The Dynamics of Pandemics

Screen Shot 2020-04-02 at 12.31.46 PM.pngAlways the public servant for The American People, Commander Shope during his career in The United States Navy.  He was known to be, ‘a sober yet brilliant scientist possessed of a wide knowledge, common sense, integrity, and complete sanity.’

If pandemic influenza spread from sick-to-well by contact, then it should diffuse with reasonable rapidity over short distances.  Yet it does not seem to do so.  Could it be that somehow the organism that caused the epidemic was already present, but unrecognized, in various parts of the country?–  Dr. Edwin Shope

Well, it is almost Summer.  Now, it appears obvious we cannot “flatten the curve” by maintaining rigid standards, so we are loosening them.  In fact, aren’t we?

In our state, Washington, even what it means to be in Phase 1 is changing to a “modified-Phase 1” where barbershops, hair salons, and restaurants can open – immediately – at diminished clienteles. Something that was reserved for Phase 2, previously.

I was one of the first civilians wearing PPE and had 2X N95 masks and nitrile gloves on hand before there was a run on them and a need for medical professionals to acquire them during the beginning of the First Wave this Spring.

I took one mask and pairs of gloves to Hawaiʻi for a short vacation of one week in early March to the Big Island.  As it turned out, it was of some value on the plane-ride home, when even  one flight attendant and most TSA agents were not being as protective as they should have been.   I commented to one TSA agent after another in Kailua-Kona March 9th, 2020 before my flight back to Seattle,

“What are you doing to check for COVID-19?  I saw a woman get on an Hawaiian​ Airlines flight for Honolulu who had most every symptom COVID-19 (she was feverish and perspiring from observation)?  They shrugged their shoulders,

“Nothing, ” they responded, one after another, “What’s that?”

“What’s that?”(March 9th, 2020)

I donned my N95 mask and gloves on the plane when sitting next to a sneezing young man who seemed to progress through every known symptom of COVID-19 as he insisted on touching his face and biting his fingernails.  I pointed this out to one ignorant flight attendant, gaining the familiar TSA response (above).

He decided not to even wear gloves when serving this young man, as he said to all in our row, “YOU are being so rude, wearing a white mask!”  He decided he would “not be that rude”, and serve us “bare-handed.”  True story.  On return, I expected a more vigilant TSA and gate staff at Seattle-Tacoma Airport.  Nope!  We all just walked off the plane and left.  I put myself in 14-days of Self-Quarantine, and disposed of my mask and gloves appropriately.  I am no fool.

True Story

I have been through two pandemics in my life, once staring  death in the face, in an isolation ward at Seattle Children’s Hospital in 1957, when 1.1 Million people died World-wide.   I had been infected, they believe with three (3) strains of the pandemic influenza.  Two N2/H2 and one N2/H3 (a novel variant.) After a week on glucose drip and no solid food, and 24-hour care, I pulled through at age 7.  I was a punk kid, for sure.  I am now 70 years-old.

Let me say that again, for better effect –  I stared death in the face.  I passed out at home, in bed, and woke up in an isolation ward with my parents outside a window 10 feet from the bed I was in.  They were wearing surgical gowns.  After a couple days, the physicians allowed them in to visit me, dressed as if they were the physicians going into surgery.  In the 1950s, people were more cautious.  The 1918 Pandemic was still fresh in peoples minds, my Dad said.  He has gone through that in Kansas and survived it as a 5 year-old.  That was the N1/H1 pandemic influenza A that killed 20-50 million Worldwide.  He passed away at the age of 103.

True Story.  This pandemic is REAL.  It is subsiding for us in the North, as the dynamics of pandemics dictate during the Summer, and from possibly, our own good work at “social distancing.”

SARS-CoV-2 “crossed” the Equator and headed for the Fall and Winter seasons in the Southern Hemisphere.

It will return in a Second Wave with a “vengeance” unknown in the modern era, coming in Autumn and Fall to the North.  This has nothing to do with us here, for now.  It is “coming” from the South.  The virus is already here, evolving on its own, in place.

How many mutations or evolutions of the virus are there?

Well, we have a pretty good idea. Nextstrain tracks genomes as they are reported Worldwide, extracted from patients with COVID-19. One of the last was evolutions was ~34.  That is, the SARS-CoV-2 has undergone 34 mutations in humans as a progenitor of COVID-19. But genomic databases are huge, and there are limitations.  Their github storage and processing power cannot display all their information at once, so it has been separated into regions of the World, and through time. And only the most recent/relevant is displayed.  The folks involved with Nexstrain are some amazing, dedicated folks. (If you want to thank someone and if you are local to Seattle, someone locally, thank them!)

Here is their most recent global sub-sample…

Screen Shot 2020-06-04 at 4.14.52 AM

Each point is a genome of the SAR-CoV-2 virus extract from a human COVID-19 patient.  So, you get the idea.  A lot of data…


“My dog, Puffy.  My cat, Felix.  Can they get coronavirus?”

Coronavirus is ENDEMIC in mammals. In pets.  Dogs, Cats, Horses, Cattle, and Pigs.  Not the HUMAN coronavirus. Not yet.  Although there have been incidence of both lions, cats, and dogs acquiring the human form, it is believed not to be endemic.

It is believed that human coronavirus evolved through bats to us, a variation of SARS-CoV  (commonly known as SARS) that evolved to a form of SARS-CoV-2.

SARS had two forms, both slowly evolving. One was the “Middle Eastern” version and the other, the “Hong Kong” version.

Until SARS-CoV-2, medical clinicians believed that coronavirus in humans were “self-limiting,” as they evolved so slowly, our own immune system could take them out (Alpha-strains of the mRNA).

SARS-CoV-2 is the opposite.  It is a “very fast evolving” virus – a “positive mRNA” (Beta-strain).  That is one reason it poses an extremely serious public heath risk.

And when health officials say, “SARS-CoV-2 has a novel reproductive strategy,” they mean it has the capability to resist assault by antigens (anti-bodies) and anti-viral agents in mammals.  Lets hope it does not tap into that resevoir any time soon for humans!


*Coronaviruses: An Overview of Their Replication and Pathogenesis 

=> nihms671207

Anthony R. Fehr and Stanley Perlman
Department of Microbiology, University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, Iowa City, IA 52242


“Coronaviruses (CoVs), enveloped positive-sense RNA viruses, are characterized by club-like spikes that project from their surface, an unusually large RNA genome, and a unique replication strategy. Coronaviruses cause a variety of diseases in mammals and birds ranging from enteritis in cows and pigs and upper respiratory disease chickens to potentially lethal human respiratory infections. Here we provide a brief introduction to coronaviruses discussing their replication and pathogenicity, and current prevention and treatment strategies. We will also discuss the outbreaks of the highly pathogenic Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and the recently identified Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV)…”  => nihms671207


Novel Coronavirus Outbreak 2020 :: Washington State Department of Health




Here are the URLs to articles and opinions offered on =>

I tried to counter the prevalent single-view of “Sick-to-Well” or “City-to-Country” as too simplistic by quoting from the book “FLU” by Gina Kolata, and point to gaps in the record of this pandemic, and the resevoir-threat and evolutionary-base posed by other mammals during the Summer months.



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