Sat | Jun 6, 2020

Norris McDonald | Healthy eating saves lives - COVID-19 and the politics of medicine

Published:Saturday | May 23, 2020 | 12:07 AM

There are no reliable, safe, and effective antiviral drugs or COVID-19 vaccines that will be made available in the next two years. Therefore, it is important to build up one’s immune system using vitamin C and other antioxidants, even as we develop group, or ‘herd’, immunity.

This is the conclusion of Dr Richard Z. Cheng, a major medical researcher.

In a scientific paper, ‘Protected Group Immunity, Not a Vaccine, is the Way to Stop the COVID-19 Pandemic’, Dr Cheng speaks a blunt truth: there is no ‘quick-fix solution’ to this COVID-19/novel coronavirus pandemic.

Given the absence of any quick-fix solution, Dr Cheng offers two key arguments in the fight against COVID-19. In the absence of an antiviral cure or vaccine for COVID-19, he advocates the idea of building up one’s immune system – the human body’s natural disease-fighting capacity.

“Early and sufficient use of vitamin C, along with vitamin D3, zinc, magnesium, and other nutrients, is able to offer a high level of protection,” Dr Cheng argues. This conclusion is based, among other things, on the role played by high-dose vitamin C to treat “50 moderate to severe COVID-19 patients in China”.

Ultimately, the emergence of ‘herd immunity’ reinforces the natural defence mechanism we have to fight COVID-19, Dr Cheng concludes.

Cheng is a member of the Orthomolecular News Service. He is a senior medical researcher who has published several distinguished papers in several scientific and medical journals.

CHEMICAL APPROACH

Meanwhile, advocates of a purely “chemical approach” in America have use narrow politics to push hydroxychloroquine.

We have seen this play out as President Donald Trump pushed the US Federal Drug Administration (FDA) to approve the anti-malaria drug. Several studies now reveal that hydroxychloroquine has had severe adverse effects, including the death of several COVID-19 patients.

There have been dilatory political attitudes in both America and Brazil – which placed great reliance on hydroxychloroquine – which now have a staggering COVID-19 death rate.

Remdesivir is another antiviral that was approved for COVID-19 patients by the FDA, but, according to Lancet Medical Journal, this drug was “not associated with statistically significant clinical benefits”.

In other words, there is a lot of hype about Remdesivir, but the results from its drug trial and “emergency use” in hospitals have not been successful.

Worldwide, there are many vaccines and therapeutic COVID-19 drugs under development. But, given the reality that viruses such as the one that causes COVID-19 keep mutating, even if enough drugs were produced to save the whole world – which is quite impossible – in a short while, these drugs would be useless.

With over five million people worldwide tested positive for coronavirus, it is hard to see any miracle cure, such as Remdesivir or any other drug, being able to save all present and/or potential COVID-19 victims.

Further, budget constraints and market ideology will prevent any government from seeing this as a public necessity, to vaccinate their people against COVID-19.

It is hard to escape the basic fact that poor people are unable to pay for medicine and that therefore, they would not be able to afford any COVID-19 vaccine or antiviral drug.

This clearly exposes the lack of serious planning that exists in guarding society against dangerous viral outbreaks.

And there is no suggestion that governments will provide any discovered vaccine or anti-coronaviral drug free of cost to the disadvantaged people in society.

PRACTICAL SENSE

Dr Cheng’s idea of people building up their immune system makes more practical sense than all ideas advanced by those who believe in a purely vaccine or ‘drug’ approach.

This is a more practical thing to do than to wait for the price of any newly discovered COVID-19 vaccines to drop so poor people can get their shot!

In any event, there is a school of medicine, immunotherapy, that is now looking at the practical effects of training the human body to fight cancer. Therefore, the idea of helping the body’s immune system to fight the coronavirus is in no way different from the role now being played in fighting some forms of cancer.

Whether we like it or not, it makes more sense for individuals to recognise that governments can only do so much. At the personal level, sad to say, you are on your own!

This coronavirus pandemic may be around for a long time. Those who never really believed in healthy eating better realise that they must now save themselves, even if this may seem as a long shot, by building up their immune system.

Food is and has always been good medicine!

That is just the ‘bitta’ truth!

Norris McDonald is an economic journalist, social researcher, and political analyst. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and miaminorris@yahoo.com.