A tipsheet for living through it, not with it.
Friends and neighbors and relatives keep asking me about the present surge of pandemic diseases. It is hard to know what to say to them. The subject is both very simple and very complex.
I got the idea of preparing this concise piece on how to protect against the airborne diseases, and what exactly is causing their surge, and what the ultimate solution will be. I tried to keep it easy to read and around 1000 words.
It is being made very hard for people to protect themselves from the viruses. For those who must work in group settings, it can be almost impossible. Yet logically, it should be easy to protect oneself from these diseases and for society to bring them under control.
Good masks are the easiest and most critical thing in combating airborne diseases. Yet this is the worst failure of our government against the pandemic.
First, it failed to put into place and enforce a permanent mask mandate. It failed to mount a serious public education campaign about masks; what is a good mask, how to fit a mask, how to wear it correctly, when and where to wear one, and why.
Cloth masks are no good. The blue surgical type masks are better, but not good enough.
At minimum, the “N-95 or better” standard of “respirator” type masks should be used. The gold standard is the elastomer type masks.
A mask must fit right, with no leaks. A good mask is easy to wear, all day. If a mask is uncomfortable, it is a bad mask.
There needs to be better standards for masks, and they must be made affordable and available to everyone.
The second big government failure is about air quality. This is a failure to educate the public, to set adequate indoor air standards, and to start a crash program to bring all facilities up to those standards.
There is no need for people to run around in masks all the time. You need to be able to gauge when the air is safe. If you are breathing other people’s air, get the mask on.
Avoid crowds when outdoors. Avoid crowded indoor spaces, or where there is no adequate air circulation and filtering system. Understand that the viruses move in the air like smoke, often traveling a long way and concentrating in eddies. Plexiglass barriers often create eddies.
The point of CO2 detectors is to gauge the amount of exhaled air, thus the adequacy of the air cleaning system. The Corsi-Rosenthal filter can be assembled by anyone and is a great defense against contaminated air.
The rule with all airborne viruses is; if you do not breathe it in, you do not catch it!
People need to be able to stay home when they are contagious, with no loss of income. Self testing kits should be available. People should be quickly able to start treatment with antivirals, usually Paxlovid, if they are positive for covid.
However, it is being made difficult to start this treatment in a timely fashion. There should be clinics within reasonable distance of everyone. Contagious people should not be going into drug stores and community clinics for treatment.
Antivirals and vaccines, and an adequate rest and recovery period after infection, are the keys to preventing the long covid syndrome.
This syndrome is what is really sinister about the covid virus. Evidence is accumulating that covid works like polio. Most people will recover from it the first few times they get it, but some people will develop long term disabling complications.
Getting covid does not give you immunity from subsequent infections. Because it attacks your ’T’ cells, it weakens your immune system a little more every time you get it. Every infection increases your risk of long term complications.
Why and how diseases are spreading
Covid could and should have been stopped before it started. The real cause has been the spread of neoliberal ideology in western countries. This has made an effective response to pandemic infections impossible.
Once, all developed countries had an adequate public health system to protect the public from viral outbreaks. Carriers were detected and isolated before epidemics got out of control, certainly before lockdowns became necessary.
In recent years, public health in Canada has been hollowed out. It collapsed when a serious crisis developed. As well, quarantine measures were hamstrung as public officials were bullied by well funded and organized libertarian fanatics.
When a disease is allowed to spread, it mutates faster. It becomes more, not less, powerful. Vaccines become less effective when not used with other measures, in the same way that antibiotics lose their potency when used improperly.
Covid has now broken down the public health systems of many countries, and also weakened the immune systems of many people. This has opened the door to many new viruses which would have been suppressed otherwise. Monkeypox will be the next big thing, and polio is coming back after being almost eliminated.
Ultimate cause and solution
This situation is ultimately caused by bad governments which do not serve the public’s interest. The minority of countries in the world which have developed adequate systems of governance have been able to control the diseases with little difficulty. The economies of those countries which cannot protect their public’s health will be destroyed.
Humanity must finally clean up airborne disease the same way it cleaned up waterborne disease over the past century. New standards must be normalized, in the same way water treatment, sanitation, and hand washing have all become normalized.
Measures to control waterborne diseases were also intensely resisted by business interests, and by public health bureaucrats unwilling to drop discredited ideas. It cost too much, reduced profits, interfered with ‘rights’, etc.
Even supposedly more benign airborne diseases, colds and flus, need to be eradicated. Evidence is accumulating that repeated virus infections cause or worsen many other conditions.
The human race can live without airborne viruses. It is a matter of cleaning up our air the same way we cleaned up our water. However, it has become obvious that this will require cleaning up our system of government.
Here are some useful links.