The gospel according to Boris

So, our tousle-haired ruffian Prime Monster has given advice. It’s not compulsory, not yet, but some of it inevitably will become so.

Despite the frothing, hysterical demands from some that ‘The Government Must Do Something’, it seems to me he’s gone about this the right way.

This is not China. The people here are not conditioned to do as they are told by government. Most of us delight in doing exactly the opposite, and there is nothing the UK government can do about it… yet. Do these foaming loons really want Boris to turn this place into a China lookalike, where any deviation is punished and any criticism of the government results in disappearance? That’s what they are demanding after all. And yet, they’d be first!

Let’s have a cup of tea, chill, and look at it calmly.

There is much muttering about ‘oh it’s only flu’ and ‘flu kills many more so what’s the problem?’ and even some who don’t believe the virus exists at all. The truth is, it’s a new virus and the facts of it are not fully pinned down yet. I’ve retired from a microbiology career and I know it can take a long time to work out what a new species is capable of. When it’s a nasty one like this one all the stops are out but you still can’t fix it overnight.

It’s related to flu but it’s not plain old flu. It hasn’t killed as many as flu yet because it’s still in its first year. The symptoms look a lot like flu so some of those flu deaths could be this virus. China admitted to it in December but it had been around for a few months before that so it was already spreading around the world. Many people reported a bad flu over Christmas (my brother and his wife had it but they spend a lot more time with people than I do) which could well have been a first wave of this virus.

The big problem with this one is not the death rate. It’s higher than flu, but it’s still not the big problem. The issue is spread. You could be spreading the thing for anything up to two weeks before you even know you have it. That will cause a very rapid spike in infections and a massive surge in cases pretty much overnight. 80% of those cases only need to drink lots of fluids and lie around going ‘urgh’ for a while, but a high percentage will need hospitalisation. Higher than flu, and that already stretches the NHS. Remember, there are other diseases too.

With flu, only a small percentage need to go to hospital and it’s spread out over the winter. The new kid on the block is far more contagious than flu and sends a higher percentage to hospital. As we have seen in other countries, that spike can rapidly overwhelm the health service leading to doctors having to make horrible decisions over who would benefit from treatment and who they should just let die.

If you’re wondering how doctors sleep at night after making those decisions… they don’t.

So the advice is to avoid large gatherings, avoid interactions with people, only go out when it’s really necessary and generally become… me. I’ve been doing this most of my life. It’s great, you don’t even need to get dressed most days.

There are calls to shut all the schools. This is a good idea and a terrible idea. Children don’t seem to get this too bad but they can spread it. So one infected kid can, over the course of a few days, infect most of a school before that first kid even coughs. All those kids will take it home. Close the schools!

But wait. If the schools are closed, the parents have to stay home to look after them. Those parents include doctors, nurses, policemen, postmen, delivery drivers, shop staff… if every parent has to stop work because the schools are closed, where will you panic buy your toilet paper? Who will you turn to when the magic toilet paper cure doesn’t work? When the ferals come for your toilet paper hoard, who will you call?

Closing schools will happen but do it too soon and the whole country will fall apart.

Total lockdown? That’s been demanded. The Italians tried it and the death rate soared to 9%. If you’ve seen ‘Watchmen’ you’ll recall the scene in prison where Rorschach shouts ‘None of you seem to understand. I’m not locked in here with you. You’re locked in here with me’. Lockdown gives the virus a captive food supply. Nevertheless it will have to happen eventually.

Do it too soon though and you’ll have people looking around thinking ‘This is silly. Nothing is happening.’ Then they’ll break quarantine. The neighbours will see them break quarantine and think ‘Oh, it must be okay then’ and that is the end of the lockdown. You cannot have a lockdown too early or nobody will accept it. I repeat, this is not China. We do not simply do as we are told without a clear and visible reason.

Quarantining the over 70s. That is like herding cats. My mother is 78 and has been checking her flight to Aberdeen in April is still okay. That generation were born into and grew up through the second world war and aren’t scared of things they can see, never mind those they can’t. They grew up through the nasty flu pandemic of 1957 and are still here. They came through Harold Wilson unscathed, the three day week, the power cuts, the Winter of Discontent… you are not going to scare them into staying at home because of a virus.

At the other end are the Indestructibles, brought up to believe that everyone wins and nobody should ever be hurt, not even their feelings. They do not believe the measures they demand will apply to them, why would they think a virus applies to them? You see them online all the time, delighting in the death of the old through this new virus. They will not observe quarantine, they think they can spread it unharmed and kill off all the old people they disagree with. They will never accept that it can kill them too.

It does kill off the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions mostly, but those are averages. Recently an 84-year-old woman successfully recovered from infection and 30-year-olds have died of it. Pre-existing does not mean pre-diagnosed. You can have a heart condition in your twenties and you, nor anyone else, will know about it until your autopsy. Don’t laugh at this virus. It’s laughing at you.

All the measures Boris outlined are, for now, voluntary. He will need to force pub and restaraunt closures soon and ban all large gatherings such as sporting events and concerts. Here, the GP surgeries have closed and there is more to come. The suggestions will become rules. Because you won’t do it otherwise. Those measures… will they ever be reversed?

And so the no-physical-contact world of Panoptica becomes reality. I am up to 17 chapters on that one. I promised a chapter a week and we are about 12 weeks into the year so I’m taking that as a success so far, despite personal mitigating circumstances.. Those reading it will have noticed that the authorities need no permission to enter your home, they just come right in. That’s now being proposed in the real world.

I have to get back into working. My father’s ghost will be poking me in the back with his stick otherwise, he never had an idle day in his life. Even after two strokes. His funeral was epic though, there were people sat in the choir stalls because the church was full.

Best quote of the dark day was when the undertaker asked how many pall bearers we had. Four. My cousins. The undertaker said that for a man of my father’s size (he wasn’t fat) they usually used six. My brother just said. ‘You wait until you see them.’

They did a fantastic job. And they are all gentle giants.

Wipe!

There is no toilet paper shortage.

I spent four years as a janitor in retail shops so I’ve seen a few stockrooms. They are, always, much smaller than the retail floor space. Almost all the stock in the shop is on the shelves.

The stockroom is loaded with the nonperishable, high profit items and those things that sell fast. Booze, dry foods with long shelf lives, that kind of thing. Fresh food has to be sold fast or they end up throwing it away. That’s generally replenished with the daily deliveries and not stored for very long before it’s out on the shelves.

Toilet paper is a low cost and very bulky item. It doesn’t get priority in the stockroom. They only have as much as they expect to sell over, say, a week.

Almost all the shop’s stock of arsewipes is out there on sale. Sudden lunatic panic buying will wipe out their entire stock in minutes.

Next day, in some shops overnight, a truck full of bumpaper will arrive. Almost all goes straight on the shelves, a small reserve goes in the stockroom.

Next morning, the Botty Brigade empty the shelves again and the small reserve is gone too.

The stockroom is limited in size. The shop cannot allocate more space to poo tickets, the packs are bulky and getting more in there means they’d have less space for the other things.

So, once again, empty shelves until the next delivery.

Empty shelves make it look like a shortage but it really isn’t. They’ll keep being restocked. What’s happening is that idiots are buying at a rate way above the shop’s capacity for stock.

What will happen once the lunacy is over is that the shelves will be full again and there’ll be a couple of dusty packs in the stockroom – because the idiots all have attics full to the brim with a mountain of fire hazard paper and won’t need to buy any more for years. Although, since they are also panic buying beans, it might not last that long.

The rumour that started this seems to be that the cardboard tubes are made in China so they might have to be taken away in case they’re contaminated with the Wuhan virus. These idiots have filled their houses with the only high risk thing in the shops.

It isn’t really all that risky. Cardboard has a drying effect – you should see the cracked hands of some of the stockroom workers, who handle cardboard boxes all day. The virus won’t survive long on it, and the cardboard tube factory might not even be in an infected area.

Also, you should really be washing your hands after taking a dump anyway. Bog paper is not bacteria – proof, its pores are big enough to let them through. Viruses have no problem getting through it. This new virus isn’t the only thing you can catch and spread with shitty fingers.

Al the shortages are illusion. Nothing is running out. People are simply buying beyond the shop’s ability to hold stock. It’s all refilled with the next delivery.

The shops, and manufacturers of the idiot magnets, must be loving this.

Next time China reports a new virus, I’m buying shares in Andrex.

Final days

The coroner has at last (March 6th) signed the forms that release my father to the undertaker. My father died instantly of a pulmonary embolism on February 14th, the death certificate finally became available to my mother on March 4th and the undertaker had still heard nothing. After, I suspect, several angry phone calls, the coroner remembered to do his job and signed the release forms.

So, there is no real prospect of an open casket funeral because the undertaker has not been able to embalm him. My mother wanted to say one last goodbye, but thanks to the utter ineptitude of the South Wales coroner, that is unlikely to be possible. The entire family is now at the point where if this coroner shows his face he’s really not likely to get to keep it. Don’t show up to apologise, Coroner. No apology can or will be accepted. Just fuck off.

This is not an exceptional case. More and more are coming forward from the area covered by this coroner’s office. The local MP will be getting letters, as will whoever is medically in charge of that shitshow.

I wonder if he would dare do this to a Muslim family? Islam requires the time between death and internment to be no more than three days. This coroner thinks nothing of taking three weeks or more to sign a damn form. If they jihaded him, they’d have the full support of me and my entire family. Heck, we’d give them alibis.

I have been uncommunicative for a while because of this. We cannot move on until it is over. My mother could not arrange bank accounts, insurances, property, pensions, council tax, anything at all without the death certificate so we have all been in limbo until the coroner finally managed to shift his arse. Fortunately my brother has been on hand to help our mother and CStM and I will be there in a couple of days for the funeral.

And don’t blame this on ‘Tory cuts’. This is NHS Wales. It’s Labour controlled. God help you all in Wales if (when) coronavirus hits. It has an incubation period of at least two weeks and it’ll be three weeks before you know if someone died of it. NHS Wales will go under with cases in a month, all because the coroner just does not care.

The remainers and the climate cult have dropped their masks now, gleefully delighting in hte deaths of ‘old Brexiteers’ and ‘old Climate Heretics’ and not realising that coronavirus does not care how you vote, nor does it care for your religion. I actually don’t know how my father voted on Brexit, nor his opinions on climate change. We didn’t discuss politics. I don’t know how any of my family voted on anything, nor how they feel about climate change, for that matter. In my family, family is first. We do not split over trivia.

I think they will listen to me over the new coronavirus, since I’m the only one with a doctorate in microbiology. So I will be advising on this one. It’s not ‘flu. That ‘it’s only flu’ mindset is what makes those required to self-quarantine think ‘It’s been three days, I’m fine, I’ll go to that concert/business meeting/football match’ and spread it all around. Its principal danger is not even in its death rate, which is amateurish compared to the likes of Ebola. Its danger is in its asymptomatic spread which will lead to a total collapse of the health service. They don’t only deal with coronavirus, you know, and when hospitals are full of people on respirators, what about all the other illnesses?

As for me, I only have one gathering to attend. My father’s funeral. It will be big, there are a lot of us on all three sides of the family (long story, another time maybe) from all over the country. Infection rates are not yet at dangerous levels as far as anyone knows (although ‘confirmed cases’ are only the ones so far showing symptoms and the real current cases could well be ten times that) so I’ll risk it.

Confirmed cases are doubling every two days in the UK. Don’t imagine this one is just going to disappear. This is not the necrotising fasciitis scare that killed about eight people and caused mass panic, this one will run and run.

We’re not flying to Wales. I had already decided to drive because that gives more flexibility over coming back. If we have to stay a few more days, no problem. Just as well really since the operator of flights from Aberdeen to Cardiff was Flybe, and they’ve now gone bust. I’d have been driving anyway and with no chance of ticket refunds.

Still, the eleventh Underdog Anthology will go ahead. Submissions will close on March 31st although publication isn’t likely to be until mid to late April and you might not get an email response until mid March at the earliest. That’s not your fault, it’s the fault of an idiot in a coroner’s job.

This one will be dedicated to my father. He loved to read these books.

Against stupidity…

…the gods themselves contend in vain.

I don’t know the source of the quote, I only know it from a very-long-ago reading of this book. Blimey, a new copy is expensive! I hope mine is still in a box somewhere here. It could be, I’m something of a packrat with books.

It seems so appropriate today. The UK government thinks we will all be driving electric cars in ten years. There isn’t enough cobalt on the planet to make enough batteries for the cars needed in the little UK. The batteries gradually die, the car’s range gets shorter and shorter and in just a few years it’s a lawn ornament. New batteries? The old ones can’t currently be recycled and there’s no cobalt left in the ground. What then?

How big a battery do you need for a truck? Or a tank?

You know the best thing about these cars? The drive is permanently coupled to the wheels. There is no neutral. If it stops, it stops dead. No matter where you are or how fast you’re going. If you’re doing 70 mph on a motorwat and it dies you don’t coast into the hard shoulder. You stop as if you hit a wall. That’s going to be fun, especially when the ones coming behind are still going.

We have people proudly advertising their electric building equipment, a small digger that runs for two hours on one charge. A charge that is replenished by running a diesel generator for eight hours. So the diesel engine runs for eight hours instead of two, and that’s good?

To make Scotland green, we have cut down 14 million trees to make room for wind farms while governments claim they want to plant more trees. That’s just Scotland. You can barely see it on a map of the world. The windmill parts are not recyclable, they will, along with all those solar panels, be in landfill in 20 years or so. Leaching extremely toxic waste into the soil that will be growing a future vegan world’s food.

Oh don’t worry about the animals. The vegans want to kill them all to save the planet. So do the ecoloons. The animals must be scratching their heads and wondering who the planet is being saved for.

The Swedish Doom Goblin has been to Bristol to talk about how the planet is burning up… in a country beset by flooding, in the rain, while wearing two coats against the cold. Her parents should have been prosecuted for child abuse long ago but they are being allowed to continue on a massive scale. The only thing Extinction Rebellion achieve, all they have ever achieved and all they will ever achieve, is destruction. They have utterly ruined every single place they have ever visited. In the name of saving it.

Now we have coronavirus. The name is not new, there are many coronaviruses, but in the modern world nobody can remember beyond five minutes ago so there are people wondering how Dettol can claim to kill coronavirus ‘before it existed’. This variant is new. Its biggest danger is not its kill rate, it’s that someone could be spreading it for weeks while showing no symptoms. It will overwhelm medical services and close down supply chains. It doesn’t need to kill more than enough to cause panic. The asymptomatic carriers will increrase exponentially. A million Typhoid Marys. The perfect blind assassin.

Most of all though, what is the Left of politics doing? On the right we have Trump and Boris, both of whom appear to be bumbling clowns but they aren’t. They are very calculating people. Brushing them off, underestimating them, is a big mistake.

The Left, both in the UK and America, are in the process of choosing a new leader. The lineup in both cases looks like the starting gate of the Olympic window licking competition. There is no Tony Blair in the UK or Barack Obama in the US. It’s as if they raided the Shady Rest Home for Weary Minds and put up the most insane candidates they could find. Are they trying to lose? Is this really the best they have?

If there is a God he must surely be reaching for the reset button now and maybe he has already pressed it. Pestilence and Famine are loose upon the world and one look at the Turkey/Greece border will surely have the shadow of War over it. Turkey and Greece have been enemies for a long time, mostly because of Cyprus. So war there would be no surprise. Erdogan is as mad as Hitler was. Opening up a new front with Greece when he already has war with Syria would not surprise me/

Notably absent is the new ‘EU army’ that the EU claims they have command over. Also notably absent is the UN. Greece are members of both but they are being left to deal with this alone.

This level of stupid has appeared and accelerated in only a couple of decades. There is so much more, I could extend this post to whole book levels! Ten years ago there were two genders, I have no idea how many there are now. It’s as if the entire world has gone insane, as if we are being set up to destroy ourselves while thinking we are saving ourselves.

I’m sort of getting used to the fiction coming true, you know…

Book stuff

Author payment time has been calculated and it’s not great this quarter. With all that’s happened it’s not too surprising, I suppose. It does need to boost and that will need some author activity. I cannot market all the books alone and to be honest, with my policy of not taking a cut from low royalty returns, if the authors want to get anywhere they really have to do something to achieve that.

One author gets it and is doing well, within the limitations of this tiny publisher. I am going to copy this approach with my own books and see how it works out. Remember, we are not in competition here, we are each chasing a different market, so sharing ideas is not disadvantaging anyone.

It doesn’t have to cost money and the scare on Coronavirus could indeed help.

We make more per sale on ebooks than on print copies anyway 😉

Virus science

Tomorrow, midnight, is the end of the quarter at Leg Iron Books and author royalties (if any) will go out on time. The anthology is going ahead too, it will close for submissions on March 31st although editing and publication will be delayed because of my father’s funeral. The delay on that has also put a complete stop on my own writing and on any kind of marketing.

I’m estimating mid to late April for publication on Anthology 11. It doesn’t affect this one too much since it’s not tied to a specific event like the Halloween and Christmas anthologies. It will be the Spring anthology, just a little later than usual. Spring is going to be delayed too, if there is any accuracy in the weather forecasts.

Anyway, science. I am/was a bacteriologist, not a virologist. I specialised in intestinal disease, pro- and prebiotics and in developing farm animal feeds mainly. Also, intestinal simulations, so I could run experiments on gut contents without animals messing it all up. So this is going to look a bit simplistic to a virologist who will have studied this in far more detail than me.

The current coronavirus is generating all kinds of conflicting reports, from ‘oh it’s just the flu’ to some serious tinfoil-hatted conspiracy theories. I read one that claimed the Spanish flu was bioengineered, some 30 years before Watson and Crick and around 70 years before DNA sequencing became a viable lab procedure. This somewhat dented the credibility of that story.

First, it is not the flu. The first round apparently has mild flu-like symptoms and will kill maybe 2% of those it infects. I have seen heartless bastards on Twitter type ‘yeah, but it’s just the elderly and the sick who die’. Will they say the same if their parents get it? Oh, and the doctor in Wuhan who died was 33 and in fine health.

The problem with this one, as compared to flu, is that it has a long incubation period where an infected person can shed the virus for around two weeks (or possibly more) without showing symptoms. Flu doesn’t do that. It also seems to have a gene or two from HIV which means it’s much more likely to infect anyone it comes in contact with.

It also appears that you don’t develop immunity, as with the common cold. You can catch it again. This means that even if someone does develop a vaccine it will be irrelevant. You simply do not develop immunity. The vaccine will achieve nothing. Or… it could make things much worse.

This one seems to do most of its killing on the second round of infection. It seems to be able to use antibody-dependent enhancement which means that the second time it infects, your immune system can’t kill it even though it’s trying to. This might or might not be the case, there is still a lot nobody really knows about this thing.

As Delphius says, it is possible that the first ‘infection’ was really normal flu or a cold, misdiagnosed. That would be understandable. The Chinese medics are overwhelmed and the authorities are dragging anyone with a temperature or a cough into the coronavirus hospitals. So, maybe they only caught the coronavirus after they arrived. The deaths could then be due to already-sick people getting stuffed in with those infected with coronavirus, and simply being overloaded with two respiratory infections at once.

So it is not flu. It has a remarkably long incubation period during which it is infectious and it is much, much easier to catch than flu. If it is true that you cannot develop immunity and that the second infection is far more serious than the first, then it really is nothing at all like flu. It’s too early to be certain on those last two points.

So, is it a bioweapon? Well it would be a really good one but only an idiot would release such a bioweapon in this age of global travel. You could get several times around the world before showing symptoms. Bioweapons are not going to stay where you put them, that should be obvious. There is a very good chance it will come back to bite you.

A bioweapon should not have a high kill rate. Your victims would simply bury or cremate the bodies and move on. A bioweapon should debilitate, while killing just enough to scare the crap out of everyone else. Loads of sick people will have exactly the effect we are seeing – medical facilities overwhelmed,infrastructure collapsing, travel and supply chains shut down…

The theory that it is a bioweapon comes from the HIV-like genes in it. Could that have been made in a lab? Oh hell yes. Building a strand of viral DNA or RNA is no problem. There isn’t much of it and we have machines that can do it overnight. It has in fact been done – poliovirus has been created in a lab. But that doesn’t mean someone made it, only that they could.

The other option – could it arise naturally? Viruses do not mate within their own species, much less with other species. They only reproduce within a host cell. They change due to mutations and errors in copying their genetic code and in assembling new viruses.

When a virus infects, it dumps its genetic code into the cell. That code, DNA or RNA, then uses the cell’s own mechanisms to read its genes and assemble new viruses. It’s like someone getting into a factory with a set of blueprints and making their own stuff using the factory’s tools.

The thing is, they are idiots. They have the blueprints to make new copies of themselves but the mechanisms they are using are not set up to make viruses. Oh each cell might make hundreds of viruses, in an infection there might be billions of new viruses produced but a lot of them will be wrong.

In the case of this Coronavirus it will create protein coats and stuff RNA into them. Some of them will be missing genes and won’t be viable. Some protein coats won’t have any RNA in them. Some will be filled with RNA from the host cell. Some will have a mix of virus and host RNA. These will attach to other cells and inject whatever they have inside, which will do… nothing, usually. This happens with all viruses. They make loads of copies in each cell but a good proportion of those copies are failures. Doesn’t matter, as long as they make enough good ones.

This has actually been considered as a treatment for some genetic ailments, such as cystic fibrosis. Create viruses containing the host’s missing gene and hope the cells take it up. I haven’t heard any more on that for years so I don’t know whether it progressed.

Right, so how does it get HIV genes?

HIV is a retrovirus. It contains RNA, but on entering a host cell it uses an enzyme that’s only found in retroviruses, called reverse transcriptase, to turn its RNA into DNA.

I should digress a little here… Living cells above viruses store their genetic information in DNA. The proteins it codes for are made on little machines called ribosomes. The cell has to get copies of the blueprints (DNA) to the machines (ribosomes) without using up its only original copy, and if it wants to make a lot of one particular protein it will need more than one copy anyway. This involves an enzyme called transcriptase which makes RNA copies of the DNA blueprint. The ribosomes use the copies, not the original, to make proteins. There’s a lot more to it but I’m retired from lecturing 😉

So, HIV gets its RNA in, turns it into DNA and now it has a master copy to make multiple RNA copies for the ribosomes.

But wait – HIV has another trick. Once it’s turned into DNA it can get into the host DNA and hide there. It can then send out a few copies as RNA to make just a few viruses at a time. The host doesn’t get sick, doesn’t even know it’s there, possibly for many years.

Now, if a coronavirus infects a cell that’s already infected with HIV, and the HIV is currently making a few copies to send out into the world, it is possible that a few of the protein coats contain full coronavirus RNA plus a few genes from the HIV RNA. Most of them will contain genes that don’t help but a few might contain the genes that give it a new site of attachment to the host cell.

Attachment is coded into the protein coat, how it sticks to cells depends on the proteins on its surface. If it picks up the right HIV genes, its next infection will produce protein coats with the HIV attachment sites built in.

It really doesn’t need more than one per billion to get this new virus going. Out of the billions sneezed out, only one single enhanced virus needs to get into a new host and the new host will sneeze out billions of the new virus. It has an advantage over its ‘parent’ in that it is now better at attaching to host cells.

Yes. It could have arisen naturally. Mutation and development of any creature is simply a numbers game and viruses produce numbers that will make an astrophysicist’s head hurt.

That just leaves the long incubation period.

The classic school-level teaching of viruses is very basic. Virus gets in, makes loads of copies of itself, bursts the host cell and infects other cells. Many viruses do this.

Not all. Some viruses ‘bud off’ their copies from the host cell so the host cell stays alive longer and therefore makes more copies of the virus before it dies. A HIV virus hiding in the host DNA will do this for years, and we already know the new coronavirus has acquired some HIV genes.

So – and this is pure theory – suppose it’s budding off viruses but not killing cells for a few weeks before it goes – ahem – viral. You don’t get sick yet. It doesn’t have all of HIV’s genes, so it can’t do this for years, only weeks. It has the gene that makes it a more efficient infector and maybe a gene or two for the slow release mechanism. That could have been engineered without much difficulty using modern equipment but it could also have arisen by pure chance.

If the chance of it arising is one in a hundred billion… that’s one infected HIV patient. Just one.

It’s not flu. This is far more dangerous.

The biggest problem is governments. Governments are fixated on money and viruses don’t care about money. Governments have no idea at all how to control a new virus, they only know about ‘the economy’. I am not talking about any particular government. I’m talking about all of them.

There is much wailing and gnashing of wallets over stock markets plummeting. The virus does not care. You can’t bribe this thing any more than you can bribe the climate. Oh they’ll try throwing money at it. It will achieve nothing at all.

If it has a reinfection level like the common cold then vaccines will not work. If second infection is really worse than first infection then vaccines will kill you. The vaccine counts as the first infection.

Nobody cares as long as they make money.

I wonder what they think they’ll spend it on?

Aye. We’re doomed.

Dooomed I tell ye.

Coronavirus is an interesting thing. Many people say it’s just flu. Some American idiot called Rush Limburger thinks it’s just like the common cold because it has a 98% survival rate. I rather suspect the common cold’s survival rate is tapping on 100%, you know.

Flu kills less than one percent of those it infects. It’s still a lot because it infects an enormous number every year. The new coronavirus has a kill rate somewhere between 2% (China’s claim) and 16% (Iran’s claim). It’s not as bad as Ebola. Get that and you have 50% chance of not melting into a bloody puddle. Coronavirus is not good either, it is killing people.

Coronavirus is not new. They’ve been around for ages. This variant is new, so new that absolutely nobody on the planet has any kind of natural immunity. The idea that it is a bioweapon is gaining ground. I think it might be but I don’t think it was deliberately released. It is a mutation that just happens to have the hallmarks of the ideal bioweapon and while it could have arisen by chance, I suspect it escaped containment.

How? I’ve visited China’s research facilities in the 1990s. The smoking area was in the cylinder store, one staff member was smoking while leaning on a hydrogen cylinder. They don’t give a shit about health and safety. I would not be at all surprised if staff in full hazmat suits called in a cleaner to clear up a spill, and the cleaner came in with a mop and an apron while smoking a fag.

Containment and safety, they really don’t get it. Look up YouTube videos of their bamboo scaffolding being put up. They do not care.

Giving the Chinese a level 4 containment facility was a very bad idea. This was bound to happen, sooner or later.

I saw a claim that the virus only lasts 6 hours outside the body. Bollocks. China is cremating everyone who dies of it. If it cannot survive for any length of time without a living host then bodies can be buried. There are plague pits under London from the late 1600s that cannot be dug into even now. Yersinia pestis, the plague bacterium, could still be active down there. It’s remarkably persistent.

If you have one that dies in six hours it’s not a problem. You also wouldn’t have to sterilise cash, which is what China is doing now,

This is not the common cold and it’s not flu. Its individual virus particles now outnumber the people on this planet and probably the stars in the galaxy. You cannot guarantee immunity even if you survive it. Mutation into a new form is simply a numbers game, most mutations will die but you only need one – and this virus population is big enough to throw up a dozen viable new nasties at once. Even if you survived the first wave, you have no immunity to the next ones.

Its rate of spread makes flu look like a rank amateur. Its incubation period is unprecedented. You can be infected and spreading it for at least two weeks before you get sick, Nothing else does that. You get a Salmonella infection and you’re shitting through every orifice within twelve hours. Norovirus and you’re crapping water in 24. Nothing takes this long.

This thing is engineered. I really don’t think it was meant to be released. It is a perfect bioweapon. It kills maybe 5 to 10 percent of those it infects, it overloads healthcare, it shuts down transport, it causes fear in the population, it makes cities seal themselves off as in Italy now, it makes your opponents fearful of each other. One cough and you’re ostracised.

But it wasn’t meant to happen. I really don’t think it was deliberate. It was a blunder, which is why China is covering it up as well as they can. It doesn’t matter now anyway, it’s out and we have to deal with it. This spreads faster than any disease I have ever heard of (and my career as a microbiologist was all about infectious disease), it has an incubation period that is incredible and a rate of infection I have never seen.

If it had been a deliberate experiment they would have tried it on a small town somewhere and locked it down.

This thing probably won’t kill you but it’s best avoided if you can.