Seven’s Sleuthing: Thoughts on Coronavirus

I’m not a scientist, or an expert in anything. I’m Bangkok Seven, and this is my blog. I am, however, a curious writer with access to Google, and so as the pandemic seized the world, I did what everyone on the planet did: I yelled “What the fuck?” at my laptop screen and began researching. And I’ve come up with a few of theories about what, where, and why the virus is behaving the way it is. Some of the following is obvious, and some not so much. Take them with a grain of azithromycin, because I might just be talking out of my ass. But here goes…

Theory number 1: Why is Covid-19 more prevalent in New York than other densely-populated areas like Los Angeles? It’s about proximity. NYC is a city of 8.6 million people crammed into 306 square miles. LA County has a population of 10 million spread out over 4,700 square miles. There’s simply more space between people on the West Coast. Another reason is, because those 8.6 million New Yorkers have to share such a small space, their homes and places of work are in buildings. Tall buildings. There was no room to build out (like LA) so they build up. That means lots and lots of elevators. People packed together like sardines multiple times per day. Speaking of sardines, NYC also utilizes public transit. In LA, everyone owns their own car. A car is like a personal, private, hermetically sealed virus-free zone. And that’s the long and short of it. It’s a matter of space.

Theory number 2: Why is Covid-19 less prevalent in Thailand as compared to Los Angeles? As of April 10, the entire country of Thailand had 2,423 cases and 32 deaths. Meanwhile LA had 7,573 cases and 199 deaths. So why the disparity?

My theory has several facets. First, the use of masks was already commonplace in Thailand. Thais have long adopted the Asian practice of wearing a mask when ill, so as to not spread germs to healthy people. Further, most Thais already had N-95 masks due to the persistent air pollution. Second, the Thai government was quick to stop flights from Wuhan, and later all of China. To their credit, they were on top of it before most other nations.

Second, the virus doesn’t spread as well in hot, humid weather. That’s not to say that no one in a tropical ecosystem will get infected. That’s obviously not the case, because every country along the Equator has some Covid-19. But in colder weather, the virus survives longer on surfaces. Not to mention, people’s immune systems are already weakened. Winter is cold and flu season in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s not a huge factor, but I think it’s a contributing factor. Just look at the disparity between cases in the US (over half a million cases by mid-April) and Thailand (2,600 cases).

Third, Thais don’t shake hands. The traditional ‘wai’ has perhaps saved Thailand from a much worse fate. Further, Thais aren’t big kissers. Not a lot of spit swapping between couples in The Land of Smiles. You could say Thai culture pioneered social distancing before it was in vogue.

Then there’s the concept of the “Malaria Belt”—countries where people routinely take Malaria drugs to ward off Malaria. Turns out anit-Malaria drugs have a weakening effect on Covid-19. So folks in tropical areas where Malaria abounds may have an advantage when it comes to battling the coronavirus.

For me personally, as a whoremongering expat, I have a different, specific theory. Call it “Azithro-fortified.” Over the past decade, I’ve become accustomed to a common hazard of banging gogo dancers and bar girls—namely the prevalence of the clap among the latter community. Even my best harem girls occasionally fall victim to it, whether it’s from their cheating Thai boyfriend or a one-off with a stranger. They usually learn their lesson after the first time, but I’ve had several first-timers who didn’t know they were infected, and I had to send them the dreaded Line message: “Hey. You have Chlamydia.” Thus, I’m quite used to grabbing Azithromycin from the pharmacy for both me and her, and if I’m feeling generous, her Thai boyfriend. And since Azithro is the other key ingredient in the anti-Malaria anti-corona cocktail—stick with me here—it’s possible I’ve preemptively built up a resistance to Covid inadvertently through a lifestyle rife with risky sexual exploits (rixploits for short, copyright BKK7). Which could explain what I think might’ve been a very short battle with coronavirus that I had back in January. After a night out in the red-light, I woke up with a fever, chills, and a dry cough. Which are symptoms of a regular flu, I know. What makes me think it was Covid was, for 24 hours I couldn’t stand up, or even lift myself off the bed. I had trouble focusing. I was semi-coherent. It was unlike any ‘flu’ I’d felt before. 36 hours later I was basically back to normal, with only a lingering fatigue that stuck around for a couple days. Was it coronavirus? I won’t know unless I get an antibodies test. But if it was, I credit residual Zithro in my system with my quick recovery.

Allow me to conclude by going out on a limb. As the virus slows here in the US and we see a light at the end of the tunnel, I’m a bit flabbergasted at the authoritarian reaction of the Thai government. Thailand has ridiculously low transmission and death rates compared to most of the rest of the world. Is it really necessary to have a curfew? To restrict travel between provinces? Do ban flights and quarantine all newcomers? To ban booze? There were ZERO deaths yesterday. What the fuck is going on in the tiny brains of the people in charge? What’s it going to take to get these idiots to lift their boot off the necks of the people? Maybe when the death rate of broke, starving Thais outpaces coronavirus, the government will see reason. In the meantime, we’re all in a state of suspended animation. Drink ‘em if you got ‘em, gents. Cheers to the hope of our impending release.