Biology, Medicine, and Economics
Okay, I just have to have a little rant as this Zika virus situation ramps up. Part of my rant is to reinforce the idea that medical scientists and personnel have to remember that human health and disease is a subset of the field of biology. The biologic concepts and principles can’t be forgotten or abandon simply because they don’t offer the easy solutions. The solutions they offer are going to be interdependent multiple factor solutions that cannot be give out in a pill or injection.
I saw one of the lead researchers in Brazil today talking about how fortunate it is that Zika is so similar to dengue, because they just had to deal with a dengue outbreak in the last couple of years. Of course it’s similar! It is filling the same niche. That is one of the leading precepts of biology. If there is a niche it will be filled. If you kill off one organism, if you make it impossible for one organism or its offspring to survive in that niche, then another, more hardy (virulent) species will come along to set up housekeeping there. That is a fact of basic biology!! The niche has to be eradicated, and I’m not talking about standing water!! I’m talking about poverty. I’m talking about the lack of access to basic whole, nutritious foods and clean water. I’m talking about the lack of shelter and basic sanitation. I’m talking about the right of every individual to live a life with meaning and dignity. This is the answer to most biologic, non-traumatic illnesses.
Create an immunization for Zika this year, and next year or in two years you will have a more virulent organism to create another immunization against. Guaranteed. Because you have not improved anyone’s health status. You have simply deprived that organism of a viable niche. Another organism will fill it. It is economically advantageous to those that make immunizations, but not so great for human beings, or our environment.
Another thing that the sensational media keeps failing to emphasize, but it is something you see in doctor’s newsfeed is that the link between Zika and microcephaly and Guillan-Barre are correlational at this point. No causation has been determined. Of course, 90% of science is correlational and multifactorial. It is actually rare to show absolute causation in biologic science, because of the interdependence of all life.
What if these neurological consequences which are found in an area where Zika (and previously dengue, malaria…) is endemic are also in part caused by the fact that the insecticide used to kill mosquitos for the last crisis is a neurotoxin, stored in adipose tissue? What if it’s related to the fact that people in this area of Brazil have been displaced from stable living areas as their city moves them out to prepare for the Olympics? What if it’s related to the fact that destruction and construction going on in the area is affecting the water and air? There is no immunization for any of this. Economic justice, nutritional education, and fresh clean water are the only ways off this merry-go round.
Those of you who are immunization advocates, before you call the rest of us unscientific, I ask that you go back and study your basic biology. You are creating more and more virulent viral organisms, just as you did with antibiotics and bacteria. Bacteria are much more fragile and slow to adapt compared to viruses. I am afraid that you are all supporting a future nightmare that there will be no human engineered fix for.
One last thing. About 15 years ago, the makers of the leading immunizations threatened to stop making them because they were no longer profitable. Now immunizations are a muti-billion dollar industry. It’s only correlational but…