COVID-19 cures and resistanceTuesday, April 13, 2021
Near 700 Jamaicans have succumbed to COVID-19. This number includes nine people known personally to me. As I reflect on the lives of the victims known to me, and the mark they left on society, I cannot resist the feeling of helpless anger at the attitude of some in our society.
On one Friday evening when the early shutdown should have been in progress I got a video of a wild session on the outskirts of Spanish Town, St Catherine, that the sender claimed was in progress.
My frustration is increased by the avalanche of scary social media posts with horrible (fake) experiences of people who took the vaccine, as well as people suggesting that all the safety protocols were fraught with danger. Not to be left out are our macho, spiritually inspired entertainers telling us that “man nuh mek fi wear mask” and we can just Google critical information that confirms it is unnecessary to follow safety protocols.
This idiocy, and the vaccine resistance which accompanies it, has led us to where we are today.
The problem is that these naysayers are not just killing themselves. They are hurting responsible, contributing members of the society.
I am frequently reminded of an exhortation I got from sports hero Herb McKenley when, as a young coach, I lost my temper at a meeting of coaches and the JAAA. He said, “You ever see me quarrel with anybody yet? If you come up to a wall, don't try go through it, go roun' it!”
It seems Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton and his group are now preaching to those who cannot be converted and alternative strategies need to be explored.
Recently, I was going through the COVID-19 stats and observed that the number of deaths in Portland and the eastern sections of its neighbouring parishes was significantly less than other parishes. I went to Portland in an effort to get an answer. The senior nurse at the hospital was unable to help me. So I journeyed into some of the districts with the same question: How is it that so few people seemed to be affected by COVID-19 there? Everywhere I went I got the same answer: Vervain.
What was introduced to me as Vervain was a perennial plant with purple-petalled blossoms. According to the residents, “When we feel it (novel coronavirus) a come on, wi jus' drink wi Vervain and lick it weh!”
Could this be true? If so, how come I have never heard any mention of it from the health team? Shouldn't we at least investigate?
Two weeks ago, the health team suggested that residents build up their immune systems as this would increase our ability to fight the virus. This is an excellent idea. But again, Vervain was not included in the arsenal to fight the virus.
Something else has never been mentioned, I did not want to be a part of the many who were offering 'cures' to the public. Donald Trump suggested bleach and look where that got him. Unlike the many who have cures to offer, I have a suggestion. Since this is backed by science, I feel more confident in making this suggestion.
I was in my teens when I met this girl. She was striking. She was the epitome of good health. She was beautiful, had unprocessed hair, and flawless skin. What made her truly special, however, was her photographic memory. She departed the island immediately after sitting her exams. I saw her again 13 years later. She was a university professor and looked exactly as she did when she left Jamaica. I asked her what explained her ability to maintain her healthy youthful appearance. She confessed that each morning, after her bath, her mother gave her a vigorous massage from scalp to toes with coconut oil. She was also required to take a tablespoon of the oil twice a day. This was a regimen she continued after leaving home.
This sparked my interest in coconut, and I have read all the available scientific literature about it. A few years later I met a medical researcher at a lecture in Florida. She claimed that her husband had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's and she gave him coconut oil, and several weeks later there was a remarkable reversal of his condition.
The novel coronavirus is one of those viruses that is listed as “enveloped”. Some others are HIV, measles, and Herpes Simplex 1. This envelope covers and protects the virus. Two compounds in the virgin coconut oil (VCO) are lauric acid and monolaurin. They do three things that are deadly to the virus. Firstly, they cause disintegration of the virus envelope. Secondly, they inhibit the late maturation stage in the virus replicative cycle. And, third, they prevent the binding of viral proteins to the host cell membrane. Dr Fabian Dayrit, of Ateneo de Manila University (The Philippines), and Dr Mary Newport, whose husband had the Alzheimer's experience, have proposed the potential of coconut oil as a safe agent against COVID-19. Monolaurin actually disintegrates this viral envelope, killing the virus.
In addition to fortifying oneself by strengthening one's immune system, there is the possibility of providing treatment for the vaccination sceptics. Trump tested positive for the virus. He entered hospital and was out in a jiffy. He would have the world believe that his superior masculinity was what saved him. That is not true. He was successfully treated in hospital and continued treatment in the White House.
The folks at Eli Lilly have been getting excellent results from their lab work. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) to a combination of Eli Lilly and AbCellera's monoclonal antibody bamlanivimab and a second Eli Lilly antibody called etesevimab for mild to moderate COVID-19. This combination therapy has been authorised for mild to moderate COVID-19 in patients aged 12 and older who are at high risk for progressing to severe COVID-19 and/or hospitalisation.
What the dickens does this mean? Translated into English, it means that new data show treatment with Lilly's two neutralising antibodies together reduce risk of COVID-19 hospitalisations and death by 70 per cent. This is not a vaccine.
We cannot spend more time trying the navigate the circular illogic that informs the thinking of these vaccine resistors. We run the risk of visits by the variants which would create a whole new set of challenges. If we could quickly vaccinate 60 per cent of the population we could be successful in inducing herd immunity. Herd immunity is the indirect protection from contagious infectious disease that happens when a population is immune either through vaccination or immunity developed through previous infection. Once herd immunity has been established for a while, and the ability of the disease to spread has been hindered, the disease can be eventually eliminated . This is how the world eradicated smallpox.
All the necessary information has been fed to us daily for the past year. Those who are interested are in possession of the critical aspects of this disease. Every single person known to me who has died of COVID-19 is responsible and did not take risks with this virus. There are, however, those who could not care less. They are the spreaders, the killers. The best we can do is to strengthen our immunity systems and make sure that treatment is available for those who refuse to take the vaccine.
Glenn Tucker is an educator and sociologist. Send comments to the Jamaica Observer or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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