7 Reasons to Think Critically About COVID-19
The views expressed here may or may not be shared with my employees, former employees, co-authors, advisors, or affiliates. They are expressly my own.
I got my first bald spot—right on top of my head—when I was in junior high. I was on the swim team and there’s nothing like wet hair to display bald spots, as I’ve written about before.
I was prescribed a conventional treatment, cortisol injections. But for a young teen going through puberty, getting shots of corticosteroids in my scalp (“the cure”) turned out to be worse for me—way worse—than the alopecia.
I’ve long struggled with this ongoing condition, off and on. In my early 40s, my alopecia got so bad that I was half bald. Today, my curls are back and thankfully, I didn’t have to resort to wearing a wig. I reversed my alopecia without using drugs, injections, or steroids.
If my eventual triumph over alopecia (and Hashimoto’s in the years prior) has taught me anything, it’s that it’s important to think critically. It’s imperative to question everything, weigh the risks and benefits of medical advice, and most importantly, look for underlying causes of illness and disease.
When we uncover the root causes, we can treat the real problems and, in most cases, reverse the condition. This is part of the basic philosophy by which I live my life and coach my clients. It’s also the approach that more holistically minded healthcare practitioners, including functional and integrative medical doctors, use to help their patients.
These are trying times. Although the cases of COVID-19 seem to be on the decline, many are afraid, still, to leave their houses. Healthy people are terrified of other healthy people. Neighbors are still flinching away from each other in fear. Strangers are yelling at each other in the post office for getting too close, wearing masks, or not wearing masks.
I recently went for a walk with a friend by the Mississippi River near my home. There was no one else on the path, it was warm, and she insisted on walking 6 feet apart. She still wore a mask. When it was time to part, she gave me an air hug. We’re both healthy. Neither of us has had any exposure to the coronavirus. “My family would kill me if I hugged you,” she apologized.
Otherwise rational and grounded people, including some of my closest colleagues, seem to be thinking with their amygdala instead of their frontal cortex: wearing masks while alone in the car, shaming grandparents for hugging their grandchildren, and accusing thought leaders who are optimistic about coronavirus recovery rates of being “dangerous,” “narcissistic,” “selfish,” and “misinformed.”
How do you know who or what to believe? How do you separate fact from fiction? How do you make the best, safest, and most informed choices for yourself and for your children? These are questions I ask myself every day: about alopecia, about Hashimoto’s, about vaccines, and now, of course, about COVID-19.
Think Critically About COVID-19
I’m not here to tell you how or what to think.
What I do want to tell you is to think for yourself. To think critically. To say “no” to groupthink. To be ready to question—both your own assumptions and other people’s.
Please, think critically about COVID-19.
Question everything. Do the research for yourself. Don’t blindly trust or follow any news source, thought leader, or medical doctor. The person who does deserve your blind trust and unconditional love? You.
I’ve been closely following the news stories and the scientific literature about coronavirus. There’s so much we still don’t know—and there are many reasons to be skeptical.
And at this point, I’m extremely concerned—as many of the world’s experts are (including this one, this one, this one, and this one)—that our response to the virus is doing more harm than the virus itself.
As you think critically about COVID-19 and do your own research, here are 7 points to consider.
Your risk of dying from coronavirus is extremely low. According to Scott Atlas, MD, Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and the former chief of neuroradiology at Stanford University Medical Center, most people—the vast majority—are not at risk from dying from coronavirus. This is based on research coming out of Stanford and it’s good news. Death from coronavirus is most likely only .1 to .2 percent, much lower than predicted, as Atlas explains in an excellent op-ed in The Hill.
Our denominators are most likely wrong. As hard as policymakers are working to collect data, we simply do not have accurate statistics about coronavirus. It looks like, contrary to early predictions, most people who get it will have mild cases or even be asymptomatic. This study from China revealed that 94% of children were asymptomatic or had very mild symptoms. Another recent study has shown that an asymptomatic carrier who was in contact with 455 other people spread the virus to no one.
While fear-mongering media outlets may use these facts to assert that the virus is “dangerous,” the opposite is true. If most people show no symptoms, that means this is a mild virus for most people! If a person with no symptoms came into contact with 455 others and not a single one got the virus, that means this virus may have an extremely low level of contagion among healthy people.
Drumming up fear of asymptomatic carriers sounds a lot to me like vilifying healthy children for not being vaccinated. It’s convenient to sell fear, pharmaceutical stocks, and link clicks. But it’s completely irrational. Junk thinking at its best.
[Speaking of drumming up fear, in response to recent media reports that ICUs are “full of COVID patients,” my nurse friend stated, “As someone who has worked in critical care and ICU, I can attest that ICUs are always full. That’s just the nature of ICU. As one patient moves out, another is lined up to come in. It’s a very rare event that we have more than one or two beds open in ICU at any given time. In fact, the majority of the time, every single bed is full. I’m not surprised in the least that the ICUs are filling up. We’ve put off so-called ‘elective’ surgeries for months. Many of these procedures have turned into critical emergent procedures. A patient who would once recover on the regular medical/surgical floor may now need a critical ICU bed due to the further damage caused to their body by waiting on a procedure or surgery.” - Sarah Copeland, RN]
We humans cohabitate with viruses and bacteria. I know we’ve all been told to fear this virus. But if you’ve ever studied evolution you know that our species lives in symbiosis with microorganisms, as does every animal on the planet. Viruses and bacteria are not our enemies. We are our viruses, as Charles Einstein, quoting Lynn Margulis, PhD, says in this beautiful essay. We don’t need to sanitize and destroy all microorganisms that live mostly in harmony and often in beneficial relationships with us.
The virus isn’t the problem.
When you look at this issue more holistically, you realize that it’s the “host” or the “terrain” that’s the problem. We do need to be concerned about what may be compromising our health, making our bodies unable to fight off the virus. But it’s not the virus itself that’s the enemy.
As Margulis and her son, Dorion Sagan, explain in their book, Garden of Microbial Delights, “Historically … we have feared and despised all [microbes] because of the disease-carrying tendencies of only a few. Indeed, it makes sense that we would be most concerned with their adverse effects since we have had to respond to these and not to their beneficial effects in order to secure and prolong our survival. Fear induces us to avoid or destroy that of which we are afraid. But with thousands of microbes on every square inch of skin there is no avoiding or destroying them without killing ourselves.”
So before you buy a case of hand sanitizer, bleach, and hydrogen peroxide, read some articles about the hygiene hypothesis. Being “too clean” may actually be harmful to our health.
The reported COVID-19 death rates are not accurate. There has been a huge push to list every death of a human with COVID-19 as a death from COVID-19. But there’s a big difference between dying WITH a virus and dying FROM a virus (see #3).
Consider this: When they tested healthy people, researchers from Washington University found that 92% of them had between 1 and 15 “damaging” or even “deadly” viruses in and on their bodies. Please understand that I’m not downplaying the tragedy of death from this virus, nor its sometimes deadly nature. But what I am doing is asking you to think critically about these news stories and remember that the actual COVID-19 death rate is very difficult to calculate.
If we’re using flawed data in these calculations (see #2), it’s likely the death rate from COVID-19 is much lower than reported.
Healthy people have died from this virus. But scientists have repeatedly confirmed that the vast majority of people who succumb have underlying health conditions (what researchers and medical doctors call “comorbidities”). In many cases, those comorbidities are the real cause of death.
A friend shared that his obese uncle had diabetes and went to the hospital with dangerously elevated blood sugar levels. He died of diabetes but was tested posthumously for coronavirus. When the test came back positive, the cause of death was listed as COVID-19, despite the family’s objections.
Indeed, I’ve been told by emergency room staff that because of extreme pressure by hospital administrators and politicians, they are being told to list an “unknown” cause of death as COVID-19.
The truth is, we may be vastly overestimating the death rates.
Medical mismanagement is contributing to poor coronavirus outcomes. Remember that medical mistakes are the third leading cause of death in America, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. That hasn’t magically changed during this current situation. People who succumb to COVID-19 may actually be dying from medical mismanagement and medical mistakes.
This mismanagement includes prescribing antibiotics, which we know from scientific studies like this one can turn viral lung infections deadly. It also includes recommending Tylenol, which we know can be devastating for the lungs by depleting glutathione, even at low doses. Glutathione seems to be a crucial antioxidant to help people with COVID heal. And we also have a growing body of clinical and scientific evidence that suggests that the misuse or overuse of respirators may be killing people with coronavirus.
Perhaps even more disturbingly, this coronavirus is disproportionately affecting people of color in the United States. Throughout the country, black and Hispanic Americans have been hit hardest. While black Americans account for only 13 percent of the population, nearly 60 percent of coronavirus deaths are happening in counties with the highest numbers of black people (source).
Access to healthy food, avoiding air pollution and other toxic exposures that harm the lungs, and being able to maintain social distancing are all strategies of privilege. “In certain communities these privileges are simply not accessible,” insists Clyde W. Yancy, MD, in an opinion piece published in JAMA.
“COVID-19 has become the herald event that now fully exposes the deep and chronic social wounds in US communities,” Yancy writes, calling this crisis “a moment of ethical reckoning,” and pointing out that, “The scourge of COVID-19 will end, but health care disparities will persist.” If ever we could turn tribulation into triumph, this crisis could serve as a catalyst to end the entrenched racism in our health care system.
Vaccines are not the answer to the COVID crisis. The world seems to be holding its collective breath for a vaccine for this virus. Several governors across the U.S. have insisted that they’ll not be able to fully open their states until every denizen has been vaccinated. But in this case, as doctors around the world (like this one, this one, and this one) have pointed out, a vaccine may not be able to save us. Keep in mind that we’ve never been able to create a safe and effective vaccination against a coronavirus. And that a recent monkey trial showed a failure rate of 100 percent.
It would be irresponsible and potentially catastrophic for researchers to rush an unsafe vaccine to market, which is what happened in the Philippines where a vaccine against Dengue fever turned out to “prime” the immune system and make previously vaccinated children more likely to die if they were subsequently infected with Dengue.
As reported by NPR, the push for universal vaccination with an unsafe vaccine has caused devastation for families in the Philippines. When you don’t know history, you’re more apt to repeat it.
Right now, things don’t look promising for a COVID-19 vaccine. In fact, it may be over-vaccination that’s partly to blame for this crisis in the first place. We know from peer-reviewed scientific research published in the journal Vaccines that influenza vaccination increases the risk of other viral infections, a phenomenon that scientists call “viral interference.”
In a study of over 6000 participants, these scientists found that vaccine-derived viral interference was significantly associated with coronavirus. In plain English, participants who got the flu vaccine were at significantly greater risk for getting infected with coronavirus.
Masks may do more harm than good. We’ve been told masks don’t work. We’ve been told masks are essential. Some public schools are requiring that children wear masks.
I’d like to gently suggest that you think critically about mask wearing as well. Masks make it harder to breathe, increasing blood levels of carbon dioxide. They also cause harm to deaf people, people with autism and other cognitive differences who need visual cues to help them communicate, and anyone with hearing loss. Wearing a mask—whether it is an N95 mask or a cloth facial covering—is not a benign choice. As hard as this is to consider, we have to look critically at this CDC recommendation as well. Masks for all, according to these two experts, is not based on sound science.
As Jennifer Margulis, PhD, states, “There are so many obvious reasons why homemade masks may be problematic. If they aren’t made with organic cotton, you’re potentially breathing in pesticide and herbicide residues. The staph infections are real. I wear glasses. When I wear a mask, my glasses fog up. That sheen of moisture is also being trapped behind the cotton, a perfect breeding ground for bacteria.”
In JB Handley’s new article, LOCKDOWN LUNACY: the thinking person’s guide, he states, “Science shows masks are ineffective to halt the spread of COVID-19, and the WHO recommends they should only be worn by healthy people if treating or living with someone with a COVID-19 infection.” In the article, he quotes Dr. April Baller, public health specialist for the WHO, who said, “If you do not have any respiratory symptoms such as fever, cough or runny nose, you do not need to wear a mask. Masks should only be used by health care workers, caretakers or by people who are sick with symptoms of fever and cough.”
Mental Health and Physical Wellbeing
Once you start thinking critically about COVID-19, you realize that there’s more missing information than “misinformation.” You realize that panic and stress aren’t the answer, and that some of the “cures” may be more harmful than the virus.
The former director of Israel’s Health Ministry argues that the data we do have show that it’s time to end the lockdown. This is a sentiment echoed by thought leaders and health experts around the world, including Knut M. Wittkowksi, PhD, a former research associate at Rockefeller University, where he works on biostatistics and epidemiology (source).
I believe we all need to attend more to our mental health and physical wellbeing. My friends and colleagues in the functional health community agree.
I just wrapped up teaching a 2.5-month long Reversing Alopecia course. And in my work with course participants and also my private coaching clients, I’m hearing that people have been reaching for “unhealthy” comfort foods like alcohol, sugar, and junk carbs. I don’t believe in perfection. I don’t think these things are necessarily “bad.” But we all know that relying on junk food and mind-altering substances to feel at peace never works for long.
How to Smooth Your Feathers
As a health coach, I want to tell you that when it comes to taming stress and anxiety, nourishing and supporting your adrenals (“the shock absorbers of life”) is the ticket for feeling more calm and centered.
For years, I’ve sung the praises of keeping blood sugar as balanced as possible, which has a direct and profound impact on adrenal status and the stress response. It is, unequivocally, one of the single best ways to tame stress and feel more grounded.
To that end, I offer you my Balance Your Blood Sugar ebook for free. It’s not an opt-in; I don’t want your name and email. It’s just a click away and you can find it here.
In addition to reading, thinking critically, and educating yourself, I urge you to start doing this seriously simple stress-conquering breathing exercise (which is indeed mentioned in the above link about adrenal health). It’s some of the lowest hanging (and free!) fruit for taming stress.
I suggest you turn away from mainstream news and other media. Fight the fear by being productive and proactive: Get involved with Children’s Health Defense or the medical freedom organization in your state. My favorite is Vaccine Safety Council of Minnesota.
Me, I’m channeling my worry into building bridges and alliances. In fact, I’m starting a new organization called Coaches for Health Freedom. I’ll share more about it as soon as I can.
The coronavirus, the lockdown, and the economic downturn have shredded our country. But great things never come from comfort zones. As William Shakespeare famously said, “Sweet are the uses of adversity.” I believe we can find our way out of this mess. Together. It’s time. To reconnect, rebuild, and move forward.