Friday, August 14, 2009
Pigs don't fly
Swine flu is creating panic all over the world and being at Pune, the epicentre (Is it a volcano?) of the disease in India, i cant think of anything else to blog about at the moment except that. If you came here looking for medical advice on how to combat Swine flu, look elsewhere. If you want to make fun of the virus and the soothsayers hang on. Swine flu is disproving the old saying that 'Pigs dont fly'. All the news channels are saying it everyday, so you better believe it. This is my argument/rant that Pigs really dont fly :)
Uptil now, i have never bothered about seasonal flu. There are millions of viruses which can cause seasonal flu and it is difficult for the doctors to figure out the specific virus strain that caused it and administer a vaccine for that. My dad used to say that common cold can be treated in 7 days without medication and just 1 week with medication. That's how well we understand flu viruses, atleast as far as therapy goes. Maybe if they had a wikipedia of all the different flu viruses that have ever affected mankind, we would be in a better position to fight flu or the well known common cold.
I like the adjective 'common' in 'common cold'. When you're having a bad cold, it's such a relief to know that its so 'common' to have a cold. When you're in a relaxed state after accepting that, it's so much easier to come out of any disease. If only cancer was called 'common tumor', cancer patients wont be so hopeless.
Think of it from the perspective of the Virus. How would you feel when all humans are just categorized as different variants of the species HomoSapiens as H1S1, H5S1 etc without any identity. Well, the taxonomist thought "What's in a name?" just like the human taxonomists dont bother to name each individual animal. You would be dying in anger to prove to the world that you're special and establish your name. That's exactly what the Swine flu virus did with a vengeance, when the rest of its common cold siblings are completely ignored by humankind and even its cousin Avian flu could not attain much glory. Google, Yahoo and Microsoft of the Virus world (Human, Bird and Pig, not in that order!) decided to collaborate and come out with a combination we call AH1N1.
This might seem like a really stupid argument, but after having read The Selfish Gene, you tend to believe that each organism is just a machine for the DNA to survive. The virus replicates to propage its DNA. Thats the reason humans treat their child with all the care, its their only chance to propagate their DNA even though they are mortal. Nonetheless, there are other equally bizzarre journalism like this: "You wont die of Swine flu because the Virus wants to spread. If the host dies, it cant spread anymore. The virus wants you to be alive and kicking and sneezing so that you will go out and it can spread.". Even Richard Dawkins would not have thought of that!. Remember Rachel saying in the movie Ring "She just wanted to be heard". Oh the pity virus, it just wanted to spread :(
If thats stupid, consider this conspiracy theory. It argues that Swine flu is a biowar labtest gone wrong. What is the probability that a sick pig, bird and human viruses come together and spread across the world in 2 months, unless Dr Dolittle is sick and decided to have animal sex with his sick pets GugGub(pig) and DabDab(duck) and they ended up giving birth to AH1N1. We dont pity the Mexicans specifically like we pitied the Japanese in 1945, because the scientists seriously misjudged the capability of a Virus to spread across the world. They could have atleast learnt from Microsoft Windows
There are other conspiracy theorists who argue that Swine flu is being hyped up by Media, who get paid by Pharma companies to spread panic and fear of the unknown among public, so that they can get world governments to indulge in mass vaccination programmes and make zillions of dollars. Imagine the creators of Tamiflu and Relenza sitting on billions on cash, and WHO telling the world that by 2010, 2 billion people would be affected by SwineFlu. I say WTF, bcos thats 1/3 of the population. I think WHO needs some statistics lessons. Take a city like Pune for example. The population of Pune is 5 million, out of which 500 (0.01%) have been affected and 10 (2% mortality rate) have died. If thats a small sample, world over, out of 6 billion people, 200,000 (0.003%) have been affected and 2000 have died (1% mortality rate).
Even if it spreads 10 times by 2010, just 0.1% of the population and not 1/3 are going to be affected. I dont have the statistics for common flu because its common, we dont panic and it just goes away, but i guess the numbers would be marginally lesser.
Pharma companies are hurrying to create a vaccine for Swine flu. A vaccine is a weakened less virulent form of the virus to train the immune system to fight the antibody and then remember it. Louis Pasteur need not have been a genius to discover this. Even Adam Sandler could come up with that idea in Longest Yard to boost the confidence of prison guards by setting up a football game with a weak team of prisoners. The medical world still doesn't fully understand the virus and can only hope that the weakened flu doesn't become really strong like the prisoners in Longest Yard. But they sure know that they're going to make zillions of dollars through mass vaccination programmes.
I finally had a chance to rant out on all the shit the media has been feeding me in the last week. Dont believe all that you hear from the news channels. Just use that info to be aware of the situation in your neighborhood. Swine flu is a little less common than common flu, but i'm planning to use this as an opportunity to eat with nutritional awareness and increase my immunity and get some exercise and good sleep. I dont mind if this is a conspiracy by Food industry to make people eat healthy food.
PS: The title of this blogpost is inspired by a really bad PJ by a co-worker.