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Alarm Bells on Dual Challenges

LED Stories

Alarm Bells on Dual Challenges

Elias Hakalehto, PhD, Adj. Prof.

Microbiologist, Biotechnologist

CEO, Finnoflag Oy

Vice President, International Society of Environmental Indicators

International Society for Development and Sustainability (ISDS) Fellow Member

Published on 9th of September, 2021

Autumn time is storage time. The harvest needs to be collected. Correspondingly, societies and entrepreneurs make budgetary decisions to prepare for future challenges. There is a lot at stake these days.

Two major political, social, economic and environmental issues are the same all over:

1. true developments in infection safety as timely decisions regarding the preparations for emerging virus variants and new pandemics, as well as antibiotic-resistant bacteria, need to get pursued, and

2. all-inclusive dedication in the battle for preventing climate change and its consequences is warranted for safeguarding our life and the ecosystems on Earth.

These dual stresses on our human systems, societies and their structures are discussed in the following light:

A. prophylactic treatments, and

B. ecosystem engineering.

The slightest and, at first look, somewhat illogical associations between the underlying dual threats are most evident after some thinking. Our societies are in danger of losing their opportunities if determinative action is not taken to prepare.

Leading international medical journals, including The Lancet, have announced that the atmospheric effects and global warming will deteriorate the health of the elderly. Their climate-related deaths have increased by more than 50% in 20 years. Moreover, these global consequences include more outbreaks of tropical diseases, problems during pregnancy, allergies etc. The Director-General of the World Health Organization, Dr Tedros Adhanou Ghebreyesus, has warned that the risks caused by climate change will most likely exceed the effects of any single disease.

However, we should not close our eyes to the sometimes improving but then oscillating and again worsening pandemic situation, but follow the developments as an indication of the state of the global ecosystem. Previously unknown variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus are found in accelerating speed. With Israel's highest population vaccination rate, 56% of the severely sick patients of the newest wave of epidemics are double-vaccinated.

The author proposed prophylactic treatment by chicken egg antibodies (IgY) to be developed for complementing vaccinations. In addition, this application was unsuccessful. This opposition does not make sense, as the societies would need additional tools to complement vaccinations to eradicate the current pandemics.

Besides the bird egg yolk, there are other passive immunization solutions for protecting against microbial threats. Of course, it has to be renewed every day but could give an asset for those under real threats, such as nasal spray. Also, an ostrich egg contains 20 times more yolk than a chicken egg. So, ostrich farms could produce IgY products. - Besides the IgY, there is so-called miniantibody production in such animals as llamas, alpacas, sharks etc. They have been studied by the Max Planck Institute in Germany and the US National Institute of Health researchers (please see my blog on the 21st of August).

Antibodies in the prophylaxis could be boosted up, as announced by Astra Zeneca on the 20th of August that its combination of two monoclonal antibodies effectively protected COVID-19 patients against the severe symptoms in preliminary trials. Furthermore, on the 2nd of August, US epidemiology chief, Dr Fauci, told ABC News that the respiratory epithelia of vaccinated individuals could contain as many communicable virus particles as the sick person membranes. This is another avenue of developing immunological antibodies to protect healthcare personnel, patients, and populations.

In the gravest sense, the issues of viral, bacterial and other pandemics and the fate of the global ecosystem go together hand in hand. We need an environmental health strategy. The joint statement of numerous medical research institutes has just wisely linked the environmental imbalances with skyrocketing new pandemic risks. There is a remarkable likelihood that lambda, mu or any other novel variant may escape the control of vaccines.

Fresh approaches are warranted to avoid ecocatastrophes and climate change. For example, in Tampere, Finland, a decision is needed to clean and handle the millions of tons of lake bottom paper and pulp industry deposits accumulated for a century. Also, the industrial Hiedanranta area is needed for the apartments for circa 25 000 dwellers. The biorefinery solution has been piloted, and it looks economically, ecologically, socially and from the health point of view the most lucrative option. It could serve as a global example of new climate-friendly and ecological thinking. However, it requires courage from the decision-makers to move on.

The biorefinery option for refining the lake bottom cellulosic wastes could provide raw materials for valuable industrial chemicals and energy gases. According to pilot studies, these commodities could make the operation economically feasible. Proven microbiological methods could convert the residual fractions into high-class organic fertilizer and soil-improving agents. These valuable compounds are free from microplastics. Such residual fraction could produce a humic layer for tens or hundreds of square kilometres of spoiled agricultural land. This could be recovered by way of the micro diffusion and photosynthesis in the corresponding areas. We should not neglect his strategy for turning the wheel, resisting climate change, and boosting food production for the starving populations.

In Tampere, regardless of the pros of the biological refinement option, the hastily made stances of the local decision-makers and influencers are about to cast away the valuable chances to show ways for global development. Besides the value of such organic and natural chemicals as lactate and the future potential of Hydrogen as clean energy, the biorefineries could give precious sources and examples for Carbon recycling and soil revitalization.

Moreover, the incineration of all this valuable sediment would yield carbon dioxide and other climate gases. According to modern thinking, Carbon should be bound into the vegetation. The resulting plant growth boosts this with the organic soil improvement of the biorefinery residues. - Then, the stress for respiratory sicknesses could also be avoided if the organic material is not burned but converted into nontoxic chemicals, fuels, electricity and clean organic fertilizers.

The Tampere case threatens to give an example of backward development, as the current intention is to combust the lake bottom raw material for electricity production. However, the ecosystem engineering by microbes produces high amounts of energy, as the biomass could be converted to electricity and fuels. This path would give all the other technologies and innovations for future developments.

The health systems have developed during many decades into the increasingly centralized direction, which also in the pandemic situation has turned out to be a disservice: 1. if the diagnostics were performed in the "front line" (where the patient is seeking diagnosis), fewer delays and worsening of the condition could be achieved,

2. microbiological diagnosis in the field conditions or the local health care units would produce huge savings as the patients could get the right treatment instantaneously,

3. instead, if the patients are transported to the central hospitals or other larger units, it increases the risks of complications and contagions, and

4. the patients moved to the big hospitals to wait for the diagnostic procedures there cause unintended stress to the personnel, in vain.

If we live in between the constant friendly and unfriendly fire of negligence from two directions, how could it be possible for this planet to survive and remain habitable?

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