So, this virus is still pissing everyone off. If only we could make tiny hammers to smash the little buggers, eh?
Right, so what do we actually know? Not much, as it goes. It’s a new one, it’ll take a long time to figure out what it can and cannot do and by then, one or other of us will be dead. Of course, if the virus kills us, it’s dead too. It cannot reproduce without a host.
It is the way of viruses to gradually mutate into less deadly versions. If they don’t, if they wipe out their host species, they die too. There are viruses that have perfected this. They are in us all now, reproducing slowly, doing no real harm, parasitising with nobody noticing. That takes a long time but I suspect they all get there in the end.
It’s the boisterous new kid on the block that always causes most damage. The thug virus, in Burberry and drugged to the eyes, not yet realising it depends for its very existence on those it is trying to kill. It will calm down, eventually, but it will kill a lot of people before it does.
Okay, what do we have? Most of it is unproven and some of it is just hearsay but we have to go with what we have for now.
First, it is not a hoax. Some are still saying this. I have noticed though, that a couple of days ago Twitter was full of sneering ‘Does anyone know anyone who has even had this virus?’ and today it’s full of ‘family member dead or on a ventilator’ tweets. It has changed very quickly. Not surprising since the death toll is doubling every three days.
Some of them are fake. Clearly. But some of them are real. I now personally know a few people who have tested positive.
Second, testing. There are howls to test everyone, so all those testing negative can get back to work. Testing does not confer immunity. If you test negative it merely shows that you haven’t caught it yet. You could catch it between the time of the test and getting the result. It means nothing. There is an antibody test in development that will show if you had it and have developed immunity but even when it’s widely available, it takes 28 days after infection before it can be deemed accurate. I hope you like your living room wallpaper, you’re going to be staring at it for a while yet.
Third, who is most at risk? The elderly, obviously. Those with underlying conditions whether or not they have been diagnosed. This is important. There have been many, many cases in the past of apparently fit and healthy people in their twenties suddenly dropping dead from a heart or other problem nobody even suspected they had. It happens. It’s not nice but it does happen. Just because you feel fine, live the Health Dream and have a body that would make Charles Atlas green does not mean you are safe. Do not chance it.
Some are more at risk than others. It seems the virus kills more men than women. It seems to target blood group A and Rhesus negative particularly. It seems to not like smokers so much. All this is connected with cell surface antigens that the virus uses for attachment and I’m not getting into a lecture now. I haven’t seen absolute proof of any of these things (there hasn’t been enough time for research) so it’s all speculation or preliminary studies at this point.
Fourth, is it a bioweapon? I don’t know. It might be but it doesn’t need to be. Nasty new viruses can arise by pure chance. This one might have been created by a lab or by sheer bad luck. There are very few genes in a virus so adding or taking away one makes a hell of a difference to what it does. A simple transcription error in a SARS virus could have made this one.
Bioweapons are really no use in the modern world unless you want to attack the entire world. Lobbing plague infested corpses into beseiged castles in the 14th century, fine. It’s contained. Now, you could let loose a bioweapon in, say, London, and it will cover the whole damn planet in 24 hours. You cannot contain it. No matter where in the world you let out your bioweapon, it is coming home and might get home before you do. So I don’t think it was a deliberate bioweapon attack. Accidental release, maybe.
Although the Billy Gates Gruff was suspiciously fast at bringing in his vaccine with free bonus microchip. So I’ll leave the bioweapon thing open for now. That guy is the one who wanted to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide to zero. He is a dangerous idiot.
Fifth, is it really more dangerous than the flu? After all, more people die of the flu than from this. Well, it’s not about the death rate. It’s the infection rate. With flu, you get infected, 2 or 3 days later you’re in bed wishing for Death’s release. A couple of weeks later you’re okay, you might be infectious for a day or two after but you won’t cause too many new cases.
With this one, you can be infectious for two weeks before you even know you have it. There is some evidence you can still be infectious for a while after recovery. The kill rate isn’t that high but the infection method means you could see a massive spike in cases all at once. ‘Only’ 20% need hospital treatment but unlike those flu cases, the hospital ones aren’t spread out over months. The cases could spike over days. And then you have the Italy situation where doctors have to choose who gets the ventilator.
It does not kill more than the flu. What it can do is cause a spike in cases over days rather than months, and then people die because they can’t get treatment. Not just from the virus, from everything else too, because the hospitals are overloaded. This new virus has not made all the other diseases go away, you know.
Finally, is it all the government’s fault? What do you want, your government to seal all borders, allow nobody in or out, and keep you under home arrest 24/7? No, it is not the government’s fault. Look at the faces of those in government now. They are knackered. Boris looks like he should be home in bed with a hot water bottle and he is still working. Making political mileage out of this is just sick.
No government on the planet could have foreseen this, no government could possibly have been ready, no politician anywhere understands how a virus works and sure, they have scientific advisers but no scientist has ever seen this virus before. Vaccines and treatments are not something we scientists pull out of our arse on command, you know. It took me three years to find a treatment for Clostridium difficile and prove that it worked. That bacterium has been causing problems for a very long time. Now you want a cure for a brand new virus in days? 14 days incubation and spread before symptoms? Nobody has seen that before and nobody has a plan in place to deal with it. Why would they? It has only just come into existence.
Instead of attacking health workers and pharmacists, instead of demanding the government do something about a thing nobody has experienced before, why not try looking after yourselves for once?
If this thing keeps going, sooner or later you’ll have no choice.