of these threats, saving us from a life of sickness and death.
We don't have to live like this. We don't have to live in denial and complacency while giving each other diseases that wreck our immune systems and health. We don't have to live in fear of germs while also worrying about what people will think about us for wearing masks. We could just do what works.
It would be simple.
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