I hope to have about a dozen posts here, each with this same introductory statement of a few paragraphs before I get to an idea presentation. My position is that each side of the reopening issue has valid points. On the one hand, the more in which close, interpersonal contact takes place in a reopening (even with masks, which are flawed), the greater is the prospect of a resurgence of Covid-19 and an increase in deaths. And such a resurgence would lead to another drive for shutdowns. On the other hand, the country will simply fall apart if we do not begin to reopen or, if upon reopening, we were to again be forced to comply with a drive for new shutdowns as a result of a resurgence. Many lives have already been ruined and there is only so much that the economy can take.
Of course, we would not be facing such a dilemma if we had a vaccine or a cure. In such a situation, a reopening would be rapid and there would be no turning back. But we don’t have a cure or vaccine, leaving us back with our uncomfortable choices.
Despite the flaws that can be seen in both paths, I believe a new path should be aggressively pursued, one which would actually take into account the concerns of both sides. This path would have two prongs: (1) greatly reduce the prospect of the contact transmission and airborne transmission of Covid-19 by exploring some existing technologies from a new angle; and (2) exploring ways in which people could be made less susceptible in having a severe outcome if they got infected. In other words, I believe there are far more effective ways in which to protect people from Covid-19 (and future pandemic organisms) than the standard ones of hand washing, standing six feet apart, setting up acrylic barriers and wearing masks (tactics which should be maintained). In fact, I believe there are ways in which substantial protection can be provided concurrent with the closer contact between people which will inevitably come with a reopening, even in restaurants and on airplanes.
I will admit that some of my ideas would cost a tidy sum to implement. There is no way around it. However, in a world where trillions of dollars have already been allocated, I think these concepts, in totality, would be among the few that would directly apply to Covid-19 and would have the greatest impact on it.
Please not that in the following idea I have simply made an observation and expanded upon it. I hope you will find that I have presented a concept which is rational and logical. Of course, there may be flaws of which I am not aware, but we should work on overcoming them and not throw out the baby with the bathwater.
The idea follows.
If a person has contracted Covid-19, it would be ideal if a person’s body could fight it off and not progress to a severe illness. There can be a number of factors that may help or hinder the body in vanquishing it quickly, among them: genetics; the presence or absence of other illnesses (i.e., diabetes, heart disease, etc.); whether or not a vaccine had been previously injected; and age. Genetics can’t be changed, co-existing illnesses will not disappear overnight; a vaccine is not here yet; and age cannot be reversed …. or can it?
The thymus has a major role in the immune system and fighting off infections. However, as a person ages, it gradually decreases in size, contributing to the difficulty which older people have in fighting off infections. If it had remained at greater strength over the decades, elderly people would fare well. Since Covid-19 hits elderly people quite hard, it makes one wonder how it would be if the elderly had retained a healthy thymus. We may have an answer to this in the coming years.
In noting the importance of the thymus in fighting off infections, it is interesting to find that a number of scientists are already making progress towards the goal of actually regenerating the thymus, as the following links reveal:
Obviously, it is very unlikely that a fully tested and approved method of thymus regeneration will become available in 2020 or even the following year. If, by some miracle, an approved method was on hand, it could be of tremendous benefit in protecting the elderly who had not yet been infected.
Of course, the hunt for a vaccine or outright cure will be everyone’s focus while Covid-19 remains a threat. But we should start giving serious thought to devoting a large proportion of resources to thymus regeneration, to be prepared for the next time a pandemic takes place. Although no one can predict when that will be, know this: America’s enemies have seen what Covid-19 has done to our economy and cannot be excluded from considering the surreptitious launch of an “accident” along these lines in the future. Should thymus regeneration already be perfected, our chances of weathering another pandemic will be dramatically improved.
I therefore urge that consideration be given to having the Federal government place a major focus of funding thymus regeneration research and accelerating its path to implementation.
In addition, I would urge that studies commence now with hospitalized Covid-19 patients to evaluate their thymus function and compare it to the degree of their recovery. The findings will likely boost the case for devoting a significant amount of resources to thymus regeneration.