This article, supported by curiosity stream – I really didn’t – want to make this article. I had a system. I had a lot of really cool articles on the way I was getting a head on article so that I could work on this big project.
I’ve been talking about for a while, and then this I didn’t need this, but I was getting so many requests for a article on the coronavirus that eventually I gave in and said, okay. I guess I need to talk about this, and then things have escalated to the point that if I don’t talk about it, it’s kind of ridiculous.
It’s just become such an elephant in the room. At this point that to not talk about it, just reeks of denial and delusion, like I’ve, been trying to think of another time when something took up this much of our mental space that you just couldn’t not talk about It the only thing I’m coming up with is 9/11.
This is like a 9/11 level event, but still I was hesitating to make this article, because the story in the news is changing so much every single day that I knew that by the time I got this article made and got it out for you on Monday.
Everything could have changed in fact, as I’m recording this, I realize I’m. Probably gon na have to update this in some way. Somehow, before Monday, I mean when I first start researching this, the NBA was still playing.
Remember the NBA, in fact, I had a fun little intro sketch that I was gon na. Do that was really great and would have made perfect sense a week ago. But now it doesn’t, make any sense anymore at all, because it takes place in a coffee shop and you can’t even go to coffee shops anymore, so the information is changing so fast.
I didn’t want to get anything wrong and this is a super important topic. I mean if I do a article on quasars and get some things wrong. You know that kind of sucks, but so what that doesn’t, you know impact anybody’s, lives or anything, but this article could so it’s more important than pretty much any other article that I get all the Details right, but I’m, pretty much guaranteed because things are changing so fast that by the time this comes out, some of the details of this are gon na be wrong.
Do you see my dilemma here? Plus YouTube is monetizing coronavirus articles I’m sure you’ve, seen that before some of you may already be commenting about it. So in case you haven’t heard me say it before t-shirts, just saying, and also as I’m looking at my subscriptions page, it’s, just nothing but coronavirus articles.
So I’m sure you’re sick of hearing about it. Now I didn’t know exactly how I could approach this. That would be any different from anybody. So when I think was, I tried to kind of narrow the focus of this article a little bit and I enlisted the help of an author named David Kwan, who has written a book on pandemics and he’s.
Gon na be joining me. We did an interview I’ll, be sharing clips of that I’ll share the full interview later on this week, so get comfy wrap up in a few hundred rolls of toilet paper and yeah. Let’s. Talk about this, as long as there have been living organisms made up of cells on this planet, there have been viruses which are arguably non living organisms, taking advantage of those cells to replicate pretty much every single living thing on the planet, lizards, birds, mammals, even plants, Have viruses that are evolved specifically to use their cells to replicate and they evolve really fast.
They replicate billions of times a day that’s, billions of chances for some nucleotide to get tweaked or switched around or whatever in 99.9 % of the time. It doesn’t really matter it. Doesn’t, make any real changes, but every once in a while it does birds get the flu just like we do.
Viruses that have evolved specifically to thrive in birds, and mostly they’re harmless to humans. They’re devastating the birds, especially in the packed you know, viral stew of a poultry farm, but every once in a while those animal viruses.
Those bird viruses can mutate and be picked up by humans. This is called zoonosis. This actually happens pretty often in poultry farms around the world. A human can actually pick up a strain of the bird flu and it’s, usually not a problem.
It usually stays with that one person because it might have mutated enough to jump from a bird to a person, but it hasn’t mutated enough to go from a person to a person. But again, given enough time and enough exposure that last mutation can happen and that’s, how you get things like the h5n1 avian flu that first popped up in 1997 in Hong Kong.
It later had a reoccurrence in 2003 in the United States and then again in Canada in 2014. Luckily, the bird flu doesn’t travel very easily from person to person, so it has what they call a low path and a genesee, but it does have a really high mortality rate around 60 %.
So what does this have to do with our current situation? Well kind of everything: Kove 8:19 didn’t come from birds, but it did come from the similar process of zoonosis. It originated in bats in China and it jumped to humans at a market.
In Wuhan, which has led a lot of people to think that it was because people were eating bats over there, they do have bats at that market, but it’s, not necessarily the case that a person got it from eating a bat, because bats Are what they call reservoir hosts? This means that they can kind of carry this virus, it kind of hides in bat colonies, and sometimes it affects them and gives them symptoms.
Sometimes it doesn’t and bats. Often it doesn’t actually, but the virus rarely jumps straight from the reservoir hosts into humans. It usually requires an intermediary species. What they call an amplifier host, as David explains, 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 human, 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, and then I saw some speculation that it was a Pangolin right, the scaly auntie they’re. Really the thing it looks like it looks like an anteater or not or an armadillo, but is it I don’t know if that hypothesis has been confirmed, yeah they haven’t figured that out yet amplifier host was okay David by The way is the author of the book spillover, animal infections in the next human pandemic, which kind of followed his journey working for National Geographic tracing, different epidemics across various parts of the world.
Like the Ebola outbreak in Africa, he was kind enough to talk to us. I’ll, be sharing his clips throughout this article, and I’ll, be sharing the full interview later on this week by the way, if you ever wondered why bats make such great reservoir hosts David did have something to say about that Too bats seem to be overly represented, as reservoir hosts scary, new viruses seemed 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, okay, but they probably are over-represented even beyond that they may carry more viruses, more active viral presence than 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 60,000 other bats like a big carpet in a cave, yeah and wall of a cave, that’s, a great environment for exchanging viruses.
You talk about social distancing, that’s, not social, distancing and then finally, their immune systems seem to be different and seeing it seems probable that their immune systems might tolerate the presence of alien DNA or RNA, such as an infection and a viral infection.
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. Okay, so about this particular virus. It goes by a lot of different names. You’ve, heard. Obviously coronavirus.
You probably heard novel coronavirus, KO bid 19, you probably heard SARS thrown in there somewhere. Corona virus is actually an entire subset of viruses. You’ve, probably already heard this before that’s, not the specific name of this virus.
There were several out there already. There were six that were known before this one. This one is actually the seventh one and anytime there’s, a new virus that they find out there. They designate it with the word novel, which basically means new.
So this is the novel coronavirus. Now a couple of names on that list may have stood out to you, those being SARS and MERS. Sar stands for severe acute respiratory syndrome. It first came out in 2003, with about 8,000 people infected.
I’m reading this because I want to get it right. 774 people died in 17 countries around the world at that time, making the mortality rate around 9 % merge stands for Middle East respiratory syndrome. It first popped up in Saudi Arabia.
In 2012. There have been other outbreaks in 2015 and 2017 so far. There been 2500 cases total from MERS and all those outbreaks in 862 deaths which makes the death rate around 34 percent. So this new virus was determined to be a new strain of the 2003 SARS virus.
So it was named SARS CoV 2, that’s. The actual name of the virus. Kovat 19 is the name of the actual disease that this virus causes and it was named that stands for corona virus disease 2019, because it was first isolated in 2019.
Barely unlike December 30th, so yeah just like HIV is the virus that causes the disease. Aids SAR CoV 2 is the virus that causes the disease coded 19. So the disease is coded 19. The actual name of the virus is SAR CoV 2, and the corona virus is just the type of virus that it is okay, so a little bit about corona viruses, they’re, called that not because of the beer has nothing to do of the Beer, it has to do with the fact that they have spikes all the way around the virus, which kind of gives it a corona.
So they called it a corona virus and these spikes connect to receptors on cells that allow them to push their genetic material into the cells and have the cells do their thing to replicate, and the genetic material by the way is RNA instead of DNA.
That’s, just something that corona viruses do, but that also might make them easier to mutate and coronaviruses also usually affect the lungs, which is why SARS and MERS both have the word respiratory in there, because it attacks the lungs.
But whereas SARS had around a nine percent mortality rate, MERS had a thirty four percent mortality rate. Koby 19 is more of around four percent mortality rate. But again this is changing every day, but the death rate really is almost misleading.
That’s, not the worst thing about koban 19. The problem with coven 19 is that it spreads so easily and it’s so contagious that, even though the death rate is the lowest of the three that I just talked about, it has already in three and a half months, killed more people than Sars and MERS combined infected in 17 years, and I’m, really trying hard to not use any numbers in this article because I’m sure those numbers will have already doubled by the time.
You see this so yeah the death rate isn’t. What’s important here? What’s? Important here is what they call the are number, which is the number of people that each infected person can infect any r-value.
That’s above one is considered exponential. A virus with an R number of even 1.15 is still considered exponential because you’re still infecting more people than that one number, whereas say one with an R value of 0.
85. Just a little bit below one that’s, considered a disease that is under control or on its way out now. Our number of kovat 19 is somewhere between two and three, so it is not under control. It is still exponentially growing, also by the way, if you ever wondered why people made such a big deal about measles, that our value of measles is between 12 and 14, and one of the reasons why they spread so easily is because the symptoms are all over.
The map – and they affect everybody – a little bit differently for some people that spirals in a fail of pneumonia for some people it’s more like a blight flu, and some people barely have any symptoms at all and as we’ve, All heard you can actually carry the virus for about five days and be completely asymptomatic and not even know you have it.
So how big of a deal is that well consider HIV HIV is really not that contagious. You can only get it through direct contact with the blood or any kind of sexual contact, but it & # 39. S got a really long incubation period that lasts for years, and you can be spreading it during all that time and not even know that you have it and how did that work out for us? I’ll.
Let David explain 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, there’s, a couple of things, including something called aids that are important to Rivet.
Yeah thirty-five are we up at 35 million deaths at this point? Hmm so, and, and that is a zoonotic disease also, that came originally from one chimpanzee – a virus that came from one chimpanzee. 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, so we knew started traveling around in January of a totally new virus that we have no treatments. For that spreads easily through the air, the long contagious incubation period, a high r-value in a wide range of symptoms.
This is why epidemiologist started getting really concerned. Luckily, our world leaders listen to the experts and started testing right away. You know how, in every Hollywood disaster movie there’s, always some scientist telling the army or the president that there’s, this horrible thing coming and nobody listens to them, and you’re watching it.
You’re, like that, would never happen in real life, that’s totally happening in real life to be fair to the world leaders, though a lot of people aren’t taking this seriously enough, especially young people.
So all the old folks out there, if you’ll, pardon me for just a second I’m gon na. I’m gon na turn over here and talk to the youth for a minute, hi youths. I know with your smooth skin and non aching joints and general having of energy, you feel pretty uh neural to pretty much everything in general and probably especially in vulnerable.
To this I mean you’ve, seen the charts that show that only gross saggy old people are gon na die of this, and I don’t know. Maybe let’s just get real. Maybe you’re. Cheering it on, I mean the boomers, have given you a lot of Hell over the years, and maybe this feels like it come up and I get it, but there are some reasons why you really should take this seriously.
You know, as I said before, the death rate might not be that high, but the hospitalization rate is pretty high 9 or 10 percent. Some people say might be up to 20 %, and yes, that’s overall and it’s, not affecting your age group as much, but there’s still a lot that we don’t know about this.
We don’t know a lot about why it affects some people, some ways and other people in other ways, and we don’t know the long-term effects of it. Plus it’s already mutating out there in the population. There’s now two strains that we’re following, and it could mutate again into something that could affect you a lot more and there actually have been a lot of anecdotal reports from doctors and nurses of patients in their 20s on Respirators in the ICUs that had no previous risk factors.
Do you know how expensive a couple of weeks and the ICU is, and yes, you may survive, but we don’t know what kind of permanent damage this can do to the lungs. How that might affect you for the rest of your life or leave you vulnerable to other infections later on, so look I’m, not trying to pick on Millennials here that’s, never been my thing, but I & # 39.
Ve been hearing a lot of people, my age and younger, being really flippant about this and just being like, oh you know, it only kills old people and here’s, the thing first of all that’s, not true! Second of all, you don’t know what kind of damage it can cause for you for the rest of your life and number three.
You should care about other people. So look I’m, not gon na waste. Your time, talking about all the things that you need to be doing, the washing the hands or self-isolation flattening the curve, reducing the strain on the hospitals.
All that kind of thing you’ve, heard all that a million times before I’m, not gon na waste. Your time talking about it here, but at the risk of being yet another bearer of bad news. I do have to talk about how this is really just the beginning, this sudden germophobia this self isolation, this new way of kind of being in the world working from home, doing all that kind of stuff.
This is the new normal and it’s. Gon na be for quite some time it’s, gon na be at least a year before we have any kind of vaccine that can actually put an end to this thing. So we’re gon na have to sort of self vaccine through isolation for a long time, and this may kind of go away a little bit in the summer.
Viruses do tend to kind of do that, but if the pandemic of 1918, the Spanish flu outbreak of 1918 has any bearing on this, it will actually come back in the fall stronger than ever. So, however, you’re feeling about this.
The bad news is sorry, you’re, just gon na have to get used to it. This. This is our new reality. Kove in nineteen is not going anywhere anytime soon, a lot of businesses are gon na suffer. A lot of people are gon na lose their jobs.
We could see an economic depression or at least a very severe recession in the coming year or two. A lot of government policies are gon na be passed to try to offset the worst of this. A lot of fingers are gon na, be pointed a lot of credits, gon na be taken and oh yeah, a lot of people are gon na die.
There is a decent chance that somebody, you know, will die this year from this disease. I know that sounds like over-the-top fear-mongering, but it’s, really not outside the realm of possibility. A lot of what we’re talking about right now.
It still feels very abstract to us, but it’s, not going to stay that way at some point in the next few months. This is gon na get very personal and very real to all of us, but we will eventually get through this.
Hopefully, a little wiser on the other side. Maybe we’ll, actually start listening to experts again. If history is any guy that usually takes some kind of massive disaster for us to make some real positive changes in society and there’s.
A lot of reasons to be positive: there’s, been a lot of positive response out there, a lot more community building that’s been going on. People seem to be a bit more compassionate with each other than they were before here.
In my neighborhood we got a Facebook page, you know, and some people put together a little shamrock hunt for the kids, so they asked everybody to put shamrocks up in their window, so people did that and they took their kids around and they took pictures of it.
Just as a way of putting some joy out there in the world, you know people trying harder to patronize small businesses. They’re, a lot more vulnerable in times like this. As we should be doing, this will get worse before it gets better, but sometimes it takes a big setback to move society forward.
In the mean time, to quote mr. Rogers focus on the helpers there’s. Gon na be a lot of heroes that come out of this whole thing, one that definitely needs to be called out right up front as dr. Lee, when yang he was an ophthalmologist in Wuhan and he’s considered The Whistleblower of this whole thing, Because he’s posted on social media, about a SARS like virus that he was seeing in some of his patients.
This was on December 30th and he was actually arrested by the Chinese government and admonished for spreading rumors, which I guess is something you can get arrested for over there and he actually wound up contracting the disease eventually and died of it.
On February 7th. He was only 33 years old, so yeah again it’s, not just old people, but health care workers on the front lines of this thing. Thank you. I know your lives are already being turned upside down and you’re, putting yourself in harm’s way.
If you are one of them. I want to extend my thanks and anybody out there who knows any health care workers reach out to them, help them out in any way that you can. They are total heroes in this situation.
Truckers and delivery drivers are going to be the unsung heroes. In this whole thing, they’re, keeping our supply chains moving. They’re, keeping the shelves stocked and the food in our pantries. Without them everything it would grind to a halt and they don’t have the luxury of just sitting at home and waiting this thing out.
They’re, putting themselves out there. So to you guys, thank you and if you know any people that work in this service industry in the event industry in the travel industry, they’re gon na be hit hardest by this, so help them out in any way you can, but one Last thing when I say that this is not gon na be the end, COBIT 19 is not the end.
When I say this is a new normal. I’m, not just talking about kovat 19. There will be more viruses like this. This is not the last of them, as we continue to spread into more wild habitats, as we continue to do factory farming in creating those conditions, as the planet continues to warm as we travel more than we’ve ever traveled before we are creating More and more opportunities for these kinds of animal to human jumps and viruses than we’ve ever seen.
I’ll. Let David have the last word on that one. 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. So yeah there’s. Anything we can learn from this virus and from this experience, is that we’re all in this together classes races, nationalities, none of that matters anymore.
We are all in this together and we have to help each other out. My social distancing means somebody else’s. Life, you know, taking care of, others is taking care of ourselves until Elan can get a million people on Mars.
There’s, just nowhere else for us to go, and we’re. Also in this, together with all the animals on the planet, you know we’ve, always like to think of ourselves as separate from the animals, but we’re.
Not zoonotic. Viruses like this just remind us that we are just one of millions of species occupying this big blue petri dish out there in space. I want to thank David again for taking the time to talk with me again.
I’ll, be putting out the entire interview on Thursday, but if you want to check out his book, which I highly recommend it’s called spillover, I’ll, be putting a link down in the description below and if You want to keep up with the latest news on coronavirus.
One good place to go is the breakthrough series which you could find on curiosity stream break. There is an exclusive weekly series that explores the top science stories of the day and they’ve done a couple of episodes on the corona virus.
Recently they’ll, be on the leading edge of that topic and articles in the future. I’m sure and, of course, is just one of many series on curiosity stream, as well as feature-length documentaries on everything from health, astrophysics, history and more by some of the best filmmakers in the world.
Look if you’re wondering what to do with all this time, where you’re stuck at home right now. Curiosity stream is a great way to go. If you like the kind of content I make, I can only make so many articles.
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Big thanks to curiosity stream for supporting this article and a huge shout out to the answer. Files on patreon that are supporting my team and really helping to keep this whole thing afloat. We need it now more than ever, so I really do appreciate you guys there’s, some new people that are joined.
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I come back with articles every Monday, so before we go, I just want to wish you guys to be safe. Take care of yourselves. Please do take this seriously. I know I’m gon na get a whole lot of comments or saying.
Oh, it’s. Only ninety eight seven percent survival rate and there’s, a lot of people um saying only old people are gon na die. It’s, just like the flu guys, stop just listen to the experts, do what they say.
We will get through this. Otherwise this can be a total disaster. So take it seriously, love you guys, and I’ll, see you next time around. Please