Cytokine Storms

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In their recent episode of the VALUE: After Hours Podcast, Taylor, Brewster, and Carlisle discuss Cytokine Storms. Here’s an excerpt from the episode:

Jake: Yeah. Let’s do cytokine storms first. Last time we talked about E. O. Wilson and this idea of group selection over just purely gene selection. It got me thinking about humanity as this like super organism, which is something that Wilson espoused after looking at ants and seeing how they operate as this super organism that seems coordinated at levels that don’t make sense if you just look at their very, very simple biology. So, the Spanish flu, 1918 to 1920 and it killed 40 million people. A lot of those people were 20- to 40-year-old healthy people, which is shocking and scary if you were actually living through it, and a reasonably healthy person. As far as the probably the life years lost and the quality-of-life years that were lost in that, it’s way different than COVID, where COVID had a lot of more towards the older people that fell into it.

But anyway, at that time, the global population was about 1.8 billion people. So, 40 million of 1.8 billion, that’s like 2.2% of the population. So, if we had a similar equivalent of COVID today on a 7 billion population, that’d be 150 million people who would have died from COVID versus the roughly 5 million, I think, was the last statistic that I saw. So, five versus 150, like, dramatically different, right? So, we got probably very lucky actually with the severity of COVID relative to what happened in the Spanish flu. What was going on there was this, why young people were hurt and killed by the Spanish flu was that, it created this thing called a cytokine storm.

Cytokines are this immune response that are normally okay for your body to do. They circulate through your blood, but they cause inflammation, and they help activate the immune system. But if they get to be too many of them in your blood, it will then impact your organs and actually organs will shut down and people will die from that. So, going back then to Wilson and this idea of a super organism of humanity, it has me wondering if, is it possible that COVID triggered a cytokine storm at a societal level. Like, the super organism has this immune response to a pathogen. It’s not biological as much as it actually is like a societal response.

So, we’re seeing all kinds of inflammation, we’re seeing organ failure like the trust in our institutions seems to be eroding, and a lot of my thoughts are, like, a dovetail in with this podcast I listen to with Dr. Peter Attia that he did recently on a COVID update with these other two doctors that was really good. I enjoyed it a lot. He was lamenting that he felt like, COVID has been bad, but from a societal standpoint, the loss of trust might be the biggest casualty of the whole thing. When we actually do need to coordinate again in the future for something that’s worse, like, if we actually had the Spanish flu, people might be like, “You know, what? You kind of dick me around this last time. I’m not going to listen to you this time.”

So, it had me thinking like, “All right, well, what can we do, what’s the societal equivalent of trying to clear out the cytokines?” So, in treatment for a biological cytokine storm, they will give steroids to help reduce inflammation, and they do actually dialysis to clear out the cytokines out of the bloodstream. So, what’s the dialysis that we could all be doing from a societal level to remove some of this inflammation and get back to a normal amount of trust, and interaction, and belief in our systems? For me, it comes back to controlling your own things where, go for a walk-in nature, lower your stress levels, try to be kind to each other and maybe practice the golden rule of treating people how you’d want to be treated. Humility, probably on the part of our leadership would probably go a long way right now, I think. That was actually one of the most troubling things about that Attia podcast was.

Some of the things they told about the NIH and the CDC were just like, I mean, level 10 oof, [laughs] just really like, “Oh, my God, that’s pretty bad.” So, I probably shouldn’t get into the specifics. I don’t understand them as well as probably a lot of other people do. But just the lack of transparency of what’s supposed to be science based and open book when you’re trying to be scientific, that’s a big part of the scientific method is, share the data, let other people look at it, they have kept a lot of that stuff to themselves and ignored a lot of the other outside scientists they would normally advise, they shut them out and have just stayed on their own party line or company line. Anyway, I think it’s interesting to imagine the human species as a bigger, super organism and maybe we’re experiencing an immune response to a potential threat.

Tobias: When it all first started happening, to be fair, I just spent a weekend with Chris Cole. Cole’s a tail hedging guy. So, I think he’s one of the Sentinels who’s way out on the edge watching few things happening and then I came back from that and I was seeing in the airport away from my family reading Zero Hedge on COVID.

Jake: So, everything. [laughs]

Tobias: Yeah. It wasn’t even at that stage yet. He was just saying here are all of these satellite shots of China where they had the huge– [crosstalk]

Jake: Oh, shut everything down.

Tobias: Well, they’re burning things. They were saying like they’re burning all these bodies and they had all the pictures of people falling over in the street, you remember that?

Jake: Yeah, I remember it.

Tobias: Like welding people into their house and stuff like that, which seemed pretty frightening. I have read books on Spanish flu, which followed World War I, it was like came out of World War I. So, I was pretty nervous about that. You can go back and listen to those podcasts that we were recording around that time, I thought as you’re describing like the Spanish flu was massively impactful to the working age people and society potentially could have collapsed at that point. That’s societies collapse all the time.

You go back through ancient history like, there’s some scary stuff that happens when Carthage against the Romans. The Romans defeated Carthage and then obliterated Carthage like there’s no Phoenicians left anymore. There are lots of these things have just disappeared. So, I was somewhat nervous that that was going to happen. Clearly, none of that’s happened. That was as it’s gone on it seems, not quite as aggressive as it may have first appeared.

Jake: That was a bit of luck for humanity as well. It could have been that bad.

Tobias: We didn’t know it. You should prepare for it as if it’s going to be. Not that I think that there’s much you can do to avoid it but prepare for as if it is going to be that way, get some food, and that sort of stuff.

Jake: Yeah.

Bill: I have nothing to add.

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