So much we don't know. What we do know is truth changes. Science is not about truth. It’s about finding the truth. When scientific findings change, it did not lie to us. It just learned more. It’s like learning to bat. The ball comes at you at different levels and speeds, and you must learn to hit it wherever and however fast it comes. You may swing a thousand times before you get it right. How do we know it’s right? Because it works. That’s science. That’s empirical evidence.

It took that kind of tenacity to find cures for our illnesses. Especially considering how many centuries we have been looking for them. Historically some of the more important medical discoveries that took many years to find include:

1796: Vaccines

1846: Anesthesia

1861: Discovery of Germs

1895: Imaging (X-Ray)

1928: Antibacterial Drugs

1954: Organ Transplants

1960s: Antiviral Drugs

There are many ways to kill the living cell. But before we found methods to cure or stop our diseased killers, we had to find them. Here are three major categories scientists found that worry them the most. The times at bat it took just to find and identify these are incalculable: virus, bacteria, parasite/fungi.

There are more viruses on Earth than are there stars, and they cannot be killed. They can be stopped from reproducing, but never killed. They infect nearly every organism on Earth. To develop antiviral medication requires a different process for each virus and millions of experiments, as we have learned in trying to stop the coronavirus along with other deadly viruses such as Ebola, Marburg, Lassa fever, MERS, SARS, Nipah, Zika, and Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, any of which could be our next pandemic. Consider that we have not even found a vaccination for the common cold. A list of widespread viruses are the cold, flu and warts. More serious viruses include measles, rubella, chickenpox, shingles, roseola, smallpox, HIV/AIDs, encephalitis, meningitis, herpes, gastroenteritis, hepatitis C, polio, Dengue fever, West Nile virus, swine flu, yellow fever and COVID-19.

A virus kills by invading a cell, inserting its DNA string and gluing itself to the cell DNA string, creating thousands of copies of its new self until it bursts through the cell membrane, killing the cell. These viral strands invade new cells, and the process is replicated over and over until enough cells in our body are dead and so are we. To stop virus duplication takes five steps: 1) antivirus medication attaches and penetrates infected cell; 2) it uncoats and releases the cell’s DNA; 3) it mixes the antivirus and the cell’s DNA together, changing it 4) into a new virus that can no longer duplicate itself; 5) releases the new virus to invade and help the next sick cell.

Bacteria are actually a single cell. Unlike viruses that grow inside the cell, killing the cell by exploding from within, bacteria and fungus live outside the cell and surround it, consuming its nutrients, starving the cell to death. Experts estimate there are at least 1 nonillion bacteria on Earth. A nonillion is a 1 followed by 30 zeros. Much of the Earth’s biomass comprises bacteria. Some bacteria are good for you, offering protection against diseases and aiding with digestion in the gut. Others, not so much. Bacteria cause many types of diseases, ranging from mild skin irritation to lethal pneumonia. Among the more dangerous diseases caused by bacteria are tuberculosis, anthrax, tetanus, leptospirosis, pneumonia, cholera, botulism, strep throat, gonorrhea, gastric ulcer, diphtheria and bubonic plague. Stopping the bacteria takes anti-bacterials such as penicillin and cephalosporin that directly attack the bacterial cell wall, injuring the cell so that the bacteria can no longer absorb nutrients and dies.

Parasites require a living host in order to survive. These parasites kill the human cell by biting off chunks of the cell until the cell dies. They are introduced into the body by mosquitos, worms, leaches, bed bugs, lice, fleas, etc., and cause illnesses such as malaria, sleeping sickness, Chagas, Toxoplasmosis, Giardia, foot, toenail fungus, yeast infections, and jock itch. The medication Hydroxychloroquine blocks food to the parasite and starves it to death. The diseases it treats are malaria, some types of lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis. The medication, Ivermectin glues itself to the parasite chloride channels, expands the channel allowing in an overdose of chloride ions which paralyzes the muscle/nerve systems, killing the parasite. Ivermectin directly impacts the parasitical disease, not human cells.

Since this pandemic began, the FDA has issued nearly 100 warnings regarding fraudulent claims of cures. Before you consider using any medicine not prescribed by the medical field, check the ingredients and research what they do to the human body. The snake doctors always appear where money is to be made.

Sue Hardesty is a resident of Newport.

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