A New Way to Die: One Hundred Years Of Covid

Most people do not understand viruses.

A New Way to Die: One Hundred Years Of Covid

Those of us who argue the pandemic isn’t over are invariably confronted with some version of “So does that mean we’re still in the 1918 flu pandemic?”

These people aren’t being as clever as they think.

The answer is yes.

Jeffrey Taubenberger was part of the team that isolated and sequenced the genome of the 1918 flu virus in the late 1990s. You could hardly find a more solid authority on flu. And this is what he has to say:

“We’re still living in what I would call the 1918 pandemic era 102 years later, and I don’t know how long it will last.”

Those who argued (and still argue) we need to “get covid to get it over” obviously don’t give a thought to basic viral disease dynamics. They also seem to miss the bit where flu isn’t over more than 100 years later.

They were so wrong. Laughably wrong. Think-about-it-for-2-seconds wrong. Blind to history, blind to biology. Full of hubris and arrogance. Dismissive of mass death. Herd immunity was folly from the moment we knew what we were dealing with.

Just to make this very clear: there is no herd immunity to the flu 105 years later.

The flu evolves enough to maintain a novelty that still kills tens of thousands of people every year in the US. It kills hundreds of thousands around the world. It sickens many millions.

Most people do not understand viruses.

And especially not pandemics.

A pandemic is just a word. A label. It’s what we call it when a new virus sweeps uncontrolled around the world. It has nothing to do with lethality.

Sars-Cov-2 could have been a less deadly virus. It would still have been a pandemic virus. Novelty makes a pandemic. And on that criteria, if we’re still in the flu pandemic era, we are very much still in the covid pandemic. Three years is the blink of an eye in epidemiological terms. Covid’s evolutionary rate remains on beast mode setting.

We’re still learning what it can do. We know it’s bad. We have some idea from Sars1. What we don’t have is long-term data on the real world effects of repeat covid infections among billions of people.

Not understanding viruses (and being led towards ignorance by governments who wanted to resume profits as usual) means many do not understand how the world has changed. How it has become a lot more dangerous from a public and personal health point of view.

For the very first time in the antibiotic era, an infectious disease has become a leading cause of death across the world. In modern history, this has only happened in the poorest countries in the global south.

I have often wondered if this is why people were so quick and keen to dismiss covid: infectious diseases only kill poor brown people. We’re not like them. I’ve wondered what part unconscious racism plays in the covid downplaying.

Another argument I’m sure you’ve heard before: "Covid is nothing new. Humans have contended with viruses before. Covid is just another one."

It completely misses the point.

Every time a new virus establishes endemicity THAT’S A NEW VIRUS THAT HAS ESTABLISHED ENDEMICITY!

A new way to die.

A new way to become disabled.

A new way for your body’s defences to be attacked and weakened for other pathogens to creep in and take advantage.

And it’s here all year round. It’s nowhere near seasonal.

This is a completely new situation for modern humans.

We’ve not dealt with anything like this since the 1918 flu. Sars1 had a go. Sars2 did what it couldn’t, with plenty of help from our herd immunity loving leaders who argued for mass death of the old and vulnerable.

Now the virus is fully established, the minimisers are moving the goalposts. From "catch it for 20-year immunity," the latest study they are presenting as good news is that people are ‘only' catching it 1.29 times a year.

Not two or three times...?

As if catching this virus five times in four years is something to celebrate. A virus, it bears repeating, on which we have no long-term data. Zilch. Nada. Five times in four years plus contending with truly seasonal viruses like flu and other coronaviruses. All of which can also trigger post viral illnesses including ME/chronic fatigue and other cellular-level diseases.

Despite the intense and successful efforts to brand all of this as normal, this is completely abnormal in the modern human experience. And there can be no return to normal. Just like there was no return to normal after 1918. Like then, public health is going to continue to take a steep and inevitable downward turn.

Scientists have long suspected a link between the 1918 pandemic and the coronary heart disease epidemic of the 20th century.

In 2004, researchers said exposure to the 1918 virus (even, perhaps especially, in utero), primed people for worse outcomes when being infected with the flu later in life. “Immune responses elicited at each new encounter with an influenza virus may reactivate inflammatory pathways to coronary heart disease that were originally established by a 1st encounter with an H1N1 influenza virus and some specific immune response to it.”

This sentence should make anyone who knows anything about covid shudder.

We know a covid infection, even a mild or asymptomatic one, induces a pro-inflammatory, thrombotic (blood clotting) state. Your antibodies might hide the severity, but damage is being done.

And we’re being told to accept as good news being re-infected on the regular. With everything we know about viruses, blood vessels and cardiovascular disease.

1918 was 1918. We can cut them some slack for a lack of knowledge about repeat infections and long-term outcomes.

105 years later there is no excuse.

It’s beyond belief.

Get ready for a statistically significant increase in heart attacks, strokes, neurological diseases, immune system disorders. You name it. In fact, we're already living through. We've been living through it. Only now are people starting to notice a little bit.

Professor Eileen Crimmins also studied the impact of the 1918 flu on later life health outcomes. Cummins found heart disease, diabetes and developmental problems were all significantly more prevalent among those born in 1919. Cummins’ conclusion on covid: “I think that covid is setting us up for a hundred years of problems.”

It’s unlikely we’ll know exactly how covid has boosted disease numbers. The end of testing amid mass infection will, conveniently, make it harder to pin down causality.

We’re already seeing huge jumps in heart attacks among younger people, from Portugal to Australia to India to the US. Diabetes is on the rise. Excess death remains above pre-pandemic levels, surging with each new covid wave.

As we move into our sicker future, nothing should come as a surprise.

Our leaders would love nothing more than for these warnings to stay memory-holed.

We can’t let that happen.

It is sometimes said that history doesn’t repeat itself. It rhymes.

The long-tail of pandemics might be the exception.

Just like after 1918, a public health bomb has been primed to explode.

But this time, when it does, we need to remind everyone: our leaders knew.

And they ignored the warnings.

You can read more of Nate's work here and here.

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