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Thursday, March 19, 2020

How ignorance and bad instructions fuel a pandemic.

COVID_19 epidemic has conquered the planet Earth.

Read this on covid19 and vaccination:
Today, the emphasis in the fighting coronavirus falls on the social distancing. That would be a perfect strategy if it would be possible to contain everyone for two weeks, preventing everyone from any contact in any form from anyone else. The key word is everyone. Clearly, that is impossible. 

Hence everyone has to be vigilant in protecting himself or herself from an infection.

And theoretically, everyone already knows how to prevent himself/herself from getting a virus, as well as what to do for not spreading it around.

For example, recently all media had stories about people voting in primaries and wearing a mask while doing that.
But as we see in the picture, some voters didn’t care to protect their hands. It is not a big deal if that person follows the instructions provided by the CDC, starting from “wash your hands”. But what if he/she doesn’t?

And even if people wash hands regularly, they may not do it the way they are supposed to. Check this instructions, for example (placed in a gym just two days before being closed for public).
The instruction says “Wash your hands … for at least 20 seconds”.
We can see in the video how students rub their hands for twenty second – while keeping the hands in water. That is what people reading the gym instruction could think of doing, too.

But that is a wrong way to wash your hands.

CDC says that soap should be on skin for at least 20 seconds (an example of good instructions).

In order to kill a virus soap has to be in a contact with it for at least 20 seconds. If you start immediately washing soap off your skin you may leave an active virus on your skin.

This example demonstrates that people at that school are ignorant.

An ignorant is not a bad word, it is a scientific term.

In science it is very common to use one term (or even a symbol) that represents a whole sentence.

For example, instead of saying “the rate of change of velocity” a physicists says “acceleration”.

In psychology, an idiot is person who does not use an ability to think (due to specific psychological issues often rooted in the early culture of the person).

A stupid is a person who has no ability to think due to genetic deficiencies.

And an ignorant is a person who does not have in his/her memory relevant information.

Why someone is an ignorant?

There might be several different reasons for that.

For example, one is a monk, a social outcast, someone who does not have information channels to/from the world.

Or, one may refuse to accept information one receives.

Or, one may have bad instructions from relevant people (or in general – bad education).

The latter reason is widely common, starting from the fact that many school teachers are incapable of providing good instructions to their students (mostly because teachers themselves had no good instructions on how to teach).

In our example, when an ignorant person does not wash hands according to the right instruction, he/she is definitely at a higher risk of getting and transmitting a virus.

This is why ignorance of some is a danger for all.

Next what CDC tells people to do is cleaning up surfaces they may touch, and not touching uncleaned or unknown surfaces with bare hands.

Why shouldn’t people be touching uncleaned or unknown surfaces with bare hands if they will wash those hands anyway?

Because people are … well … people. They forget things. They have many uncontrollable habits. Between touching a surface and washing hands may pass an hour, and there is a study that shows that a person can touch his/her face up to twenty times in one hour. That is why it is handy to have gloves, or tissues and use them when needed. Gloves or tissues may already be out of stock, but a zip bag or a plastic bag may work as well (one may get a roll of plastic bags, similar to bags in stores).

The problem is to keep in mind what you just did. If you used a tissue and your eye is itching, do not rub it with that tissue. On the contrary, if you used your hand to turn a doorknob, and your eye is itching, take a tissue and rub an eye with it (or use another hand – if it is clean).

To minimize a risk of getting a virus we all now have to be in a constant control of all our feelings and actions.

And that is NOT what we used to do every day.

Self-observation and self-control do not come naturally with genes by birth. When born, we all just have a set of various predispositions. But those predispositions evolve into habits and skills only as the result of the cultural influence on us during our first ten to fifteen years. No doubt Albert Einstein had good genes. But if he would have been left in a jungle with monkeys, he would become a monkey – a very smart one, but still a monkey. Without his family, books, and friends he would never be able to create any of his theories.

Nowadays, parents with children experience a huge stress because children do not have yet a developed sense of self-control, they can touch anything and then lick their fingers. But there are also many grownups who due to lack of right culture (good education) still often act like children and also do not have much of self-control. Those people have a higher probability of picking up a virus and transmitting it to others.

This is why poor education of some is a danger for all.

Now, let’s move on to cleaning surfaces.

Many sources repeat the same list of products that kill a virus.
And there are many videos showing how cleaning is happening. But in many publications and videos we cannot see how exactly the cleaning process was organized. All we can see is people rubbing doorknobs, switches, remote controls, phones, rails, counters, etc.  Sometimes in the news you can see people spraying a solution on a surface and then wiping it up …
immediately, like in this video (at t = 1 min 18 s).

I myself saw the other day an employee at a supermarket who was doing exactly the same while cleaning up the carts.

It is very uncommon that a news person would also tell us that the CDC list also provides how much time one or another solution needs to act on a virus to kill it.
For example, if you spray Ultra Clorox, wait for 4 minutes and 30 seconds and then clear it up, it still will be not enough to kill the virus, because CDC says this solution needs 5 minutes to do that.

People who are ignorant of the time requirement put us all (including themselves) at risk. But they do that because people who had to provide them with good instructions – managers – did not do their job.

Since 2016, I’ve been writing about the decline in the quality of management in America (the full list in Appendix I), for example:

The COVID_19 pandemic only strengthens all those arguments.

Finally, let’s talk about lowering health risks in general.

One can find on the internet statements that garlic does not kill a virus, or a vitamin C does not kill the virus. And that is correct. But that does NOT mean garlic and vitamins are useless. The best remedy against any virus is a good healthy strong immune system. Anything that is good for an immune system is good, and anything that is bad for it is bad. Simple as that. When I travel to Russia I always buy there some immune boosters. Some of them recommended by a doctor, some by a pharmacist. They have been around for decades. Just as an example, one of the oldest is Interferon, or its newer version Виферон or Viferon.

But there are other, too. Many of those drugs, actually the vast majority of them, have been developed and produced by European companies and brought to the Russian market. But no American physician has ever mentioned to me any of them. Because American pharmaceutical market is one of the closest markets in the world. Pharmaceutical companies use FDA as a gate keeper, to keep competitors out. This is just one example of how greed of a few negatively affects the wellbeing of many.

In the end, I want to share my personal method to boost my immune system when I feel it is under attack.

When my son was very little he was very susceptible to any kind of a flu. Every year he was spending many days being sick. We went through many doctors, and many books searching for the way to make him stronger. My then wife even became a medical student to study pediatrics. Once upon a time we came across a book written by a pediatrician practicing in our city. My wife used her connections to make an appointment. I do not remember the name of that doctor, the title of the book, or anything he told us, except one advice. When we see that our sun may be getting sick, we need to start doing contrast showers. A contrast shower is a very simple thing – you stay for two-three minutes in a very hot water (not burning hot, but as much as you can stand), and then you turn off all hot water and crank up cold one. First time – just for a second, and then you switch water back to hot. Get warmed up again and in a couple of minutes repeat the “cold torture”, but now for a second or two longer. Do it four or five times; the last water before you shut the shower off should be cold (guilty – I do not follow this rule anymore). Repeat the sessions every four hours. During the illness, do it every day for four or five days in a row, even at night. Many years later I learned a term for this method – a healthy stress. The doctor told us that during each contras shower session our body ejects from some organs and injects in our blood some natural ferments or hormones that boost our immunities – don’t remember any details, though. When the time came to do this at home, at first I had to show my son that this was OK, so I did it myself when he was watching. Since then both of us use this method to boost our immune system – as soon as we feel that we may be coming down with a bug (damn you - sneezing-coughing-spitting-handy people). My son grew up strong and healthy (knock on wood), and so far, I have been avoiding any major flu-related issues (knock on wood, spitting over the left shoulder). Sometimes I do eat some garlic (and use in my nostrils some ointment that I got from Russia). And usually, after a shower I take hot tea with a lot of honey – the best sign that it works is if I get all sweaty.

But, maybe this works only for me. Maybe, this is just a placebo effect. I don’t care, as long as it keeps me out of a flu.

In conclusion, the #1 rule to fight an epidemic is - be smart.

Treat yourself like you are at the same time a virus carrier and a healthy guy (sort of like the Schrodinger's cat). 
If you were a virus carrier you would have to do all you can to prevent a virus get from you to others. If you are a healthy guy, you want to do everything you can to keep a virus away. So - THINK!

Today, the emphasis in the fighting coronavirus falls on the social distancing. That would be a perfect strategy if it would be possible to contain everyone for two weeks, preventing everyone from any contact in any form from anyone else. The key word is everyone. Clearly, that is impossible. That is why the government needs to employ creative measures, for example, in addition to cleaning up shopping carts using the proper strategy, greeting every customer with a pair of gloves, and simply do not allow anyone without gloves to shop. In the light of a two trillion dollar relief package, this measure would cost a tiny fraction of it, but would greatly lower the risk of transmitting a virus from one person to another.

A good illustration of the point: during the epidemic wearing a mask on an airplane must be a standard action, but it isn't.

 Appendix I


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