NewsDecember 26, 2020

Life is a Deadly Disease by Sonu Shivdasani

Such was the response of my Brazilian friend who had braved a long journey to come and visit us in the Maldives when I congratulated him for his daring effort. He continued “I would rather die than not live”. As parts of Europe go back into lockdown and many others consider it, all of us, especially people like myself in the travel and tourism industry, have to consider the words of my friend and whether what we are doing is really the best plan of action.

Traveling, exploring new horizons, and being on holiday with family and friends is one of the major aspects of life that makes it worth living. The freedom that travel gives you to enjoy yourself, and be truly yourself, in your element and free of worry, is life. To quote Osho: “There is no virus in the world more deadly than fear.”


Cases are certainly rising at an alarming rate. Many have died from this virus. However, I echo the growing chorus of people arguing that the general response throughout the world is not the best way forward. In fact, to quote Reiner Fuellmich, the German lawyer and a member of the German COVID-19 committee in a filmed statement that was recently distributed on the internet, “COVID has not caused excess mortality” but “COVID-19 measures have caused considerable misery, killed people and destroyed the economic existence of both companies and people”.

We heard Lord Sumption, the 2012 – 2018 British Supreme Court Judge declare that there was.….”No factual basis for panic and no legal basis for the corona measures” at the end of October 2020, he continued that the COVID measures will be seen as “A monument of collective hysteria and folly”. Three respectable Scientists from Harvard, Oxford and Stanford, Professors Martin Kulldorff, Sunetra Gupta, and Professor Jay Bhattacharya respectively got together to make a declaration against many Governments’ approach to COVID and offer a solution which I will touch on later. As Sunetra Gupta describes the current response “…….myopic and only following a single axis without considering all the collateral damage”. Professor Gupta believes that “Scientific debate has been suppressed because some ideas were considered too dangerous to discuss”. Jay Bhattacharya goes further to say that “we have violated standard public health thinking”. Just look at some of the irrational behavior that we are seeing around the world where in Australia, people are being thrown into jail, and in the Philippines, people are being shot for not wearing face masks. The fear is causing considerably more misery and death. According to Professor Martin Kulldorff of Harvard, “Extended isolation has caused psychological harm – especially in the young who are not at risk from the virus”. In fact, my own research showed me that more children have died this year of the common flu than COVID-19. Yet, many schools have closed, and children’s lives have been put into disarray during these formative years.

In fact, the infectious disease experts that we have been consulting to support us in Soneva’s response to COVID-19 have all confirmed that COVID-19 is less virulent than many of the flus we have had in the past. The Case Fatality Rate (CFR), if one is under 65, is 0.2%. If you are over 65, it is 1%, and over 75, 3%. One of the experts provided me an article which showed that for the 2009 flu in the Pacific Islands, the CFR was 1%. I re-read the statistics that I put together for my Living with COVID article in June. They are all still valid and in fact, the case I made is even stronger:

  • Many hospitals remain empty around the world.
  • The ship “Comfort” in New York has had only 20 out of 1000 beds used at its maximum occupancy.
  • In Bergamo, Italy, there are claims that 94% of deaths at the beginning of the pandemic were not because of COVID-19, but because the Government moved sick people to nursing homes to make room for the COVID-19 patients that never arrived. Instead, they infected old people in these homes.
  • Autopsies have shown that in Italy and Germany, many people have lived beyond their average life expectancy. There have been cases of people who had heart attacks or had gunshot wounds, and who were also infected with COVID-19, having “COVID” declared as their cause of death on their certificates.
  • Professor Neil Ferguson’s model predicted 40,000 deaths in Sweden in May and 100,000 in June. Most scientists did not believe it. The total deaths in Sweden as I write this is, 6022.
  • I mentioned in June that there had been much controversy over the Swedish approach to the virus, which involved far less restrictive measures compared with other European countries. I have updated the table that I put together from Worldometer.

Country Cases per 1 mil of population Deaths per 1 mil of population
Sweden 10,929 586
Italy 8,023 613
Spain 23,746 753
UK 12,221 655

Source: Worldometer October 2020

So, as we can see, a couple of months later, the Swedish approach seems to be performing much better than that of Italy, Spain and the UK. In June, the Swedish cases per 1 million of population were the second highest amongst these four countries. As of this date, it is the second lowest. I share below, the numbers from Worldometer in June:

Country Cases per 1 mil of population Deaths per 1 mil of population
Sweden 4,423 461
Italy 3,883 560
Spain 6,168 580
UK 4,198 596

Source: Worldometer June 2020

Importantly, the ratio of anti-bodies in Sweden between the old and the young substantially differs from that in these other countries. In Sweden, the percentage of antibodies amongst the old is half of that of the young, whereas in Spain, the ratio is 50:50. This is an important fact in the solution proposed by the three expert scientists that I refer to above and which I will touch upon later.

The need to embrace all possibilities:

How have we progressed with possible cures since I wrote in June:

It is my understanding that Remdesivir, Plasma pigment, and Dexamethasone have had mixed results and that traditional antibiotic remedies such as azythromycin, erythromycin and Augmentin has been more effective.

My experience from my own personal and serious health crisis at the end of 2018, is that success comes from embracing all possibilities. As I wrote in June: “There is also the example of my Oncologist, Dr. Abdul Kadir Slocum (I was diagnosed with stage-4 cancer at the end of 2018. Embracing “And” rather than settling for “Either, Or”, has dictated our approach to wellness, and excellence in general, in all our businesses over the years. Dr. Slocum cured me by combining traditional chemotherapy, “And” alternate wellness remedies.)

As Dr. Slocum recently wrote to us:

“I’m not a front line COVID-19 physician but unfortunately when some of our cancer patients got COVID I treated them together with my colleagues. We used anti-coagulants, anti-biotics, anti-virals as conventional therapeutics together with high dose vitamin C, Andrographis, Thyme extract etc. as complementary therapies and all of our patients have gotten better with such treatment.”

Our experience at Soneva has been similar. We have been testing all our employees and guests. As you can imagine, we have had a few positives. Fortunately, because of our testing regime, they have remained isolated and our islands remain COVID-free. In each case, in addition to not charging our guests their room rate whilst they were isolated, we offer them our typical wellness-orientated diets as well as ayurvedic remedies and herbs. In all cases, with both employees and guests alike, they have made rapid recoveries. In fact, with our most recent positive case, the guest insisted on a further test 3 days later. As a result of the food and remedies that we were providing him, his results just after 3 days were negative.

Dr Lakshman, the Ayurvedic doctor that supported me in my serious health crisis at the end of 2018 with ayurvedic cleanses and remedies in between bouts of chemotherapy, has been treating, along with other ayurvedic doctors COVID patients in South India. Between their clinics they have been treating hundreds of patients per day. They have had no fatalities. Again, people have arrived at the clinic testing positive at the beginning of the week and being negative by the weekend. In the view of Dr. Lakshman and his ayurvedic colleagues, the most effective cure of all has been traditional ayurvedic remedies such as Andrographis Paniculata, Tinos Cordifolia, Ashwagangha as well as Shilajit.

A Soneva Enthusiast, Tony Pinkus of Ainsworth, the successful homeopathic center on New Cavendish Street, has developed the JPV remedy. The initials are after his daughter, who contracted and fully recovered from COVID-19. He has been offering this for free to hospital workers and those who are suffering from the lingering effects of COVID. He writes to me that the results have been excellent.

What are the solutions?

Many are hoping for the miracle vaccine.  These past weeks have brought good news from Moderna as well as Pfizer and BioNTech. However, many scientists have highlighted that as a result of some of the challenges we have had with past vaccines we must take the time to fully evaluate any alternative.

Professors Kulldorff, Gupta and Bhattacharya, that I refer to above, have provided the same solution in their declaration to what I proposed in June. They have followed the model of Sweden where they have seen that the antibodies in older people are half of that in working people. They maintain that if we do nothing, then the old and young are equally infected. If we protect everyone, the Rate of Infection slows down but, the old and the young, who we know are not at risk, and who are better off being out generating economic activity, are also equally infected. Their targeted strategy is to protect only the old and vulnerable.

They have offered real solutions for elder people in the workforce such as having them isolate and work from home. They suggest that nursing homes should either be staffed with those that have had COVID or are regularly tested. There should be strong attempts to lower the staff turnover in nursing homes.

It is my hope that as the months have gone by, sense will prevail and we will soon be past this pandemic. However, we must consider what the future might bring. If this virus, which we know is less virulent to the healthy and young than many serious flu viruses of the past, has caused such devastation because of the response and fear mongering from the media, then, now that the fear has been stirred up, what will happen when the next virus comes along, which like serious viruses in the past, will be more virulent? Surely we cannot let regular winter lockdowns become a new normal with all the collateral damage they have caused. We will soon overcome this virus but, we will not avoid a repeat of this past year’s experience if we do not make a concerted effort to eliminate and temper the fear that has been generated.

We must remind ourselves of “Ying and Yang” the Chinese concept of dualism, describing how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, and how they may give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another. We cannot have joy without suffering, happiness without sorrow, pleasure without pain. In a similar way, we cannot truly enjoy life without some small risk of death.

About the writer: Sonu Shivdasani is the CEO and Founder of luxury resort chain Soneva.