- Tell me about your experience during this pandemic known as Covid-19
I have tried to stay as active as possible. One of the byproducts of that activity is the chapter I wrote for the book Aftershocks and Opportunities: Scenarios for a Post-Pandemic Future. As we all know, the pandemic has led to an unprecedented collaboration and competition in the search for a vaccine that has bypassed the usual protocols of medical research. I compare this research effort that is now under way to the International Geophysical Year, which was an international effort during the height of the Cold War to study the Earth’s magnetic field. The IGY helped foster the golden age of space exploration. Similarly, I believe that the search for a vaccine against the coronavirus could foster a medical enlightenment.
- In your most recent book, you talk about the cure for Coronavirus. Tell us more about it.
My chapter is written from the perspective of the year 2035, and it assumes that a cure for COVID-19 came pretty rapidly in the 2020s. One of the newer types of vaccines now in development uses messenger RNA to cause the body to produce an antigen that is recognized by the immune system as an invader. The body then develops an immunity to that antigen.
There is also ongoing research into digitizing both RNA and DNA. I argue that digitization, not only of vaccines but of consumer products as well, could lead to a fundamental change in how products are distributed. The supply chain would be replaced by something I call the innovation chain, and the economy would be based on licensing designs rather than purchasing products.
So, vaccines could be digitized, transmitted to local manufacturing hubs, downloaded into digital-to-biological converters (which are currently in the experimental stage) and made available locally in even the poorest countries.
Eventually, this could lead to customized vaccines for diseases such as cancer, based on the individual’s genetic information.
The point is that the way the vaccines are distributed has as much of an effect on well being as the vaccines themselves. Access is the antidote to inequality.
- What do you do for your well-being?
I try to stay as active as possible. I try to write every day, and I walk every day. Social distancing and homebound isolation may make us feel like we’re going through a storm, but there’s no reason not to turn that storm into a brainstorm. So, my advice for well-being during the pandemic is to engage. The mind doesn’t need a mask.
Jerry Edling is a writer and editor for KNX, the only all-news radio station in Los Angeles, and a former editor-in-chief of “”Public Diplomacy Magazine.” He has been nominated for three Emmy Awards and five Writers Guild Awards and has won three Associated Press Awards and two Golden Mike Awards. He holds a Master of Public Diplomacy degree from the University of Southern California.