Everybody on Monday, I did a article on the coronavirus because apparently there’s, nothing else going on in the world right now. I guess, but it was a really important topic, so I really wanted to get some words in from an expert on this.
Somebody who’s really been following this kind of thing for a long time, so I reached out to David common, even if you saw him Monday’s. Article is the author of the book spillover, animal infections in the next human pandemic, and it came from some reporting that he did with National Geographic following some teams who are tracking Ebola across Africa, as well as some other outbreaks around the world.
He kind of took this experience and turned it into this book. I shared some of the clips of this interview with David in the article on Monday, but there was a lot more than we talked about. He had a lot of really cool points that I couldn’t all get in that article, so I’m sharing the entire interview here, but before you watch it, I I do have a couple of caveats.
So I’ll talk to David at the beginning of my research, which means two things one. I asked a lot of really dumb questions, because I was so very early in my research. This was kind of part of that and two a lot has changed since we talked.
I think he brings an interesting perspective to this whole thing, and he makes a lot of really good points about. You know where viruses like this come from, how they actually make the jump into humans and what we can expect in the future.
But anyway, I’d, like to thank David again for his time. This is a really fun interview to do and for the rest of you just sit back, get comfy and enjoy this conversation with David Clemen. But yes, I mean.
Are you getting called to do a lot of interview of me as this like day in day out, right now or yes, yeah Wow, since when did this start, I guess we all became aware of it, maybe second or third week in January, the watchdog’s became aware of it on New Year’s Eve.
I know that’s when the emerging virus – science – guys that I know got the alarm bell – that there was something happening in in Wuhan China and we started to hear about it. In mid-january I did a an op-ed for the New York Times that ran on January 28th, and I’ve been swept up in it ever since then.
I was in Tasmania for three and a half weeks doing research for another book and I ended up spending half my time in Tasmania, doing interviews with radio, England and China, television and various different things so yeah anyway.
Yes, it’s got I’m one of the many many people who is pretty busy with this thing. Well, so much has changed as since we agreed to do this interview in the last week. I mean just the last few days with state of emergency.
Officially a pandemic NBA is canceling everything. You know you know March Madness. Tournament is canceled, the Masters is canceled. Even the you know that’s held outdoors, but you know big crowds. Yeah outdoors is good for viruses, because UV light kills viruses, but okay, interesting well before we get into all that, I would love to just kind of start with with you, and I mean you do a lot of work for National Geographic right.
Yes, okay, when I was a kid okay, when I was a kid, I thought that would be the coolest job of all time. Like you & # 39, ve got to be the most interesting guy at every party. You go to you know, but then, after taking a good look at your book and everything I’m, like no.
That sounds like a nightmare like everything about that sounds like nothing. I want anything to do with which book was this spill over? Go over yeah, yeah, okay! Well I mean that’s. A little bit of that was researched for a story in National Geographic that ran in 2007 called deadly contact, and I was interested in the idea in the subject of emerging viruses before that.
So when they asked me to do a story on it, I said yes, it just so happens that I was hoping you’d. Ask me to do that, and I did research in the Congo forest and in Australia and in Cambodia and at the CDC for one magazine story that’s, one of the great things about working for National Geographic, at least at that period of time.
Things are changing constantly there too yeah. Does it open a lot of doors to say here with them? It does open doors yeah. You can walk into a cholera Hospital in Dhaka, Bangladesh and knock on the door of a busy doctor and say I’m, the guy from National Geographic and he’s likely to say oh well, come on in and give you an Hour, you know if you say I’m, the guy from Harper’s Magazine.
He says what all right, you know had a great time working for Harper’s Magazine in the past and in other magazines, but National Geographic yeah is. It is a global brand that people recognize, but the downside of that is sometimes they.
They say. Oh, you’re, the guy from National Geographic come on in. I love your channel, the writers all cringe when their magazine writers cringe when they hear that yeah or that were they think that, like you’re a like you own, the the channel, or something like that, like I used to work at the Dallas Morning News I live here in Dallas and I worked in the advertising side, so I wasn’t even a reporter or anything, but but whenever people heard that I work there, they like what’s, your beat yeah the Dallas Morning News.
It’s, got a nice ring to it, it sounded kind of cool. So what did you say? Crime news stuff? Well, I was a headline writer, so I guess I my beat was trying to sell furniture or something not really that important, but well so what was it that got you so excited or interested? I guess and excited to word were to use and the virus.
What got me excited, what got me interested deeply interested is because is ecology and evolution. Okay, I read The New Yorker stories that became the book. The hot zone by right, Kristin when they ran in The New Yorker, might have been the first thing I ever heard.
I read about Ebola virus like a lot of people. I was mesmerised by those two wonderful magazine pieces later by the book. Not so much so I started to read about emerging viruses and I wrote a few things about it and I wrote a little bit about Ebola and got to know some Ebola.
Scientists got more and more interested in that and then in 2000, in the year 2000. I was on an assignment for National Geographic walking across essentially the forests of the Congo Basin, with a wonderful American explorer conservationist biologist named Mike Fay, who was doing a 2,000 mile survey bushwhack through the forests of Central Africa.
I was following him for weeks at a time doing three stories and at one point we walked through Ebola, habitat and we knew it was Ebola habitat because there was a famous Ebola outbreak among people that had occurred on a village at the edge of this forest Block so we knew we bowl awaz there in this forest living in all, viruses must must live in cellular creatures, so it was living in presumably an animal hmm species unknown in this forest, and we were walking through it and that focused my mind that got me Very interested it was spooky, but it was fascinating and what I was interested in is, as I said, the ecology and evolutionary biology of viruses it turns out.
They do have ecology and evolutionary biology, ecology. Well, viruses have to live in cellular creatures, so some of them live in animals and then, when we come in contact with those animals and kill them and butcher them and eat them, we come in contact with those viruses and sometimes it becomes a pandemic virus.
For us that’s, ecology evolution is the fact that viruses evolve, whether or not they are living things there’s, no question that they evolve by good old-fashioned, Darwinian natural selection, the survival of the fittest, variation among populations, limited resources, competition, The result is adaptation that’s, natural selection, so anyway, imagine being there where it all happened, really clarifies all that.
I mean it’s. It’s very epic thing from over here, yes, it became very concrete yeah. I write about this in spillover of my book on this that on that, on that a trip that the expedition was about 10 days of walking through this Ebola forest and we walked in river sandals and shorts bushwhacking through the jungle sleeping on the ground in tents.
At night, crossing swamps, crossing Blackwater streams up to our waist width with about a dozen Gabonese guys as the forest crew carrying most of the heavy equipment carrying the food carrying the tents Mike Fay in the lead behind one guy with a machete cutting a hole through The fourth, so the guy with a machete, the point man and then Mike Fay with his notebook and then me with my notebook and then the rest of the guys stayed back an hour behind.
And sometimes it was a great photographer on this project Nick Nichols. And he was with us sometimes, but he was also shooting in other parts of the forest on sort of stakeouts at other times, so we went through the forest that way.
So now we’re going through this Ebola forest and around the campfire one night we always ate around the campfire a couple of guys on this Gabonese crew start talking about when Ebola struck their loved ones in this village on the river just east Of where we were started telling me about it, you know killed five family members of one guy.
He was holding his niece when, essentially when she died, you know bleeding and telling these horrific stories in the small village, and then one of these guys said oh and they were talking in French and my French is so-so, but Mike Fay was helping me with the French one point this fellow said: ah in the forest, when this Ebola outbreak was killing the people in our village saffiano and I his friend saw a pile of 13 dead gorillas nearby in the forest.
I said what this went into my notebook immediately: 13 dead, gorillas, a pile of 13 dead gorillas, and I knew enough about Ebola, then to know that Ebola kills marilla’s and chimpanzees, ferociously just as just as devastating to them as it is to Humans, so this pile of 13 dead gorillas outside of this Ebola strike village represented to me concretize.
For me, this reality that diseases path passed back and forth between species by viruses, back passed back and forth between species, hmm gorillas, disease, human disease, same disease and ultimately, it comes from some other animal that carries it without being devastated without being killed.
That’s, the reservoir host. Maybe it’s a bat. Maybe it’s, a rodent. Maybe it’s, something else. Maybe it’s, a spider. Nobody knows still: ecology, evolutionary biology, hmm and that’s them that’s really.
The moment when I got when I got books, scope interested in this yeah. So so, when you, when you heard the story about the 13 dead girls – and I remember hearing about that and in the book, they already knew that they could die from Ebola and that just kind of like you & # 39.
Ve got something in your brain and you’re like oh, that’s; the that’s; the crossover of the spillover! Well, that’s, not that’s! That’s, not the spillover, but it’s. Part of this chain, for instance, that particular outbreak that had happened in the village, their village nearby, let’s say I was there in 2000, I was probably July of 2000.
I still have that notebook and this outbreak occurred in 1996. If I recall so, it only happened. Four years earlier, it had happened. It had begun with some young boys from the village going out to hunt for meat in the forest with their dogs, and they came back with a chimpanzee, a dead chimpanzee and they said.
Aha, you know we & # 39. Ve got this meat people in the villages, there do eat chimpanzee and they’re. Desperate push me push me right, so we come back with this chimpanzee and then suddenly everybody starts to get sick.
Everybody who’s here to help butcher? The chimpanzee everybody who helped cook and eat the chimpanzee got sick and some of we were taken down the river to a Regional Hospital. Some of them stayed in the village.
I think about 30 people died, terrible fevering deaths, not necessarily as bloody as you’ve heard about, but terrible deaths and and then the disease detective came, detectives came in and they’re in their white.
Hazmat suits to investigate this and they did the epidemiological sleuthing and they heard the story about the chimpanzee and they figured out that the chimpanzee was infected with Ebola. So I knew that whole story, chimpanzee, can be infected with Ebola.
Gorillas can be infected with Ebola. Don’t eat gorilla meat. If you find a dead gorilla in the forest. You didn & # 39. T need to tell me that twice right, but then there is the ultimate host the reservoir host.
What was that still unknown? So when I first focused in on this, there was the mystery. The reservoir host of Ebola was still unknown. It came out of some creature, it got into a chimp, it got into a gorilla people, scavenged meat.
They got sick. That’s. How at least several of the the remote village Ebola outbreaks have happened in central Africa hmm, so there was a mystery there. There was a detective story. I’m, trying to figure out originally where this crime story and that’s and the book spillover is filled with detective stories.
It’s, a new disease, a mysterious new disease, the first things scientists do is so what’s, causing this and then maybe they find a new virus and they say we & # 39. Ve never seen this virus before it’s, a for instance, a novel coronavirus.
Where did it come from? We’ve, never seen it in humans before and then some people deal with the the medical and the public health side, but the people that I’ve paid attention to deal with that mystery story.
This new virus had to come from somewhere right. I have a chapter in spillover and title everything comes from somewhere. I thought that was really interesting. Like you’re right, like a virus, doesn’t just appear out of nowhere.
It has to come from an animal from somewhere, and viruses can only exist in viruses are not cellular creatures, little packets of DNA or RNA wrapped in in protein and lipids little capsules that can reproduce themselves if they are in the cell of a cellular creature.
Animal plant fungus bacterium or one of the little microbial cellular creatures it & # 39. S might be a dumb question. Has there been a plant to human spillover event? Not not? That is known. Okay, I looked for that.
The people looking for the Ebola Reservoir looked at plants. They looked at insects, they looked at spiders. Hmm, there was a guy wonderful fellow named Robert Swanepoel in South Africa. I went to South Africa to talk to him about this spent two days.
Listening to him talk, he was the one who did some of the early systematic searching in his laboratory for the Ebola virus in all these different kinds of creatures, and as of this point, as far as I know, it has still not been found in a reservoir Host what people say? Well, there’s, evidence of Ebola and this or that what you’re talking about is a fragmentary evidence like use, PCR testing, and you can get evidence of stretches of genome.
You can do other things that that give you evidence of antibodies against Ebola that show that this organism has been exposed to Ebola, but the the gold standard is to be able to isolate live virus out of that creature.
As far as I know, in terms of most of the different kinds of people there’s, several different kinds of people that gold standard has not yet been met to identify a reservoir host, although large fruit bats are certainly the leading suspects yeah, something That you, you said in your book that I thought was interesting, was, I guess, the way Ebola kind of pops up and kills a bunch of people and then disappears for a while yeah makes it very hard to kind of track it.
So right it’s, a it’s, a good thing for health that it’s. You know it’s, not constantly killing people, but it’s kind of a bad thing for the science of trying to figure out where it’s right and it’s. Sort of a catch-22, as these pitchers told me when I was getting them about this, when there’s an outbreak, then it’s, a medical emergency and everybody is focused on isolating cases and and treating people trying to prevent the spread.
Medical and public health issues and they as they say you can’t, do science. Under those circumstances, you can’t, go in there and tell people we & # 39. Ll, never mind that you’re dying. I’m trying to find the reservoir host of this creature right.
It doesn’t happen and then, when the outbreak is over, the money goes away and the public interest goes away right. Oh, if we fixed it yeah it’s over and that well this thing this coronavirus has gone so far.
Now that it’s, gon na be difficult for people once it’s under control. Once we’ve dealt with it, no matter how terrible it’s been, or maybe not so terrible. It’s. Gon na be difficult, but not impossible for people to forget mmm how unprepared we were for this one.
We need people to remember and be better prepared for the next one, that’s, the crucial thing with whether it’s, Ebola or coronavirus, or whatever I mean SARS 2003 write a novel coronavirus coming out of a bat in China killed 774 people and we were lucky and they controlled it.
Hmm the disease detectives that I know, including some that worked, that outbreak say that was a scariest one. That was much more scary than Ebola because it could have gone so big. Why did why didn’t it did it burn out as people some people say? No SARS didn’t burn out.
Sars was stopped was stopped by good, fast science, good, rigorous Public Health, centralized strong governments and and health care systems in the cities that had happened to get to and luck. But it was a lesson.
17 years ago SARS coronavirus the lesson went unlearned. We were completely unprepared for this one. Well, let’s start talking about this one. Then I know that, like Ebola kills a lot more has a lot higher death rate, but it’s.
A lot harder to transmit, whereas this is was the ARB, is the r-value. Is that what it’s called that the the number of people that can infect? Oh yeah, it’s called the basic reproduction rate or the yeah and, and they the in in the mathematical models.
They they use an R with a with a zero hanging low in front of it, which they call are not nou. Ght, as in oh you know, are nothing are, is zero that’s, the basic reproduction rate, meaning in a naive population, an unexperienced population that’s, the rate at which each single case infects additional cases.
So if, if R naught is three that means every infected person coming into a naive population, infects on average three people and that’s, an important number, so the only important number, but it’s, one of them I’M gon na assume being who you are and what you, what you do you’ve, talked to a lot of experts and you’re.
You’re, pretty much an expert in this. I’m, not an expert. I’m, just a guy who listens to experts, okay, well, that’s. I like to think of myself like that. Let’s just start with how bad is this? It’s, it’s, an unfortunate coincidence, and I don’t think it’s, an etymological fact that the words pandemic and panic sounds so similar that’s unfortunate there’s.
A subconscious thing that our brains do when we ask endemic okay, so I should panic in the pandemic. Panic is panic is really counterproductive. Sometimes people ask me how scared should I be? How worried should I be? I don’t want to be condescending, but I don’t like to answer that question.
I tend to politely say that’s, the wrong question. The right question is: what should I do? You know don’t, lose sleep, get a good night’s sleep, you know. Even if you’re gon na die tomorrow, get a good night’s, sleep.
Some people say you know. I published this 500 page book spillover about emerging diseases, scary viruses and people who haven’t read it sometimes say: oh okay, what’s? The bottom line? Are we all gon na die and with that wanting to be snotty, I say yeah, we’re all gon na die.
We’re, all gon na die. We’re, all gon na pay taxes and we’re all gon na die, but most of us are not gon na die of Ebola, right or or even novel coronavirus. So how bad is it? Well, there’s, a high degree of unpredictability, because a human behavior is unpredictable and B.
The evolution of this kind of virus is unpredictable, so you put those two kinds of unpredictability together and you get a wide range wide range of possible outcomes. Even now, when the world is alert to this, the alarm bells are ringing loud.
We still don’t know a how how people in communities and societies and nations are gon na behave. How we’re gon na respond, whether it’s, gon na be smart or stupid, slow or fast, lucky or unlucky and B.
We don’t know what the virus is going to do is the virus gon na change? Is it going to adapt the more people it infects the more times it is replicated the more times it replicates the more times it varies in terms of its genome and the more times it varies, the more chances it has to adapt in new ways which direction Might it go what might possibly adapt toward being less virulent, but not necessarily, there are cases that show possibilities both ways.
So, back to your question, how bad is this? It’s, really a serious situation. Why is it really a serious situation because it could be really really bad? Will it necessarily be no, not necessarily if we do the right things and if we are lucky so there’s, a coin that somebody has flipped and you can look at it flashing and turning in the air and you don’t Know whether it’s, gon na land, heads or tails, and if you can’t predict that you can’t predict what’s.
Gon na happen with this outbreak with this pandemic. That’s stories in that word. Now we’re allowed to start using that word and it’s. Now it’s. Now official I mean allowed quotation marks it’s now official.
I try to be careful. You know the e-book, the the big Ebola event in West Africa of 2014, which I got pulled into again a lot as a talking head sure. I tried to be careful to remember not to call that a pandemic, because that was really bad.
First, it was first first there was an outbreak and then, if it, if it spreads and through a country it’s an epidemic and if it spreads to a lot of countries on different continents, it’s a pandemic. You know there are no absolutely firm boundaries or definitions, but that’s, sort of the consensual way.
Those words are used. Yeah, Ebola 2014 was not a pandemic. This is a pandemic yeah. Well, you were saying earlier that there were some people that were bringing some warning bells about this back in late December early January.
What were the, what were the facts about this particular virus that got people so concerned? So early like what is about this? That really stands out amongst flu and all the other things that are out there well here’s the way I understand it.
Okay from what’s been available to read in early middle December, people who worked in the qua non wholesale seafood market in the city of Wuhan started getting sick fever. Other symptoms can then some of them getting really sick and then a few of them died apparently according to which source you look at somewhere.
Between 27 and 40. People got really sick scientists. Well, not scientists, but people in the hospitals started noticing this, including that wonderful man, the the ophthalmologist, and I should remember his name, dr.
Lin orally, or something like that. Yeah yeah. I think I know here talking about yeah and we should, when you put this together, get his name. So we can yes, sir, so you can insert his name that wonderful ophthalmologist, who became the first whistleblower where I started telling friends.
Look there’s. Weird shit going on at my hospital people are coming in with this febrile coughing disease and it’s, not flu and we don’t know what it is, but it’s, scary, and he told some of his friends About that and that started to spread the word mm-hm and he got in trouble, he got and muzzled for that.
He got into trouble for I think for putting something online about that and then of course, he got sick and died became the sort of the first martyr and he was pretty young and he was young and and he had no core comorbidities.
As far as I know, he was young and healthy. Yes, all these people that are like. Oh, I’m young. It’s, not gon na affect me. It’s. Like you know the guy who blew the whistle. Oh yeah, he may also have gotten a large initial dose of the virus, sure cuz he was in that hospital yeah we don’t know anyway, so that’s.
What so, then, on New Year’s, Eve, the disease detectives that I know started getting bulletin saying: oh, there seems to be a new one happening in Wuhan China. That was a New Year’s Eve and was that the the majority of the theorists? This is a brand new thing.
We know nothing about it, that’s spreading and it’s. Scary, yes, yeah. That was the sort of signal that they got and I don’t think at that point. Anybody was using the word coronavirus because I don’t think the virus had been isolated, but then pretty soon after that the virus was isolated.
Thanks to a heroic team of scientists, I believe at the Wuhan Institute of virology, and so then there was a they isolated the virus and they sequenced it. So then there was a molecular sequence and it was clear from the molecular sequence that it was a corona virus related to SARS, but not too closely related to SARS, but SARS MERS right there in this.
They all belong in this family of corona viruses, corona viruses are on the watch list because they’re. One of the families of viruses that evolved quickly and scientists have been saying that for a long time, I’ve, been saying that for eight years, because scientists were telling me watch out for corona viruses, they they mutate frequently.
Therefore they evolve quickly. Therefore, they have the potential to jump from an animal non-human animal hosts into a human and cause real problems. So this is then early January and people are saying: oh it’s, a new corona virus.
Oh boy, we remember SARS. You got ta. Take this really seriously, because it could, it seems to be highly transmissible, and it has. It has a case fatality rate, that’s considerably higher than the flu and, if it spreads as far as the flu that that means disaster, so that was that was early mid January.
That had the experts were saying that to one another and then they were saying the disease detectives were saying: where did this come from? You know who was in this live animal this market at this so-called wet market in China.
Evidently it was there. What did it come from and then some scientists some again Chinese scientists that the Wuhan Institute of virology with international partners, including some of the disease detectives? I know such as Peter Shack of eco Health Alliance.
They published a paper noting that this was very similar. Very, very, very similar to a virus that had been found three years earlier in bats, in a cave in Yunnan China. So then they said. Okay, we think this is a bat borne coronavirus and that’s.
How it got into the market. Did it spread to 27 people or 40 people originally from one little tiny bat the size of a mouse? Probably not so it must have gone into another animal caught hold. They’re, replicated that animal became an amplifier host.
That’s. The term and then that animal probably somehow spread it to a number of humans, probably by getting butchered and yeah and and sold so so the bat is the bat consider the reservoir host or the the other animal that you were just talking about is that, god Is considered the reservoir host, the other animal was considered the amplifier, okay, yeah and, and so that could have been a pig or a could have been a pig or in the case of SARS.
They they reckon that it was a civet right which is a kind of mammal, and in this case there’s been speculation. There was speculation at one point that it was a snake, but that seemed to be wrong. Hmm, that seems wrong to a lot of scientists immediately, and then I saw some speculation that it was a Pangolin right, the scaly anteater, really the thing it looks like it looks like an anteater or not or an armadillo, but it is a unique group of animals.
I think there’s. Six species most of them are endangered. They’re, traded there highly valued for their scales, but also for their meat. They really suffer from this live animal for food and live animal for medicine, trade.
That’s, so big in China. So there was, there was one, some speculation that it was a Pangolin I don’t know. If that hypothesis has been confirmed. Yeah they haven’t figured that out. Yet no amplifier host was I don’t think so.
Okay, at least I haven’t seen that scientific paper case fatality rate or case fatality. Risk is essentially the death rate and basic reproduction number is. This are not thing. How many cases from each case, right and and that’s pretty high with this particular one? Well, if they’re just high enough, just they think last I saw they were saying between two and three so like.
If it’s, if it’s, two to three, it means your your pandemic is growing constantly and when the numbers get big, the growth gets big. What happened with SARS is that they managed to get that are not down below one.
When you get it down below one so that you’ve contained the cases and each case is not infecting two other cases, then you can get a handle on it. Okay, and we do not have that. Yet we do not have that.
Yet we’re, probably not gon na have that. With this we’re. Probably gon na have to deal with it spreading through our communities and our countries because it’s already in so many places we’re gon na have to deal with it by slowing the rate of infection so that our healthcare systems Can deal with the number of cases that we have over a longer period of time, yeah, the social distancing.
You know the hand-washing and all that that’s, that’s really important, because that can slow the rate at which it moves through communities and if it moves through communities more slowly, then that means there are more likely to be hospital Beds for both your grandfather and your grandmother and if it moves through quickly, there might only be one hospital bed open for those two people, you love so much and that’s.
What they’re dealing with in Italy right now, isn’t, it absolutely yeah. They’re dealing with horrible choices and horrible situation in Italy. We haven’t in the United States, dealt with anything like this.
Maybe, since the Spanish flu, or something right, I mean yeah, that’s right yeah, the so-called Spanish flu, which probably didn’t yeah right no story about that is because Spain was was neutral World War one, and so they were reporting On it, so it became known as a Spanish flu that’s, pretty good yeah.
Your memory is better than mine. I was at an event, quite a story. Yes, and – and this is this is the biggest thing since then in terms of infectious disease. In America in the world you know so it’s.
It feels like every other year there’s another another. I should clarify what I just said go ahead. The biggest thing I said is this is the biggest thing since the flu of 1918 in terms of infectious disease in the world, that’s, incorrect okay, a couple of things, including something called AIDS, are important to prove it yeah.
Thirty-Five are we up at 35 million deaths at this point so and, and that is a zoonotic disease also, that came originally from one chimpanzee. A virus that came from one chimpanzee has caused the the entire virtually the entire AIDS epidemic, so we have dealt with other horrible epidemics.
The AIDS epidemic has been a slow-motion epidemic because the disease kills slowly and because it transmits relatively slowly. This is a fast one. Similar to the 1918 influenza, with your experience covering this in other countries around the world like, is there any country that really handles it well or is best prepared for it or well? There are countries that learn from the SARS epidemic and places that learn cities that learn Hong Kong learned Taiwan learned geoff, japan apparently learned pretty well South Korea.
I think learned some. What we learned zero from SARS, it seems. Will we learn from this? I sure hope. So, hmm, I sure hope so, but but you’re saying there is stuff we need to learn. Yes, okay, yes yeah there is there is there is stuff.
We need to learn there there. There are lessons that should have been heated after SARS and I & # 39. Ve got to be heated after this one, because why? Because this one is not the last one, there will be.
No, I think that’s, a point. I will definitely want to make in the article is that this is kind of just the beginning. That was something I kind of got from from your book as we, I think there’s, something at the point that you made and correct me.
If I’m saying this wrong, but that as we encroach into more animal territories around the world a more dense, this is just somebody’s. Gon na keep happening right. Yes, it is, and that’s. That’s. What I say in my book I mean this is not an independent event that is happening to us.
This is part of a pattern, a consistent drumbeat of events that reflect things that we are doing hmm and it’s been going on at least since 1961. I can recite a whole list of zoonotic outbreaks that either were bad or could have been bad viruses coming from Ana wildlife getting into the human population, killing people either a few or a lot and in most cases it’s.
Because why? Because to those animals seek out humans to give them the virus, does the virus seek out humans? No viruses respond to opportunity. They don’t have goals, they don’t have purposes, they respond to opportunity, they do evolve, yeah and and if a human kills a chimpanzee and butchers it, it is presenting itself as an alternate host for whatever virus is living in That chimpanzee, it is giving that virus and opportunity to jump to a new host and much more populous host exactly if the virus happens to jump from chimpanzees into humans that virus and finds that it can evolve and adapt and replicate and transmitted from human human, then That virus has won sweepstakes because chimpanzees are, you, know, are threatened, then their numbers are decreasing and our numbers are huge and increasing mmm, so that virus achieves great evolutionary success if it makes that opportunistic bleep.
So my dog sneeze, the other day, am I gon na die Joe? Are you gon na die? Yes, I’m. Sorry to say hello. We’re back to that question again, maybe not for 40 years until you step in front of a bus, I hope so, but probably not because your dog sneezed on ya.
There is talk about dogs and I think there was one yeah. Oh there’s yeah there’s, one case that is a greater interest to social media than it is to science. I believe, where somebody found evidence in the nostrils of a dog of coronavirus, now finding evidence, doesn’t necessarily mean finding live corona virus that was replicating and getting ready to jump out on next time that dog sneezes.
It might just mean that that dog was exposed and lots of dogs will get exposed to this and few if any of them are likely to come down with the disease. Kovat 19 yeah, let alone spread it to anybody else, because dogs are different enough from humans and this virus may have passed from a bat into a human, but that does not mean it can pass from a human into a dog.
So what is it about bats? You may have spoken about this in your book, but what is it about them that makes them such great reservoir hosts? It seems like I keep hearing that over and over again, a couple of things are relevant to the question.
Why bats and the in the question? Why bats is asked because bats seem to be overly represented as reservoir hosts scary, new viruses seem to be overly represented, and that involves two things. One bats are the most diverse order of mammals that exists.
There are a lot of different kinds of bats. One in every four species of mammal is of species of bat Wow, okay. Well, it was a lot, but that’s a lot. You know one in four, so they seem to be over-represented, maybe because they’re over-represented in the diversity of mammals, but they probably are over-represented even beyond that.
Why else? Well, they may carry more viruses, more active viral since then, the average mammal. Why would that be? Well, they live a long time. A little bat can live up to 20 years. Oh look a little mouse.
It’s. Gon na live two years. If it’s, lucky yeah that might live 20 years roosting. How well roosting, with sixty thousand other bats like a big carpet in a cave, yeah and wall of a cave? You know cuddled it in there three bats, deep with their babies hanging to them and their.
You know other bats on all sides. That’s, a great environment for exchanging viruses. You talk about social distancing that’s, not social, distancing, yeah, so bat viruses are passed, probably very readily from one bed to another and then finally, their immune systems seem to be different and seem.
It seems probable that their immune systems might tolerate. The presence of alien DNA or RNA, such as an infection and a viral infection, might tolerate that presence of alien DNA or RNA more than the average mammal immune system.
Why is that? Well, possibly because bats are the only mammal that fly flying, puts a lot of stress on their metabolism. Putting stress on their metabolism in some cases seems to release free DNA from their own cells cells, getting beat up and broken open free DNA floating in their bodies.
Even if it’s, their own can possibly be a target of their immune systems. So if bats had rigorous immune systems like us, they might be suffering from autoimmune disease most of the time, so they seem to have down regulated immune systems.
Everything, I just said, is hypothetical at this point, but it’s. One of the possible explanations I’ve, always liked bats, and it’s. They’re, pretty cool, but I remember one time I was working downtown and I was walking a couple blocks to get some food and I I was about to cross the street.
I was waiting for the light to turn green and I, and I saw on the other side what looked like a look like a baseball cap or something just kind of like doing this on the ground and, as I got closer, it was a bat that was On its back and its wings were kind of out like this, and it was freaking out and something was wrong, so I kept walking – and I made this is years ago – I’m just saying, but like well, probably probably a wise move, because bats Also carry probably more than their share of rabies.
Well, that’s. What I was thinking relative to you know some other animals I mean raccoons in the eastern US are inflicted with a lot of rabies. Foxes might have rabies, skunks, maybe bats yeah. It’s, always something that you need to think about.
I mean when I was a kid one of the nuns from the Catholic school I went to, who knew that I was a nature. Nerd brought a bat to school in a jar to give to me that they had caught in the attic of their convent.
She brought his live bat and she gave it to me cause I took it home and put it in a cage in my bedroom and tried to feed it. My parents, my saintly parents, said yeah. Okay, it’s, another thing in your bedroom and they, let me I can remember, taking this bat out of the cage at one point wearing a couple of wearing knit gloves like you know there’s, knit love and this poor bat.
I didn’t know how to take care of it. I didn’t know what it needed and we had it for about a day. But I I handled it at one point with these knit gloves and it went like this like that and it bit down in a bit right through the mid glove and missed my finger, and at that point I thought think this bat deserves his freedom, but the Other thing about the bat that you saw on the ground, it might have been a healthy bat that simply couldn’t fly up off of the ground, because bats generally cannot.
They can’t, stand on their feet like and get air under their wings and take off because I can’t stand on their feet at all, so bats can only take flight by dropping from some kind of a height. I’ve, run into that to a bat on the ground flapping around.
I ended up putting it on a broomstick and running around in the yard. Trying to you know to throw it up in the air and give it a little chance to get some air under his wings. I think that I succeeded when I did that, but I can’t just throw it up into a tree.
I actually put a bat box behind our garage back here and I was reading up about what you just said that they have to have like 12 feet or something to be able to swoop down, because there’s. Some in our neighborhood.
We’ll, go walk the dogs and I see something flapping around and and they none of them taken up residence here they don’t, like my house, I don’t know what to do. Well, I don’t, take up too much of your time but like why don’t we wrap up by.
I want to do kind of a look, a best worst case scenario thing like so let’s just say the social distancing works and and everybody’s, washing their hands the right way and we’re able to manage It what does that look like and then what does the opposite of that look like what people just don’t? Take it seriously and there’s, a very interesting article in The New York Times today by Sheri Fink, wonderful science and medical writer.
Si gr, I think, works for the New York Times there’s. Also, authors so interests one interesting book that I know of on this question. It’s, a question that was discussed at the CDC. The CDC called together, some of their mathematical modelers.
Also, some academic mathematical modelers put them on conference calls beginning. I think in mid-january and they started saying: look let’s, get some models and see what the best case in the worst case scenario is of this and they and they continued these meetings.
Their findings have not been released to the public. Sheri Fink got ahold of some of this and reported it in The Times. Today i’m. I’m now, citing from memory if he was talking mostly about the worst case scenario, and i believe they said the worst case scenario might be somewhere between 96 million and a hundred and fifty million Americans infected.
This is a best-case that’s, worst-case this worst-case; okay, sorry yeah, but that’s yeah, you know almost half of the population, Americans and so the best of my memory in terms of deaths. The worst case scenario was between 1/2 million and 1.
7 million according to their modeling, but that modeling may have been done in February. Mm-Hmm things are changing fast. Anyone who’s interested in this question worst case scenario and the CDC modeling they should find Shari Fink’s article in The New York Times of Friday, the 13th 2000 2013 through March 2020, okay, okay, um! Well, I think I think that gets me everything I’m.
I’m looking for here trying to think of something else. I’m sure I’ll! Think of it as soon as we stop talking, but I really do appreciate you doing this. You certainly didn’t have to, and this this has been really cool.
I will now go wrap myself in saran, wrap and never talk to anybody again. Stay healthy, stay, sensible, hmm and keep smiling sounds like a plan. Okay, appreciate it David all right thanks for watching that, I hope you enjoyed it and if you stuck around all the way, the end, if you’re watching me talk right now, you are a very special human being, and I, like you, I mean That so yeah this article is coming at you without a sponsor in articles like this, apparently are being demonetized on YouTube, or at least at the time that I’m.
Recording this, they’re being to monetize. So if you want to throw a buck in the tip jar as a thank you or whatever, I can point you to my patreon page at patreon.com. Slash answers with Joe look. I totally get it if you can’t.
Do it right now times are really uncertain. Don’t worry about it. I still like you but yeah this. This coronavirus situation is not going anywhere for a while. So if you’re interested in hearing some more interviews from people in the know, I think I’ll, be doing some more of those in the future or I might talk to people who are experts and totally different subjects, because I Think we’re gon na get pretty tired of hearing about Cogan 19 after a while totally get that and I might actually use this platform and these kinds of interviews to.
Maybe I’m gon na raise money for coronavirus charities. I would love to hear your thoughts on that yeah, thanks again for watching thanks again to David, for taking the time to talk with me and yeah. Let’s, just uh! Let’s just get through this thing.
Together. Just keep smiling it’s. All I can say love. You guys take care.