Covid-19 in Context

I have spent way too much time learning about Covid-19 -SARS CoV-2. I still know almost nothing. For a while, I thought that was a bad thing, but eventually I decided almost no one knew much. That did not trouble me much, science takes a while to learn new things and the SARS CoV-2 case is a complicated one.

It is not a natural virus so the rules that apply to natural viruses may or may not apply. It will take a long time to understand if they do not. Knowledge of conventional viruses is even yet incomplete.


Viruses have a short time between birth and reproduction. Unlike humans where a new generation with a new mix of genetic material can take 20 years or more, some viruses mutate easily and quickly. RNA viruses like SARS CoV-2 are especially capable of mutations and the mutation, if helpful, quickly becomes the dominant strain. The advantages include, easier spread, and ability to avoid defences. Some are more lethal than others but that is not a good mutation so far as the virus is concerned. Better to have many hosts sharing their virus load.

Varieties extant

So far we have seen the original version, The Alpha version found in England early on, Beta is the South African case, Gamma is the Brazilian version and Delta is the current concern, active first in India. All good so far.

I recently noticed a “lambda” version found so far primarily in Peru. That got me thinking. Having taken mathematics at one time, the Greek Alphabet is not totally unfamiliar. I know that lambda doesn’t follow delta. What about epsilon, zeta, eta, theta, iota, and kappa? Should I be more concerned?

There are two categories

Scientist allocate variants to one of two categories.

  1. Varieties of Concern – so far alpha, beta, gamma, and delta, and delta plus. According to the World Health Organization, a variant of concern is one with increased transmissibility, greater lethality, or avoidance of vaccine defenses.
  2. Varieties of Interest – This category is where the missing Greek letters fall. According to the WHO, these have the capability to spread more easily, be more serious, escape defences, and be harder to detect. Emphasis on capability. No one knows for sure yet.

What we might expect

RNA viruses mutate continually. There will be more Greek letters appearing. I don’t know if the viruses know there are only 24 letters in the Greek alphabet and so will stop at 24 varieties. Probably not.

Some people seem to think the virus will “burn out” as more people are immune and thus poor hosts. The history of RNA viruses would suggest otherwise. Hepatitis C, HIV, Ebola, polio, and measles, to name a few, are RNA viruses. Some have been controlled by vaccines, while others are suppressed upon first recognition. Some have treatments that minimize the effects.

We don’t yet know how the war between defense – vaccine, and offence – mutation, will play out. What we know from military history is that in the conflict between warhead, offence, and armour, defence, warhead wins. Defense always plays catch-up. We have examples in virology, too. What was the cost to minimize HIV-AIDS? Worldwide 38 million people have the disease. We don’t hear much about it in North America any more, but it is still there.

The other unknowns

For reasons that suit only them, politicians have decided to use the pandemic to enhance their control. Objectively analyzed that is always a losing proposition. There are few examples of where top-down management worked. Will they eventually stop or will they grow more shrill?

Will news and opinion media find something else more compelling to talk about? The media doesn’t care much what they report. It just has to be emotionally stimulating. It’s about clicks not about useful information. Plausible fiction is every bit as good as reality.

Suppressing information and promoting a single approach seems inherently foolish, but if control is a value for you, very hypnotic. Fear is a powerful motivator and fear is what is being sold here. Masks are the symbol. Vaccines are the social good. Opposition is futile – we have the power to compel.

Power is like heroin. Fun until you overuse it and it kills you.

Information and context are missing. There have been other health risks in the past. Some quite serious. The plague in the 14th century wiped out at least a third of the population of Europe. It was bacterial and hygiene standards were abysmal. It would pose a threat today, but not a third of the people would pass away. Small Pox killed 30% of the people who got it. No longer a concern because of effective immunization. Measles has nearly disappeared as has polio. Again because of immunization.

The same will happen here, but maybe not as quickly as we would like. The current vaccine may be capable. We will know in a year or two. By presenting it during the high wave part of the disease, did we merely insure that only the strongest or most capable versions of the virus would remain.

So far there are about 200 million cases worldwide and slightly more than 4 million deaths. So far, and reporting is far from perfect, about one person in 38 has acquired the disease and of those one in fifty has died. Not exactly the “Black Death” The only questions are how long will it take for everyone to get it and how long until effective treatment is available?

We should be able to know how many Covid-19 only deaths there have been. So far, intuition says the only deaths occur where there are serious co-morbidities. Thus mostly older people. Knowing more would be very hard to determine just now because hiding the details is a political advantage.

What we have learned and can use

Co-morbidity issues matter. If you are over-weight by a lot, or are out of shape, or a smoker, you can help yourself by overcoming those. It will make the rest of your life better too

Other conditions like diabetes and heart conditions are not so much of a problem if you control the condition. That’s on you. Manage your diet and take the medications.

Age is factor but there is not a lot you can do about that. You will have to work a little harder to avoid or manage the co-morbidities.

Stress is an issue. You could stop paying attention to hysterical news anchors and their political agitators.

The takeaway

The disease will not be going away.

We will discover ways to deal with it.

You can manage some of the variables.

We need media and politicians with better ethical standards.

I help people have more retirement income and larger, more liquid estates.

Call in Canada 705-927-4770, or email

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