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It's now past two years since SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19) spread beyond China and became a pandemic.

From the outset, I've covered aspects of the pandemic on this website, beginning with Love in the time of Coronavirus back in March 2020, so the passing of the pandemic's second birthday seemed an appropriate time to review what we've learnt.

The positive news is that: Covid-19 has been far less deadly than the 1918-20 "Spanish Influenza' pandemic. 

This relative success in limiting the number of deaths this time round is entirely due to modern science.

Although historians disagree over the numbers, all agree that the Spanish Influenza pandemic killed a great number. The lowest estimate is 17 million worldwide, while another puts it at between 24.7 and 39.3 million. Most, including the National Museum of Australia and Wikipedia, tell us that over 50 million people died worldwide. This was when the population of the world was 1.9 billion, less than a quarter of that it is today. However, most historians do agree that that virus did not originate in Spain but first crossed to a human in the United States originally from a waterbird (it was H1N1), then possibly, via a pig. The earliest documented case was March 1918 in Kansas. It was carried into the trenches of the Great War by one or more American 'Doughboys', from whence it spread across the world as the war ended.  As Dorothy opined: 'Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.'

In the early 20th century, vaccine development was by trial and error. Although bacteria could be seen using a powerful, optical-microscope, virions (virus particles) were invisible and could only be inferred to exist, like atoms 50 years ago. As a result, attempts to produce a vaccine in the 1920's targeted suspicious bacteria and were totally ineffective against the influenza, as were many attempted and folk-treatments - perhaps injecting disinfectant?  No, no one would be that stupid!

Masks and social distancing provided the only effective mitigation until natural (herd) immunity stopped the spread.

Unlike that, most deadly, to date, of all viruses, this virus certainly originated in China.

 

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Travel

The United States of America – East Coast

 

 

In the late seventies I lived and worked in New York.  My job took me all around the United States and Canada.  So I like to go back occasionally; the last time being a couple of years ago with my soon to be wife Wendy.  She had never been to New York so I worked up an itinerary to show her the highlights in just a few days.  We also decided to drive to Washington DC and Boston. 

 

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Fiction, Recollections & News

More on Technology and Evolution

 

 

 

 

Regular readers will know that I have an artificial heart valve.  Indeed many people have implanted prosthesis, from metal joints or tooth fillings to heart pacemakers and implanted cochlear hearing aides, or just eye glasses or dentures.   Some are kept alive by drugs.  All of these are ways in which our individual survival has become progressively more dependent on technology.  So that should it fail many would suffer.  Indeed some today feel bereft without their mobile phone that now substitutes for skills, like simple mathematics, that people once had to have themselves.  But while we may be increasingly transformed by tools and implants, the underlying genes, conferred by reproduction, remain human.

The possibility of accelerated genetic evolution through technology was brought nearer last week when, on 28 November 2018, a young scientist, He Jiankui, announced, at the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing in Hong Kong, that he had successfully used the powerful gene-editing tool CRISPR to edit a gene in several children.

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Opinions and Philosophy

Jihad

  

 

In my novella The Cloud I have given one of the characters an opinion about 'goodness' in which he dismisses 'original sin' as a cause of evil and suffering and proposes instead 'original goodness'.

Most sane people want to 'do good', in other words to follow that ethical system they were taught at their proverbial 'mother's knee' (all those family and extended influences that form our childhood world view).

That's the reason we now have jihadists raging, seemingly out of control, across areas of Syria and Iraq and threatening the entire Middle East with their version of 'goodness'. 

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