As I predicted in my last journal, protests are beginning around the US demanding that the country get back to work. With lines of cars at food banks sometimes miles long and the essentially complete collapse of the job market, this is certainly understandable. At the same time, if we open the economy incorrectly, there is going to be another wave of COVID-19 infections. Even so, there are probably ways to go about this without endangering a broad swath of the population.

Before I get into that, I want to briefly address two questions that I am being asked on a regular basis. ‘What do the visitors have to say about this,’ and ‘why don’t they help us?’

In the privacy of my own life, I am more deeply connected with this enigmatic presence than I ever have been before, and I feel sure that some of what I will say here comes from that source. What, though, I cannot say for sure. As to why they won’t intervene, I explain why such interruptions in the flow of events is always unlikely and usually impossible in my book A New World, particularly in Chapter 6.

So what do we need to do to get back to work safely, and how can we best proceed to protect ourselves against the virus when we do get it? And if we go back to work in May, as I think most of us will, then there will be a second wave of infections, just as is occurring in Singapore and Japan. I don’t see any choice but to take this risk. If we don’t, fundamental aspects of our economy are going to collapse, most dangerously the structure of the food supply chain, and that must not be allowed to happen.

The first question that has not been answered is, how lethal is the virus? This should have been determined early, but so far no country has carried out the kind of epidemiological studies necessary to generate this sort of statistical insight.

Some recent evidence suggests that vastly more people may have had it than we realize. A recent study in Santa Clara, California, for example, suggests that there may be a remarkable 50 to 80 percent more cases than has been thought. This would mean that, because the virus is so much more widespread, it is therefore less lethal.

If true, then this means that an entirely different and much less economically damaging mitigation strategy is suggested: 1, most people can safely get back to work; 2, vulnerable populations, which have already for the most part been clearly identified, should continue on lockdown. But it is absolutely critical to know for certain that we are right about this before proceeding, otherwise we could end up with an uncontrollable disaster.

As matters stand, we have to get back to work or experience an economic catastrophe beyond anything that has been known in modern history, and which will be in many ways unrecoverable.

If we are going to regain control of the situation, we are going to need to obtain some clear information about who is too vulnerable to risk exposure and who can reasonably take the risk.

We already know which populations are more vulnerable: first, the elderly, especially those with chronic illnesses like diabetes, coronary disease and high blood pressure. There is a possibility that the blood pressure vulnerability is increased by the use of ACE-inhibitors and angiotensin 2 receptor blockers. This is because, while they block ACE proteins that lead to high blood pressure, they also increase ACE-2 protein levels, and it is these proteins that COVID-19 attaches to. Until it is clear that these two classes of drug are not exacerbating this disease, it would seem prudent to move these patients to other drugs whenever possible. In the case of diabetes, it is known that high blood sugar interferes with the body’s ability to fight infection, so the problem is likely to be more serious for people with uncontrolled or poorly controlled diabetes than those with well controlled disease. With regard to coronary disease, the additional stress on the heart caused by the body’s need to fight the virus is what causes increased mortality among these people. In addition, COVID-19 triggers inflammation of the heart muscle.

The second population that appears more vulnerable is males, but it’s not clear that there is an underlying genetic cause for this. In fact, the studies that identified this factor were mostly conducted in China, where many more men smoke than women. Because smoking causes constant low-level inflammation in the lungs, being a smoker is a major risk factor. Also, men, in general, suffer from higher rates of obesity and other known risk factors than women.

These things are also true among blacks and Latinos, who have higher COVID-19 morbidity, largely, apparently, because of more obesity, diabetes and inability to sequester themselves or obtain household supplies like disinfectants, originally because of poverty, and now because they are not generally available at all.

When COVID-19 kills, it does so because it breaks the body’s immune system, causing it to go into overdrive. The lungs then become inflamed and filled with fluid, and the victim  drowns in their own mucus production. Because of the way coronaviruses mutate, is may prove more difficult than we are hoping to create an effective vaccine for this virus. This would be for the same reason that it is hard to create a vaccine that is effective against the rhinoviruses that cause most colds. 

While a vaccine is likely to eventually be found, it is also likely to be strain specific like the flu vaccine, and to require frequent updating. However, it is possible that drugs that prevent the immune system from overreacting might be effective in aiding recovery from COVID-19, and should become a standard treatment protocol, especially in vulnerable populations.

This means that anti-inflammatory drugs should be subject to careful and objective study. They should not be politicized. Unfortunately, just that has happened with hydrochloroquine, which is used routinely to treat two inflammatory diseases, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. There are a few limited studies that suggest that it might be efficacious against other diseases that cause excessive inflammation, in particular COVID-19. But because of the politicization, the situation has become very confused, with some media outlets claiming that it is a cure and others that it is useless and even poisonous. There is clear reason to test this drug properly, and it is to be hoped that that is done.

There is some evidence that it was active against SARS-COVID-1, and did prevent its replication, at least in laboratory settings. However, even if it does not prevent the replication of COVID-19, its anti-inflammatory effects should be subjected to clinical trials to find out if they reduce the inflammation associated with the virus.  This means that there should not only be trials of the drug on seriously ill patients but also on early presenters in p0pulation groups known to be vulnerable. Similarly, the Macrolide antibiotic family should be subjected to clinical trials, in part because of their anti-inflammatory effects, but also because they have efficacy against secondary bacterial infections that are a common result of viral pneumonias.

As with any viral pneumonia, once the lungs become irritated by coughing and inflammation, they become susceptible to secondary bacterial pneumonias. The Macrolides, like Erythormyiacin, have two effects: first, they kill most of the bacterias that cause bacterial pneumonia; second, they have an anti-inflammatory effect. There is only one case being reported of a Macrolide being effective, but because of the logic of why this might be true and the widespread availability of the drug class, trials would seem to be in order. But like hydrocholoroquine, early presenters in vulnerable populations need to be trialled as well as more seriously ill patients.

Other anti-inflammatories need to be studied as well, but non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (Aleve, Advil, etc.) should not be among them because they suppress an enzyme that the body needs to fight off viruses such as COVD-19.

Obviously, anti-virals should also be studied, but I’m not going to discuss that because there are already many studies and trials under way.

The bottom line is that we need to quickly determine whether or not COVID-19 is more widespread and therefore less lethal than previously thought. This can be done most quickly by doing concentrated general-population testing in high population density areas, specifically big cities. By this, I don’t mean just testing of people who show symptoms, but testing of everybody, both for the disease and especially for the antibodies that show whether or not they have had it.

Until we do this, we are essentially flying blind. Instituting general population testing in our ten largest cities could give us a viable management tool in a matter of weeks. What is lacking is a realization on the part of our epidemiological leadership of the importance of doing this. Hopefully, that will change, and soon.

38 Comments

  1. I can’t help thinking that there is something sinister about the constant lack of testing,while at the same time time being told “we have testing under control.”Who’s control,what control?

    1. I scratch my head in wonder at why so many are desperate to preserve a system that they constantly complain about.I

      We want massive changes, but no upheaval or instability. We want to create a new world, but not with any destruction or pain. And I want a better body, but not with all that annoying exercise stuff.

      We hate the Devil, but we MUST maintain the Devil’s health because it’s his hand that feeds us. We must keep the prison in proper working order because we have nowhere else to go.

      The devil we know is slowly consuming us and we’re such willing prey.

  2. Author

    If you actually didn’t want testing to succeed, one way to manage things would be to do what is being done now. I agree that it’s very disturbing, and I wonder at the motivation. It is obvious that the federal government should have instituted widespread testing as soon as possible. You can’t do epidemiological studies without testing large numbers of people.

    1. Dr Farrell on his site is sharing a lot of evidence of big money ties between Dr Fauci, NIH, WHO and the CCP. I think a lot of it is forced negligence due to bribes and patents/products.

      1. I personally view most conspiracy theories as a form of self-soothing. It provides a perverse comfort to believe that all the wrongs we witness and experience are the result of an elaborate plot perpetrated by evil geniuses, rather than just being the result of dummies being dumb.

        The latter is a much more unsettling, hopeless prospect. Because if the “bad guys” turn out to just be stupid and incompetent, and the “good guys” continuously lose to them, then what does that say about the “good guys”?

        Churning out millions of testing kits on a constant basis would be highly profitable. A “big pharma” win/win.

        Sometimes a spade is just a spade. It’s just good ole fashion dumb politics.

        In the early days of the pandemic, Trump didn’t even want infected passengers on a cruise ship to be allowed reentry because it would increase the official numbers. Widespread testing also would have increased the numbers. And implementing testing now would be an admission of wrong.

  3. After reading this and your previous blog on the subject it is clear that the former way our world worked is ending and we need to find a new means to go forward. I specially refer to the economy.
    Coming out of self isolation now will undo the good that has been done. In Australia we are told that we all need to share the pain that COVID19 has bought, but it is interesting to look at how the government has directed the sharing of this pain.
    Workers have taken the full brunt of this with many industries being shut down – completely in a lot of cases – a month ago. But there has been no mandate for the merchant class to back off charging the same rents. Evictions are illegal, but only for 6 months. Landlords are “encouraged” to “negotiate”. A recent article that I tweeted claims that 2 thirds of landlords are not and carrying on business as usual.
    I make this point to reinforce one of yours – unless the wealthier strata of our society is really prepared to pitch in and help the rest, we are all fucked, economically speaking.
    Virgin Airlines Australia has gone into administration. Why? Branson is one of the wealthiest men in the world. I know he’s only got a small share in this branch of his empire but seriously, what the hell is he waiting for?
    Cure or no cure, a new world is indeed beckoning now, and whether we take it or not is sadly going to be a matter of life or death.
    The leadership in my country around this is not perfect but it does look like it is oriented to saving lives more than anything else.
    I am out of work, income is a real issue now, and the business I worked in will almost certainly not survive this, even if the industry does. But I am alive, and my family and my friends have been spared this so far, and for this I am thankful for everyday.

  4. Author

    If history is any measure of what will happen now, the rich will cling to their money even more than they already do. Most wealthy people are not wealthy because they are generous. They are wealthy for the opposite reason.

    That said, the issue of landlords is a complex one. Are the taxing authorities and mortgage lenders that they themselves are obligated to going to give them a break? If so, then who is going to buy the loans from the banks if they are no longer receivables, and where are the taxing entities going to get the money to meet their budgets?

    If we expect not just our economies to survive, but our societies themselves, we have to re-open. I am pretty sure that we can do that, but unless we want to take the risk of having the fabric of society torn apart by the virus, we need to be sure that it is safe to do so.

    We need, across the whole developed world, enough antibody testing to form accurate statistical ideas of how many people have actually had this disease. This would not be difficult to accomplish. All it takes is the health and governmental leadership calming down, taking a breath, and then going out and getting the data.

    If I’m right, then we can end the lockdown in the way I suggest.

  5. In the US, for US people who have any of the vulnerable health conditions, there’s only one choice they can control: Immediately, or as soon as it becomes available, download and install the Apple/Google COVID-19 tracking app. Normally, I’m a privacy hawk, but the lives of many of us are now on the line.

  6. I think warming temps will give us the reprieve needed to catch up on testing and trying new drugs. Hopefully when and if it returns like the flu we will have an advantage that we don’t have now.
    We really need to look at S. Korea and how they’ve handled this. There is a huge disconnect between our local doctors and the research community. I’ve seen a lot of shooting from the hip done at the local level that has made things a lot worse.

  7. Thanks Whitley. Very sensible. I have one suggestion and an awful warning. My suggestion is that we (I’m in the UK) and the US need to keep a careful eye on those countries such as Austria and Germany which are reopening their economies and see what happens. This might involve waiting a further three weeks to see if they get a serious second wave. If so, we need to rethink what we do. We also need to look at those countries which did not impose lockdown eg Sweden and those which only made token gestures eg Japan to see what happens.
    My awful warning is this – we have all seen on the telly the anti lockdown protests in Michigan and elsewhere. I live in the Chiltern hills and we are a law abiding lot, but yesterday on my walk, I saw teenagers in a group smoking dope and a group pf people round a lock on the canal enjoying the sunshine and chatting. The danger is that governments might not be able to continue to impose the lockdown for much longer in view of the protests and general ignoring of the rules which I saw. That might be ok, but it might lead to things running out of control and extinction looming.

  8. RE the at risk groups- obviously it seems age plays a higher role than anything, even comorbidities.

    A new finished Study shows no increased risk due to taking ACEi or ARB blood pressure meds.

    In fact it improved outcomes:

    WUHAN, April 19 (Xinhua) — A new study suggested that the use of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEIs) and angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) among hospitalized COVID-19 patients with hypertension was associated with lower risk of all-cause mortality compared to nonusers.

    http://www.china.org.cn/china/Off_the_Wire/2020-04/20/content_75951727.htm

    1. Author

      Thanks for this info! My doc moved me from an ACE Inhibitor to a Calcium Channel Blocker based on the older study. I will send this to him, because the CC blocker doesn’t work as well for me.

      1. I am only in my late thirties but I am on a ARB due to being sedentary or nearly so, many years ago. Now after years of exercise and lifestyle changes my doctor said it would safe for me to stop taking it , but we are going ahead with it anyway since its only helping my longevity in my later age, as he put it. its just nice to see we dont have to worry about taking these no matter our ages.

        1. I also take an ARB (Losartan), as it works very well controlling my HTN, much better than an ACE or beta blocker. I also read the article the other day, and gave a little hurrah! There is a thoughtful review of that same article, in the same journal, by a group out of Harvard. You may read the full article as a PDF, as it currently has open access. I appreciate the comments in the last paragraph. https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/abs/10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.120.317174

        2. This pandemic is revealing the corrupt interface between the pharmaceutical company’s , Wall Street , the prison industrial complex and the dependence on fossil fuels The OPEC / Russian control of the gas markets and the USA ‘s sudden worthless reserves are noteworthy The government in China has seized the opportunity literally to arrest dissenters in Hong Kong and our government in USA is stripping away many existing clean water , emissions and environmental controls and oversight of financial resources to a hunch of criminals -it’s all related in some way shape or form and if as we suspect that the military , arm manufacturers and scientists already have advanced reverse engineered technology from “ beyond” – the entire absurdity of the Petro chemical industry and the effects of toxins influencing climate change are obviously sinister and perverse in light of the planet Earths vulnerability

  9. We just don’t have a full grasp of how best to tackle this disease. When it comes to blood pressure meds, we must use caution and also be aware that we don’t decide based on correlation vs. actual research that will take a while. I have read about several studies, including one that indicates that ACE inhibitors may need to be considered as a treatment for COVID:

    https://www.the-scientist.com/news-opinion/blood-pressure-meds-point-the-way-to-possible-covid-19-treatment-67371

    In addition, results from a study released today indicates that treating patients with hydroxychloroquine may do more harm than good to them( the Brazilians came to a similar conclusion earlier ):

    https://krcrtv.com/news/coronavirus/more-deaths-no-benefit-from-malaria-drug-in-va-virus-study

    As hard as it is, we will have to be patient for a while, and use caution, not fear or knee-jerk reactions to get through this. Most of all, we must be as well-informed as possible, and do our own research to separate the wheat from the chaff, and that means that we should be especially careful of social media.

    1. I ran into the story on the Brazilian study after Whit sent me an article on the VA study (we will indeed be running a story on this later in the week). It should be noted that the low-dose trial in the Brazilian study is still underway, it was the high-dose (600mg) part that was shut down due to patient deaths.

      We have to bare in mind that these hydroxychloroquine/chloroquine studies that are falling through are informal ones: they’re far from definitive, although their findings are suggestive that the drug may be unsuitable as a COVID-19 treatment. Perhaps hydroxychloroquine will find a niche with patients with milder symptoms, but even if it doesn’t, so much pharma-spaghetti is being thrown at the wall at this point that something has to stick.

      1. Something has to stick, indeed…Maybe a little off-topic, but high blood pressure has a level of complexity that cannot be ignored, and it has much to do with the brain, the hypothalamus in particular. Since my stroke last May, I have been on top of this all on my own, since my doctors don’t seem to have the time or inclination to go into the details, including my neurologist. I had a hemorrhagic stroke in my thalamus, which is in the same part of the brain as the hypothalamus, which has a lot to do with blood pressure. Without going into detail, suffice to say that this article is very enlightening (if dry and boring) about a lot of things, but zeroing in on ACE is important, and for me ‘Hypertension caused by circadian rhythm in the hypothalamus’ proved very eye-opening for myself—Whitley may find it intriguing as well.

        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5509160/

  10. For those wondering why US Federally directed COVID-19 testing is still not happening, despite the continuing promises, I heard somewhere about a month ago that Mr. Trump had apparently made the calculation that his reelection would be best served by as little pandemic testing as possible. If so, it is also to his advantage that even people who heard that story find it almost impossible to believe, because it assumes that Mr. Trump has zero capacity for empathy.

  11. Author

    We’re going to be running the second story on UC. I got hydroxychloroquine information before it became public and got a few pills from my doc just in case. I’m not sure at this point what I would do if I got COVD. I was shocked when Trump started touting it as a cure. I knew for certain that there were only three small studies, and they weren’t definitive. I thought it was very poor leadership.

  12. Covid 19 likes cramped western culture and the unhealthy immunosuppressive conditions it creates. You have to ask what kind of system have we created to allow a virus make us worry about stamping it out. Or not having food and shelter. How crazy is that ! We call it civilization. In a world of plenty we have nothing at all.

  13. Heaven forbid, Whitley and everyone, that any of us on UnknownCountry should fall victim to COVID-19. And if any of us do, I strongly recommend that you get your MD’s approval before taking any prescription medication for COVID-19. Even then, consider buying an Apple watch and put it on your wrist, ready to record pulse and heart rhythm. The Apple watch is the most accurate so far, say cardiologists, in detecting arrhythmias or pulse rate changes.

    BOK CHOY, agreed.

  14. Author

    You also might consider getting an oximeter. They’re available to order from Wal-Mart. Amazon has a long wait time. This is a device you put on your finger that tells what your oxygen uptake level is. If it starts to drop below a certain level, it’s time to head for the hospital.

  15. On smartphone news this morning, one media outlet claims that in the USA, a testing level of 20 million is required for safe re-opening of any states. If so, some of our states are re-opening, but not in a safe way. With so much of the US virus defense infrastructure being either deliberately dismantled or unfunded, we may be looking at multiple future viral waves this year, not just a second wave. Meanwhile, my family and I are staying on track w/ rare trips by car to do any necessary shopping. We ran out of disposable gloves, and the new supplies we ordered will arrive 1 month from now.

    Regarding medications that can improve or cure COVID-19, I anticipate that nothing will be found. Medications will prove to be very possibly *not* the way to go with this novel coronavirus. It *doesn’t* matter how many medications are “thrown against the wall,” as Matthew states it above, what matters is whether any existing meds (I’m looking at you, remdesivir) can curtail this new virus *without* too many devastating side-effects. Developments in the medical/pharmaceutical fields have little to do with sheer logic, and a lot to do with the ground truth of what’s going on in the human body. So if meds are no good, that leaves vaccines, fingers crossed. Oh, and permanent sheltering-in-place? …if so, then on the bright side, that means no more in-person stadium-sized pep rallies for the current chief executive.

  16. No institutional “statistics” are ever reliable. Each govt. or institution or organization is always promoting its own agenda.
    – Prime example is the so-called mortality rate of Covid-19, so often parrotted as two or three percent. They’ll do/say anything to make this seem less lethal. Here’s once simple example: High-school arithmetic states you need the same unit of measurement to specify a “rate”. Death counts are an “outcome” and recoveries are an “outcome”–but merely counting cases yields an indeterminate number–it’s not an outcome. >>In any ongoing plague, deaths and recoveries are the only known outcomes, and Covid-19 shows 20-30% of outcomes are Death; the only other known outcome is Recovery.<< This ratio has held week after dismal week for four months now. The much touted "case-fatality rate" is valid only for plagues long gone, like the 1918 flu or MERS, where effectively all cases have produced a known outcome. CFR in 2020 is a big lie.
    – The Covid-19 numbers are in plain view, but your superiors and your media have been intentionally misinterpreting them to deceive you and make themselves look good, starting as early as December 2019. DO THE BASIC MATH.

    1. “Case fatality rate” are the numbers of deaths confirmed to have been caused by the virus. The general death rate is the number of people who tested positive for the virus and also died, whether the cause of their death is confirmed or not.

      And it’s all just based on estimates. Without widespread testing, it’s almost certain that the numbers are nowhere near accurate. However, considering the asymptomatic nature of the virus and it’s unusually long incubation period, the odds are more in favor of the real death rate being lower than calculated rather than higher.

  17. A little more MATH to add to my prior comment…this past week a report from the Yale School of Public Health compared average U.S. death rates for 6 or 7 weeks of March and early April from recent years with the death rate for the same period in 2020. There were (per Yale) more than 31,000 “excess deaths” this spring than what prior-year data would have predicted! All from coronavirus? The Feds say “No!” The government numbers for deaths attributable to Covid-19 during the same period were just over 23,000. So Yale presents Uncle Sam as under-reporting the coronavirus death rate by 13,500, scarcely 2/3 of what is likely the actual number. Again, LOWER LETHALITY makes the politicians and the governments look better. My faith in the notorious Groucho Marx theory of politics grows daily. I’ll shut up now.

    1. I’m really concerned about the lack of autopsies done on those “supposedly” killed by Covid. One of my Dr. friends said it’s probably not true that people are dying of heart attacks or strokes from Covid. Neil Ferguson, recently resigned, the person who was creating a lot of the computer models that the fatality rate was based on is it very interesting history in the past. A lot of his backing comes from Bill Gates, and in the past he highly overestimated the fatality rates in a few different outbreaks. With Gates really pushing vaccines, giving Ferguson a lot of money, giving a the WHO a lot of money it makes you wonder what the goal of this is? I found some pretty interesting reading on Jon rappoport’s website. He might be an interesting guest to have on? Interesting interview as well by an author on a book about the coming plague written quite a few years ago a lot of this may still very well apply. I will never do vaccine for this, especially since some sources say that it would change our RNA makeup. No genetic manipulation for me thank you! I would rather take my chances even if I am in a high-risk group. I’m working from home doing what I can to stay healthy and it will be a crapshoot regardless. I’m a fan of Ben Franklin’s statement that those who are willing to give up their essential Liberty for temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. You have to decide how far you’re willing to go with this?

      1. This comment keeps getting popped out by the system. Apparently one of the sites linked has some kind of a problem that makes our filter think it’s delivering spam.

  18. A post like yours, Ana, in my opinion, is immoral and unpatriotic. If you are a Russian agent, you are doing a good job of spreading fear and confusion and, most important of all, helping to convince Americans to do things that will expose them to the virus and further weaken our country.

    I am not surprised that one of the sites you have linked to has some kind of a problem. I have no doubt that they are gathering information about everybody who goes there, in order to find more suckers to spread their lies.

    Whitley, why do you allow a post like this, full of verifiable lies and misinformation?

  19. We have removed the website links in Anna’s post. In the interest of fairness, we have removed both links, although only one of them was reporting an issue.

    1. Well guess I won’t post any kind of links in the future. That one comment gave me a good laugh for the day! Someone who has a different opinion and expresses it is somehow labelled as a foreign national, so much for the 1st amendment! I’ve been a member since this site’s inception, and that’s a first. People will do whatever they want in the long run.

  20. Author

    Secretharmonies, you came close to violating our posting rules. What saved your post was “A post like yours…” If you had said “You are…” you’d be history on this website. So bear that in mind.

    That said, we are all entitled to our opinions, and free to post them here unless the posting rules are violated. Anna has been with us for years. I think I can safely say two things: First, if she’s a Russian agent, I have a hat, some salt and pepper and a very good knife. I don’t like hats, but proof of that would compel me to eat it. Second, opinions are welcome here, including those that are controversial.

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