It should not be any sort of surprise that a new COVID variant has arrived rudely on our doorstep to mess up our sacred Christmases. Although the coronavirus family is not as speedy a mutator as the influenza virus, COVID already has 20,000 close cousins known to science. Whether or not this one, succinctly dubbed VUI2020/12/01, is more virulent than its direct predecessor only time will tell, but first impressions are that it is certainly more catchable.
Viruses are not alive in the literal sense, but they are almost certainly our forebears, predating (or at least coevolving with) their cellular hosts, “us”, without whom they cannot reproduce.
As parasites, alive or not, viruses have an innate ability to recognise a promising opportunity to replicate when it is presented. Today COVID-19 is having a feeding frenzy, the like of which it will never have previously experienced. Its coronavirus family, The Common Cold, in humans remains an unresolved minor nuisance; this rampant and raging offspring threatens our way of life.
The Ancients had their biblical plagues which radically transfigured their way of life, but this is our own tailor-made catastrophe. Predicted by mathematicians, over-consumption inevitably gives rise to a “rare disaster”. Thom’s theorem is often applied to the manifestations of greenhouse gases, but is equally applicable to those of Western lifestyle itself. Obesity and diabetes are epidemic, trailed by the repercussions of heart disease, cancer and, indeed, all causes of death, leaving indulgent populations wide open to ruinous opportunistic infections.
Modern medicine has recently achieved record longevity in some of its domains (now starting to falter). This has been obtained without any significant improvement in the quality of life of the middle-old and the oldest-old. Increasing numbers of precious but incapacitated seniors are backing up in care homes without adequate family resources to cover the cost of their up-keep, and government reluctant to take direct responsibility for their wellbeing.
COVID-19 is having an archetypal beanfeast on this easy prey – there for the picking, tasty dishes, plenty left over for seconds.
Upcoming vaccinations, as far as anybody is so far aware, could be a temporary fix – certainly placatory for political purposes. Unlike smallpox (which took 200 years to eradicate), the prehensile and endlessly mutable coronavirus is not going to retire gracefully to the back benches at the behest of a truly amateur adversary. It might not be “alive”, but it certainly is not stupid. It will only give up its rare chance to gorge when the food becomes unpalatable or insufficient, or it senses that killing off its host entirely would not be in its best interest. Darwin would have nodded.
The new, inadequately tested and tried, fabulously exorbitant vaccines will only temporarily stem the tide of this malign manifestation of our most ancient of parasites. We literally live in an ocean of viruses and will be forever their potential prey, but, more often than not, we are, thankfully, happy co-campers, and we do have our own primordial defences at the ready which we neglect at our peril.
Invasive viruses shun health. A well-primed immune system is remarkably effective, but it is easily emasculated by the process of ageing, poor diet, vitamin D deficiency, declining hormones, obesity, and lack of physical activity.
There is no antidote to death, but we can postpone the symptoms.
AT LEAST YOU CAN TAKE YOUR VITAMIN D AT AN ADULT DOSE OF 4000 IU DAILY IN A GELATIN (OR VEGAN EQUIVALENT) CAPSULE OR BY ORAL SPRAY.