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Duck Soup


Exhibit One: It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.

Peeking out of the rabbit-hole let’s take a look at what Mother Nature still has in store for us. 

The Poor Pangolin, hunted almost to extinction in China and now being imported in, illegally we might add, to meet the demand for its flesh. In Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, where they can be legally bought, they are selling for $350 dollars a kilo (about 2.2 lbs) so this is not a traditional peasant meal in China, it is a delicacy of the wealthy.  On March 24, 2019 the Guangdong Wildlife Rescue Center took custody of 21 live animals, most of them in bad health and carrying the Sendai Virus, harmless to humans, but known for causing illness in rodents. There were also small fragments of coronaviruses, which we know can infect humans, tiny amounts, but they were present.
As for our current problem, the first stories were about the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market. This was shut down and sanitized on January 1st, 2020.  The coronavirus was found, genomic bits, plus a touch of viable virus that could be grown in a lab, but it came from wastewater and other surfaces, not from animals.  Of the first 41 hospitalized patients most but not all of them had been to the market. But a few, including the earliest patient whose symptoms began on December 1, 2019, had no such contacts. This would indicate that the virus was already circulating in the city in November, and people might have carried the virus into the market.
Several studies have been done but they are inconclusive about whether the Pangolin carried the virus or not, but in the smuggling chains they are exposed to many other animals and the virus could easily transfer from one to another. And of course, there are the Bat Caves in the Wuhan area to deal with. At this point there is no scientific consensus about this pandemic’s origins, indeed scientific papers abound, all over the spectrum, not to count the multitudinous conspiracy theories. (Much more fun than science). But chillingly, Chinese studies have found, in the original group of Pangolins and a second later group, two distinct lineages of coronavirus closely related to SARS-CoV-2.
Evolutionary Biologist Edward C. Holmes states: “That’s what is so striking. There are two lineages, and the Guangdon ones are closer to SARS-CoV-2 than the Guangxi ones. But they are both close. Right? So it’s not that there’s one outbreak in pangolins.” Mother Nature, whom it is not nice to fool with, is not done with us yet, still stirring the pot.
Exhibit 2: The Thundering Herd

The Great Barrington Declaration, easy to find on the web, raises the case for herd immunity. It is not a scientific document, it is an opinion piece (like the Museum), based on science as one can tell from the authors ands signatories. It is true that One: herd immunity is a thing, and Two: it can be achieved naturally. A pandemic will have its explosive stage early with exponential infection, then level off and finally go into a steady decline until it evens out at about a one to one infection level. That is one person only infects one other person, not two or three. But it must be remembered that the disease stays active with various peaks and valleys. However, the deadliness of the disease steadily goes down, even in the early stages, as the medical community learns more about it and how to deal with it. This is what is happening in the U.S. right now. We are still in an exponential growth stage, but the death rate is steadily going down.
So the point is not that we cannot reach that low plateau, it is the time and loss of life doing it that become the question, and that is how it must be compared with other courses. Covid-19 has an infection rate close to the flu, so this means a longer time to reach that “immunity”. It is not the measles, one of the most infective diseases known to man, which therefore has a quick “herd rate.”  Also, we do not know how long the immunity will last for those who have had the disease nor what the reinfection rate will be. Plus, there is T-Cell immunity which is a whole different story. This means it is impossible at this point to predict what Per-centage of the population will need to be infected to achieve the desired herd effect. As of this writing it is estimated that around 10% of the population has been infected. At best herd immunity is in the 20% range, normally it is more in the 50% and above. Either way we have a long way to go for the herd. Proportionally the death rate will keep falling but it will not "go away". There could be 1 million (or more) deaths to reach herd and with the rate of infection this could take five or six years. During that time, the Virus will mutate, (see exhibit One) and the effects of that are unknown, as are the long-term health risks. 
A vaccine is not a magic bullet, as they come in flavors from very effective to not so much, and one does not know for sure which it will be until it is released.  (Vaccines are like a box of chocolates). And even after the release it will probably take a year for it to be widely distributed.  Another option, rather than Herd, is more stringent preventive measures, trying to limit the infection until an effective vaccine is widely available. This is what many States are trying to do now, although it really needs to be a National Response. It looks likes masks are not going away for a couple of years as of this writing. And then there is the Chinese Model.
Exhibit Three: The Totalitarian Method.

Right now China is having very good results on their Covid Cases, indeed so much so they are having to go elsewhere in Asia and Africa to try out their vaccines. (One wonders why they are not trying them out on the Uighur, Nazi Germany Medical Procedure style). Why, because they locked down their cities at the first sign of infection, and in Wuhan, as the most extreme example, they locked it down from January 23rd to April 8th.  And this was a complete lockdown, apart from some foreign-passport holders, nobody in the city was allowed to leave. Nothing like a little Soul Crushing Totalitarianism™ to help with immunity. (Mao smiles from the grave). And in America we complain about helping Country, States, Cities, Communities, Neighbors, Friends and Family with Mask Mandates.
At the Exit: Days of Future Passed

Another fun point (noted in Exhibit Two:) is that we do not know the long-term health effects of the Virus. It could be very benign like the flu, or it could cause a future health crisis because of a currently unknown side effect. We are rolling the dice, and prudence would say one should error on the side of Caution. History says that is not “how we roll.”



Uncle Willie loves to have feedback from both readers who appreciate his point of view as well as from misguided souls who disagree.