By Dr Beck
I started the year 2020 in Seattle, retired and volunteering for NEXTSTRAIN.org, splitting my time in Canada, at UBC for a quarter. The Coastal Douglas Fir forests were awesome, filled with oxygen, and a pleasure to hike through. And there were no homeless in the forests, as in the lower 48 States. Now, much of this land near Point Grey has been reclaimed by the First Nations and First Peoples living there historically. All of the land UBC sits on is unceded (“stolen” in some parlances) land.
The other part of my time, as I wrote above was devoted to working on PHP code and analysing data for Nextstrain.org, somewhat based in Seattle at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center of the UW. I urge readers to visit its website, learn about their work and volunteer, as I did, if you meet the criteria. Or falling short of that, donate.
It was with purpose that I volunteered. The first strain of the human pathogen, SARS-CoV-2 was making it appearance in the Seattle area. It derived from a bat coronavirus, as had been predicted back in 2015, 2016, and 2019-2020. It was following much the same trajectory as was seen with SARS-CoV years earlier.
At first, only one strain was observed, but I and others knew this was a Beta-type coronavirus, and if anything, was known for high mutation/evolution rates. A few disagreed with that assessment, leading to a fallacious news release from the NextStrain website at the time, but later corrected, that only one strain of the virus was extant and would be so for a long time. Now, of course, there are scores of active strains reported from around the World. Below is a recent phylogenic record taken from the Nexstrain website, plotting CLADE versus TIME (of sample taken). Remember, this is the actual record of active coronavirus pathogens taken from human patients, and identified with a specific strain.
For example, on the Nextstrain website pull up the GISAID datasets for SARS-CoV-2 like this image above, and clicked on one of the orange-red 22B (Omicron) dots at the top (SEP-OCT-2022), specific information on the type of virus and the infection/submission date and location would be displayed in a separate screen (below)…
Now, I want you, the reader, to step back from the detail of this lineage, this tree of evolution as it were, to view the forest of thousands of patients; scores of strains.
What are the two most obvious characteristics of SARS-CoV-2 today?
First, it’s alive! It hasn’t died; gone away into hiding; disappeared from view. It’s very much alive and finding humans to infect, even though it was the focus of modern medicine and most of bioscience by humans to eradicate it from the Earth. It’s still there, very much alive.
Second, it’s evolving like crazy; like gang-busters. Just look at the orange-red areas of the phylogenic chart. Why do you think it’s evolving like that? To play rugby? Ice hockey? No. It’s mutating and evolving with one mission, to survive by infecting humans. That’s all it knows. It cannot survive any other way. The fact that it is evolving so rapidly means we humans have put up stiff resistance to its spread. However, the battle – as they say – is not over. It’s finding plenty of human hosts, even in highly developed countries with efficient systems of medical support for humans.
“Last year was the deadliest for active-duty law enforcement in nearly a century, with COVID-19 identified as the leading cause of death for the second year in a row. “
It has not, like a few pundits claim, become “another seasonal influenza.”
There is no long-term natural immunity in humans to SARS-CoV-2. I will repeat that. There is no long-term natural immunity in humans to SARS-CoV-2. The only immunity we have derives from the vaccine, or direct infection and recovery. which centres on the S-protein or “Spike”.
The empirical evidence of that should be obvious. How many friends of yours have had two or three bouts with COVID-19? Yes, upto three, although four have been reported. Each re-infection diminishes or immunity rather than bolstering it. Each re-infection enhances the potential for long-COVID and “mind fog”. My realtor-friend’s husband in Chicagoland has had COVID-19 three times; same strain. COVID was again the leading cause of death among U.S. law enforcement in 2021.
“Last year was the deadliest for active-duty law enforcement in nearly a century, with COVID-19 identified as the leading cause of death for the second year in a row.
“Some 458 local, state, tribal and federal officers died in the line of duty in 2021, according to a preliminary report from the National Law Enforcement Memorial and Museum (NLEOMF). That makes an increase of 55% from the previous year’s tally of 295 and the highest total number since 1930.
“This year’s statistics demonstrate that America’s front-line law enforcement officers continue to battle the deadly effects of the Covid-19 pandemic nationwide,” the report reads. “Preliminary data shows that some 301 officer fatalities have been identified as caused by Covid this year, and this number appears to increase almost daily…”
Why? Perhaps, because it is a cadiovascular and neurological disease, not an influenza.
I’ll have more later, but for now…
WEAR A MASK; GET VACCINATED WITH THE BOOSTER.