Here we are, almost two years from the time the Covid 19 changed the world, and this is far from over. I have watched with interest and concern how various governments, institutions, and people have dealt with this challenge. The rapid development of vaccines has been a bright start on a somewhat cloudy night.
While the virus has not vanquish civilization, it certainly has disrupted many lives and taken many lives.
I have been encouraged about how so many people have taken personal responsibility not only for their health but also for others, including people they do not even know. But, Equally, I have been horrified by the selflessness and ignorance of others who refuse to get vaccinated or, even worse, spread falsehoods and even profit from selling products that do not help but can harm those who use them.
I can’t even write about the selfish behavior of the former president of the USA without feeling ill myself.
Viruses are not alive (although some disagree). They are snippets of genetic material (DNA or RNA) that can enter cells of living things and reprogram them. They cause the cells of living organisms to reproduce copies of themselves, creating high virus qualities. The objective of the virus is replication, although, of course, the virus is now aware of that. The virus has no interest in harming its host, although that may result from the infection. What is motivating the virus is making more copies of itself. However, it will very often make altered copies that we call mutations in the process. It is not in the self-interest of a virus to kill its host or even make the host very sick, although that is often the result. It wants to make lots of copies, and to do that; it has to go from host to host, infecting as many organisms as possible. It is in the virus’s interest to infect a host without causing symptoms. A host with symptoms will likely have less chance to help the virus with its mission to infect others. Therefore, a virus that does not produce symptoms will have a greater chance of propagating than one that does.
The evolutionary pressure on the virus is to become more infectious. This can be accomplished in several ways. The increased transition between organisms is one of the primary ways. But it also means in the case of humans, people that are very infectious but not aware that they are infected. When a version of the virus is more contagious than a previous version, it will out-compete it and become the dominant version. We saw that with the Delta variant of Covid. We now believe that this might happen with the Omicron version.
The more people infected with the virus, the more variants will develop. The variants are just random mutations. Most harm the virus itself. But given enough replications, variants that are superior in replication will emerge to the variant that created them. The overwhelming majority of human beings have no immunity from Covid. They are not vaccinated or recently infected. They are each a factory to produce new variants.
There is a lot of talk about vaccinating the world. Frankly, that would be wonderful but not very achievable especially given that the vaccines lose effectivity over time, as does natural immunity (having been previously infected).
That is why I am making an outrageous proposal. First, let’s develop a version of the very infectious but not very destructive virus. Then let’s try to infect everyone. We did this in the 50s when I was a child. There were measles and chickenpox parties where kids gathered together to infect each other.
With the advanced technologies we have, such as the mRNA capabilities, we could develop a version of the very infectious version of the virus but one that was not very serious. Then instead of someone being vaccinated so they could not get infected and infect others, they would spread the virus. Eventually, everyone would be infected.
Remember, I said this was an outrageous proposal.