Coming Soon: Much Better Than SARS-COV2
How we’ve created the best possible system to ensure millions of deaths in the not-too-distant future
Although everyone and their pet hamster is currently terrified of SARS-COV2, under the erroneous belief that 100% of our species will die unless we all practice hygiene theater, a truly serious problem remains entirely unnoticed.
Unlike covid-19, which has killed less than one-tenth of one percent of the population in even the hardest-hit countries, we’ve quietly been creating the necessary conditions for a problem that is likely to kill far more people than the relatively harmless SARS-COV2.
Some people are aware that today we’re coming to the end of the golden era of antibiotics. There are already several bacterial strains that are entirely immune to everything in the pharmacological arsenal. According to the CDC there are at least eighteen different strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that are now killing upward of 50,000 US citizens each year. And new strains are appearing constantly. The problem is escalating out of control and many researchers believe it is only a matter of time before antibiotics cease to be meaningfully effective. When that happens, people will begin to die again of infections we’ve not worried about for over sixty years: food poisoning, blood poisoning, and deaths from other forms of contamination. Surgeries will become very hazardous as each wound becomes once more a prime opportunity for bacteria to enter the body. Even childbirth will become more hazardous, especially given the insane US propensity for inducing births that then require the world’s highest rate of C-sections.
How did we arrive at this dire state of affairs?
There have been two main contributing factors, plus a third that may ultimately prove catastrophic. The first factor is, unfortunately, the medical profession. Doctors hate to feel powerless and so handing out pills is better than doing nothing. When magic pills (antibiotics) appeared on the scene after World War II, they became the must-have treatment for practically everything, even for viral infections. As recently as twenty years ago, doctors would routinely hand out antibiotics for viral infections, claiming “they will prevent opportunistic bacterial infections.” The fact that there was precisely no empirical evidence to support such beliefs was irrelevant; the magic of antibiotics was powerful juju. Patients expected them and doctors loved to prescribe them.
The problem, of course, is that the more we use antibiotics the faster selection pressure creates resistant bacteria. If you kill 99% of a species, the 1% that survives will be resistant to whatever killed the other 99%. So when that 1% multiplies (as all bacteria do), all the resulting bacteria will be resistant. For a while, simply increasing the strength of the antibiotic can work. If 0.5 grams won’t work, try 1.5 grams. But eventually this game reaches its inevitable conclusion and no matter what the dose, the bacteria is immune.
The second problem came from the fact that most people are very bad at self-administration. Give someone a 7-day course of antibiotics and if they feel better by day four, they’ll stop taking the pills. Which means (yes, you guessed it) the few bacteria remaining inside them are the strong ones and so when they multiply the result is to have bacteria that are more resistant to whatever killed their more susceptible siblings. Over time, as millions of people fail to complete their treatments, this inevitably leads to drug-resistant bacteria. And when you give someone antibiotics for a viral infection you are simply breeding antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
We can see, therefore, that handing antibiotics out like candy to poorly compliant people was a very bad idea.
But so what if maybe 100,000 people or even 200,000 people a year die of antibiotic-resistant infections in the USA? It’s not as if the media can make a big deal out of it because each infection will seemingly be different. It won’t be so easy to create sensationalist scare stories when there are perhaps twenty or fifty different bacteria strains, each with a complicated name. So we can ignore the problem.
For the last seventy-five years, farmers have been cramming antibiotics into livestock. This is because animals gain weight faster when you stuff them with antibiotics, and speed to market means greater revenues. Today we stuff beef, pork, chicken, and farmed seafood full of lovely antibiotics as a routine part of factory-farming. It means we can leave cows standing knee-high in their own feces without worrying about infections. It means we can cut off the beaks of chickens without worrying about infections. It means we can feed them totally unsuitable slop without killing them outright. Our antibiotic magic means we can abuse animals in ways that would have been unimaginable a mere century ago and still make lovely profits.
What could possibly be the problem with this?
Oh, wait… antibiotic resistance.
Imagine a strain of bacteria that enters the food chain via the appalling slop we feed to cows (which makes them very ill, but as it’s now illegal to make any record of this, we can keep it all hidden and no one cares). The cows become somewhat sick, but the beef industry is used to slaughtering animals too ill even to stand without mechanical assistance. And so tens of thousands of beef cuts, beef patties, and ground beef comes onto the market. Some of that beef will be thoroughly cooked and the bacteria will die; most of it, however, won’t be thoroughly cooked all the way through. And so the antibiotic-resistant bacteria will enter our bodies.
The same story can be told of chickens, of pork, and of farmed fish.
The fact is, we’ve built the perfect system for generating antibiotic-resistant bacteria and channeling them right into people’s mouths.
How many people would die of antibiotic-resistant salmonella in the first week of a major infection? Perhaps only half a million, but easily perhaps many more. People in the USA consume thirty-four million metric tons of beef per day and forty-five million metric tons of chicken per day. It doesn’t take much imagination to see the ease with which a lethal antibiotic-resistant strain of bacteria could kill millions within a few days of appearing in the food chain.
One of the truly magnificent things about our species homo sapiens is our ability to overlook the very important while we obsess over the trivial. It is therefore certain that no action will be taken to reduce this massive risk we’ve created through a toxic mixture of greed and complacency. Which in turn makes it absolutely certain that at some time in the not-too-distant future, millions of US citizens will die excruciating deaths thanks to a system that guarantees the emergence of lethal drug-resistant bacteria.
Only then will the media have a nice new sensation they can capitalize on to generate yet more ad revenue by scaring people out of their wits with mindless reportage. For now, we’ll have to make do with the hype over the relatively harmless covid-19 virus.
But don’t worry. Mass death through bacterial infection is only a few years away. We won’t have long to wait.