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  • Jaq James*

Eliminate Chronic Diseases, Save Lives From COVID

Any COVID response policy that leaves out an immunity-boosting program is, at best, an irresponsible policy and, at worst, a disingenuous policy; and ultimately comes at the expense of our personal freedoms and economic prosperity.

Yet so much of the world’s response to the pandemic has been fixated on physical ways to protect ourselves - masks, antibacterial gels, social distancing, border shutdowns. The PR campaign has been “be afraid, be very afraid”.

Whilst the initial rationale behind the physical measures was to slow down the rate of hospital admissions, the goal posts were later moved to an objective of completely eradicating COVID and we were told to hide out and wait for a vaccine, presented to us as the only solution out of the pandemic.

The scientists invented the vaccines, but then the goal posts were moved again! We were told that even if the whole country is vaccinated, this would be no guarantee Australia’s borders will reopen, nor a guarantee that physical measures, such as masks and quarantines, would come to an end. That may be because our politicians were privately briefed on the real data. While the Pfizer and Moderna COVID vaccines are said to have relative risk reductions of 95% and 94% respectively, what the public is not being told is that they only have 0.7% and 1.1% absolute risk reductions respectively. So much for informed consent!

How to calculate relative risk reduction and absolute risk reduction of vaccines

It is easy for politicians and senior bureaucrats to play fast and loose with the quality of our lives and security of our livelihoods when they, themselves, don’t feel the crippling repercussions of their policy decisions. Because of their status, they can get exemptions, concessions and privileges that the ordinary Australian is unable to obtain.

Could this be why a no-brainer conversation is missing from the public discourse? Isn’t it obvious that any mandates of physical interventions and vaccine interventions to control the spread of COVID should have always been coupled with policy interventions to strengthen our citizens’ immune systems? We are a year and a half into the pandemic, and still the second half of the conversation has been out of earshot despite the fact that we have the indisputable data now: a very small percentage of the world’s population is dying from the virus – less than 1%; and up to 94% of those who have lost their lives had an average of 2.6 pre-existing chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

And here’s the kicker - all of these inflammatory diseases are linked to poor diet! In other words, the vast majority of COVID deaths were preventable!

Isn’t it clear? Eliminate chronic diseases, save lives from COVID! That should be the slogan on everyone’s lips.

In recent decades, immunity in developed nations has tanked because we have become more unhealthy. Our vitamin D levels are lower, our industrial seed oil and refined sugar intake is higher, our sleep is more disrupted, and our gut microbiomes have been obliterated by antibiotic and pesticide overuse.

What would the world look like today if, at the first whispers of a pandemic, we doubled down on sunlight exposure, we doubled down on sleep hygiene, we doubled down on exercise, we doubled down on access to healthy foods and we doubled down on wellness education? Perhaps COVID could have come and gone like other bad years of influenza, while also lowering rates of chronic diseases. Long-term, we could have increased our citizens’ health-spans and lifespans.

As the government handed out free hand sanitizers, it could have also handed out free polyphenol-rich teas that have anti-viral activity. As the government locked down state borders, it could have also locked down confectionary aisles since sugar weakens the immune system for up to 5 hours. As the government educated people on the importance of mask-wearing, it could have also educated people on the damaging inflammatory effects of industrial seed oils. As the government rolls out COVID vaccines, it could also hand out broccoli sprouts since they amp up the body’s response to vaccines 22 times. How a nationwide immunity-boosting program could look would really only be limited by the imaginations of our health experts and policy analysts.

Politicians have expressed zero curiosity in exploring such an innovative frontier of public policy. But even if the political will was there, admittedly it would be undermined by ‘Big Food’, ‘Big Ag’ and ‘Big Pharma’. But a government that really cares about saving lives would not care about the noise made by anti-health lobbyists in a global emergency.

We also know that funding for a nationwide immunity-boosting program is not a hindrance either. The government’s fiscal response to COVID has shown us that there has always been access to money in the piggy bank, it’s just that the government didn’t prioritise our nation’s metabolic health.

It’s time our political leaders and senior bureaucrats prioritise health interventions over tyrannical interventions. It isn’t too late for this pandemic, and we can definitely get our immune systems ready for the next pandemic, because it will come.

*Jaq James holds master degrees in public policy and education, as well as a bachelor degree in law. She is currently designing an immunity-boosting project for an Indigenous youth group with From The Bush projects.

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