Quickie Post — The Guiding Principles of COVID boil down to one thing — Mucus

Another lifetime, Cordoba’ Spain, 2008

In my last post on COVID-19, I discussed the two major factors that drive COVID outbreaks — seasonality, and sociality. These are “almost” guiding principle levels concepts on how COVID spreads.

Short version — when it’s dry, spread is tough. And when you’re distanced, whether through barriers like masks, or actual physical distance, dose of the virus is limited. Spread is tough, which means that vaunted R0 goes to 0. And depending on your own personal rate dynamics, you’ll either get the bug or not.

But is there a Buddha higher than Buddha, something that unites these two factors that create dose? Yep.

It’s snot. Or reflecting back down in self-similar fashion, to the individual — it’s their ability to produce mucus. If you can produce enough mucus (meaning you’ve got a healthy immune system) COVID-19 really can’t touch you. If you don’t, well you get the bug, it gets in your system, and then you get the rare, but possible Garden of Horrors that the media likes to write about. Cytokine storms, COVID toes, and what not. And a dry, hacking, cough is the dominant tell-tale.

Short version (this is supposed to be a shorty post, after all!) we need to produce more mucus. I only found two papers in the literature and DID NOT bookmark them on healthy increase of mucus production (damn!) on how to do this through diet — and they were weak, and on rats, and involved reading in between the lines on how diets of saturated fat increased mucus production. It wasn’t taken from a prophylactic viewpoint — rather, it was a noted thing of attempting to get the rats to die from heart attacks, because the medical/dietary community is into negating the value of saturated fats.

If anyone wants to point me to some more papers about saturated fats and mucus, I’m super-open to reading them. But what this really shows is how our research system needs to be, well, a little more systemic. Right now, the research system focuses on singular pathologies, and dichotomously proving something as good or bad. That’s the outcome of the knowledge production characteristics of the social structure researchers are in, so it should come as no surprise. And it doesn’t.

But what it means is that we can’t really get a grip on what makes us healthy — or moving things up to a truly different plane, like my friend Ugo Bardi’s latest passion — holobiontics — which explores not just how the human system works, but how all the partners in the human system work — gut bacteria, skin bacteria, basically everything including ourselves in our environment.

If anything, it also shows how we need more research in the medical community, looking at open questions of “how bodily systems actually work.” I’m hoping this statement isn’t taken as some Zero Sum game, where we stop looking at proving pathologies, and divert the money over to that topic. We need, instead to spend more time, and money on understanding ourselves.

And when you think about it, isn’t that the real path to enlightenment?

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