Studies from both France and China have shown that about half as many smokers get COVID-19 as non-smokers.  About 25.4 percent of the French smoke, but only 8.5 percent of 11,000 patients admitted to hospitals in Paris were smokers. A study being published on data out of China shows a similar trend. In China, about 28 percent of the population smokes, but only 12.6 percent of a thousand COVID-19 patients were smokers.

A renowned French neurobiologist believes there may be something in nicotine that protects people against the virus.   This is NOT a reason to take up smoking however, as it is a habit that kills about half daily smokers.  But it certainly might be a reason to up your intake of plant in the nightshade family which all contain lower quantities of nicotine than tobacco – including tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, cauliflower (which is not in the nightshade family) and green peppers.  Apparently nicotine is also found in the leaves of the coco plant, but we don’t know if any one eats that.  Do any of these plants have enough nicotine to afford protection against the corona virus?

We are a long way from having a scientific answer to that one.

Kim Jong-un

The state news agency in North Korea says leader Kim Jong-un made a public appearance at the opening of a fertilizer plant north of the capital.

Somehow, that seems appropriate.  Apparently he was suffering from gout.

A theology of illness

Sheikh Hassaan Hussein Adam based in a Nairobi neighborhood known as little Mogadishu for its Somali population asked the Kenyan government for the means to check the temperature of visitors to the mosque rather than shutting it down. Another cleric with ties to al-Shabab, Sheikh Nuur Macalin Abdirahman, blames the virus on rampant evil in the world. He characterized the virus’s origin in China as divine punishment for that nation’s treatment of the Uighur Muslims. A leading cleric in Somalia, Sheikh Fuad Mohamed Khala, said the corona virus was a punishment from Allah on infidels for their evil.

Al-Shabab controlled territory in Somalia is not heeding WHO recommendations and public health warnings from the Somali government. It hasn’t shut down mosques or schools in the territory it controls.

Will this lead to a public health disaster in al-Shabab controlled territory in Somalia?  The median age among the population of Somalia is only 16.7 years and overall life expectancy is 50 from males and 54 for females.  Only about six percent of the population is over 55 years of age, just two percent is 65 years of age and maybe half of the live in al-Shaba controlled territory.

People under 65 have a very low risk of dying from COVID-19 based on data from 14 countries according to the pre-print of a soon to be published scientific article.  Odds are there will be very few COVID-19 deaths in al-Shabab controlled territory in Somalia because there are so few people in the vulnerable age group. It seems likely that the average Somali who observes the probable outcome is going to have reason to believe the clerics rather than the public health authorities.

Does this mean the corona virus is a judgment sent from God because of human sin?  Or even specifically a judgment on China because of its treatment of the Uighurs?  China’s corona virus expert Shi says the novel 2019 virus is nature punishing the human race for keeping uncivilized living habits.

One thing is for certain, we live in such a secular age in Western Civilization that we lack any coherent theology of illness.  A good place to begin might be with what Jesus had to say in Luke 13:1-5.  Galileans killed by Roman soldiers under Pilate and men who died when a tower collapsed were not worse sinners than others, according to Jesus.  Note these are two sources of death – death at the hands of other humans and death from inanimate objects.  Jesus point is that all need to repent.