Covid-22

Dan O'Heirity

So lets start with the worldwide Covid-19 figures which, it would have to be said, are not looking good. According to my preferred data source which is updated in real time for the number of new daily confirmed cases and deaths with daily figures being reset at GMT+0 each day – there are currently 314,053 cases worldwide. There have been 13,556 deaths giving a fatality rate of 12%.

Overnight, or overnight for me at least, figures have sky rocketed for Spain, the United States and Iran. The United States has reported 26,900 confirmed cases signifying a daily increase of 2,693 cases, a fact which would tend to support a point that I discussed in an earlier post, namely that the United States was more likely to follow the the transmission and fatality pattern in Italy than the pattern in South Korea. That said it should be noted that whilst the United States has seen an additional 2,693 cases in the last 24 hours, 348 confirmed deaths is nothing like the fatality rate in Italy where we have so far seen 4,825 deaths.

Australia currently has 1,286 cases, an increase of 214 cases over yesterday. There have only been 7 deaths in Australia. It is difficult to predict the likely spread in Australia but what we can say is that, as per my post yesterday, we know some of the variables that can impact the spread of the virus. Basically, people need to do the right thing. They need to get tested and isolate themselves if they have Covid-19 symptoms and meet the government’s testing criteria which, it should be noted, are pretty stringent. People need to practice social distancing as this can impact significantly on ensuring that the virus does not spread. Finally, people need to engage in good hygiene practices to limit the spread of the virus.

I have offered the opinion on multiple occasions that people are essentially stupid and that it will be human stupidity that accounts for the spread of the virus and for an ever increasing number of fatalities. And, guess what, the Australian Prime Minister has had to put draconian measures in place because people did not follow the requirements for social distancing. As one example, beaches in Australia, including the famous Bondi Beach, have now been “closed” because people were flocking to them in their thousands. Police Minister David Elliot was prompted to say,

I for one am disappointed … I cannot sit by and watch the community not only ignore the laws but blatantly flout them.”

Granted that Australia is seeing low infection rates and a low fatality rate but the reality of the here and now is only a part of the story. It is the potential impact of the virus that seems to be lost upon Australians as they just do not seem to be grasping what a future worst case scenario might look like. Consider this sobering quotation from a news story posted today.

Companies having their employees work from home? Schools closed indefinitely? The threat of the new coronavirus has seriously limited people’s ability to move about freely. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is being felt by everyone. Empty supermarket shelves, entire countries in quarantine, cancelled flights and sporting events, closed bars, cinemas and restaurants, and the postponement of big events—these are just some examples of the extraordinary times we’re living in.”

The seriousness of the virus may soon become more of a reality as the Australian government today announced new measures to combat the virus including essentially shutting State borders and requiring all non-essential business to close. People are also being advised to leave their homes only when it is necessary to do so e.g.. in order to go shopping or for medical emergencies. These measures will likely remain in place for 6 months.

Today I went to my sports center which has put social distancing measures in place. For example, every other aerobic machine is out of use to ensure that there is a 1.5 meter distance between the machines being used. Even before the Covid-19 virus, gym goers were required to wipe down all equipment with disinfectant after use. Today, a woman used an elliptical machine for half an hour and then simply walked away. I informed one of the instructors about what had happened and he let her know that she had to wipe down the machines after use. The woman looked confused and apologized. Where the fuck has she been for the last two months?

Supplies of bottled water remain plentiful in the supermarket where I shop. As ever, I remain baffled by this phenomenon. Water is more essential to survival than food over a one month period and it is always possible that water supplies could be interrupted either through a burst water main or or for some other entirely unpredictable reason. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not imagining that I will be without a water supply any time soon. However, the most rational course of action in stocking up on supplies is to stock up on water and food bearing in mind that one can only survive without water for four days before damage is done to one’s organs.

I decided to confirm my thoughts on what happens to the body as a result of starvation. As I suspected, the body starts to feed on itself using fats, carbohydrates and protein parts of tissues. Death is immanent once protein stores start to get used up. To my mind, this means that it would be very sensible to ensure an adequate supply of protein should food supplies become limited. In Australia you can buy a 2 KG tub of protein powder for $42.00. A 2KG tub provides for 55 servings of the protein powder. This means that each serving of the protein powder costs around $1.30. One serving of the protein powder that I have purchased yields 146 calories of energy, 26.2 grams of protein, 3.0 grams of fat and 3.0 grams of carbohydrate.

The recommended daily intake of protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. I weigh 85 kilograms and so my recommended daily intake of protein is 68 grams of protein per day. If I were to drink 3 protein shakes a day then I would be getting my daily recommended intake of protein. Of course, the ideal situation is not to rely on protein drinks for one’s daily protein requirements. The ideal would be to have one protein shake a day which would provide around one third of my recommended daily protein intake. Think about it. Whilst people horde food, no one is buying up protein drinks which could be substituted for one meal per day and, in dire circumstances, keep one going for more than a few weeks should food be unavailable.

First Published March 22nd, 2020

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