Is the coronavirus a ‘hoax’?

By Gabrielle Duebendorfer
Reader Contributor

I recently read “The Contagion of Fear” by Chuck Baldwin on Idaho District 1 Rep. Heather Scott’s face book page. The article claims coronavirus is a hoax creating panic leading to more government and loss of First Amendment liberties. I was curious to learn more and decided to look at another post – by Dr. Shiva (Ph.D. in biological engineering from MIT in systems biology). He claims that viruses (including COVID-19) don’t harm or kill. Death is being caused by immune systems weakened by pollution. Deep State is to blame for fear-mongering which profits big industry and government.

Conspiracy theories like these strongly influence policy makers who are inclined to not base their decisions on science-based evidence, which undermines scientists and health officials/providers, who are globally trying to stop the pandemic from overwhelming the health systems. Let’s take a closer look.

Conspiracy theories always have an important underlying value – in Mr. Baldwin’s case First Amendment rights. Freedom is a global human value but also a uniquely American one, currently threatened by sweeping government actions. This is partly why I live here instead of in Germany, though people there seem to be more willing to give up one’s freedom in exchange for public health measures that save lives. 

The kernel of truth in this conspiracy is the profiteering of Big Pharma. This is indeed a big problem as seen with the opioid crisis. However, to take this as a rationale to decry the epidemic as a hoax is misrepresenting true facts to validate and protect a particular viewpoint – in this case using the fact of Pharma profiteering as evidence for the CDC, deliberately attacking our freedom by fear-mongering. Big corporations by nature are profit oriented, but that does not mean they are intent on destroying the economy or our health by inventing an epidemic.

Dr. V.A. Shiva reflects a similar conspiracy while focusing on the underlying value of the sanctity of our bodies and planet. As a naturopathic physician, I support this sanctity as well as the kernel of truth that government agencies and appointed officials are influenced too much by the petroleum and pharmaceutical industries, profiteering from rather than reducing pollution. However, using this to decry the epidemic as a hoax is unconscionable. He obviously wants to get elected to the Senate as evidenced by his inflammatory language designed to appeal to emotions.

In order to do so he also uses a false dichotomy, which incorrectly assumes that there are only two possibilities. By proving one right, the other one is proved wrong or vice versa. He asserts that pollution is the cause of a weakened immune system, and then claims that focusing on healthy living will keep us from getting killed by the COVID-19 virus. He neglects to mention clear evidence that different microbes have different virulence (ability to infect and kill) and that this virus is a new coronavirus (not the regular flu/cold virus). To claim that improving one’s thyroid, digestion,and micro-biome is going to make one immune to the virus is an outright misrepresentation of scientific facts.

Naturopathic medicine has for centuries addressed what we call the “terrain” with patients – without denying the impact of microbes! A new strain can have disastrous impacts (e.g. measles in the New World, Spanish Flu, Ebola). Hand washing is proven to prevent infections and deaths! There is an interconnection between the terrain and the disease agent, which needs to be supported by strong community health policies in an epidemic.

While his explanation of the immune system being way more complex than just antibodies is accurate and while I sympathize with his frustration with the pharmaceutical industry focusing primarily on vaccines and anti-viral drugs, he is not accurate with claiming that cytokine storms as with COVID-19 are the inevitable outcome in dysfunctional immune systems only. This is a false conclusion. 

As a naturopathic physician I have always educated my patients to nurture their terrain but not at the expense of addressing virulent microbes and honoring public health measures such as social distancing and hand washing. I would hope that our Repr. Heather Scott would be supportive of such a view.

Dr. Gabrielle Duebendorfer is a licensed naturopathic physician who values freedom and sanctity but is greatly concerned about people ignoring public health measures in this pandemic.

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