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Producing Masterpieces and Strategies in Quarantine

Ryan Holiday, the author of the book, “The Obstacle is the Way” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ryan_Holiday) recently participated in an interview where he discussed, “How to use Stoicism to Choose Alive Time Over Dead Time” (https://tim.blog/2020/04/09/ryan-holiday-stoicism/). During the interview, the participants discussed ideas for making the best of social isolation in quarantine. They made the argument this isolation can be used to become more alive and fulfilled or it can be used to focus in on anger, fear and feelings of helplessness. They emphasized the potential for us all to become more masterful at our own lives during isolation, referencing William Shakespeare and Isaac Newton as examples.

 

Isaac Newton was forced to study at home in quarantine when his university closed in 1665 due to the Great Plague of London. At the time he was a mediocre student. It was during this two-year time he laid the groundwork for Newtonian physics. (https://listverse.com/2020/03/22/10-great-accomplishments-made-during-quarantine/). “Newton’s wide range of discoveries, from his theories of optics to his groundbreaking work on the laws of motion and gravity, formed the basis for modern physics.” (https://www.livescience.com/4965-isaac-newton-changed-world.html) When Newton returned to university after quarantine he excelled in his studies, ultimately becoming an academic scientific icon.

 

William Shakespeare in quarantine from the plague in 1605-1606 wrote the plays, King Lear, Macbeth, and Antony and Cleopatra. (https://listverse.com/2020/03/22/10-great-accomplishments-made-during-quarantine/)

 

For those of us paralyzed by quarantine and awaiting its end, we might consider that great things can be accomplished during this time. Benjamin Franklin was also ahead of his time. In Walter Isaacson’s (https://tulane.edu/walter-isaacson-biography and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Isaacson) 2003 biography of Benjamin Franklin, the author mentions, Franklin believed the common cold was spread by stale air and came from other people rather than from damp clothing which was the predominant theory at the time (http://www.pbs.org/benfranklin/l3_inquiring_medical.html). Isaacson relates stories of Franklin walking about his quarters without clothing and with windows open, even the winter months so he may expose his body to clean air and reduce his chances of becoming ill. According to Isaacson, this strategy often worked.

 

That I know of, our own immune systems remain our only significant defense against viruses. Many of us are focused on waiting it out or the discovery of a vaccine. My understanding of our current physical distancing process was it would allow the virus to spread slowly enough through the population that medical facilities would not be overwhelmed. Thankfully, there are indicators this process is happening in a less aggressive manner than was originally thought. (https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-bearer-of-good-coronavirus-news-11587746176) One downside to slowing the spread is it also slows the natural occurrence of Herd Immunity.

 

The World Health Organization; “WHO Declares Sweden’s COVID Response a Model for the World” (https://www.intellectualtakeout.org/who-declares-swedens-covid-response-a-model-for-the-world/#.XqxzycC0wiQ.facebook) Sweden never shut down their economy and is fighting the COVID epidemic, in some cases, better than in other countries where their economies were shut down. Even potentially more significant is that Sweden is moving much faster toward herd immunity according to tests elaborated in the article. This potentially means they will soon be in a place not to worry about this corona virus as their population will have developed a resistance to it.

 

In a casual conversation with a medical school professor with a focus on toxicology, we discussed an optimistic one-year track to a possible COVID vaccine. After our conversation though, I was left wondering if I would want to be one of the first to experience the vaccine. With all the pressure of a global pandemic, and with nearly the entire biomedical research community focused on COVID, will the FDA of the USA let its guard down in rushing to a vaccine? Will this increase the risk the vaccine could cause other problems? Will the mad-dash for vaccine stumble into changes in vaccine law and change civil rights to force everyone into mandatory flu and other prophylactic shots? Will personal choice and personal values be taken into consideration if this happens?

 

Barring miracles or an exponential leap in medical academic understand of our immune system and viruses, the International Chiropractors Association points out in their 2020 statement on COVID and immunity (http://www.chiropractic.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Updated-Report-of-3-28-wtih-fixed-biblio.pdf) the best defense is to have a strong host. The vast majority of COVID cases are people who become ill and then recover. When discussing severe versus mild cases, one may argue the severity might be dictated by the way the virus mutates or which strain of the virus a person gets but the majority of information I’ve seen points to pre-existing health issues as being most significant for the risk of having a severe case.

 

Finally, to the same point about keeping the host strong from a more entertaining perspective… (https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2020/05/02/maher_the_key_to_beating_covid_is_your_immune_system_you_cant_keep_all_the_pathogens_out.html)

 

Leonard Siskin

 

 

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