Walk Away From the Next COVID Pandemic, One Step at a Time
The World Health Organization is urging countries to prepare for the next pandemic, a variant of COVID-19 that could be even worse, they say, than 2020. WHO director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, stated, “The threat of another variant emerging that causes new surges of disease and death remains, and the threat of another pathogen emerging with even deadlier potential remains.”
Following suit, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) is urging Americans ages six months and up to get the new COVID-19 vaccination.
According to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll, over half of U.S. adults say “no thank you” to the latest COVID-19 vaccination.
Why is that?
Facts the WHO or CDC Don’t Want You to Know
One reason might be that beyond pushing for more vaccinations, the WHO and the CDC offer little helpful information about the COVID-19 virus and what we can do when (not if) we contract it. This is unfortunate. Since 2020, we have gathered a mountain of data about the virus.
For starters, for most people, COVID-19 and its variants are not the boogeymen that they have been made out to be. Back in 2020, we did not know how lethal COVID-19 would be. But in 2023, we now know that the case fatality ratio (CFR) of the disease, the number of people who die from COVID-19 versus the number of people who contract COVID-19, is very low. If you are under 50 years of age, the CFR of COVID-19 is less than one-half of one percent. To put that into perspective, you are twice as likely to die in a motor vehicle accident.
These are facts we rarely see from the WHO or the CDC.
Organizations like the WHO and CDC have yet to give us much information about coronaviruses and their variants.
What’s the Truth About Coronaviruses?
For example, although someone may have tweaked the COVID-19 virus in a lab in Wuhan, China, it was not created there. Coronaviruses, like COVID-19, are said to be some 55 million years old. They are constantly mutating and are proven survivors in the dog-eat-dog natural world we live in. They will never be vaccinated or masked away. True, vaccinations can reduce the transmission and severity of a virus, but coronaviruses aren’t going anywhere.
Given this information, our best bet to reduce the impact of coronaviruses (or most viruses, for that matter) is to improve our health before we contract them.
Health organizations rarely emphasize this crucial point.
Improve Your Health
To illustrate how important our health is before infection, consider the results from a large study (1.4 million) of confirmed COVID-19 cases across the United States.
In this study, researchers compared severe COVID outcomes (hospitalized, admission to the Intensive Care Unit, being placed on a ventilator or death) between people who were healthy when they caught the virus and those who had two or more of the following pre-existing conditions: diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic lung disease; and kidney disease.
For ages 50-59 (my age), those with at least two pre-existing conditions were 550% more likely to end up in the hospital than those without. Those with two or more of the identified pre-existing conditions were 1020.41% more likely to die from COVID-19 than those who were healthy before getting sick. That’s huge. But the most important point of these numbers is what the pre-existing conditions all have in common.
What’s the Common Denominator?
The leading cause or major contributing factor of each pre-existing condition, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic lung disease, and kidney disease, is obesity.
That’s right, in a million and a half cases, being overweight increases your risk for a bad outcome from a coronavirus anywhere from 500% to 1000%. One would expect the WHO or the CDC to shout this from the rooftops.
They are not, and alarmingly, the number of Americans who are either overweight or obese is climbing each year, which does not bode well for what will happen to us when, and not if, the next coronavirus makes the rounds. No number of vaccinations, masking or lockdowns can fix this problem.
The Lack of Focus and the Shift WHO and CDC Have Made
Why do organizations like the WHO or the CDC not focus more on this? I have put that question to many doctors, and the answer seems to be that over the last twenty years, medicine has shifted from giving advice to us that keeps us well to pushing medications at us once we are sick.
And why the shift?
That depends on who you ask. Some doctors I have asked simply shrug with a look that suggests a “well, what do you think?” type answer. Others have been more direct, noting that the industry follows the money, and there is more money in doing something to you after you get sick than telling you how not to get sick.
I am not saying that doctors want to see us get sick. But pharmaceutical companies, like Pfizer, made billions from the opioid epidemic and an estimated profit of $1,000 per second during the pandemic because we were sick, not because we were well.
Here’s the Good News
As depressing as all this seems, there is good news. We can dramatically reduce our chances of developing life-threatening conditions like diabetes or cardiovascular disease just by moving around. In just about any form, exercise is a simple, no-cost activity that can help anyone lose weight and avoid severe outcomes when an illness like COVID-19 strikes. Walking for any distance at any time is an excellent low-impact, high-calorie burning exercise proven to reduce obesity, lower stress and improve our overall well-being.
And the positive benefits of exercise are amplified in a green space like a park. Being out in nature lowers blood pressure, improves heart function, and suppresses the release of stress hormones. Add movement to being outside and get a free, powerful anti-illness cocktail that anyone can mix up and enjoy almost anywhere. You don’t need a vaccination or a mask, either.
They’ll be Back
Coronaviruses, even COVID-19, will be back. They are an unavoidable part of our future. The good news is that the path that leads us away from severe outcomes is clear and easy to follow: Get up, get moving, exercise regularly and lose weight. Halting, or dare we hope, even reversing our national trend towards obesity and the resulting pre-existing conditions is the only way to keep a future encounter with a coronavirus from turning into another national shutdown.
Dr. Jeff Gardner studied biology as an undergraduate, holds an MA in history and a Ph.D. in Communication and Media Studies. For over a decade, he has worked in media, writing and taking photographs for various publications and organizations across North America, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. His work has been featured in numerous national and international publications and broadcasts. He teaches courses in media, culture and government at Regent University. You can reach him at jeffgardner.online.