Everyone's Getting Sick, and We're Almost Out of Drugs
Here's why, and what I'm doing.
Most people were looking forward to a nice normal holiday.
Well, that’s not going to happen (again).
Here’s the deal:
There’s a major antibiotic shortage, driven by record cases of diseases. It’s Covid. It’s flu. It’s RSV. It’s strep. A recent piece in Bloomberg amplifies what many of us have been trying to tell everyone. Covid nukes your immune system and leaves you vulnerable to other infections:
Even if immune dysfunction occurs in just 5% of Covid patients, the effect across populations could raise the threat posed by many other infections, says microbiologist Brendan Crabb, director of the Burnet Institute, a nonprofit medical research organization in Melbourne.
Translation: We let Covid rip, and now we have a ton of sick people. We don’t have enough medicine to go around.
That goes double for kids.
A mom in Colorado calls 18 pharmacies. A mom in Idaho tries half a dozen stores over two days. They’re looking for antibiotics like amoxicillin and penicillin, and they can’t find any. It’s happening everywhere. The UK just declared a “serious shortage,” and they’re even running low on alternatives.
Pediatricians are begging the Biden administration for some kind of response. In late November, a group of senators even urged action. It went nowhere. The FDA has been warning us since late October. Right now I’m looking at the president’s Twitter feed, and he’s saying absolutely nothing about the problem. It’s basically, “Enjoy the holidays. Here’s some Covid tests.”
The antibiotic shortages are hitting my area now. Our state health department can’t say when things will get better.
According to a piece in CNN, “drug manufacturers are running full-tilt… they planned for some increase in sales over the winter months… but they didn’t know it would be this bad or start this early.” They don’t keep antibiotics warehoused. They make them on demand. Basically, we’re stuck in this situation.
The world is making drugs at full capacity, 24/7.
It’s still not enough.
Western countries don’t make their own antibiotics anymore. We rely largely on India and China. Marketwatch wrote about this problem with an eerie prescience, over a year ago. According to them, “Beijing has orchestrated a long-term cartel strategy that successfully drove the production of antibiotics—and thousands of other generic drugs—out of the United States.”
China did the same thing to the prescription drug market they’ve done to every other market. They undercut our economy by flooding us with cheap goods. That drove down prices. It bankrupted our manufacturers.
Now China has a monopoly.
To be fair, their strategy wouldn’t have worked if we were smarter. Our government could’ve subsidized drug manufacturers.
The U.S. used to produce 70 percent of the world’s penicillin. We shut down our last major plant almost 20 years ago.
American politicians and healthcare CEOs oversaw this move, confident they could stockpile enough drugs to get us through any disaster. Rosemary Gibson of Marketwatch warned them and called for “a public-private partnership to help the nation prepare for the next pandemic or other crisis.”
Well, they didn’t really listen.
So here we are.
There’s one more wrinkle, and that’s China’s reluctant decision to end their zero-Covid policy. Public health officials say “800 million people could be infected with the coronavirus over the next few months. And several models predict that a half million people could die, possibly more.”
Epidemiologists are expecting China to go through a brutal wave. Western media have been ridiculing the zero-Covid approach for a year now, blaming them for most of our supply chain problems. Now everyone’s starting to backpedal. They’re beginning to realize what’s going to happen to our supply chains when a disease infects a billion people in a couple of months.
It’s going to be bad.
If you’re wondering how well China’s vaccines work, the experts seem to say “they don’t stack up” that well against Pfizer or Moderna. That’s not encouraging, because western vaccines aren’t exactly perfect.
China won’t have time to roll out better vaccines. They had nasal ones, and they seemed to be planning to ease their lockdowns over time until protests forced them to speed up their timetable. They’re getting slammed now. They’re going to wind up in the same situation we’re in, trying to cover up a Covid-depleted workforce by calling it a “tight labor market.” If you thought the lockdowns were bad for global supply chains this last year, I wonder what we can expect as 800 million people with mediocre vaccines get sick with Covid.
Here’s my prediction:
The plants that produce the world’s antibiotics are going to run into production problems when their workers get sick. On top of that, China’s going to need their antibiotics to deal with secondary infections. They’ll be making less. They’ll be exporting less. That means less for us.
Maybe India can take up the slack. They supply more of the world’s drugs than China. I wouldn’t count on it, not with most of Europe and Canada also experiencing shortages. It’s a real mess.
The best course of action here is to not get sick.
I’ll tell you what I’m doing:
We donated three excellent air purifiers with HEPA filters to my daughter’s school. We bought Coway and Rabbit Air.
Here’s a list of solid brands.
We’re wearing 3M Aura masks everywhere we go.
We’re not really going anywhere.
We’re swapping safety tips.
We’ve got our vaccines updated (working on it).
We’re using Enovid.
We’re using Copper Rescue.
We’re not traveling for the holidays.
We’re not throwing parties.
We’re not eating out.
We’re not shopping.
We’re taking our vitamins and probiotics, and eating as healthy as we can. We’re doing virtual holidays, just like the last two years.
A quick disclaimer: The jury is still out on Enovid and Copper Rescue. Maybe they work, maybe they don’t. Evovid is backed by research. It’s not available in the U.S. because the FDA/CDC isn’t convinced it’s effective or safe enough, but it’s available in other countries and has been approved for use. My family has adopted them both as a last resort, since nobody around us is taking precautions. They’re not a substitute for masks, vaccines, distancing, ventilation, or air purifiers. Anyone under 12 should not be using either one of them. Finally, I don’t accept money for recommending products or services. There’s an easy way to tell. Most bloggers and podcasters who recommend products will send you to a special affiliate link with a different URL from the standard site. I never use affiliate links.
The bottom line is that you really, really don’t want to get sick this winter. A viral infection can make you vulnerable to a secondary, bacterial infection. You’ll need medicine, and we’re almost out.
Don’t listen to the smiling faces on television.
They don’t care.
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It’s really infuriating to watch the mainstream media’s endless propaganda against zero covid and then now to turn around and now blame China for not protecting their citizens.
And in terms of the western situation (especially in the stupidest countries) according to the Zoe Covid Study in the UK we have 226,000 daily cases. That’s actually from 2 days ago, so I imagine we’re already approaching the all-time record. No protections at all. No worry at all. Except for Strep A, which people have no idea is caused by Covid weakening kids immune systems.
Maybe I’ll want to go somewhere again in a few more years. It’s insane.
This piece is packed with more solid information and thoughtful analysis than any of the spume coming out of your TV or in a newspaper. Thank you.
I'm interested to know more about China having a prescription drug cartel. Like everything else, the US, through things like the WTO, uprooted our entire manufacturing base and shipped it over there. China becoming "workshop to the world" was as much an American project as a Chinese one.
Just like in the 1980s when big companies eliminated R&D to boost shares and cut costs (most of which withered to empty shells, or disappeared), the US aristocracy only cares about money, right now. The obvious long-term consequences of depending on our goods coming from the other side of the world were never considered, or waved away with some economic jargon.