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Corona crises – an alternative perspective

At the outset let me clarify that the purpose of this blog is not to add to the noise or create more confusion or panic or peddle some magical solutions. Instead I want to focus on a few key deeper issues to provide a larger perspective and focus on the positive steps that each of us can take in the current situation.

Is there a broader pattern, a larger message?

While specific roots of this particular virus may be traced to China, the fact is that in the last couple of decades we have seen a horde such viruses and pathogens making their way from the wild into human society. Examples include SARS, MERS, ZIKA, Ebola, HINI, Swine flu, and so on. While each may have a specific point of transition in terms of a particular wild animal or bird or a specific geographic location, why is it that we are witnessing a sudden spurt in such viruses off late.

Here we need to be aware that all these pathogens and viruses have existed in the wild since millions of years. Further there are millions of such pathogens and viruses still unknown to us in the wild. In fact, the natural eco systems around us are teeming with innumerable such viruses, many of them potentially much deadlier than any that have made an appearance so far. But inspite of our co-habiting with such pathogens for thousands of years on this planet Earth, why are we now witnessing a sudden spurt in their crossing over from the wild into human societies. What has changed that is fostering such a transition.

While such pathogens have always existed in natural eco systems, they have been boxed in or contained within, by a complex dynamic process of natural balance.

But post industrial revolution, especially over the last 50 years, we have been on an accelerated path of systematically destroying such natural eco systems through monstrous monocultures of industrial agriculture, animal farming and mining. This has now reached extreme proportions and the last remaining virgin forests and pristine spaces, be it the Amazon rain forests or the Indian western ghats, are being raided and decimated at an alarming pace. Deforestation, species loss, loss of bio-diversity have reached a breaking point. Result, the natural balance within these eco systems is destabilised leading to the release of the hitherto boxed in pathogens into human habitats. When this happens in our societies characterised by densely populated mega cities and a global travel network at record propensity, it’s certainly a recipe for disaster.

What can we do now?

I want to focus on two key points

1. Building Immunity

Hard evidence coming from across the world suggests that in around 85% of the cases, Covid19 only manifests as a mild infection and does not even require hospitalization. Its only in the balance 15% or so cases that more severe symptoms manifest, hospitalization is required and even death may occur. But again, in most such cases these are people who are mostly aged and/or more importantly have a compromised immunity i.e. people with several other health issues and complications like diabetes, BP, obesity, kidney disease etc. Even amongst the older population, mortality amongst people in good health and strong immunity is very low as seen from the German example.

So, our focus today should be on building immunity, strengthening our immune system. What can we do to achieve this? All the available independent research shows that a plant based whole food diet (WFPB) comprising of lots of fruits, vegetables, pulses-beans-lentils, nuts-seeds and whole grains is best nutrition that we can provide our body with, to achieve sustained good health, build a strong immune system and avoid chronic diseases.

  • If WFPB diet is what we should embrace, what should we avoid? The answer is simple – Avoid all animal products – meat, fish, eggs, milk and milk products; all processed foods – refined oils, refined flours, polished grains, bakery products and packaged foods; all sugars and sugary eats and drinks; alcohol and smoking.

  • Consume a lot of citrus fruits (lemon, orange, musumbi, pinaple, etc.) rich in vitamin C, a vital immune booster; drink tender coconuts.

  • Practice Pranayama which is known to strengthen your lungs

  • Get good 7 to 8 hours of sleep every day. Stay positive. Keep calm; meditate; start reading; listen to music; spend time with your family.

  • Stop watching the TV news and WhatsApp forwards. It only creates and reinforces negative thoughts and emotions – panic, fear, anger, frustration and generates negative energy that weakens our immune system.

  • Keep yourself active, walk if you can, do household chores.

A strong and healthy immune system will not only help you ward off Covid19 but also all other infections and chronic diseases. And even if you do get Corona infection, will help you recover faster and smoother.

2. Help the less fortunate

While a lockdown may be inevitable to slow down the spread of the virus, the way its been implemented – the poor, migrant labour and daily wage earners are bearing the brunt of it. Unfortunately, in most parts of the country there isn’t enough focus on providing support to these people to cope with the adverse fallout. Many are struggling for basic necessities, food and shelter, and have been left to fend for themselves. There are ofcourse some state Govts, NGOs and individuals, who are doing their best to help them. Support such initiatives by volunteering if you can or donating. Spread awareness in your circles, on social media. Use these forums to exert pressure on the authorities to act. Let’s do everything we can to help and support our fellow countrymen.

It’s a flu and not a monster

Lastly, I personally feel that while Covid19 is certainly a very infectious disease and has the potential to spread rapidly, the scenario is not as bleak as its being made out to be all around us. Let’s look at some facts:

  • The mortality rate of Covid19 is between 1% to 2% on with the exception of Italy with mostly aged population. This is far below SARS @10%, MERS @34%, Ebola @40% and so on.

  • There is a coincidence, as can be seen from the world map here, that areas of the world where Malaria has been rampant are seeing much slower spread of Covid19 and vice versa. While we cannot draw any hard conclusions yet based on this and need to take all precautions, the future may not be as grim as is being painted, atleast in our part of the world.

  • So far, data on daily new cases in India is not showing the rapid accelerating trend witnessed in China, and countries like Italy, Spain and US. While this may change, the current trend coupled with our stringent lockdown measures, gives us hope that we may never see such a spike and hence avoid the worst-case scenario.

So, let’s take care and strictly adhere to the precautions, focus on building immunity and extend a helping hand to those in need. While doing this let’s stay calm, avoid panic and fear mongering. In these difficult times we need to stay strong, stay calm and help each other. Together we shall overcome this challenge.

The unexpected bonus

We may also have an unexpected bonus from this entire lockdown and related episode. The lockdown is keeping us away from unhealthy foods like animal products, bakery products, etc. on one hand and hospitals and doctors on the other. When similar situation happened in Europe during the previous 2 world wars (due to WW driven shortages, blockades, etc.) there was a sharp dip in deaths due to diabetes, heart disease, etc. This is a recorded fact. A similar windfall could be expected in the current situation also. But in Europe after the WW the people went back to their old ways of eating and living with a vengeance and a sharp spurt in all these diseases followed.

So the question is do we learn from the deeper messages that this Covid19 episode is trying to teach us and change the way we have been living and consuming and move on to a simple natural way of living or do we go back to our old habits? – it is for us to decide.

Here are links to further readings-

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