Apollo’s Arrow by Nicholas Christakis Book Summary – Review

Offices are closed down because of lockdown provisions; noses and mouths protected with medical masks; the internet filled with numbers of infected and political clashes: only in some months, the present coronavirus pandemic has changed our world.

What we can the future bring, now? We still are not sure. Nevertheless, that meticulously scrutinized and scholarly-based account makes fun of the various means that COVID-19 could restructure society.

The following lines benefit from a great variety of fields, ranging from sociology to history to genetics and epidemiology, for providing a prophetic view of the important and fine means the present pandemic would influence daily lives.

Throughout the following chapters, we will understand

  • the reason for COVID-19 to make our World stop;
  • the thing that let SARS-2 disseminate at that fast pace; and
  • the way washing your hands, compared to penicillin, is more significant.

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Chapter 1 – Another kind of SARS started with just a handful of people around Wuhan, however, became uncontrollable rapidly.

A concerning trend was reported on the 26th of December 2019 by Jixian Zhang, working as a doctor in China’s city, Wuhan. An instant rise of SARS, serious acute respiration syndrome was in place. When the month ended, there were one hundred and four SARS sufferers. And this disease had taken 15 lives already.

Initially, the health officials of China were unwilling to give any warnings. However, sufferers of this disease were accepted on and on, and medical people become overwhelmed soon. Around January, China forwarded specialist teams for scrutinizing the epidemic and demands regional governments to shut schools, offices, and public areas down. On the 25th of January, almost every place around China was closed for preventing the dissemination of this illness.

The 27th of January was the date the Disease Control Center of China recognizes the reason for the turmoil: another variation of coronavirus, named SARS-(CoV)-2. Just in some months, this would change the whole world.

The initial individuals that infected by this virus were most probably got it at the Seafood Market, Huanan that sells wholesale seafood, in other words, it was the “wet market” at the core of Wuhan. Similar to a lot of wet markets globally, that dynamic market spells newly prepared wildlife. Being that close, diseases find it simple to hop from humans to animals and change species.

This new virus probably was born in bats. But that just started to be dangerous for people at the time it gained the capability to make humans infected. That little mutation lets the virus disseminate in people at an extreme pace. That kind of human-to-human dissemination is risky since this virus gives rise to the sometimes fatal illness called COVID-19.

Science experts are still trying to find precisely the way COVID-19 functions. This disease’s symptoms involve fatigue, fever, cough, and – weirdest compared to others – anosmia, causing people not to be able to smell. In some sufferers, this virus bombards the alveoli, the oxygen exchange lung part, causing important respiratory issues, therefore, the virus, eventually, kills the person. Nearly 50% of sufferers demonstrate no signs, although approximately 1% to 1.2% of sufferers are dead because of this virus.

Starting with the first outbreak, this virus has disseminated to approximately every nation in the world. Down the road, government officials have worked to cease the dissemination with meticulous rules, and people adjusted their social and professional lives every day because of the novel danger. However, on the 1st of July 2020, over 1000000 individuals in the globe lost their lives, and nobody can see the finish on the horizon.

Chapter 2 – This novel virus possesses the perfect characteristics to start a permanent pandemic.

Around April of 2020, nothing seemed great for Asher. At the age of 107, she was detected having COVID-19. Medical experts told that her possibility of living was lower than 50%. But she survived, regardless of the odds.

Astonishingly, that was not the initial time Asher survived over a great virus. More than a hundred years ago, in 1918, she had beaten the fatal type of influenza, named Spanish flu. This disease eliminated millions of people globally, being the most fatal pandemic of contemporary history.

We can see from Asher’s tale that humankind all together would need to beat novel viruses down. Occasionally, outbreaks can be simple to control. However, in several decades, people would face a novel type that would especially be challenging to control.

SARS-2, as we can understand from the name, is not the sole coronavirus excised in this globe. Lots of types of coronavirus have been endemic – in other words, circulated constantly – among people. Fortunately, those cause just common and modest colds. But in 2003, SARS-1, a novel coronavirus raised around Hong Kong. Just within months, this virus disseminated to 29 distinct nations and took over eight thousand lives before it is under control.

What was the reason that SARS-1 ended but SARS-2 continues globally? Firstly, SARS-1 had been very fatal. Each virus possesses an individual fatality rate (CFR). That’s the percentage of a person being dead when that person gets the virus. This rate in 2003 was 10%, in other words, the virus took a lot of lives before the infected could disseminate the virus. SARS-2’s CFR was nearly 2%, in other words, the possibility of survival as vectors were higher.

A further main distinction was this virus’s rate of reproductivity (R0). That statistic calculates the virus’s capability to disseminate by demonstrating the mean amount of individuals an ill individual would usually make ill. For SARS-1, this rate was very low. For SARS-2, that was predicted to be nearly 2-3, therefore, this virus was too contagious compared to SARS-1.

The reason for that partly was SARS-2 possesses a longer time for subclinical contagiousness. That is the length of time a person senses healthy although he/she can disseminate the virus to other people. Therefore, although individuals having SARS-1 could disseminate it only after feeling unhealthy, individuals having SARS-2 can disseminate it more than one week before these people feel they are ill. That lets this virus be very challenging to control, as individuals are often clueless that they disseminate the virus.

Chapter 3 – People may slow down and cease pandemics by transforming how they behave.

Scarlet fever. Measles. Tuberculosis. Typhoid. Every one of those diseases took many lives annually once. Currently, owing to the finding of penicillin, chloramphenicol, isoniazid, these diseases cannot do what they did anymore. Therefore, thanks to pharmaceuticals!

However, this is not complete. When you scrutinize the rate of deaths for each disease, a strange pattern would come up. The greatest declines in annual deaths happened much before any drug has been introduced. If novel medications were not the real remedy, to these terrible pains, what can be the remedy?

Many achievements in public health tales arise from simple advancements in hygiene such as the presenting of washing hands or raised attainment to clean water for drinking. Those may look like basic improvements, however, these non-pharmaceutical interferences (NPIs), have frequently been the most significant features for controlling diseases.

At the time SARS-2 initially occurred globally, scientific experts understood that this would require a lot of time to construct a workable shot. But for rescuing lives, that had been very important to decrease the currently-renown expression “smoothen the curve”. For doing this, health officials suggested distinct NPIs having the purpose of reducing the possible ways for this virus to disseminate.

Around America, efforts to smoothen the curve contained “lockdowns”, involving shut-down offices, schools, and further meeting areas. All of them started in the middle of March and reached the top around April, at the time, as Washington Post stated, people in the US had a gigantic 93% of their time in their houses. That extreme statistic placed a very required intervention on the dissemination of the virus, however, that brought a cost economically. Around May, the rate of unemployment increased to 15%+.

A different influential NPI has been wearing a mask. Although this application had been essentially disheartened to keep medical equipment for specialists, the majority of the people finally embraced this practice. In April seventy-five % of the US citizens announced wearing masks out of their homes. That statistic is important because wearing even a basic fabric mask could decrease the dissemination of viral drops by more than 99%.

Unfortunately, some individuals ended up being COVID-19 positive. Governments tried tracing contacts as another NPI. In other words, meticulously following up and isolating each person who had contacted an infected person. That is influential but at the same time, requires a lot of time. Operating such a program effectively around the US would require three hundred thousand employees. This is very hard to do.

Chapter 4 – Because of lies and fear, the COVID-19 pandemic worsened.

Get acquainted with Wanda who was a nurse in California, at the age of 76. At the time she lost her life because of coronavirus around March 2020, Wanda’s sorrowful family needed to farewell through online call. It was very risky to be around as a person since there was a high risk of infection.

Get acquainted with Richard who was a doctor in New Hampshire. At the time of NYC’s epidemic, he went to Manhattan for assisting the filled medical centers. He was planning to stay in his brother’s apartment, however, at the time he was there, the landlord did not allow him to go inside the building. This man was concerned that Richard could disseminate the virus.

Get acquainted with Alex who was a media professional around Texas. At the time deaths because of the virus peaked, Alex started to sell colloidal silver like it was the remedy, although it was vain to cure the disease.

In a pandemic, other things are more concerned compared to the disease. The presence of unhealthiness influences each piece of a community by placing fear, misinformation, and misery seeds.

Pandemics have been horrible instances, and they have been worsened by their influences on psychology. Questionnaires have discovered that psychological disorders in this pandemic have remarkably raised because of unfavorable sentiments of people. Around 2019, 83% of the US citizens announced sensing delight. In April 2020, this statistic decreased to 64%. For the time being, at that same time, senses of anxiety, unhappiness, and displease all raised.

The sentimental sufferings such as the fear of injection, loss of a loved one, and possibly loss of someone’s source of living made individuals desire relief psychologically. Sadly, that makes individuals search for others for blaming because of their suffering. At the start of this epidemic, conspiracy theories started to go crazy. For example, a late survey discovered that 29% of the US citizens thought SARS-2 had deliberately been built inside a laboratory.

Unfortunately, that false blame was not the sole renowned piece of information. During this pandemic, governments continuously announced false information to their advantage. The government of Trump has underestimated the virus’s hazard, even condemning CDC officers around February 2020 since they warned that this pandemic may even jump to America. Trump has asserted again and again that this virus is controlled although infections and loss of lives increased on a regular trend.

This anxiety and misinformation influenced this pandemic to become much worse. Around America, a lot of people disregarded the true hazard of this virus, continuing to meet at populous gatherings. Other people behave with wrong medical suggestions like the instance of drinking detergents in Arizona with the belief that these toxic liquids would attack viruses. These two excessive responses caused redundant and needless pain.

Chapter 5 – This coronavirus pandemic underscores and raises present social conflicts.

Consider this: You have a job as a white-collar in Manhattan, getting a nice salary. At the time COVID-19 hit NYC, you just took your luggage and go straight to your summer home in the north. Your work is remote now. If you would be ill, you have health insurance and you can get the greatest care.

And there is another story: You have a job at Queens as a janitor. At the time COVID-19 outbreak, you need to choose: Continue working and take the risk of being infected or struggle to quarantine yourself inside the apartment shared with 5 individuals, involving your grandparent. To explain it differently, you may either put yourself in danger of having this disease or be certain that you will not be able to pay your bills.

Certainly, everybody would like to be in the first case. However, for the majority of the people around the US, the second case is nearer to the real situation.

That may look like a virus is a neural party. Yes, it is a reason for pain, however, is this pain distributed equally? No, that is not what we see. Illnesses frequently influence distinct parts of societies in distinct paths, SARS-2 being no deviation. For instance, older people have been at the highest risk. Being under twenty, your possibility of a loss of life is nearly 1/20000. When you are more than fifty, this possibility hops to 1/100. Likewise, males appear to lose their lives x2 the possibility of females because of the distinctions of health in general.

A reoccurring trend during this pandemic has been that minority societies encountered the worst instances. That is obvious when one looks at the mortality and infection statistics of distinct races. Around the US, Black and Hispanic Americans, when contrasted to whites, have 3 times further tendency to be COVID-19 positive and have 2 times further tendency to lose their lives because of this disease. Similarly, the highest intensity of outbreaks happened around minority and low-income Native American groups.

These distinctions are partly ascribed to the unequal demographic conditions of these groups. For example, ethnic minorities have more possibility to work in occupations that need labor present in person. That raises the possibility of being vulnerable to this disease. Furthermore, these occupations frequently give very low amounts and give no insurance for health, being 2 constituents of hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes. Those circumstances highly raise the possibility of deaths because of COVID-19.

Although these disparities are very dreadful, this pandemic brought solidarity socially as well. In the following, we will learn about these.

Chapter 6 – The danger of COVID-19 motivated a lot of people to put effort as a whole.

All physical classes at the university were canceled at Yale University in March. The university’s undergraduate students turned back their homes for waiting for the virus to go. But a student, Liman Elkind, did not stop just by taking notes at home from his online classes.

Rather, he and his peers were determined to assist the people who need help. In collaboration, they built Invisible Hands, the establishment for delivering supplies and groceries to places in Manhattan where the elderly reside. In 4 days, they could acquire one thousand two hundred volunteers. In a month, they acquired twelve thousand.

The hardships of the pandemic were not always concluded with dissonance and mistrust. Hard situations like this normally take out further generous intentions.

Invisible Hands was only an example of lots of philanthropy establishments that occurred because of coronavirus. Across the nation, individuals constructed social webs for making certain that people can reach nutrition, sheltering, daycare, mental well-being services, and transportation. A questionnaire demonstrated that in May, a big 37% of the US citizens had contributed various materials, money, or time to aid establishments.

In accord with social science specialists, kindness behaviors like this can be seen in disasters. For many instances, trouble calls for individuals to give priority to the requirements of family, friends, even strangers. For example, new research inspected the most influential means to structure messages regarding public health. They discovered that individuals are further motivated to transform their actions when the messages address saving others’ health. Individuals listen at a lower concentration when the suggestion is regarding saving their health.

That altruistic reality has specifically been obvious in the behaviors of medical specialists such as nurses and doctors, and further workers who kept putting effort during the pandemic. In the initial times of the epidemic, a lot of hospitals did not have sufficient equipment for individual protection to make sure everybody is safe. Undismayed, a lot of employees wore their stuff made out of garbage bags, sew masks in their hands, and carried on saving lives although there are big risks.

The exploration of a vaccine was constructed by that collective spirit too. Scientists everywhere in the world were disseminating information for pacing up the development. Furthermore, people were already in the line for taking the risky duty to test novel drugs. In April 2020, over one thousand five hundred individuals gave their signatures for receiving test vaccines. Although this test was likely harmful, a lot of people still wanted to offer help to discover a remedy. 

Chapter 7 – This pandemic’s influence would be sensed in a lot of means, both small and large.

Several individuals may define the international epidemic of coronavirus as a significant, earth-shattering instance. But according to a seismologist of Royal Belgium Observatory, Thomas Lecoq, that was entirely the reverse.

You understand Lecoq’s laboratory involves delicate seismological tools that can capture each minute tremor and shake all over the world. But around March 2020, with Europe’s quarantine, his tools demonstrated a weird quietness. The instant decrease in people’s activities was very substantial that this stood the Earth still.

This extraordinary happening only demonstrates the huge extent of this pandemic’s disturbance. During some months, that worldwide instance transformed everyday life in this world. Additionally, the impact would resume for many years in the future.

With the dissemination of the virus all over the planet, a lot of aspects transformed at a high pace. Concert venues and churches become empty while funeral homes and hospitals were full of people. Fuel demands decreased and prices of oil decreased, but liquor purchases increased to an unprecedented rate. All those fast advancements were only the initial transformations that would be certain to remain with the coronavirus changes in all aspects of daily lives.

A very recognizable change to everyday life has been the way we connect in public. From now on, masks become our must-haves, and greetings with a handshake are thought to be taboo. That was difficult to estimate the extent this relational etiquette would go around, however, possibly, that will stay for a long time although the virus had been controlled. In the future, that might be an ordinary kindness to greet with a distant gesture such as a bow.

Further influences have been less kindly. The increase of online schools and online offices has established a door for novel structures of intruding oversight. Around many authorities, students that take tests are controlled progressively with eye-tracking and facial recognition technologies. At the same time, a lot of bosses oversee employee productivity using such software. And much worse is the data accumulated in such firms would be kept and exchanged for money with no acceptance of the user.

Further transformations are certain to realize. Some towns are preventing cars in streets to open further areas for public wandering; other towns are observing a cumulative evacuation as richer inhabitants run away to rural areas. Crucial employees such as delivery operators and grocery workers stimulated with a novel power, started to fight for their recognition and rights. The way these transformations would affect the future has been vague. However, something is sure: this world would not turn back to its previous conditions.

Chapter 8 – This pandemic’s future direction is still unknown.

During the last times of the 1800s, the world was shaken with different suffering. That starts around the faraway town of Bukhara, inside the place of today’s Uzbekistan, and disseminates to Europe with the freshly constructed railways. Immediately, lives are lost around St. Petersburg, around Berlin afterward, and Lisbon continued Paris. At the time it came to America, two hundred fifty-thousand individuals lost their lives.

What was the thing that occurred to that fatal disease? What was the way the plague finished? It did not finish. Leastways, not in that way. Researchers doubt that the pathogen after this disease had been OC43, another kind of coronavirus. Its name might not be common, however, possibly you met with the virus intimately. OC43 is a part of our lives. Currently, the virus is a reason for the common cold.

That is likely that SARS-2 would pursue an alike path. This pandemic would stop, however, this virus would be around.

That is still very untimely to explain the way the pandemic we live in will pass. We may guess it wisely. One potential is that people will reach herd immunity. That is at the time a sufficient number of individuals develop immunity against this virus that this disease would disseminate very hardly. We may reach this with impactful vaccination, or that may happen by itself. But this may be reached after nearly 70% of the population encounters COVID-19.

A further likelihood has been that SARS-2 would turn into a less fatal mutation. A thriving virus requires its host bodies to live extended sufficiently to disseminate the disease, therefore, there has been evolutionary stress for disease carriers to turn out milder in time. That is potentially the thing that occurred in the case of OC43. Following the first run all over the world, a softer mutation of the virus took over, and it is the one that lives among us.

Certainly, a virus is not the sole entity that adapts. Evidence demonstrates that specific genetic differences let some individuals durable against this disease. In generations, natural selection would raise these traits, therefore, presenting descendants with immunity against this disease. That was what happened in the past. A dynamic resembling this lets populations live around malaria-high places in this world more durable against this disease compared to European nations.

Other than biological chemistry, the best scale in surviving through a pandemic would be in social aspects. An epidemic only finishes at the time we return to live in the “normal” way as we put it. That needs everybody, involving the most marginalized and vulnerable parts of this society, requiring to sense safety turning back to the society. That might require a big collaborative work, however, we are ready for this. We must be. Eventually, the further pandemic might be here just tomorrow.

Apollo’s Arrow: The Profound and Enduring Impact of Coronavirus on the Way We Live by Nicholas A. Christakis Book Review

With the outbreak of SARS-2 around 2019 fall, our world is not in the state it used to be. Struggles to control the dissemination were just partly successful. In the 2020’s summer, a predicted five hundred thousand individuals had lost their lives because of the coronavirus, at the time billions of further people needed to change their ways of everyday life. That is vague the thing our future presents, however, anything including social manners and economic structures might be transformed continuously after this pandemic.

Save other people by listening to guidelines of public health.

A forthcoming injection might present comfort against the continuing epidemic. Meanwhile, the greatest way to behave has been to slow the dissemination of this virus with basic non-pharmaceutical interferences such as keeping your hands clean, keeping your mask worn around people, and refraining from crowds. Certainly not enjoyable, however, people’s lives might be saved.

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Savaş Ateş

I'm a software engineer. I like reading books and writing summaries. I like to play soccer too :) Good Reads Profile: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/106467014-sava-ate

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