A lot has been written lately that compares the new SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes the COVID-19 disease, to the much more common and more familiar seasonal influenza virus that causes the dreaded flu. Personally, I think this is a very bad comparison, and one that should really be avoided at all costs, but it seems everyone from politicians to pundits to people in my friends lists is using the flu as the benchmark to measure by, so who am I to argue with consensus. So, let’s compare the experience Italy has had thus far this year with seasonal flu and COVID-19, and see which one is truly a bigger deal. Continue reading
In the Spring of 1918 a strain of Influenza that had never circulated in the human population before popped up in a group of soldiers training to fight in WW1 in Kansas. They took the virus to Europe with them. At first the infection was limited to the camp where the soldiers lived, and it killed a few hundred people. Not much of entry for a sickness that just a little less than a year later would sweep around the globe killing somewhere between 50 and 100 million people worldwide. Viruses are like the thermonuclear weapons of the biological world. They are mysterious, can strike without warning, and have the potential to cause destruction on a truly terrifying scale.
The world is currently facing the second largest epidemic of Ebola virus in recorded history. Let me say that again, the 2018-19 Kivu epidemic is now the 2nd largest outbreak of the virus behind only the 2014 West African Ebola epidemic in both total cases and deaths. Ebola virus seems to be on the way to becoming an endemic disease in Africa which could pose a serious threat to humanity. The more a virus like Ebola circulates in the human population, the more likely it will mutate and become more dangerous; not just to the areas of Africa traditionally plagued by Ebola, but potentially to the rest of the world as well. Continue reading