As the nCovid19 cases surge in what is termed as the second wave, I can sense a return of the panic. But, though the numbers look scary or alarming, if you take an evolutionary biologist’s opinion, this second surge is probably the best thing that has happened since the arrival of nCovid19 presumably from WHO headquarters (as they are always denying any other source).
Let me point out that, while a number of explanations are possible, the most likely cause of the surge of nCovid19 infections we are seeing now is the conventional evolutionary path that mild viruses (the ones that don’t kill majority of hosts) like coronaviruses follow.
When a virus jumps from one species (that has evolved and stabilized with the virus, e.g., Probably bats or WHO spokespersons in the case of coronavirus) to another species (that is evolutionary unprepared e.g., humans), the initial period is like starting of a love affair, as both sides are constantly confused.
When a new virus hits a new species and is extremely lucky to have some traction that allows it to start something, it may have disastrous initial results. Just like an overload of love disallows a healthy relationship to grow, if the virus goes into overdrive, it may end up killing the host and in turn, bringing an abrupt end to its own love story.
As no good virus wants to kill its host, viruses seek help of evolution to be a matchmaker and broker of peace, and that is what is happening, most probably in the case of nCovid19.
As nCovid19 appears to be spreading through contact, its success depends on the infected humans coming in contact with other human beings and that is our lucky break.
With evolution churning out more and more variants of the nCovid19 thanks to it having so many host bodies to use as test-tubes, the process will yield a large spectrum of strains ranging from those that cause extreme symptoms to those that will lead to mild infections.
As this situation develops over time, the variants that are killer will have a disadvantage as they will incapacitate their hosts and reduce the chances of their hosts meeting other humans. But the variants that will lead to milder infection that will not force the patient to be bed-bound have a far greater chance of spreading.
Another advantage of this variant game is that they all would be closely related (as they all have only a few entry points into human cells, as yet) and hence will have to compete within the same biological niche, as antibodies developed by the host for one variety will prevent the other strain from infecting efficiently.
This means that the virulent strains causing intense symptoms leading to high mortality and the milder strains will end up competing against each other, and as every milder strain will have its hosts roaming around and causing infections at a far higher rate, it will have a massive advantage to come out as a dominant strain at the end of the day.
If this phenomenon is at the back of the current nCovi19 pandemic, it will mean sporadic events of high mortality in pockets that will run out of steam by killing hosts but more and more of infections will be of low intensity that will pass through hosts without doing too much of a damage.
In other words, the second wave is a vaccination drive conducted by evolution and as nature uses exponential mathematics, it will soon cover human population faster than the man-made vaccine. (Just imagine if one vaccinated person was vaccinating three/four more, as that is what nature-driven infections do.)
While I prefer to look at the news of rising nCovid19 wave with optimism, I would also like to add a small and uncomfortable rejoinder, as nCovid19 has also shown that it may have a sting in its tail.
Though not too substantiated by research, it appears that, in some cases, even the asymptomatic nCovid19 infection leads to a latent problem of blood clotting leading to heart attacks, strokes and other organ failures. So, just as man-made vaccines come with their own problems in the earlier phases, so is the case with the on-going natural inoculation.
As the nCovid19 seems to be on the path of settling down with us humans (like millions of other viruses/pathogens have done in past), this problem too will be resolved over couple of thousand years, but at this point, we have to just grin and bear it with one happy thought that nCovid19 is not looking to be a smallpox or an Ebola.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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