Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times
The total worldwide mortality due to Covid 19 is 16,500 at the time of the writing of this article. Every human life is precious and sacred and loss to the loved ones is immeasurable.
However, in 2018, 5,311,514 people died in Europe and there were 513,481,690 births. So, when we look at the Corona deaths through this prism, one may ask the question, what is all this fuss about this virus, for the last several weeks?
Looking for the answer to this question brings us to our immune system, which is a fantastic, wonderfully organized, military machine that each of us possesses against thousands if not millions of bacteria and viruses. This system has helped us and our ape ancestors survive for millions of years.
What is unique about this virus is that it is novel and very new in the sense that our immune system does not have as good ammunition against it as against other viruses that have been out there.
This accounts for the high mortality of 1-3% that the experts are quoting. With the world population approaching 8 billion the 3% mortality will translate into 8,000,000,000 divided by 100 is 80,000,000 and multiplied by 3 gives us 240 million deaths.
When we look at it with that perspective we understand why the whole world is scared to death.
Life expectancy has tremendously improved in the last century. Thanks to antibiotics and vaccination and most of all our immune system that a large number of infectious diseases have been almost eradicated in the Western world. We take all the miracles of our immune system which in its natural state and through vaccines has helped achieve amazing success for granted until now, when we have been hit with this new and novel virus Covid 19.
But, here is some silver lining and something to be grateful for.
CNN reported today:
Out of nearly 45,000 confirmed cases in China through February 11, there was only one death in someone younger than 20, according to the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and no deaths among children younger than 10.
Out of 731 confirmed and 1,412 suspected cases of Covid-19 in children in China, one child, a 14-year-old boy, died, according to a new study that will be published in the journal Pediatrics in June. Also, nearly 6% of children’s cases were severe, compared with 18.5% of adults experiencing severe symptoms, the study found.
In other words, the young may not be completely invincible, but their immune system is far more invincible, than that of their parents and grand parents.
For loving parents of young children this should come as a great relief amid the universal fear and panic.
As we appreciate the beauty of the youthful immune system, let us learn a little more about our immune system today.
Immunization works because it targets our microbial enemies, and not the normal cells and tissues of our own body. In distinguishing foe from friend, our immune system does this more specifically and sensitively than any other chemical sensor that nature or man has yet conceived. Mistakes in this process are rare but costly: over our lifetime about 5% of us will develop an autoimmune disease that reflects one of these immunological mistakes.
Covid 19 is exposing this vulnerability in the immune system against one agent among millions of possibilities. Those who are dying, for them the process of distinguishing between foe and friend is not working precisely. Nevertheless, it is still working well for a large majority, going by the present day mortality numbers for this, for 97-99%.
It has taken sixty years to track down how the immune system learns to tolerate friends and destroy foes. This is a tale of twists and turns that illustrate the challenges of the scientific method: and the need for tenacity, experimental rigor, imagination and scholarship.
Our war against Covid 19 over time would give us greater insight into our immune system and future ways of tweaking it for our survival.
In the mean while we can be grateful to the Gracious and the Most Merciful for having armed us with a defense system that has helped defend us from millions of threats over the millennia.
Suggested reading by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times
The self isolation for 70 years and older may last up to 4 months
To see the daily new cases and deaths in the top eleven countries go to
Italy announces 627 coronavirus deaths in 24 hours on 3/20/2020
“We project that roughly 56 percent of our population – 25.5 million people – will be infected with the virus over an eight week period,” Governor Newsom of California wrote on 3/19/2020.