An Open Letter to Researchers Studying the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

I am not a medical doctor, nor specialist in epidemiology, but I consider myself very experienced and conversant with methodologies of scientific research. While we all wait desperately for the research and scientific community to develop a vaccine or treatment for the coronavirus (and other viruses that may arise and in need of a solution), I am putting forward a call for researchers to develop a new stream of inquiry to help our global society.  I do realize that making such a call will have polarized reactions so it is important that I articulate my intention to focus on the strengths of our internal human systems during times of epidemics or pandemics. This is critical in that we focus on generating hope rather than unintentionally creating fear and desperation. I believe that through such a steam of work, we can shift from looking at what makes us weak to what makes us resilient during such times where our own need for human interaction is affected negatively.  We can then move ever forward to discovering what enduringly connects us.

For many years, the paradigm of conducting research in medicine has been to focus on concentrating and understanding the pathology of diseases. This lens has helped us as a society to eliminate causes of illness and provide a sharp focus on fast recovery. Nonetheless, in the past few years, civilization is experiencing cycles of new types of disease that traditional medical research has not been fast enough to contain. My proposal is to open a stream of medical research that focuses on why, during times of health pandemics, there are always those who are resilient to such causes. 

My proposal is to focus on the people who are resilient to health issues related to being in contact with unseen viruses. What protects some humans from the COVID-19 even when they have come into contact with those who are infected? We hear of many who have been infected, those who have recovered and those who did not. Although it is critical to understand the virus and how it affects people who have been tested as positive, it is equally critical to understand why some people are not affected even when they have come into contact with those who were tested positive. The focus on what makes some human beings resilient and healthy will offer another perspective and perhaps another important and interesting stream of research.

I can offer some ideas, but with humility, I admit that I don’t have the knowledge and tools to spearhead such a stream of research thoroughly. Nonetheless, it has taken me 40 years of ongoing research and successful practice that focus on the importance and centrality of values that raise self-awareness when interacting with others. The hierarchy of values is now a concept, a methodology with developed tools to help people become conscious and therefore understand what is really important in their lives. This stream might offer insight to what extent core values are aligned with a definition of life meaning and success. From the perspective of being successful, those who are resilient and not affected by the virus, may be considered successful in our current pandemic. I am not writing this piece to defend my theory and practice of managing and living by values.  I am putting out a call to propose a line of research that will be able, perhaps in relative terms, to assist in discovering the ingredients (genetically, or socially) that protect people from contracting COVID-19.  Is it possible, that our defense system has some sort of hierarchy (which we do not understand yet) where antibodies that were developed to protect one family of viruses, also protects other types of viruses? Other questions could be: to what extent human beings that overcame one type of virus remain effective for fighting other types of viruses?; or what are some common denominators of people in “risk” areas that enable them not to contract this virus or other diseases?

I am sure that my call for this research will be appealing to those who believe in approaching medicine from a systemic perspective and those who believe in natural remedies diets designed to boost our immune system. But I am not talking about these generic ideas that we all agree might be good and positive.  I am calling for a specific and rigorous research that intends to discover why and how people in “risk” areas do not get infected or are also not contagious.  This is especially true to the case of the current pandemic of COVID-19.

My apologies for those of you who read this call and have made previously similar proposals, and perhaps with even more rigor and content.  I include in this call my belief of the power of collective intelligence and it is my hope  that someone who reads it, and who is by far more qualified to comment or have the ability to undertake a rigorous research in this direction.

This is my very humble hope to be able to contribute to the stream of ideas opening new lines of research and perhaps new discoveries to help humanity – something we have dire need of in today’s chaotic environment.

My sincere gratitude to Dr. Tony Lingham and Dr.  Bonnie Richley, my dear colleagues and friends from Cleveland (Ohio), who were the first to read this short essay,  propose important changes to further the coherence and articulation of this call, and strongly encouraged me to make this document public.

With honesty and humility,

Dr. Simon L. Dolan (www.simondolan.com)
President, The Global Future of Work Foundation  (www.globalfutureofwork.com)
Email: [email protected]