Epidemiology, theology, and COVID-19

Letters to the Editor

Epidemiology, theology, and COVID-19

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

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Dear Editor,

Throughout human history there have been countless diseases and plagues. But it offers little consolation to us to know this at a time of crisis when COVID-19 of pandemic proportions has claimed thousands of lives and left many more infected with the disease. Fortunately, there have been a few recoveries from this dreaded virus.

But still it is necessary to have an understanding about the nature of diseases, a study which is termed epidemiology.

A disease is an abnormal condition affecting a living organism. External sources that can cause disease include acquired viruses or bacteria and internal causes of disease include autoimmune or genetic dysfunction. Humans generally associate disease with pain, distress, or social problems. Diseases may be cured simply by time, whereas others require a set of treatments that reverse the disease processes or end the root medical problem permanently. Some diseases may not be cured, in which case the symptoms of the disease remain. Diseases if not treatable can cause death.

Are diseases inevitable? Are they part of the fabric of life? Are diseases the price we pay for being a living organism?

All mortals die. We are mortals; therefore, we die.

We as individuals die, but we expect humanity or life to continue living. That's why procreation is a universal naturalistic drive.

Now, is there some kind of life that continues after our physical life ceases? It is hard to prove that life continues except from what our intuition tells us, or from the assertions of religious texts and mythological accounts. But, if some kind of life continues after our physical cessation this kind of life has to be what it always was — pre-existence. That is the absolute necessity for there to be the eternity of matter and energy — call it God if one wishes. If that, then, is the case, we can be consoled by the assurance that when “we put off this mortal coil” we return to our eternal home — the cosmos.

In the meantime, before we get there, research is moving fast to find a vaccine for COVID-19. This is the mRNA-1273 trial which directs the body's cells to express a virus protein to produce an immune response. This has previously shown promising results in animal models. But it won't be until at least 18 months before we know if this vaccine holds out any promise as a cure for COVID-19.

So, in the meantime, and even thereafter, we must try and tamp down the effects and spread of COVID-19 and other diseases by pursuing a number of strategies like proper sanitation, proper nutrition, frequent exercise, and vaccination. Also, we should not eat the flesh of wild animals and mammals as many of them carry deadly pathogens.

George S Garwood


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