COVID-19: Preventing Future Pandemics
Kostoff, Ronald N.
Briggs, Michael B.
Porter, Alan L.
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The COVID-19 pandemic has had global health and economic adverse impacts. The main measures being taken to control the spread of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus associated with COVID-19) are conceptually those that were taken to control the spread of SARS-CoV in the previous coronavirus-driven pandemic of 2002-2003: good hygiene, facemasks, and quarantine (lockdown). The difference is the larger scale of these measures for SARS-CoV-2. A weakened immune system appears to be the main determinant of serious/fatal reaction to viral infection (for COVID-19, SARS, and influenza alike). There are four major approaches being employed or considered presently to augment or strengthen the immune system, in order to reduce adverse effects of viral exposure. The three approaches that are mainly focused on augmenting the immune system are based on the concept that pandemics can be controlled/prevented while maintaining the immune-weakening lifestyles followed by much of the global population. The fourth approach is based on identifying and introducing measures aimed at strengthening the immune system intrinsically in order to minimize future pandemics. The four measures are: 1) restricting exposure to virus; 2) providing reactive/tactical treatments to reduce viral load; 3) developing vaccines to prevent, or at least attenuate, the infection; 4) strengthening the immune system intrinsically, by a) identifying those factors that contribute to weakening the immune system, then eliminating/reducing them as comprehensively, thoroughly, and rapidly as possible and b) replacing the eliminated factors with immune-strengthening factors. The present monograph focuses mainly on strengthening the immune system intrinsically. It identifies hundreds of factors that contribute to weakening the immune system, as well as measures that can strengthen the immune system. It also addresses the vaccine issue, since vaccine development has been emphasized in myriad forums. Potential mid-and long-term adverse vaccine effects that cannot be identified in short-term tests characteristic of efficacy testing are identified. To ensure safety, long-term testing under real-life conditions (exposures to multiple toxic stimuli) are required. There is an incompatibility between the accelerated vaccine development times being pursued by government and industry and the long times required for validation of vaccine safety. In summary, 1) there is not unanimity within the medical community for continuing post-lockdown the severe restrictions on activities of the vast majority of the total population that are mainly applicable to the most vulnerable very small minority of the total population; 2) repurposed (mainly) antiviral treatments can only be expected to have very limited results in controlling SARS-CoV-2 viral load of the most severely impacted, based on trials conducted so far; 3) it is difficult to see how safe COVID-19 vaccines can be developed and fully tested on time scales of one or two years, as proposed presently; 4) the only real protection against a future COVID-19 pandemic or any other viral pandemic is the one that was demonstrated to work in the SARS pandemic, the MERS pandemic, the COVID-19 pandemic, and in the annual influenza pandemics: a healthy immune system capable of neutralizing incoming viruses as Nature intended. We need an Operation Warp Speed (currently working to produce a vaccine in a record short time period in the USA) to identify and eliminate those factors that weaken the immune system as thoroughly, comprehensively, and rapidly as possible.
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