As previously mentioned, COVID and obesity are locked into an ever-broadening spiral of mutual aid. For some reason, the disease finds fat very attractive. To the virus, an overweight or obese person looks like a luxury cruise with all the trimmings, and it cannot wait to jump on board.
For the privilege, the virus pays a generous fare. In some patients, it creates the perfect conditions for the cultivation of even more obesity: chronic fatigue, physical pain, inadequate diet, brain fog, exercise intolerance, shortness of breath, and a general trend toward staying in one place. The cherry on top of this sundae is, because “long COVID” is a new thing, nobody knows how many years it might last.
Last month, in the middle of June, less than halfway through 2021, it was announced that the global COVID-19 death toll was already higher than the entire preceding year of 2020. And yet, speakers and writers use such phrases as “As society reopens…” — which turns out to be an undertaking more hazardous and complicated than it sounds. People say, “America is back,” but they are deceiving themselves. The virus is back. It never went away. We may be done with COVID, but it is not done with us.
Skeptics tell people not to worry about catching it, because the survival rate is almost 100%. The John Hopkins University of Medicine puts it at 98.2% in the USA. (In Peru it is more like 91%, not so good.)
Two things about that
Case totals and death tolls vary from day to day. Of course, this is not an exact analogy, but the ancient fable of the chessboard gives a rough idea of what we are dealing with here. A chessboard has 64 squares. On the first square, one grain of rice is no big deal. Likewise, in the adjoining square, two rice grains. But by the time you get to the next row of squares, we’re talking about a serious number of rice grains.
Now pretend each rice grain is a single SARS-CoV-2 organism, capable of constantly reproducing by doubling. By the time we are at the last chessboard square, imagine 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 copies of that one tiny life form occupying the square, or your respiratory tract. Of course, this is not exact coronavirus behavior, but it is a useful visualization exercise.
Alternately, imagine the first grain of rice as a patient who passes along the disease to one other person. On the second chessboard square, there are two sick people, and each one of them transmits it to one other person, so then there are 4, then 8, then 16… By the same kind of relentless progression, today’s low number of cases, or of fatalities, can quickly become a very large multiple of that number.
And another thing
Survival only means not dying; it says nothing about the quality of life. No one knows how many people have “long COVID,” because generally they are not tested for it unless they are sick enough to be hospitalized, or suddenly expire. Folks are living with greatly reduced capabilities that are sometimes mistakenly attributed to some other cause. Michaela Brown wrote about three young, formerly vibrant and active people whose lives were drastically changed. They are adults, so we won’t dwell on them, but they are three people she knows personally, and their stories are very sobering:
Do symptoms like hair loss or joint pain scare you?… Can you afford to be so tired you can barely get through a work day? Or if you do give all you have to your job, there’s nothing left in your tank for your family? Do you want to risk the chance of leaving your partner a widow? Do you want to risk the chance of not watching your kids grow up?
Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “Mortality Analyses,” JHU.edu, undated
Source: “The most powerful force in the universe,” Medium.com, 05/30/17
Source: “When You Say ‘Covid Has A 99% Survival Rate!’ You Sound Ignorant And Uncaring,” ScaryMommy.com, 05/14/21
Image by McGeddon/CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons