Life may return somewhat to ‘normal’ in 2021 because of the new Coronavirus vaccines – but the long term problems that caused the pandemic will remain.
When looked at from a long term perspective, vaccines and lockdowns are the wrong place to be putting billions of dollars of our tax money. And if we’re going to collectively restrict our lives and modify our behaviour to save lives then we’re going about it completely the wrong way.
I’m not saying this because I’m an anti-vaxxer or a right wing extremist or some armchair scientist.
I am saying this because as a society, we are willfully asking the wrong people the wrong questions. Unsurprisingly we are reaching the wrong conclusions.
Specifically, we need to be asking a different set of experts – health educators, environmental scientists and farmers for their guidance. Then each and every one of us as individuals needs to take responsability – in the same way we have with social distancing measures – and work towards resolving this crisis.
Our Approach So Far is Not Aiming High Enough
Our approach this past year has been to stop everybody meeting and infecting eachother until the scientists can come up with a clever way to save us from covid. The problems with this approach from my perspective are twofold:
- This solution will only protect us from covid-19. If another pandemic occurs or some substantial mutation of covid19 – as it well might – then we will essentially be back to square 1.
- This solution does not solve any other problems at the same time – we still have climate change, an obesity epidemic, epidemics of heart disease, diabetes, auto-immune disease, terrible air pollution, poverty, over-population, hideous animal cruelty and destruction of natural habitats…. In fact the chances are some of these issues will simply get worse because we are not doing anything about them and spending all of our resources fighting covid.
If it were possible to solve the problem in a way that:
- hugely increased our resilience against any future pandemic
- and solved a load of other serious problems in the process…
…then wouldn’t you just give it a try?!
Who you ask and what you ask them makes a huge difference
As a species we are not trying to solve the problem of pandemic disease with any finality. On the whole we don’t believe it would even be possible. This is because, when covid first started claiming victims in large numbers last year, we asked government and we asked medical doctors for their solutions. Doctors and legislators are experts in their fields for sure but unfortunately their fields of expertise are mostly unrelated to the causes of the covid-19 pandemic.
Governments are experts at controlling people! I mean that’s their job isn’t it? Stop people hurting eachother, organise them to pay taxes etc…. So no surprise if you ask a government to sort it out they’ll do what they do best and tell you to stay at home so you don’t infect anyone! That’s the most obvious and effective lever at their disposal.
Medical doctors are experts at fixing you. If I break a leg or am struggling to breathe with a respiratory infection then these are the guys I turn to. More precisely they’re tasked with fixing you as quickly as possible without asking you to modify your behaviour. This approach is incredibly effective in a crisis. They might tell you to stop smoking or stop eating fries every night but by and large they are not there to tell you how to live your life – they’re there to fix you when your health goes wrong.
Therefore the most efficient solution they have at their disposal is going to be a vaccine. It’s obvious isn’t it? – if you’re a government you’ll do what you do best and herd people into line. If you’re a doctor then you’ll try to fix people quickly in such a way that they don’t have to modify their behaviour. After all, that’s your happiest patient isn’t it? He’s back to work and leisure same as before!
Instead lets ask the people who are actually qualified to talk about health!
But what would happen if we asked a health educator to resolve covid? A health educator is someone who looks at your daily routine, your food, your work conditions, what you do in your free time, your posture, even your relationships – and tells you what you can change to improve your health.
A lot of alternative therapists fall into this category to varying degrees. As well as basing their practises on ancient wisdom, some are based firmly in modern science – nutritionists and functional medicine practitioners for example. Most will give you some sort of treatment but will almost always say that without diet/lifestyle changes their treatment will not be enough to get you/keep you well.
These are the people who have made a career out of helping others get and stay well and they are the people we need to be asking for help right now. They are the ones who know how we need to change every aspect of our lives to become stronger and more resilient.
We know that people with prexisting conditions are more likely to get sick from covid and we know how to prevent and often reverse these conditions. What are we waiting for?
This is a better solution than a vaccine or a lockdown because it will be as effective against any future covid mutation or pandemic (and probably also the dreadful long covid that some people are now suffering) as it is right now against covid-19. Not only that but it would greatly help us against many other health problems we commonly face.
If we can spend hundreds of billions on vaccines and lockdown, don’t you think we could pay these expert in human health a bit to help us?
When we first started throwing money at vaccines and lockdowns we truly didn’t know how effective they would be. The irony is we probably had more data and certainty around the efficacy of dietary or movement based regimes for health as well as supplements and herbal treatments that we have for boosting the immune system.
Instead of spending money on these known defenses, we went with the vaccinations and the lockdowns because (in a panic) we asked doctors and we asked politicians. We should have asked the experts in health, instead we asked the experts in medical intervention and the experts in making rules for help.
And Lets ask the people who are Qualified to talk about our environment and food systems!
What about environmental scientists and farmers? There are plenty right now telling us loud and clear that we need to stop destroying the natural world because that is what has fueled covid-19 jumping species to attack humans. Farmers could tell us how to re-work our food systems so we didn’t need to grow a ton of soy/corn animal feed on deforested land. This would have a direct impact on the chance of there being another pandemic.
Climate change has also been shown to displace wildlife in the same way as deforestation. The looming catastrophe of climate change includes pandemic disease like covid and worse as a consequence.
Air pollution has been shown to worsen covid outcomes – maybe goverment could have a role here? We could ask them to restrict our car usage to improve our air? Or better still change work patterns to make it easier to go without a car.
And social factors could help here too like population and poverty – both of which worsen covid’s effects. Again, these are contributory factors and are outside doctors’ areas of expertise and yet the doctors are the only ones we are turning to for a solution.
I don’t want a sticky-plaster – I want to avoid getting bitten over and over. So I’m going to ask the people who understand the causes for help – not those who can fight the symtoms.
How About Looking in the Mirror?
We can ask experts for guidance and governments for action but as individuals we need to be taking responsability for both our health and our impact upon the environment.
Our food and lifestyle choices have a massive impact upon all the environmental factors above. We need to defer to the advice of the experts in these things. Experts in the impact of deforestation upon wildlife and infectious disease. Experts in air pollution and respiratory disease. Experts in social problems like poverty and over-population.
And we need to listen to their advice and act upon it.
It’s just like wearing a face mask – you’re doing your duty to help society – just in a wiser more far-sighted way. I’d far rather eat healthy than wear a facemask any day… And I’d definitely rather reduce my environmental impact in any number of ways than go into lockdown and not be able to see my friends!
And for our health we have to stop asking people to just fix us. We need to ask for real, lasting health. And we need to honestly and humbly offer up our time, resources and daily food/lifestyle habits to achieve this.
The nature-cure philosophy of health offers no more guarantee of success than your GP/Surgeon can. And as a patient it is truly the work of a lifetime to learn which kind of professional to ask when we (or even worse our children) get sick with one or another complaint.
And I concede it is true that while your doctor provides a relatively competent and standardized service, your average alternative therapist or functional medicine doctor is likely more volatile in their capabilities. This makes a journey pursuing real health a daunting prospect.
But each and every one of us must make a resolution: we must say that within the possibilities afforded by our life situation/budget etc, we are willing to change anything and everything necessary to maximise the real health available to us.
Real health defends us against diabetes and auto-immune disease and heart disease just as it protects us from covid-19. And it will apply to any pandemic in the future, unlike the vaccines now on offer.
If we can take our environmental responsabilities seriously and if we can take our health responsabilities seriously then we can move forward without fear of the next mutation of covid or long-covid or another pandemic.
And What If??
The scientists at Pfizer and others have worked a miracle with their vaccines. But I would say for the hundreds of billions of dollars they’ve had worldwide to work on this, I’d expect one.
And the compliance of literally billions of people with social distancing and lockdown measures has been frankly heroic. It is even more of a miracle than the vaccines in my view to see so many people across the world acting together with one single purpose.
Sadly it is misdirected at symptoms and not causes. We simply condemn ourselves to a future of cycles of lockdowns, masks, social distancing and people dying while they wait for another expensive vaccine.
Imagine if we could channel all that energy we spent fighting covid this past year into our actual health? What if we research more deeply the diet, movement and life habits that support real resilient good health. The research that currently exists is mind-blowing if you take the time to look – but it is mostly ignored by mainstream press and government and is inadequately funded. And I suspect people do not want to look for fear they would need to change a lot of their behavior.
Imagine if we financially supported health educators to spread their message and develop their knowledge and skills.
Imagine if we could channel all those billions into sorting out our food systems and halting the vast environmental damage they cause… And air pollution, and poverty and over-population and antibiotic overuse… All of these contributed to the covid pandemic and could contribute to a similar situation again.
And imagine if every single one of us resolved to take responsability for their actions with regard both their environmental impact *and* their health. Imagine if we approached these issues with enthusiam and creativity every day.
Safety and resilience from covid-19 and many other problems in health and in our natural world are there for the taking if we’re willing to ask the right people the right questions. From there we simply need to take up the challenge and responsability of playing our own individual part in the changes to come.