Saturday, April 11, 2020

Day 3761

Fifty years ago today Apollo 13 started it's journey to the moon. We all know what happened a few days later. An explosion ripped the service module apart and the astronauts were rapidly losing oxygen and electrical power. The world held its breath as an amazing team of scientists and engineers did the impossible and brought the astronauts back alive. Even now, what they were able to accomplish with so few resources to work with is impressive. Hopefully, somewhere tonight there are other teams of doctors and scientists trying to unravel the mystery of the coronavirus against equally daunting odds.

I don't know if it is fair to compare the Apollo Program to medical research. During the Apollo 13 crisis, three lives were in jeopardy instead of millions. The three astronauts were part of the problem but there were also part of the solution. They were all extremely smart and resourceful. If they weren't, none of the solutions mission control proposed would have worked.

How do you eradicate something you know nothing about? The virus might as well be a species of tiny aliens. Here's how little we know. Everyone has been begging for mechanical ventilators for weeks. Now it turns out that 80% of the people who get put on a ventilator die. Doctors are starting to say that being on a ventilator might actually make the situation worse. There is anecdotal evidence that Germany has had far fewer deaths than other European countries because German doctors didn't think that high pressure mechanical ventilation worked. Along with increased testing, they tried other therapies.

It's kind of sad that most learning is accomplished through failure. That's how it works though. NASA learned an enormous amount after the Apollo 1 fire and Apollo 13 explosion. I imagine that doctors are learning more about how the virus behaves every day. I hope they get the ventilator situation sorted out soon. Ventilators work well for bacterial pneumonia. A ventilator is only used until the antibiotics kick in and the inflammation in the lungs begins to subside. Usually this is less than two days. This virus acts much differently and antibiotics don't work at all. A ventilator was never meant to be used for weeks at a time.

I know virtually nothing about medicine, but if I were writing a sci-fi thriller here's how all this would go down. Chinese scientists create the perfect bioweapon. It is extremely infectious and virtually undetectable until the damage is done. Since there are billions of people in China, the leadership decides that losing a million is a small price to pay for total world domination. They infect a large city and then let several hundred thousand scared residents escape to other parts of the world before making the rest of us aware that the virus even exists. Then they make a good show of stamping the virus out so the world won't blame them for anything. China emerges strong and the rest of the world is descimated without a shot being fired. It probably didn't happen this way, but it sure seems plausible. It still seems odd to me that there were no huge outbreaks in other Chinese cities. Somebody was very well prepared for this.

The United States wasn't prepared at all. Apparently we learned nothing from the anthrax scare right after 9/11. I'm convinced that we need to get back to the kind of country we were during the Apollo program. We were smart and resourceful then. Every single nut and bolt in the Apollo rockets was made right here in the United States. A huge percentage of what what we used everyday was made here as well. We didn't need China. Wouldn't you have rather have paid a little more for your flat screen TV than see the country go trillions of dollars in debt because of this debacle. I would have gladly paid 30% more for everything to avoid this mess.

I did find some toilet paper today. I guess that's a good thing. Janet will be watching Easter services on her iPad instead of going to church, but we'll still be having a smoked ham for Easter dinner. I love a smoked ham. I hope Easter and Passover is still a joyful time for those of you who believe. It's important to believe in something.

Tyson is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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