Hot Topic: What’s Really Happening: A look in the Coronavirus Mirror

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Dr. Raymond Mobrez

Dr. Raymond Mobrez, featured in the January edition of The Introducer Magazine on FinTech Literacy and Creativity in Finance, introduced Dr. Adam Tabriz to me this past weekend to have an honest and informative chat about what is missing in the conversation about the coronavirus.

Along with his background as an international trade developer, Mobrez holds a Ph.D. in human behavior and socioeconomics.  He is also the founder of the Asia Economic Institute and the Africa Economic Institute. Tabriz has over 30 years under his belt as a physician and another 6 in healthcare solutions.  He founded Px6 Medical Systems which provides universal access to precision medicine through a “Healthcare Without Borders” approach. Tabriz has experience across many cultures and avidly studies public health policy, which informs his writings on health subjects.

Mobrez initiated our conversation with his concerns over the lack of common sense and hygiene practices that are not up to standard for preventing diseases like the coronavirus. Tabriz agrees and added his concern over the media’s focus on painting the picture of panic and fueling the enormous investment toward ending something that is comparable in mortality numbers to the measles.  

I’m not really a journalist or researcher, but, I’d like to organize the comments that came from this conversation in a way that helps you “get it.”

The Common Sense We Aren’t Using

Using hand sanitizers and washing one’s hands is not enough.  We’ve been hearing for weeks that these two actions are critical to fighting the spread of the coronavirus.  If you are sneezing or coughing and you don’t wash your hands right after, then cleaning your hands a few times a day isn’t going to make the difference you want. Taking showers or baths daily and washing one’s hair regularly is key to good personal hygiene and will help stop the transmission of viruses. Mobrez believes our society’s lazy approach to cleanliness is a culprit for the spread of many illnesses.  He mentioned that some restaurants use the same cloth to clean the seat of your chair and the table as well as the person’s table and chair next to yours. Your car is likely a hotbed of bacteria, especially if you have children in and out of the vehicle, so sanitizing it regularly is important. People who are eating food with their fingers and don’t wash their hands before returning to the office are spreading the germs from their mouth to doorknobs, elevator buttons, the coffee pot, your pens, and more. 

It’s a matter of being aware of yourself as a fellow human being.  We have gotten so used to relying on systems and protocols rather than common sense, we’ve forgotten to tap into our own intelligence about how to live so that good health isn’t just something we want for ourselves; we want it for everyone. This is personal responsibility…and that’s a bigger picture viewpoint on what we are missing in this singular but attention-getting health crisis.

Dr. Adam Tabriz

Cancer isn’t a disease; it’s a business, and how this statement relates to the Coronavirus

The “Cancer isn’t a disease” quote (which you can find easily with a quick Google search) isn’t meant to disrespect those living with cancer, but to remind us all that every health concern relates to business. The bigger the health concern; the bigger the business component. This part of the conversation is where Tabriz lives. His passion and scholarly ability to drill down into a conflict or big health challenge are unsurpassed. In his article entitledCoronavirus Epidemic; Beyond Sociopolitical-RhetoricAn intimate insight into the chronology of emerging infectious diseases (Linkedin March 8th, 2020), Tabriz writes “The panic built over this current coronavirus epidemic is already over that of the SARS pandemic. That being the case, it’s wary of inferring that once COVID-19 runs its course, the financial retribution to businesses and the people they employ will be far higher than $40 billion.” 

The concern over economics isn’t as paramount to most people as panic pushes them to empty grocery stores of water, hand sanitizers, and toilet paper.  The worry over quarantine coupled with closings of workplaces, churches, and schools creates a sense of urgent need. The real need is a solution. As Tabriz points out — “we can clone a baby; surely a cure for the coronavirus can happen.”  That leads us to the business of pharma.

On the subject of pharma, Tabriz shares viewpoints backing it with statistics and research on previous epidemics and how pharma views their role in these situations. He indicates that a vaccine to cure this virus isn’t likely a priority, but adds “unless there are enough artificially-induced incentives driven by creating public panic, which would legitimize government’s move to funnel billions to the pharma industry. ” https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/03/14/us/politics/coronavirus-house-vote.html  

During our conversation, we talked about the Ebola virus and how it spread through West Africa in 2014 killing several thousand with a 40% mortality rate. While pharma did come up with a prevention vaccine, there wasn’t a cure.  By the way, that first FDA-approved vaccine for the prevention of the Ebola virus was just approved in December 2019. Currently, the coronavirus mortality rate (depending on your age and geography) is about 2-3% comparable to measles.

So the question in the case of the Ebola virus is a question that we might ask relative to the coronavirus:  Is there a business reason for the non-interest or delay of a curative vaccine? In the case of the Ebola virus, Tabriz gives us some insight. “There was no incentive for pharma to develop an ebola vaccine. The excuse was that they had little opportunity to subject experimental vaccines through rigorous tests. Likewise, they claim they had difficulty obtaining approval from Wyeth Pharmaceuticals to use its platform to make ebola vaccines. The only interest came from a tiny firm called BioProtection Systems Corp., a spinoff of NewLink Genetics, a biotech firm working on cancer vaccines. It seems that the attention to developing an Ebola vaccine had little to do with the disease itself, or the platforms, which is what BioProtection Systems would be licensing. Instead, the company was only searching for ways to improve its portfolio.” (Ref: https://www.statnews.com/2020/01/07/inside-story-scientists-produced-world-first-ebola-vaccine/)

There you have it – one line drawn between virus and business, and we begin to understand the “why” and “why not” of what we perceive is the “fix” for health crises. Like everyone else, I wish for the “fix,” but will also try to be smarter about my own prevention decisions…because my decisions impact others.  Yours do, as well.

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