CORONA VIRUS AND ITS UNCERTAINTIES
We don’t know what we don’t know.
Now, pause a moment and think about it.
We don’t know what we don’t know about Corona Viruses
The pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 is rolling around the globe. We don’t know yet how many people are virus carriers or how many patients were infected and subsequently recovered. Many governments manipulate or suppress their data.
The social, economic and political movement of globalization is now only social a theory of the past.
Historical Uncertainties of SARS-Cov-2
The first outbreak of the corona virus could have happened further south than the Chinese city of Wuhan as early as September 2019, according to a team of scientists led by the University of Cambridge. The researchers investigating the virus’ origin analyzed a large number of strains from around the world.
They calculated that the initial outbreak occurred in a window between mid-September or early December, 2019.
An article published in the scientific journal Infection, Genetics and Evolution claim that Covid-19 pandemic might have started in October, The pathogen, formally known as SARS-CoV-2, is thought to have made the jump from initial host to humans sometime between October 6 and December 11 last year,
“The virus may have mutated into its final ‘human-efficient’ form many months ago, but stayed inside a bat or other animal or even a human for several months without infecting other individuals, ” according to University of Cambridge geneticist Peter Forster.
When the pandemic started to roam around the globe the causative virus was taxonomized as SARS-CoV-2 and being a strain of Corona Virus. This new strain displays novel and unfamiliar and surprising clinical characteristics. Everyday new scientific or clinical reports appear that overturn previous factual knowledge and theories.
Below is a partial list of questions and theories that puzzle the scientific community and the political circles, causing social and economical destruction.
The Uncertainty of Origin
The AP news agency reported on 4-30-20 that U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that the new coronavirus was “not manmade or genetically modified” but say they are still examining whether the origins of the pandemic trace to contact with infected animals or an accident at a Chinese lab.
Where was the SARS-CoV-2 first originated is not known. It probably no longer matters.
The Uncertainty of Acquired Immunity
The WHO “pushed back against the theory that individuals can only catch the corona virus once, as well as proposals for reopening society that are based on this supposed immunity.” The WHO “said the idea that one-time infection can lead to immunity remains unproven and is thus unreliable as a foundation for the next phase of the world’s response to the pandemic.”
Even the best tests will generate some false positive results (identifying antibodies that don’t actually exist) and some false negatives (missing antibodies that really are there).
One specific concern with antibody tests for SARS-CoV-2:
The tests might pick up antibodies to other types of Corona viruses.
WHO’s Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove said at a briefing: “Right now, we have no evidence that the use of a serologic test can show that an individual is immune or is protected from reinfection,”
As of to-date this question remains open.
Who is a Virus Carrier?
A study from China has found that Corona virus patients discharged from hospital could still carry the virus deep in their lungs, undetected by conventional diagnostic testing methods. The discovery, published in a paper in peer-reviewed journal Cell Research on 2/28/2020, could explain why a growing number of recovered patients had tested positive again.
The same may be true for the viral outbreak on board the USS Kidd. The first sailor began to show symptoms of the virus on April 22, more than 30 days after the ship’s last port visit in Hawaii, according to a status update provided to Congress and reviewed by USNI News. The time between port visits and the first reported case of symptoms have raised questions inside the Navy as to how the virus operates and how long it could exist undetected on a ship.
SARS CoV-2 Has Many Strains
This is an important question.
Early evidence has shown that Corona virus mutates at the speed of about two mutations per month. Therefore more diversity of it is emerging. All the mutations are collectively called SARS-CoV-2. But there are many variants
According to Nextstrain.org, a site that tracks viral genomes across the planet, the virus is mutating 1,000 times faster than influenza viruses and 36,000 times faster than measles.
RNA-based viruses are known to be genetically-unstable, and this one is mutating about 20 times faster than regular RNA viruses.
Initially two strains were identified in China – “S” and “L”. Hence there is the possibility that the newer L strain is more virulent than its ancestral one. The divergence from mutation is increasing from less than 2 mutations comparing with its common ancestor in early February to around 12 mutations by early March, according to researchers at Nextstrain.org.
Then, more mutations were discovered.
In June 2020, researchers at Scripps Research, Florida, found that a mutation, known as D614G, stabilized the virus’s spike proteins, which protrude from the viral surface and give the coronavirus its name. The number of functional and intact spikes on each viral particle was about five times higher because of this mutation.
The researchers found that viruses with D614G mutation were more resilient, preserving about five times more functional spike proteins to infect cells than viruses without that mutation.
Does this virus keep acquiring more robust characteristics?
At the beginning of July 2020, Professor Gabriel Leung, Dean of the University of Hong Kong Medical School, said that he believed there were at least 50 to 60 hidden cases in the community of the strain of the virus that had increased its infection rate by 30 per cent due to a DNA mutation.
In another experiment, they found that viruses carrying the D614G mutation infected tissue cells far more efficiently than viruses without the mutation.
Over time, the new Corona virus could possibly mutate to the point that new versions are no longer as recognizable by our immune system as the original version. After all, mutations are probably what allowed the virus to jump from animals to humans.
It’s reasonable to expect that as the Corona virus keeps spreading around the world, it will probably keep changing. Experts may find new strains.
It’s impossible to predict how those virus changes might affect what happens. But change is just what viruses do.
The Pursuit of A Vaccine and Its Discontents
According to the NY Time Vaccine Tracker, researchers around the world are developing more than 155 vaccines against the Corona virus. Twenty-three vaccines are in human trials as of, July 13, 2020.
Evidence showed that infected patients who recovered did show high level of antibody.
However, antibody generated from vaccine does equate with fighting off the virus. Some people can have antibody but still be susceptible to the virus. Even if antibody is generated, it doesn’t necessarily confer the same level of immunity.
Recent report from UK in the MedRxiv platform suggests that the antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 in recovered Covid-19 patients last only about 2-3 months. This is a frustrating piece of news given all the on-going efforts around the world to develop a vaccine that will create human immunity to Corona virus.
Lastly, Moderna Inc., completed a preliminary study in 45 human volunteers with its vaccine.
Adverse events that occurred in more than half the participants included fatigue, chills, headache, myalgia, and pain at the injection site. Systemic adverse events were more common after the second vaccination, particularly with the highest dose. Three participants (21%) in the highdose group reported one or more severe adverse events.
The only encouraging finding in these results is that all participants developed the antibodies a hoped for.
Ladies and gentlemen – we are living in The New Normal. We don’t know when another new new normal will emerge. Get used to it.
All details of the scientific source references for research work done and mentioned in this blog are available in my professional page:
Mandy Lender, MD – on Facebook.com .
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Thank you for this well thought out article.