14 Jully More on HIV and East-West divide

Thu, 07/16/2020 - 18:48

Dear colleagues,

  1. To start with a more “neutral” scientific topic: the relation between HIV and COVID.  See first three  attachments.  While reports on small series (of well-treated?) HIV patients in Rhode Island and Iran seem reassuring, the large scale study in Western Cape is rather frightening: see Table 3 p. 18.  As you can see, the main risk factors for COVID-related death are age and uncontrolled diabetes, but current TB or HIV bear also a clearly increased risk, more so than hypertension and chronic kidney disease, while, remarkably, chronic pulmonary disease and asthma were NOT associated with increased death rate….


  1. The last two attachments refer to the East-West contrast in this pandemic.  The story about Vietnam’s response very much reminds me of my report on Mongolia: both are neighbors of China, who took the threat very seriously from January on and managed to essentially keep the epidemic out of their territory, even without sophisticated infrastructure: simple public health measures (including mouth/nose caps), based on consistent and early communication and implementation.  The comment in Int J Health Policy and Management contrasts the response in the better known and more sophisticated China, S- Korean Taiwan, Hongkong, who were also quick and well-organized…. with “us” (including Belgium as one of the worst pupils in the classroom): we were slow, inconsistent and insufficient.  Essentially we wasted the health and lives of our citizens at the highest possible economic price !!  And our (Belgian) politicians take zero lessons from it: they continue “bricolaging”, play games instead of building a government and bluntly refuse to think about a long-term recovery plan.  It is no longer a bad joke, but a full-scale nightmare, for which our grandchildren will still be paying the price.  


Some rather cynical remarks on the Johns Hopkins paper by fellow-Americans:

Kodali V Rao Vietnamese have sense of responsibility and is missing in USA at the top.

Anna Parsons MD Viet Nam's government made it look so easy! The Vietnamese are simply smarter than us in the US: They are more receptive to expert advice and carefully studied experience, and more willing to serve each other's best interests than we in the US are. That approach clearly provided its own reward and safety too.

Fran Hughes So, we lost to Vietnam, again. I salute you.

Blitz If Vietnam could defeat a pandemic called USA, it’s pretty sure the Vietnamese people could defeat any pandemic including Covid-19!



Minh Le One important thing in their success: never trust Chinese government

Robert F Holub All we need, in the US, to start socialism and one party rule. It worked in Soviet Union (1917-1991), even in Germany's Socialist Workers' party (1933-1945).


Clearly, I leave these reactions with their authors (NOT reflecting my opinion), but they illustrate “our” Western frustration. Why can we not manage this crisis better?  What is wrong with us and our “(close to) ideal” values and system that we have been “teaching” (or imposing?) to the rest of the world for half a millennium now?


These days, I’m teaching math to primary school children, who missed regular education by Corona. It probably is a more useful time investment than trying to understand why we failed to manage COVID?


Best wishes,