The Eradication of Covid-19
There has been a lot of talk about eradicating Covid-19 in the news using a 17 option or key variable scoring system to judge what will be required. The problem is that a lot of the research and modelling is performed on what are limited scope viruses, smallpox and Polio. Smallpox was eradicated due to it’s similarity to coxpox, and polio had the benefit of a weakend, dead, or inactive virus working as it changed so little. Over the past 22 months and having infected maybe 4% of the worlds population and 30% of the world having at least one dose of a vaccine, there have been 25 main variants of the Covid virus that have distinctly different characteristics.
Because of the differential of implementation of vaccines and the overall number of cases, it’s likely to promote faster variations in the disease than would normally be expected. Add to this that the Covid-19 virus is already vastly more variable than the two other viruses mentioned, the conclusions that it can be easily eradicated with concerted effort are probably incorrect.
How Covid infects people seems to be pretty self evident, being question of variant, aerosol size and concentrations, so, mainly susceptibility, proximity and duration, acting on the levels of ACE2 in the lungs, and subsequently around the body.
So it’s likely that a gradual herd tolerance is the best that can be expected, given the performance of the virus in the past, comparing it to the existing coronaviruses that normally infect people, and combined with other viruses such as rhinoviruses that cause things like the common cold. A rough estimate is that we catch the same strain of coronavirus about every 7 years on average. If it has changed considerably during that time period, then the end results will be very different.
The future of the virus is uncertain at the moment, but it’s likely we have it for a decade at least. So, all that we really know is that it is now out. Will it go the way of other coronaviruses of the past that we have become acclimatised to and just become another cold virus, or does it still have the potential of something like MERS, Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome that is 30% fatal, 15 times the 1 in 50 mortality of the current one? That would have the potential to be a world civilisation killer. The older coronaviruses have been circulating for millennia, so it is quite possible that a number of the civilisations of the past that ‘just disappeared’ may have met them when they were also new and not so innocuous. So far no evidence has been found for this, but then again, it may just be the effects do not show up. Of a current person who died of Covid-19, what would you look for that would show up in 1,000 years time?
The world now is a complicated set of weakly resilient interdependent and interlinked systems, where a Coronavirus spanner may fall into at any time. Was the past a different world to the one we live in? That 99% of humans history is missing suggest it may not have been.
The greater the numbers, and the continued differential between vaccinated and unvaccinated people, the greater the evolutionary chance for a variant with unexpected characteristics to develop. It’s a consequence of widepread use or overuse without full eradication, naturally selecting for the strongest versions to survive, as seen with biologicals such as malaria and methicillin resistant streptococcus aureus. If you change the environment to a new form that puts a biological under stress, it will change to survive and thrive, so it will try to adapt to that new environment, with the more adaptable or changeable forms having an advantage over the easily overcome. Mutations through nuclear contamination is a good example of this environment of enhanced proliferation as as the radiation is very fast selective operation.