“The world is but a canvas for our imagination.”
― Henry David Thoreau
|Lincoln Stoller, PhD, 2020. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)
News Alert: Immunity and Mortality
The article, “High Temperature and High Humidity Reduce the Transmission of COVID-19” (at: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3551767), studies China’s data on the transmission of COVID-19. Transmission followed what has been predicted for influenza. Based on this, the transmission rate in an area that was subject to social isolation dropped to 1/10 of its peak value three weeks after the first symptoms were reported.
From this, it seems that successful social isolation for the purpose of broadening the peak will reduce transmission rates to sufficiently low levels after three weeks that it can be relaxed. However, in the US and Canada a longer period will be required since social isolation is starting only now in some areas, weeks after the first reported cases.
Once relaxed, transmission rates will rise but remain below the limit the system can handle. Eventually, after two or three more months, the remaining population will have been exposed and new cases will entirely taper off. So that’s what we can expect: a month or two of social isolation.
The following chart displays the mortality from COVID-19 related to a person’s existing state of health, based on current Italian data. 99.2% of deaths involved existing illnesses, indicating that a weakened immune system is the greatest risk factor, by far: having a healthy immune system improves your chances of survival over one hundred-fold.
Italians are known for their friendly, physical nature and for their disdain for authority. Now it’s killing them. In a post on Instagram nine days before he tested positive, Nicola Zingaretti typified the Italian attitude by saying: “Let’s not lose our habits, we can’t stop Milan and Italy.”
The Italian disease specialist Dr. Giovanni Guaraldi comments, “Initially, people do not really understand the message. We closed the schools but still people were gathering with one another… We need to be clear, the only way to protect against the spread of the epidemic is stay at home and try not to meet other people.” The majority of patients who’ve tested positive for the virus don’t require a trip to the hospital, he added.
“ ‘It appears clear now that the only means by which Italy might have headed off the catastrophe was the implementation of its unprecedented national lockdown far earlier, before there was evidence of its prudence — an almost impossible proposition. Waiting strategies have always favoured the spread of the virus,’ Cartabellotta said.”
Italy’s mortality rate is now around 7% but this number is inflated. Only the most serious cases are being counted—of which a higher percentage will die—because the hospitals are overwhelmed. This is carefully explained in the German video of Dr. Wolfgang Wodarg on YouTube, which you should absolutely watch (in German with English subtitles).
Even if all cases were being counted, Italy is the EU country with the highest percentage of elderly, and the elderly have a higher mortality rate. As the previous graph indicates, most of those dying are previously ill and—in Italy at this time—unable to get adequate support. Notice, if the actual mortality rate is 3.5%, as in Wuhan, China—which is our best guess—and only 0.02% of healthy infected people are dying, then the actual mortality rate of the healthy population is 0.07%, which is about the same as the mortality rate of influenza in a previously exposed population. We don’t have a previously exposed population, but nevertheless, remember that with regard to my comment below.
From an article titled, “Small Italian town cuts coronavirus cases to zero” (at: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-8126899/Small-Italian-town-cuts-coronavirus-cases-zero-population-tested.html): “A small town in Italy managed to stop a coronavirus outbreak in its tracks after authorities tested the whole population more than once… Anyone who tested positive was immediately quarantined… Two weeks later, mass testing showed the infection rate had dropped… from three per cent of the population to just 0.25 per cent.
“Half of those who carried the virus in (the town of) Vo’ Euganeo had no symptoms, proving that people are capable of spreading the deadly virus without even knowing it. Once these few infected people were isolated, the town ‘reopened’ and has since experienced no new cases. Meanwhile, the crisis in the rest of Italy is escalating daily.
“The aggressive strategy of testing everyone has been endorsed by world health leaders… is the opposite of what is happening in the UK, where authorities have limited testing to those who are only severely ill or already in hospital.”
From an article titled, “What went wrong with how Italy handled coronavirus” (at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-03-18/what-went-wrong-with-how-italy-handled-coronavirus/12062242): “When my colleague and I were finally allowed to fly out of Italy, we had expected to be screened at Heathrow. We were not… England has yet to introduce any of the more draconian restrictions—schools remain open, as do its borders.”
“Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s administration had made a decision to tolerate the spread of the virus through a greater proportion of the UK than many other countries, in pursuit of herd immunity. But new modelling has revealed this approach risked a potential death toll of 250,000 people.”
Canada’s culture trusts and relies on the government. People don’t understand trust and reliance are different. Canada’s government is socially conscious, but they cannot educate themselves like people can, nor can the government act with insight or rapidity. Only people can do that and Canadians aren’t.
Employers are still waiting for government direction, and neighbors are still talking in the street. While shopping yesterday, I was distressed to see people chatting in the aisle and the checkout clerk making pleasant conversation. It seems that no one is awake.
Canadians are talking too much. This is good for democracy—it spreads news and views. It spreads everything else, too.
I suspect that touching contaminated surfaces is not your highest risk, it’s breathing. You can avoid touching, you can wear gloves, and you can wash your hands, but you can’t not breath—and the virus is in the air. You contract COVID-19 simply by sharing air with otherwise healthy infected people (see Study Highlights Ease of Spread of COVID-19 Viruses).
You will get the virus; that’s not in question and it’s not the problem. Don’t be afraid of getting infected; being afraid won’t help you. Strengthen your immune system. Try not to get infected now, but assume you are already infected and don’t pass it on.
The problem is that too many are getting sick too fast. The quality of the virus is causing deaths, but that’s not what’s causing the crisis. Note what I said above: it appears COVID-19 may not be so much more lethal than the flu. We don’t know yet, but this is a possibility.
The crisis is due to the quantity of the virus. The medical system cannot handle this many sick people at once. The geo-economic system is shutting down, causing separate risks and injuries. Thinking in terms of your contribution to the larger situation requires different thinking. It’s like voting, except it’s contagious, and there is no argument against it.
Sleep has been verified as an immune enhancer, and it may be the most effective thing you can do. Its positive effect is documented in an article entitled “Sleep after Vaccination Boosts Immunological Memory,” in a 2011 issue of The Journal of Immunology. Another review article, “Sleep and Immune Function”, appearing in a 2011 issue of The European Journal of Physiology, reports that “during the sleep phase, immune cells at early stages of differentiation peak in peripheral blood and lymph nodes.”
These low-level studies correlate sleep cycles with biochemical measures. They measure the effect of sleep on T-cell counts, protein-induced inflammation, and antibody concentrations. These complex, indirect effects don’t tell us how much one’s immunity improves due to improved sleep, but, based on subjective experience of one’s immunological state when sleep-deprived, the effect is substantial. It can’t be overlooked that when you’re ill, your body sleeps.
It is my untested belief that you can enhance your body’s recuperative efforts during sleep by deepening your interoceptive sense before sleeping. Achieve this through imagining, sensing, and focusing on the tissues, organs, and processes. Do this by entering a trance state in which you can achieve a deeper connection with these autonomic processes.
The Lymphatic System
The lymphatic system, distributed throughout your body, acts to remove debris and to maintain, enhance, and accelerate your recovery from infection. It includes hormones controlled by the central nervous system, the enteric nervous system surrounding your gut, the lymphatic system, T- and white blood cell production in bone marrow and in locations throughout your body.
Your lymphatic system is recognized by the lymph nodes of your neck, under-arms, chest, belly, and groin. These—and hundreds of smaller nodules throughout your body—form the outposts that become swollen as your first reaction to infection.
I’ve created a guided visualization that focuses on your lymphatic system. This visualization exhorts you to become engaged at three levels. First, the level of awareness: to focus on these regions and—to whatever extent possible—to relax them. Second, the level of energizing these locations: using your imagination to enhance their sensitivity—as if lymph nodes have a conscious awareness and can report what they are aware of. And third, joining your consciousness to that of your lymph nodes: taking up arms with them in solidarity and support.
There is no success or failure in this exercise; you’re simply expanding and enhancing your awareness of this physically small and biologically sensitive system. There is nothing you have to achieve. Aim simply to feel fortified, whole, and in-tune. Imagine you control a complicated machine for which these lymph nodes are self-contained, supporting elements. You manage a jungle of species, all contributing in their own way to the balance of your body’s ecosystem.
Listen to this visualization and retain the detached state that results from it. Become more attuned to your lymphatic system while in your normal aware state. In the same way that a highly fit person sees the world from an enhanced perspective—gaining the sensitivity of heightened sensation and balanced flow—I encourage you to gain that aware state of your lymph nodes.
You will gain a waking sensitivity toward the areas where your nodes are located. Just as you can move through space with a heightened balance and awareness of the location of your limbs, so you will expand this to “think from your lymph nodes.”
Active Dream Work
Doing this before going to sleep makes space in your mind for unusual feelings with the intention of carrying these into the dream-space. What you learn will come in through thoughts, images, and feelings.
Give yourself permission to move into new territory, and give yourself the time and comfort to get there. Recognize that enlisting your imagination engages your lymphatic system. You’re taking an active role. You’re no longer an incidental participant, and you will have new experiences.
That being said, your dream-time knows no small talk, it does not come to you, and it does not speak your language. You will need to act on your intention to recall your dreams if you want to become aware. You need to sleep long enough to complete your dream cycle and decompress gradually upon waking. Take the initiative.
There are techniques to enhance dreams and dream recall. They all rest on sleeping deeply and getting enough sleep so that you awake and arouse naturally, without rush or distraction from the contemplation of your dreams. And you can oversleep, and that’s OK, too, to be more groggy and entrained with sleep.
Refer to my book The Path To Sleep, Exercises for an Ancient Skill for improving your sleep and balancing your sleep rhythms. Refer to my book Becoming Lucid, Self-Awareness in Sleeping and Waking Life for a deeper understanding of your sleep and wake states. These books are available online in print, digital, and audiobook formats.
Listen to the audio, “Your Lymphatic System”, before sleep each night for at least a week. Don’t worry if you fall asleep during the visualization, or if you don’t remember what’s said. You don’t need to remember it. You can remain unattached and uninvested in thinking about anything. Let your mind wander in comfortable ways. You will change your thinking in subtle ways, and, more than that, there will be changes in what you feel.
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