Super Sunday

It’s the first socially-distanced Super Bowl Sunday, another pandemic-driven change in the world. Should be a good game, though without friends to watch it with it will be like most “celebrations” the past year – small, quiet, wistful.

A few pandemic thoughts are rattling through my head this morning:

  • We’re coming up on 500K US deaths, and we still have plenty of COVID deniers. Both facts are hard to wrap your head around.
  • More scientists are starting to note that COVID is now with us for good. Like the flu, we are likely to have to get a shot for COVID mutations every year. But hopefully, with better treatments, we can leave the mask and social distancing part behind us once we get through this first full-population infection.
  • The second thought leads to the third – that this world-changing virus wasn’t a natural zootropic infection, but was an engineered virus that escaped from a research lab. Recent articles here and here show that the original “originated in the Chinese wet market” theory is no longer deemed credible. These paragraphs from the Infection Control Today article ring true:

“That’s a point Baker makes right at the start in his lead. “What happened was fairly simple, I’ve come to believe,” Baker writes. “It was an accident. A virus spent some time in a laboratory, and eventually it got out. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, began its existence inside a bat, then it learned how to infect people in a claustrophobic mine shaft, and then it was made more infectious in one or more laboratories, perhaps as part of a scientist’s well-intentioned but risky effort to create a broad-spectrum vaccine.”

Wuhan houses two laboratories that study coronaviruses that originate in bats: the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the Wuhan Centers for Disease Control. It’s possible, Baker writes, that scientists studying a coronavirus that may have been genetically altered to make it more powerful did not disinfect themselves properly before leaving work.

But scientists have been performing these sorts of experiments for years, as Baker points out. Nonetheless, he writes that “I keep returning to the basic, puzzling fact: This patchwork pathogen, which allegedly has evolved without human meddling, first came to notice in the only city in the world with a laboratory that was paid for years by the U.S. government to perform experiments on certain obscure and heretofore unpublicized strains of bat viruses—which bat viruses then turned out to be, out of all the organisms on the planet, the ones that are most closely related to the disease. What are the odds?”

Occam’s Razor, baby. The simplest explanation is usually the correct one.