Only My Opinions

Good Health – Trust Yourself

Covid-19

As I write this blog, just over 2.2 million people have lost their lives because of the novel Corona virus. Ever since it was discovered in 2019, over 102 million people have so far been tested and diagnosed with the virus worldwide. Of this figure, over 56 million people have since recovered, while over 45 million people could be regarded as currently active cases under treatment. It is not yet clear what recovery from Covid-19 really means, but is generally regarded as a state where one is no longer ill from the disease and cannot spread it anymore. It has also not yet been verified what the long term health implications are to those who previously contracted the disease and subsequently recovered.  However, even after recovering from the disease, one is still required to take precautionary measures such as wearing a mask, washing hands and keeping the prescribed social distancing from others – to protect themselves and others against infection or a possible reinfection.

Social challenges

In our quest to overcome the disease and its effects, more resources are directed towards efforts such as finding a cure, limiting the infections and alleviating some of the most immediate social challenges that the epidemic has made even worse; unemployment and poverty; a high mortality rate; stagnating economies; a threat to democracy; misinformation; white color crimes and domestic violence, among others – effects that could be measured only in the human suffering they cause.

Through its ravages on our way of life, perhaps the biggest indictment that Covid-19 has had on humanity is in how we still insist on maintaining our politics as well as look for opportunities for financial self-enrichment even in the midst of scores of people having their well beings gutted and even dying from the disease. In the United States, the former president played down the social ravages of the disease for the sake of reelection, even after he himself contracted it and recovered.  In South Africa, many politicians are found to have benefitted unjustifiably from tenders meant for personal protective wear and other Covid related services. In Uganda, the current president used Covid lock-down restrictions to suppress the campaign of his main political rival, thereby guaranteeing himself another term in office.

The disease itself has been indiscriminate in the way it affects people across all social strata; rich and poor; leaders; members and followers, all races alike, to a point where we could almost safely say that everyone alive, now has someone they know personally – and in over 2 million cases, very close – who has succumbed to the disease. For that reason, the epidemic is no longer something that is known from a distance – through hearsay or what is seen on television – but has become a sobering daily reality whose ramifications every person has to contend with.

The vaccine challenges

As it stands, of the different vaccines developed so far, the most potent has an efficacy level of 95 percent. Efficacy is the rate at which the vaccine is able to reduce the disease when given to a sample group of people in a controlled test environment. More work continues to be done to try and match that efficacy with the effectiveness of the vaccine –which is the rate at which the vaccine is able to reduce the disease when given directly to people in an open community.

There are looming challenges with regard to ensuring that people who want to be vaccinated get access to it. The problems range from the ultimate effectiveness of the available vaccines; producing enough quantities for the whole world; delays caused by the two-dose administration of the vaccine; protection and storage of the vaccine; the geopolitics of the vaccine, which the World Health Organization refers to as “vaccine nationalism”, right down to suspicions caused by high levels of online misinformation and conspiracy theories. Questions regarding the quality of the vaccine, based on the speed at which it was developed, together with the possible side effects thereof, are some of the legitimate concerns that many people have about the vaccine, which may impact personal decisions on whether to submit oneness for vaccination or not. For that reason, more qualitative communication still needs to be done to assure those who are skeptical of issues of vaccine safety.

During the US presidential elections campaign last year, former president Trump declared that the vaccines manufactured by US companies would firstly be made available to all Americans, before they could be exported to the rest of the world. A few days ago, the European Union, through its commissioner of health, also declared its intention to exert the same control on vaccines manufactured by its member states. The likely scenario is that countries with the capacity to develop their own vaccines would follow the same route. That means the speed at which vaccines would be made availability to the rest of the world will depend on how well these manufacturing countries are able to overcome their own vaccination challenges, after which they could export it. Based on the known problems, countries who cannot develop the vaccine themselves will possibly have to wait another year until they could acquire enough stock for their people. All this is made even worse by the emergence of new strains of the virus, which may render the current vaccines less effective in combatting the disease.

A return to normalcy

After months of contending with the disease, many people are wondering when they’re likely to return to the normalcy of life that prevailed before Covid-19. In scientific terms, this return to normalcy is a measurement called ‘herd immunity’. It is a state where most people in a community have developed enough immunity against a disease, either by being vaccinated or when they fall ill and then recovering from the disease, whereby the body builds its own immunity against the virus. At that point, the disease is unable to spread further within a community because most of the people are immune to it. The US government believes the country will likely reach herd immunity by November 2021. However, each country or community has its own route to Covid herd immunity, based on different social factors such as the rate at which people interact physically with each other and are likely to pass on a disease, coupled with how soon effective vaccines are developed and administered to the population.

To determine how close a community or country is to reaching herd immunity, scientists use the (R0) figure, pronounced (R naught) as a measure of how many people need to be immunized in order to reach a point where there are no longer new infections.  R0 is a state where an infected person is much less likely to infect others, whereas with R3, one person who carries the virus could infect three others. The R number for Covid-19 is estimated to be R3. This means a community or country is estimated to reach herd immunity when two thirds of the population are immunized. The formula used is (R0-1/R0). In this case, it will be R3 minus 1, divided by R3, which is 3-1/3=2/3. This is means 2/3 of the world’s population needs to be immunized for normalcy to return.

Taking personal responsibility

In the meantime, while waiting for the vaccine to arrive, the death of even a single person is continues to be a great loss to humanity, considering how much of life, and of other people’s happiness is reliant on any one person – whether a parent, a child, a stranger or friend. The cost of waiting for a vaccine and a cure to arrive might well be too much for anyone to bear. For that reason, it is important to begin to realize that the dynamics of being healed from any disease, pain or suffering, do not only depend on the vaccine or on what other people such as the government and the medical fraternity could do for us, but also on each of us – on what each of us could do for themselves. There is much that we could do to save ourselves and our loved ones from what appears like an inevitable wait for an ultimate demise.

Our immune system

Immunity from diseases is an ability that every person is born with. We see evidence of this whenever we recover from any pain or illness without the use of medicine. Medicine, in this case a vaccine, helps the body’s immune system from being overwhelmed by the disease, especially when one’s immune system is weak. The weakness or strength of an immune system depends on the state of mind as well as the energy or strength in the body, simply because each of us is a mind and body. This means our ability to restore ourselves back to health against a disease like Covid-19, is to deal with both the physical and non-physical aspects of ourselves – mind and body. This collaboration is how we create human immunity to illness and is our best chance of combating a disease, especially when we have no access to vaccine or medicine

Based on what we know so far about Covid-19, the disease spreads through the respiratory tract – the nose and mouth. For that reason, the face mask together with social distancing are the most practical ways of protecting others from our own infection or protecting ourselves from others’. They are our first line of defense – at the level of the body – in isolating the disease from spreading. However, the most immediately available form of prevention against the disease is in how the mind is the creator of the body’s ability to heal itself. In fact, the level at which anyone would generally depend on medicine for curing their ailments, depends very much on the confidence they have developed in the ability of the mind to heal the body and their reliance on it. The Covid-19 epidemic has created a dire need for restoration to good health and normalcy. With the limitations it has created, it has made it necessary for people to ponder the subject of healing and how our minds work with the body and medicine to restore us back to health.

Evidence of self-healing

Since March 2020, when the first lock-downs were initiated, the majority of people who have recovered from the Covid-19 virus, did so at a time when there was no known cure, and before the vaccine was developed. Of the over 102 million people who contracted the disease, a major part of the 56 million people who have since recovered could be attributed to the natural ability of the body to heal itself – their immune system. The healing happened during quarantine and lockdown time, where it was mostly the body ‘learning’ to understand the disease and then developing its internal capabilities to overcome it. Evidence of the body’s success is in the high number of people who have since recovered from the disease before the cure was developed.

A vaccine is introduced to the body as a way of assisting the body to use its naturally available abilities to combat a disease.  The assistance is meant to keep the body from being overwhelmed by the disease while it is still busy ‘learning’ how best to fight by itself. Ultimately, the responsibility to fight the diseases on a continuous basis, falls squarely on the body’s natural abilities to do so. Only when we see this ability in our everyday use of the body and how it restores itself, can we begin to consider the powerhouse behind this ability and how to help sustain it.

The will to heal

Central to our immune system, comprised of both the body and mind, is the mind itself. Our minds set purpose for anything that we decide to do with the body. The mind determines the necessity for any bodily activities including the healing process. The body heals when the mind wills enough for healing to occur. Healing does not happen if the mind does not will enough for it. The healing mechanism of the body serves at the behest of the mind that decides whether healing in the body is necessary or not.

To will for healing is to surrender any kind of benefit we may perceive from the illness we have. For instance, if we love a certain food that makes us ill, for us to heal from the illness we would have to decide what is important to us between eating that food and healing. We need to will to rid ourselves of the illness and any benefit we may perceive from it. When we derive any form of benefit from an illness, we regard the prevalence of the illness as synonymous to the benefit we are deriving. Letting go of the illness is then perceived as a losing the benefit itself. This prevents us from using all the available resources we have towards the purpose of healing.

Like anything else in life, healing cannot be effected from outside – by a doctor or anyone – if it is not allowed from inside by the person who is ill. Allowing the healing depends primarily on seeing its value as being more than the value of whatever makes us ill or of the illness itself. A decision to heal must then be our single most important motivation to use all the mental and bodily resources towards achieving it. From this willingness to heal, the energy of the body is then directed towards the different processes of healing. The willingness of the mind to recover from illness is the basis upon which our immune systems are founded.

When the mind values healing more than any benefit in the illness, all the processes of the body begin to work exclusively towards that healing. We direct the body to rest as well as eat in order to regenerate the physical energy that the it needs, to work towards healing. With enough energy, instead of wasting it towards thoughts that defeat the goal we have set, we use it to visualize what we are aspiring for – a state where the disease has been overcome – where our normalcy has been restored. The clarity and beauty of this vision forms an even stronger motivation to search for more evidence of our success – however small – in the different activities that unfold towards reaching our goal. We appreciate the little things that are going well in our bodies; signs of how our healing is actually becoming real. The constant search for the evidence of our healing becomes our daily state of being, like inspecting each piece of a jigsaw puzzle to see where it fits in the bigger picture that it is a part of. All this continues until such time when most of what we can see is the evidence of the healing we are aspiring for.

In the end, whatever we do or how well we do it, does not matter if we do not set a purpose for doing it. The road to healing is the willingness to heal that comes with valuing our healing enough to spend time, mental and physical effort to realize. Only in setting this goal and being willing to achieve it can we then decide to be nutritious; to cook fresh, hot meals; hydrate frequently; have regular exercise; take our daily prescribed medicines; talk to friends, relatives and family members who are not staying with us, via the phone or video conferencing, and know that each of these is done towards achieving a specific purpose of healing. To trust ourselves, what we already have, and to use it for our own healing, is how each one of us makes the best of what we already have – in a very literal sense.  GEM

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