People Breathe Each Other’s Air, And So We Have Pandemics

Let’s look at the most basic fact of what happens in the world, breathing until we don’t

Photo by Martin Sanchez on Unsplash

A lot of hot air

Around the world, the death rate from COVID-19 is just over five million, six hundred thousand.

It changes hour by hour, so don’t expect an exact count. Nor, does the World Health Organization include the numbers of people who die before being diagnosed, or who are misdiagnosed, or, dying of something related. It does not include many impoverished, unreported, and uncounted people the world over.

We have COVID-19 in our neighborhood now.

Most people won’t die, so there’s the good news.

The greater number, however, of those who survive, of those who suffer long term-effects, and of those who will live in a different world from now on, did not have to get sick in the first place.

People, for some insane reason, did not know just how much air that human beings breathe every minute.

People exchange microbes. Daily.

Maybe, since eight billion of us now share the world, it should be taught in kindergarten? Preschool?

Our air has tons of stuff in it

People, also, do not stop to think about what is in our air.

We inhale about 100,000 microbes per minute. More than a million per hour. Most are not pathogens. Those that are pathogens, bacteria, parasites, fungi, or virus, are usually fended off by our immune systems.

Here is the simple, non-neurosurgical, rocket-science truth: If we all stood six feet (or more) apart for the time it took for the virus to find no hosts, these numbers would not crush us.

Don’t shut up, just stand back

Instead of doing this simple behavior, we exchanged our breath. We went indoors and congregated. We each expelled our million particulates per hour, even as we argued and talked about masks, and mandates, and anti-vaxxing, and Kung Flu, and tyranny, and migrants, and a zillion, other non-helpful things.

Maybe the people who talked the loudest spewed the most pathogens.

Even our best health leaders, who tried to get across the idea: “Don’t exchange air” somehow failed. Often, every attempt at explaining the situation was obscured, denied, misdirected, described as “under control,” or so muddled up, that we got misled.

Misinformation, fake news, conspiracy, and even fake cures, spread just as fast as the droplets in our blather.

Misinformation is a powerful vector for real disease, and social disease, like inequality and climate injustice.

Masks minimize droplets, otherwise, surgeons would not wear them. Vaccines work and world collaboration has prevented countless deaths, but not evenly, or widely, enough.

As mentioned, we each breathe in tons of stuff. There are 1800 kinds of bacteria, and other microbes, in your breath, right now. It’s normal, too, for the next person, nearby you, who is also breathing.

Indoor air, depending upon season and humidity, is somewhere between two and five times more contaminated than outdoor aid. (this is also true of pollutants, particulates, additional to the organic pathogens — the fungi, virus, bacteria, and parasites — already mentioned.)

The spike in infections is obvious, when you see how people congregate in colder times of year. We tend to stay indoors and share the same air. Holidays and celebrations occur and people get close again.

They call it cold season for a reason.

Sometimes a world leader goes to a party, and instead of noting he or she is at greater risk, many people, ask, “Why can’t I have the same freedoms?”

This is a misleading way to think of it, because no matter what, people everywhere are breathing, and it has to be up to each person not to be envious of freedom, or blaming of risk-takers, but to be personally knowledgeable about your next hour of inhalations, and exhalations.

Stay back, accordingly.

Scientists say that it is in the early stages of an infection, when many are asymptomatic, that a virus, including the SARS-CoV-2, is seeking out your body as a new place to colonize.

Empower yourself with the best intel available

Take the simple knowledge that spending an hour in another’s breathing space, especially indoors, is going to be very different — by millions of microbes — than sharing one minute with company.

Therefore, make good use of your time on Earth, by conserving it.

Isaac Newton, possibly the smartest, (maybe most cantankerous too) genius ever recorded, went to live in clean country air when the plague hit Europe in 1665.

We don’t have, perhaps, that much space for the billions of us. However, thanks to people like Newton, we do have knowledge, science, vast evidence and number crunching data which could save millions of lives.

Know human nature: we love to have someone to blame. Newton did this too, but that’s not his best example to follow.

We blame our political enemies. We blame confused messaging on world health experts, or the media that garbled them. We blame the Chinese. Or, the capitalists. We blame the people who disturb nature and bats. (We even have people who blame the bats, or other hosts, for being disturbed!) We don’t necessarily, blame the zoonotic drivers of the next big plague: US.

To empower yourself and your family with the best intelligence available, know what health and world knowledge banks have known for hundreds of years.

The fact is, breathing one another’s air makes us susceptible to sharing anything they have, just ask Isaac Newton.




At Politically Speaking, we come together to share our views on politics and society. We are a proud supporter of equality and fair treatment for all people. We stand against racism and the oppression of people of color. Here at Politically Speaking, when we see, we speak!

Recommended from Medium


The New Meaning of “COVID”

Wastewater for equitable Covid-19 monitoring

Halloween During the COVD-19 Pandemic

*Epub* Suite Francaise by :Ir?ne N?mirovsky

COVID CHANGED ENTIRE DEFINITION — A NEW NORMAL It was December 2019, I was scheduled to go to…

[PDF] Download Graphis Poster Annual 2022 Ebook_File by :B Martin Pedersen

Webinar: Applying behavioral insights to increase COVID-19 vaccine uptake

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Christyl Rivers, Phd.

Christyl Rivers, Phd.

Ecopsychologist, Writer, Farmer, Defender of reality, and Cat Castle Custodian.

More from Medium

Our Present Human Values and Ethics Need a Major Reset

A Bear Of Very Little Brain

The Inner Lives of Americans

How to cope with kids who embrace conspiracy theories?