Statement: “With massive vaccination campaigns in Western countries and the COVAX race to vaccinate the whole world….everything is back to normal, just like before.”
….The fact is we’re not going back, at least not completely.
Epidemics have been on the rise these last few years….increasing the frequency of pandemics*. Since the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) has adopted the term: “Public Health Emergencies of International Concern – PHEICs”. Since 2002, not less than 6 of them have been named and they are all viral: H1N1 (or swine flu in 2009), polio declaration of its resurgence (in 2014), outbreak of Ebola in Western Africa (in 2014), Zika virus epidemic (in 2015), the 2018–20 Kivu Ebola epidemic (in 2018), and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. (Note that the Flu is automatically a PHEIC)
A strong ennemy
An ever increase in biomass (550 billion Tons of bound Carbon), there are 10 times more viruses than there are bacteria (5 x 10e30 !)**. Each encounter with the a cell in an organism is an opportunity for the virus to replicate and multiply 1000s of times. And “fast” is what the proliferation (not a division as not cells) rate is. A viral particle (virion) takes a day or 2 to produce copies of itself; infected host cells are no match to that.
It is true that a virus requires an incubation period in a host cell before it synthesizes massive amounts of infectious replicas….it requires several phases: “attachment, entry, uncoating, transcription / mRNA production (protein), synthesis of virus components, virion assembly and release (liberation stage)…”Hide your strength, bide your time !”
Therefore each virion synthesis (viral particle) involves RNA (for coronavirus), then translation from RNA to protein. Every new synthesis creates a chance for a mutation (can be as high as 1% of replicas for HIV for example**); viruses after all easily modify their genetic code as proof-reading systems such as repair genes are absent in RNA viruses….after all it is this mechanism which explains its ability to have arisen and evolve…look at the new mutagenic variants thanks to “beneficial mutations.”
Vaccination: the end of the problem ?
And despite the vaccination tool which will undoubtedly increase individual immunity in 2021, the virus continues to be produced and thus maintains an ongoing mutagenic potential. It might only be matter of time when a new virus strain is produced and that the vaccine is no longer effective…like the seasonal flu.
And for those who believe that humans are protected….think again. The virus came from animals (mammals) and can “jump” back to them as a reservoir to survive and evolve. We can’t just neutralize all other mammals (such as the millions of minks in Denmark during the pandemic, nor the live animals in markets where the virus originated).
The lesson to learn is one of adapting globalization to keep its narrative alive: so called positive effects on the economy and well-being for all: is traveling on a plane over the week end or driving energy-hungry SUVs really a responsible attitude ?
The role of Climate change ?
For example permafrost heating in Siberia could cause the liberation of previously frozen viruses and bacteria that were responsible for previous pandemics. You can read more about this HERE. (in addition to decomposing organic matter which in turn worsens global warming through Carbon Dioxide liberation).
The Role of Overpopulation ?
Increases in urbanization and deforestation lead to closer contact with the rest of the fauna (animals such as mammals).
That being said, there is the notion of trust from all geographical sources of epidemiological information. We are all responsible for globalization and its effects. If we are to continue the process we need to make sanitary bodies of different countries accountable (like the World Trade Organization-WTO for trade)…or “Cultiver son jardin.” This is the last sentence of “Candide” of Voltaire and means: that the only way to survive in an far-from-perfect world is to focus on your own little corner and ignore everything else.
Expect not only new virus strains of the SARS-CoV2 virus but also new germs which are a part of evolution…and learn your lesson !
This is a view written during a rainy day and a pessmistic tone is the consequence. View it as an opinion but also as a collection of facts. The future cannot easily be predicted, but I don’t want to see this year again in my life.
*Wikipedia definition of a pandemic: a pandemic (from Greekπᾶν, pan, “all” and δῆμος, demos, “people” the ‘crowd’) is an epidemic of an infectious disease that has spread across a large region, for instance multiple continents or worldwide, affecting a substantial number of people.
**Crawford DH. Viruses. A Short Introduction. 2018. Oxford University Press