Yin-yang – day 2 COVID-19 lockdown

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The yin and yang of COVID-19.

I have spent day 2 of London’s lockdown doing MS-related webinars; i.e. attending meetings virtually. For every negative, there is a positive, the yin-and-yang of COVID-19.

Environmental activists are claiming SARS-CoV2/COVID19 is simply nature’s way of fighting back. We have pushed planet earth and its environment to the brink and it is responding as predicted.

The fact that academics such as me are working differently has to be a good thing. Do you agree? This is something I am very aware of and is one of the reasons why we started triMS-online; virtual conferences are clearly the way we are going to exchange information in the future. Our MS Academy webinar on “Managing MS remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic” takes things one step further, i.e. how can we revolutionise the management of MS and do as much as possible remotely.

COVID-19 massively reduces air pollution

The combined value of the world’s stock markets is related to global GDP, which in turn represents global consumption. The fact that the major stock markets have crashed by over 30% the world’s global consumption energy and other resources will be plummeting. This is forcing us to work differently. Is this not a good thing?

We may all be anxious and worried about the crisis we are in at present, but it will pass. This virus (SARS-CoV2) is virulent, but not that virulent. A global pandemic of SARS and MERS, with the same level of infectivity as SARS-CoV2, would have been an order of magnitude worse. Maybe we should be saying this pandemic could have been much worse.

I think we will look at back 2019 and 2020 as being the turning point when the world realised we need to take the environment seriously. The images of Australia burning and COVID-19 sweeping across the world is telling us that we are going to have to do things differently in the future.

COVID-19 is forcing us to work differently, which happens to be more environmentally-friendly, and is challenging the Victorian model of healthcare. One very positive thing that may come out of this epidemic is that we may just prevent ourselves from going beyond the environmental tipping point.

Despite my environmental optimism, this does not help you in the here and now, which is why I have spent the better part of the last 3 days getting my MS-Selfie (www.ms-selfie.org) website off the ground and answering your questions about COVID-19. I have addressed the next batch of questions, but as I answer questions more come in so apologies if I haven’t got to your questions yes. Once I am redeployed, which I expect to happen in about a week’s time, I may not have time to do any online activities.

CoI: multiple

About the author

Prof G

Professor of Neurology, Barts & The London. MS & Preventive Neurology thinker, blogger, runner, vegetable gardener, husband, father, cook and wine & food lover.

7 comments

  • As an person with MS, I’d been searching the internet for information on MS related to COVID -19 for 3 or 4 weeks and just starting to see more written and posted regarding the topic this last week. So glad I found your information and thank you, grateful for you doing the work you do! Much rsepect.
    As also a 52 year who has thrived on and encouraged a spirit of creativity in myself and others that I’ve had since childhood, I am more optimistic than ever of human ability to be creative, invent new ways of being, doing, relating, sharing, collaberating, and discoveries in this period. I have renewed faith in human creative ability during this time.

  • Yes, I do think the examples of images of the global reduction of pollution, the leaflet that came through the door today offering community support and my first ever experience of being able to text message with my GP provides evidence of how things maybe improved for the future.
    However, I am also convinced of the real need to absorb and acknowledge the appalling events that are unfolding. Personally I feel that if I don’t, at the very minimum, bear witness to what is happening abroad and here in the UK then the Yin lacks the Yang.
    I’ve already flagged up on MarchQ&A the radio interview with a Dr Jack on Tom Swarbrick show LBC. Everyone needs to hear him and have others listen to him too.

    Thank you so much for all the hard work you’ve put into all this info and Q&A on coronavirus and MS for our community before you no doubt get sucked into the CV maelstrom. If it were possible I’d be organising daily clapping and saucepan bashing for all the HCPs in the UK, as well as around the world.
    Please stay well.

    • Clap for Carers NHS event, Thursday 26th March, 8pm. Nationwide event to show thanks to NHS staff for the hard work during the pandemic. Clap from your garden, balcony, window or local park.

      Search online ‘clap for our carers NHS’.

  • The pandemic is not a symptom of human environmental destruction as such. Earth, nature is not like the vengeful god of the Old Testament. It is caused by poor practice in handling animals. Much like BSE, caused by feeding dead cows and sheep to cows, leading to vCJD.

    But everyone will look for “the moral of the story” as it is convenient for their own world view.

    I hope it does cut down on unnecessary travel, – but what is unnecessary in my opinion will seem vital to someone else…

    Perhaps the drastically reduced pollution in China and other places during the pandemic will inspire greater desire to reduce it on a permanent basis. But there will be a desperation to recoup lost production, earnings…

    Anyway, I hope, at the very least, it leads to a more conscientious approach to respiratory and hand hygiene, and a less blasé attitude to spreading colds etc.

  • This blog is so incredibly helpful. As a 65 year old with RRMS I am so glad that the young are being, relatively at least, spared the worst effects. I agree the mortality could be so much worse. Is a highly contagious deadly globa virus inevitable? The economic effects are simply unprecedented. I totally agree that the world needs a wake up – the Aussie fire seemed not to do this; perhaps this will. Never more important to grow what food we can and develop localism.

    I bought 4 chickens today from a local breeder who was offered double the retail price for all his chickens last night. He refused and sold them at normal price to people like me buying just a few. He values his customers good will. My first example of morality shining through the gloom.

    Keep up the fantastic work!

  • The way this virus is spreading and how it has affected society indicates an overdue need on several levels to re-evaluate how society has operated for years. A society has been developed that we often blindly follow in which our kids congregate daily in classrooms and daycares, several kids sharing the space of small rooms in classes, assemblies, and gyms. Our work places are much the same. Added to this, society’s way of entertainment from restaurants, malls, theatres, auditoriums, and large sports stadiums. We can also point to large cities in how populations congregate. We’ve created large, one-stop superstores where groceries and other goods can be purchased all under one roof. We hold more and more meetings, more and more activities, and more and more social functions.
    Our children and workforce have been discouraged for years from staying home sick. We’ve created and accepted a society where people go to work, school, shopping, gatherings sick with colds, flu, and stomach viruses. Our schools for years have refused to send our kids home sick unless they have a fever or are visibly vomiting in the presence of school staff. Any symptoms of illness short of that kids are not allowed to go home or even call their parents to get them with complaints of not feeling well. Parents and guardians are discouraged, questioned, scrutinized, and judged by schools should they call in to school to keep their kids home sick for more than a day or two. Workplaces are not far behind while everyone goes to work sick as employers discourage staying home sick and have poor sick leave policies or often not any sick leave. Our society goes to pharmacies sick to pick up medicines, and grocery stores sick to pick up needed supplies. Now abruptly, there’s a full reversal of that.

    We’ve created a society and we’ve been in the habit of daily accepting and “doing it this way” for years. Our society has gotten to the tipping point of ignoring and dismissing illness and continues to go on with daily living while sick. Those of us with chronic illness like MS, have slowed down due to fatigue from MS, stiffness, etc. already know all too well that our society’s way of life is created in such a way it doesn’t stop or slow down for illness.

    Now we are blaming our young people for going out sick and ignoring the warnings when we’ve trained them all through school since daycare age to just keep going to school and going about daily social living sick. Now suddenly everyone is on our young people’s case when we as a society, and our systems have taught them, “no, don’t stay home when you don’t feel well”. We’ve gone so far as to our school systems not ever letting them leave school for the day when they complain to staff about not feeling well. We penalize them for attendance. We reward them for good attendance. Now society wonders why they go out anyway after doing so well training them it’s not ok to stay home when you don’t feel good.
    it’s past time now we re-evaluate as a society how we congregate and what numbers we meet in, how frequently, the structure, design of the rooms and buildings we congregate in. And recreate a society where it’s acceptable and encouraged for people to take care of themselves and each other when sick.

  • Is it more environmentally friendly though? In a one person household I now have the gas heating on constantly. Whereas I would normally get the tube or run five miles to my BREEAM ‘Outstanding’ sustainability rated office.

    Before the tubes and buses were cut the streets were quieter and I wondered whether it might be time to get a bike. But when I venture outside now the traffic is constant and heavy. Where are all the cars going?

By Prof G

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