I remember when the medical professionals and country leaders were telling us “two weeks to flatten the curve”. Remember playing online slots during lockdowns day after day after day after day? It has now been 2 years since China finally decided to be “honest” about COVID-19 being human to human transmissible.
From the Guardian …
China’s health ministry has confirmed human-to-human transmission of a mysterious Sars-like virus that has spread across the country and fueled anxiety about the prospect of a major outbreak as millions begin traveling for lunar new year celebrations.
By January 21, 2020, there were 217 infected patients (that China made public) from the start of the virus on December 1, 2019. When 139 of those cases happened during the weekend of January 17, 2020, China could no longer play stupid. For reference, today there have been 347,654,616 officially reported cases. This does not include many people who caught COVID-19, but chose to not get officially tested, so they were included in the official counts.
Simple Timeline of COVID-19
I am not going to do a complete timeline of COVID-19, but I will do a quick one. I am getting this info from the Wikipedia article “Timeline_of_the_COVID-19_pandemic_in_2019”. A lot of people do not usually consider Wikipedia a valid research source, because anybody can modify an article. But in this situation, I have personally found Wikipedia to be one of the only valid sources. The reason is due to the fact that China was doing a major scrubbing of any negative information about COVID-19 during those early critical days, weeks, and months. Because anybody could add information to Wikipedia, it actually made Wikipedia a valid source. (Weird, I know, but we are living in weird times.)
In Wikipedia, China had no ability to scrub page histories. They could “cleanse” the most recent version, but anybody (if you have the patience) could go through the history of any Wikipedia article and read what people wrote. Not to mention the back and forth talking on the “talk” pages.
“Official Chinese government procurement data shows the buy-up of PCR equipment began in July 2019.”
“The amount of money spent buying PCR equipment increased from 10.1 million yuan ($2.2m) in 2015 to 19.1 million yuan in 2016, 29 million in 2017, 36 million in 2018 and 67 million in 2019.”
September and October 2019
“The Wuhan Hongshan District Centre made two purchases of pathogen detection equipment for military games at 1.8 million Yuan, announcing it on September 2019. The games took place in Wuhan in October and some US government analysts suspect this may have been the first superspreader event of the pandemic.”
November and December 2019
- the first case of infection with COVID-19 could be traced back to a 55-year-old Hubei resident on 17 November.
- on 27 November 2019, two raw sewage samples were collected independently in Santa Catarina, Brazil that would later be detected to contain SARS-CoV-2 (100,000 copies per liter), 66 days in advance of the first confirmed COVID-19 case in the Americas.
- one of the earliest cases from Dec. 1, 2019 in an individual who had no link to that seafood market
- Seafood vendor probably caught COVID on December 3.
- Chen described attending a clinic with a dental problem on 8 December, and developed symptoms on December 16
- a female seafood vendor who became ill on 11 December
“Statistics lie and liars use statistics”
This is a quote that I heard 20 years ago (way before COVID-19). But when talking about COVID-19, the quote applies.
If two countries are trying to “count COVID-19 cases”, but each counts them differently, whose data do you trust?
Let’s step away from COVID-19 and talk about infant mortality rates. How do different countries define infant mortality rates?
Infant mortality is defined as the death of babies under the age of one year, but some differences between countries can be explained by a difference in how we count. Is a baby is born weighing less than a pound and after only 21 weeks’ gestation actually “born?” In some countries, the answer is no, and those births would be counted as stillbirths. In the United States, on the other hand, despite these premature babies’ relatively low odds of survival, they would be considered born — thus counting toward the country’s infant mortality rates.
On top of that, countries like Iran categorize a newborn less than 1 month old who dies as a stillbirth. Can one honestly compare infant mortality rates between Iran and the US when the two countries define infant mortality so differently? The honest answer is no, but the data should still be collected, because one can still compare Iran in 1980 to Iran in 2020.
The same is true for comparing international standardized tests in math and reading. In the United States, everybody is tested, including new immigrants who are still learning English and children with known learning disabilities, including very severe learning disabilities. On the other end of the spectrum, China only tests children in their major cities (higher economic levels and higher education). On top of that, they do not test any Chinese language learners or children with learning disabilities. Even “normal” children, who either the parent and the teacher does not feel that the child will do well on the test are instructed to “stay home”. So again, you have two different countries reporting their students in two vastly different ways.
The same is true for COVID-19. In the United States, there were people in government that wanted President Trump out, so they wanted to make COVID-19 look as horrible as they possibly could. That included classifying a person who got into a motorcycle accident that during the autopsy, tested positive for COVID-19 as a COVID-19 death. Regardless of if a person did or did not have symptoms, if a person tested positive for COVID-19, they were counted in the US COVID-19 patient counts. On the other end of the spectrum, in China, unless a person was sick enough to be admitted to the hospital, they were not included in China’s COVID-19 counts. Two countries with vastly different methods of counting patients.
Back to Basics – How does our immune system work?
One would think that after 2 years of dealing with an international pandemic virus that talking about how our immune systems work would be pointless. But sometimes there is so much noise that one cannot “see the forest through the trees”. We have forgotten the basics.
The white blood cells fight germs. These can be either bacterial germs or virus germs. The main difference between bacteria cells and virus cells is that bacteria cells are free living cells and can live either inside or outside the body, while viruses need a host to survive. Viruses need to enter a living cell (such as a human cell) to be able to reproduce, and once inside they take over all of the cellular machinery and force the cell to make new virus.
Antibiotic medicines can be used for bacteria infections. Most antibiotics to do not actually kill the bacteria cells. They just prevent the bacteria cells from reproducing. That is why a person needs to continue to take antibiotic medicines for 10 days (the life cycle length of an individual bacteria cell).
Not taking antibiotics for the full length prescribed is how superbugs (antibiotic resistant bacteria) are created. A person feels better and thinks that they no longer have to continue to take their medicine, so the “baby bacteria cells” grow up and become antibiotic resistant adult bacteria cells.
Viruses are different from bacteria. That is why antibiotics cannot work for viruses.
Antiviral medicines can ease systems and shorten the length of viruses. They can also lower the risk of getting and spreading viruses. Some antiviral medicines block receptors so viruses cannot bind to and enter healthy cells. Most viruses eventually leave your body, but some like HIV and herpes never leave your body. At best, they came become inactive.
How do your white blood cells know what to attack?
When an infection occurs, the body produces white blood cells to help fight the infection. The main parts of the immune system are: white blood cells, antibodies, the complement system, the lymphatic system, the spleen, the thymus, and the bone marrow. These are the parts of your immune system that actively fight infection. The immune system keeps a record of every microbe it has ever defeated, in types of white blood cells (B- and T-lymphocytes) known as memory cells. This means it can recognize and destroy the microbe quickly if it enters the body again, before it can multiply and make you feel sick.
Some infections, like the flu and the common cold, have to be fought many times because so many viruses or strains of the same type of virus can cause these illnesses. Catching a cold or flu from one virus does not give you immunity against the others.
COVID-19 falls into this category. Only a few COVID-19 variants are considered a variant of concern and given a name. All the rest are just given a number. Not sure how exactly they are numbers, but it would be safe to say that there are currently over 620 different variants. Most are similar to other known variants, so they are just classified with them (to the public).
The bottom line is that once your body knows how to fight a virus, it knows how to fight that specific virus for the rest of your life. But you can still “catch a cold” or “get the flu”, because even though your body knows how to fight cold 101, it does not know how to fight cold 326. The same with the flu. Even though your body knows how to fight flu 356, it does not mean that your body knows how to fight flu 128.
On the other hand, your body is not stupid either. Even though cold 101 and cold 326 are different, they are also, in some ways, the same. Think about a newborn infant. Everybody knows that a newborn baby is very saceptible to getting sick and parents try to reduce expose to large amounts of viruses.
First babies are exposed to the germs in their home environment and their immediate family members to help “make their immune system stronger”. In other words, a newborn baby is starting from ground zero in fighting viruses. Then they learn how to fight non-threatening viruses from family members and their home.
Then, when they are exposed to more public areas, their body already knows how to fight some viruses and the body uses this memory to help it then fight other viruses that are different, but related.
How do white blood cells work with COVID?
COVID-19 works the same way. Once your body learns how to fight COVID through either getting COVID or getting a vaccine, it creates memory cells. Then when the body is exposed to variants, the body does not need to start from ground zero (newborn baby status). It starts from its experience fighting a different COVID-19 variant, and then it needs “to learn” how to fight this specific variant. That means a greater starting point equals less time for the body to learn to fight the new variant of COVID-19 which results in less people getting so sick they end up in the hospital or worse dying.
This does not mean that a person cannot spread the new variant of COVID-19 to others or that they will not show symptoms. It just means that your body will react to new variants of COVID-19 as your body has for many years when exposed to new variants of the flu and regular common colds.
As for the vaccine, for adults, if you know that you have never been exposed to any variant of COVID-19, it is probably a good idea to get the COVID-19 vaccines (the two dose regiment). This will give your body a starting point. But if you already had COVID-19, your body has already produced a natural COVID-19 fighting starting point, so the vaccine serves no purpose.