“Only 12 percent of Americans are without high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or pre-diabetes,” he said in an interview last week. “The statistics are horrifying, but unlike Covid they happened gradually enough that people just shrugged their shoulders. However, beyond age, these are the biggest risk factors for illness and death from Covid-19.”
Researchers have long issued warnings about the consequences of our livestock-dominated food system. After the Sars outbreak in 2003, an essay in the American Journal of Public Health lamented that “changing the way humans treat animals – most basically, ceasing to eat them or, at the very least, radically limiting the quantity of them that are eaten – is largely off the radar as a significant preventive measure.” In 2016, the UN Environment Program warned that the “livestock revolution” was a zoonotic disaster waiting to happen.Yet meat consumption continues to rise. Now, just as experts predicted, eating animals is coming back to bite us.
In the CDC data, the likelihood of a Covid-19-related ICU admission was 2.2% to 2.4% in those without pre-existing medical conditions and 13.3% to 14.5% in those with such conditions. Despite these stark facts, health authorities have remained largely silent about underlying conditions. There has been no call to reduce coronavirus mortality by bringing diabetes or blood pressure under better control, or even to stop smoking. The “flatten the curve” strategy calls for handwashing, social distancing, and masks to slow the progression of the virus through the population. When these steps fail, as they often do, underlying conditions set the stage for rapid progression to a fatal outcome.