Viruses, explained

I did some simple googling and found the web is rich with explanations about viruses. Huh. Imagine that.

You can start with that video. You can also look further. Like about the evolution of viruses. There’s more below on the evolution of viruses written at a high school or even middle school level. Read more here.

Introduction

Have you ever wondered why a different strain of flu virus comes around every year? Or how HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, can become drug-resistant?The short answer to these questions is that viruses evolve. That is, the “gene pool” of a virus population can change over time. In some cases, the viruses in a population—such as all the flu viruses in a geographical region, or all the different HIV particles in a patient’s body—may evolve by natural selection. Heritable traits that help a virus reproduce (such as high infectivity for influenza, or drug resistance for HIV) will tend to get more and more common in the virus population over time.[Quick review: What is evolution?]Not only do viruses evolve, but they also tend to evolve faster than their hosts, such as humans. That makes virus evolution an important topic—not just for biologists who study viruses, but also for doctors, nurses, and public health workers, as well as anyone who might be exposed to a virus. (Hint: that means all of us!)

Variation in viruses

Natural selection can only happen when it has the right starting material: genetic variation. Genetic variation means there are some genetic (heritable) differences in a population. In viruses, variation comes from two main sources11start superscript, 1, end superscript:

  • Recombination: viruses swap chunks of genetic material (DNA or RNA).[What are DNA and RNA?]
  • Random mutation: a change occurs in the DNA or RNA sequence of a virus.

We can see variation and evolution of viruses all around us if we know where to look—for instance, in the new flu strains that appear each year.

How does one respond to this: “I had Covid19 20 years ago. Don’t worry about me.”

I’m troubled. People of whom I have great respect and love for have said the following:

I had Covid19 20 years ago. Don’t worry about me.

They might even go so far as to call it the “China virus”.

My response to this multiple-times declared statement has been:

That’s not the way science works.

To which the response is:

This is a coronavirus, and I’ve had coronaviruses.
Therefore I have a sort of immunity to this coronavirus.

It’s a challenge, because I have to decide how much discussion this conversation requires. I have to pose myself as “the expert” while “the expert” that declared this statement has to diminish his views and accept an alternate view that he or she clearly doesn’t accept or outright refuses to.

The end of my conversation yesterday whimpered out like this. After I attempted to explain that this is a whole new mutated virus that’s never been seen before, my friends said this:

We’ll see what happens.

I said:

I hope we don’t see what happens.

Let’s explore why I think I’m right or they are wrong. Let’s just look at what the “experts” are saying. From the CDC website, we have this basic information about Covid19. I’m not the expert. I can only try to rely on the information provided. Not my unscientific opinion based on a lifetime of NOT studying science so that I could pursue a career of art.

Here’s the basic description of what this virus is:

A novel coronavirus is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified. The virus causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold.

Then the CDC explains why they are calling it Covid19:

On February 11, 2020 the World Health Organization announced an official name for the disease that is causing the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak, first identified in Wuhan China. The new name of this disease is coronavirus disease 2019, abbreviated as COVID-19. In COVID-19, ‘CO’ stands for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for disease. Formerly, this disease was referred to as “2019 novel coronavirus” or “2019-nCoV”.

There are many types of human coronaviruses including some that commonly cause mild upper-respiratory tract illnesses. COVID-19 is a new disease, caused by a novel (or new) coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans.

So let’s just explore these two simple paragraphs. Covid19 is a novel or new disease that is unlike any disease science has seen until the year 2019. It bares no resemblance to a previously known disease. On a molecular level, Covid19 is different from all previous forms of a coronavirus. It’s a simple comprehension of the facts.

Does the CDC have a political agenda? Do they have a reason to plant erroneous information on its website. Do they have a reason to mislead the American public with “fake” scientific reports.

But somewhere along the way, my friends not only disbelieve this information, but claim they got a version of coronavirus that makes them immune to this. Directly contradicting a professional response to what we’re experiencing.

I’ve devoted a lot of time to wondering about this as it seems to be something these fine, smart people have convinced themselves of. And I have convinced myself of what appears to be the opposite.

I have simply a Bachelor of Arts degree. My biology studies didn’t make it past a sophomoric level during my second year of college. Prior to that, Mrs. Huckabee (not that Huckabee) did her best to teach me biology in the 10th grade at a high school level. I was also taught in High School that evolution is the fruits of the devil, and that God created the entire universe and all of creation in six days. I was taught that that was and is the truth. I mean Truth. Capital T. Truth.

My friends have years of life experience beyond mine. And while that makes them and their opinions truly valuable, I can’t seem to find any evidence to shed the view that they had this disease, twenty years ago, and have a fully formed immunity toward it. I’m pretty sure they believe that the earth and everything in it was created in the six days of creation. But should that be a reason to suspect error in their thinking?

In this scenario, I’d like to think that looking at and valuing the experts would carry more weight than, say, personal interpretation of life experience. When someone wearing civilian clothing says, “I can fly a plane, trust me. Hop in.” And there’s a guy wearing a captain’s hat and a captain’s uniform standing next to him, I would probably ask the dude in civilian clothes to take me to my destination.

Can you start to understand my dilemma?

The simple explanation that many people have a hard time with is that cells mutate. That’s the basis of evolution. When they do this, they can completely alter to a new form. It is based on an old form. But if you don’t have a common understanding of a simple science, how can one accommodate new information about a NEW disease?

It seems that is likely a part of the building blocks of doubt that makes up the fabric of the doubters of this disease.

If you are told to wear a mask, because this disease is an airborne virus spread through droplets, but leave your nose exposed, you would be correct to assume you might get the disease because we’re breathing in other people’s droplets ALL the time that we’re around each other, singing, laughing, sneezing, talking, telling the same stories over and over.

Or you opt for a plastic shield in lieu of a cloth mask, you’re also doing yourself a disservice. And others.

Science indicates millions of years of diverse species ranging from dinosaurs to bacteria. They claim that 99% of all living species to ever live has gone extinct. They say we are descended from a lineage of reptilian to mammalian animals. We’re all connected by distinct organs, body parts and traits.

Somehow accepting the evolution scenario is tough, even for some of my more liberal-minded friends who seem to accept radio waves might be the partially to blame to aid the molecular makeup of a virus. It’s just not the science that we are stuck with learning about.

We live in a divided world. And those divisions are splintered within their ranks.

I stand with the collective data driven science standpoint that the virus, long prophesied by scientific data and by experts with far more experience than mine, are doing their best to observe, record and transmit information about a minuscule monster wreaking havoc over the earth’s humans.

Perhaps I’m over dramatic. Melodramatic. Scared. Gullible. Perhaps science is just another religion. Perhaps I’ve drunk the Koolaid. I totally get it.

There’s tasty koolaid saying the disease is new. And tasty koolaid that indicates that this disease will just go away. Or that it is a political hoax. Or that after 15 cases, it’ll drop to zero. Or that 170,000 deaths is what it is. Or that testing more only shows more cases, so don’t test more. Or that not wearing a mask is a silent political protest. Or that Obama dismantled the government’s ability to rid itself of the virus, 3.5 years into this president’s tenure, with more than enough time and money to devote to rebuilding it (if it really happened. Surprise, it didn’t).

We live in a divided world. And it’s so easy to see how we’re divided.

Whether to believe a business man or a career long epidemiologist?

Fuck!!! I can’t decide. I’m so fucking torn. These decisions are so hard.

He tells it like it is. I trust him! He’s not a politician. He just plays one on TV! He hasn’t failed at business. He hasn’t had multiple wives, and certainly didn’t cheat on them. He hasn’t been accused 20+times of sexual assault. He hasn’t hoped to sleep with his own daughter. He didn’t file chapter 11 six times. He is soooooooooooo smart. He has carte blanche to grab women’s pussies, because, you know, locker room talk. I mean wealth. Shit. Which is it? A million thighlanders can’t be wrong. Didn’t you see him drink water with one hand while reciting “person, man, woman, tv, camera”? That shit is hard to do when you’re calling Ted Cruz’s wife ugly, demeaning John McCain, a decorated war hero and POW, calling democratic candidates for Vice President “Nasty” but wishing a monster of human trafficking well.

The jury is still out on Covid19, y’all. And it seems you could have suffered from it in 1999. That’s where the 19 comes from. 19 isn’t short for 2019. It’s short for 1999.

De Nile ain’t just a river, kids. It ain’t just a river.

A celebrity casts her thoughts on Twitter. She is largely bashed by non-celebrity opinion fiends with absolutely the same level of expertise. No one sees the irony.

In nothing short of a threat to riling her own fanbase, Singer songwriter Taylor Swift took a swipe at the president for what appears to be a dismantling of the American postal service. And the responses vary from support to absolute disparaging.

How can this celebrity tell me what to think? And then they appear to give their opinion on the matter, likely presented to them in a format they can appear to support.

Isn’t this dandy? The language from some of these people is downright Jeremy like. Mean and unruly. “That bitch should just sang and not open her mouth about the orange turd that I love so dearly!!! Who does she think she is! Another person with an opinion? Make her stop so I can tweet something racist and sexist and stupid!”

Or you have a mother who expresses that she’s glad she had boys so she didn’t have to listen to her music. Yet, I’m pretty sure she has fans of both genders, dipshit.

Or there are people who say it’s the democrats who will take advantage of mail-in voting and would be the ONLY party to misuse it. That would seem to indicate that republicans are completely immune from misusing the mail to vote. Single party collusion. Dirty democrats are the ONLY ones capable of that evil.

Or people think she’s catering to Hollywood moguls who she might woo to get a major motion picture … ladies and gents, I hate to give you bad news, but she’s already done with Hollywood and doesn’t need to express left-ist expressions to get into their good graces. She could literally fund her own movie experience and still have enough left over to buy every American a house, a car and a device that helps remove heads from asses.

Or she’s a Soros-paid goon.

Or she’s a dumb blonde.

Or she’s an American with a position and a huge following who fell for a conspiracy theory.

Gosh, I wish there were ways to follow up. I wish it didn’t feel like a war every time we come to the table. But here we are.

Meanwhile, yet another conspiracy rages: