Surviving Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) Sunday February 7, 2021

8:00 AM

Another week of historical news.  When they stack up like this, week after week of historical events you wind up with a historical tipping point.  Think about 1941; Pearl harbor led us into WW2; everyone enlisted or got drafted; all the women took the men’s jobs by necessity; and this string of historical events transformed America.  I believe we are in a similar period of history right now but our mettle seems to lack the spine of the greatest generation.

Instead of uniting we blame and even attack each other.  Instead of focusing on the enemy, SARS-CoV-2, we focus on our differences.  Instead of accepting responsibility for our actions we blame shift with ‘what aboutism’.  If we were dishonest, point out the others guys dishonesty.  If we robbed a bank and get caught, instead of owning up to our actions, we point out the fact that the other guy stole a pen from the bank and falsely equate the two.  In short, we have become a nation of children, as this is the way children often behave when caught with their hand in the cookie jar. Deny the fact and scream that our brother or sister already stole a cookie.

This mindset was exemplified by the Trump administration.  For four years they were a bull in the china shop.  They failed to appoint people to critical positions or appointed cronies or others uniquely unfit for the position they placed them in.  They did this so often that they dodged around the constitutional requirement of senate confirmation and instead named people as ‘acting’ this or that.  If anyone complained, or began to protest they fired them and started over with a new acting head of whatever.

They intentionally broke parts of the governmental machine and gummed up the works of others.  To rectify this POTUS Biden has been filing executive action after executive action to undo the wrongs of Trumpism.  Trump ripped families apart by EA, so Biden uses EA to reverse that, over and over.  Biden has to rebuild all the Governmental machine Trump broke, fix what was gummed up, in order to render aid to Americans crushed by the pandemic.  Trump took little or no action on the national level for the pandemic when it requires a national response and instead went about breaking our ability to respond nationally.  Biden has to repair all the damage to respond nationally.

It is beginning to work, but it’s a hard task.  This week the number of inoculated outpaced the number of infected.  That is, we now have more people vaccinated than we have infected.  Thirty-four million have been vaccinated and only twenty-six million have been infected.  That is a total of 60 million with some resistance to the bug.   For actual herd immunity to take effect we need at least 227 million to 276 million inoculated.  We need to do 167 million to 216 million more inoculations to get there. At about a million vaccinations per day that is thirty-nine weeks from now, about nine months, so around Halloween.  We are on the way but need to speed the hell up.

That was the good news.  The bad news is variants. Last spring many people were concerned that this virus was a bio-weapon, and I explained that the problem with anyone using a bio-weapon is that you will shoot yourself in the ass with it.  If Dr. No created a viral weapon and a vaccine for it, and then inoculated all his people for it and loosed it in the world it would still shoot him and his people in the ass.  That is because once a virus is loose and spreading it is mutating, evolving in real time. 

Every time it reproduces, tens of thousands of times per infection, it has a minute chance to mutate.  If that mutation is more prone to survive than the original then that becomes the new strain, and eventually a new virus if the bug is loose long enough.  This is why no one ever used a virus as a bioweapon, it is guaranteed to shoot you in the ass too.  Instead, bio-weapon research focuses on bacteria like Anthrax, because it does not spread so easily.  It is therefore possible to use as a bioweapon with minimal risk.

Last spring the issues was, and largely still is “Where did SARS-CoV-2 originate”?  The main consensus at that time was that it came from bats, through the pangolin, into the wet markets of Wuhan, into human and then human to human throughout the world.  The secondary possibility was it escaped from the level four bio-research facility in Wuhan, into Wuhan’s human population, and then person to person throughout the world. 

China’s defensiveness is understandable. If is zootrophic its an “Oops, nature got us all, sorry we did not catch it in time.  We will re-think these wet markets.”, which they did close down or place new restrictions on as wet markets are a viral petri dish. 

On the other hand, if it is an “Oops, it escaped from our level four bio-research lab.”, then they are directly responsible.  Their viral failure would be the cause of a global pandemic with over two million deaths and counting.  That would have serious political blowback, every nation on Earth would want compensation from China for their losses, so China has been reluctant to allow science to look at their data, afraid of what might transpire should the planet decide it is their fault. Trump made this worse by implying it is their fault, calling it the china virus and directly blaming China regardless of how it started.  More ‘Blame the other guy’ rhetoric instead of tackling the problem.

As research on the origins of SARS-CoV-2 have continued it looks less and less like a zootrophic leap to humans and more and more like the “Oops, it escaped from our level four bio-research lab.”  We will likely never know for sure.  The facts as they stand are based upon what we find in the virus itself, viral standard operating procedures, and the big argument inside virology about forced viral mutations as a research path.

I will take the last first. Forced viral mutations as a research path is a controversy inside viral research.  The idea is “All virus mutate over time so how do we protect our populations from what a dangerous virus might become?”  The Pro side thinks that the only way to do so is to force the virus to mutate in certain ways in the laboratory where it is controlled, then develop treatments and vaccines ahead of time, so if the virus existing in nature ever mutates in that direction we would be prepared.  The con side says “What if we mutate a virus in such research and a lab gets blown up, or hit with a hurricane or our procedures fail and our now mutated more deadly bug escapes?  It is too risky to research in this fashion we might cause our own pandemic!”

It is looking more and more like that is exactly what happened, but we won’t ever know for certain.  If such a horror did happen it is not likely any nation would admit it and earn the globes animosity or outright hatred for generations.  It might even spark a war as angry people would then have someone to blame and attempt to punish that nation in some way. 

The facts as they stand are all in virology and proximity. 

  1. Wuhan has a level four bio-research lab less than one mile from the wet market ‘origin’ point.
  2. China has a history of dangerous Coronavirus outbreaks having been affected by both SARS and MERS and so might have a sound rationale for researching Coronavirus and their less restrictive research laws may have even used even forced viral mutations.
  3. The zootrophic explanation has a weak point in that it jumped from bat to pangolin to human quickly, but not back to pangolins or bats, instead preferring human to human transmission. The virus normally would be easier to spread in bats or pangolin, and human spread would be the new vector and hence not as easily spread there. The opposite is true, its spreads easily in humans.
  4. The virus spreads better indoors than outdoors.  Most wild virus are used to outdoors, but lab virus, that is virus worked on in the lab over time, develop a preference for the lab conditions, indoors at room temperature. SARS-CoV-2 spreads more easily indoors and is weak in sunlight out of doors.
  5. Forced viral mutation in the lab often creates a pathway of viral mutation.  That is if we make a virus more contagious it tends to evolve in the lab becoming more and more contagious over time in the petri dish.  Wild virus seems to be more random in their mutations. SARS-CoV-2 is mutating in the wild along a pathway, creating multiple new strains all of which are more contagious.
  6. Inside the virus itself, under the electron microscope, the virus shows an odd evolution.  It looks very much like someone used a Crisper type technology on the virus, changing its base structure.  It could be a random natural mutation but it resembles a lab tweak.
  7. SARS-CoV-2 appears to be a fast mutagen.  We already have multiple strains all vying to be the dominant strain.  Virus are often made to mutate faster under forced viral research as it speeds up the work.

Last spring when I discussed this all we had for evidence was the location of the Lab and China’s reluctance to share data, which as I said is understandable despite being reprehensible.  Now the clues are stacking up, and it looks more and more like SARS-CoV-2 was a research project which got away.  Now we have the UK strain (50%) more contagious, the Brazilian Strain (50%) more contagious, and the South African Strain (70%) more contagious and resistant to the antibodies for the earlier strains, both the Chinese and Italian.  Thus, our vaccines will be effective against the Italian, Chinese, UK and Brazilian strains, but less effective against the South African strain.

If such trends continue and we do not vaccinate the planet, then the Virus will remain in the wild and continue to spread and mutate.  This fact alone is reason for vaccination even if it is less effective. It would slow the virus ability to mutate new strains. The fact that we have several strains now fighting to be the dominant strain is evidence of a fast mutagen.  The end result of this is that we may need a vaccine every year, a booster if you will, because SARS-CoV-2 is a fast mutagen.  This virus is now endemic, that is persisting and existing in nature, like the common cold.  Protecting ourselves may well be an annual event for everyone.

For two weeks now the numbers have plateaued or dropped slightly.  It is beginning to look like the peak, but we won’t ever know we are at the peak until we have passed it.  Further the fast mutagen aspects and the societal issues of folks refusing vaccines, wearing masks or following viral protocols exacerbates the problem.  How many people in America will ignore these protocols just to watch the Superbowl tonight?  Will the Superbowl create another spike as people strive to just feel normal?  I hope no and fear yes.

Global Infected 102,663,887                        105,852,770
Increase        3,188,883
7-day average   455,554 infections diagnosed daily

Global Dead     2,221,737                               2,311,024
Increase        89,287
7-day average   12,755      deaths daily 

USA Infected    26,076,028                            26,919,361
Increase        843,333
7-day average   120,476 infections diagnosed daily                           

USA C-19 deaths 439,536                               462,181
Increase        22,645
7-day average   3,235 deaths daily

Maine Infected 39,168                                   41,064  
Increase        1,896
7-day average   270 infections diagnosed daily

Maine deaths    590                                         634
Increase        44
7-day average   6.2857   deaths daily

While I hid away in my hilltop home, in my winterized somewhat sealed Hepa room, masking to go down for the facilities or food and drink, over twelve thousand people died every day; of those three thousand were my fellow Americans, and of those forty-four were my fellow Mainers.  This is “Black Winter”.

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