Haims: The everchanging COVID virus — conspiracy versus science
People across the world are more on edge, mentally exhausted and anxious. As the pandemic spikes once again and virus mutations threaten a timeline for this all to end, conspiracy theories are becoming more prevalent.
Are humans behind the origins of COVID-19 and are humans intentionally manipulating the virus for some nefarious purpose? To some extent, humans are responsible for variances in the mutations of COVID-19. But, it is not intentional nor worthy of thinking there is a conspiracy going on.
COVID-19 is a virus not unlike any other virus, it’s a hijacker of cells. Once inside of a living cell, it then has one purpose — to replicate. Viruses do this by taking control of the cells energy machinery (mitochondria) so they can create a virus reproduction factory. Eventually, virus reproduction causes the cell to die and then the virus is released within the host and attempts to reinfect other cells.
As the virus reproduction cycle repeats, viruses often evolve. Unfortunately, in the COVID-19 case, the virus tends to evolve faster than its human host. As the virus reproduces, it creates copies of the virus’ genetic code. As this repeatedly occurs, genetic mutations occur. While the coronavirus has a “proofreading” protein that catches most of the mutations, those that do not get caught become a part of the new virus.
Conversely, within the viral replication process, sometimes deletions can also occur. Deletions in the COVID-19 virus occurs with some frequency on the spike proteins. Sometimes as the virus replicates, deletions have shown to result in a milder clinical outcome as the variants have resulted in less systemic effects on proinflammatory cytokines, and chemokines. Unfortunately, some deletions are creating concerns as they are impeding antibodies from attaching to the spike proteins. This is causing concerns of reduced vaccine effectiveness.
Our immune system protects itself from viruses by developing antibodies. Antibodies protect our cells from the coronavirus by attaching to the protein spikes on the outer surface of the virus. When antibodies bind to the virus spikes, this helps stop the virus from latching on and entering new cells. When new variants of the coronavirus, or any virus, attempt to attack cells that have never been presented with the new version, prior immunities (and vaccines) may be less, if at all, effective.
For the coronavirus conspiracists and/or those who are skeptical and have succumbed to myths and misconceptions about the flu vaccine, this is why we need new and different flu vaccines every year. The purpose of any vaccines is to prod the immune system to produce antibodies. The new B.1.1.7 variant identified in the U.K. and the South African variant, B.1.351 are examples of variants that current vaccines may not fully be effective on.
New variants of the coronavirus are not manmade — they have evolved by replicating within the cells of every human host they infect. Viruses change because that’s their underlying biology. Should the COVID-19 virus have been engineered, it would have been based on a template or backbone of an already known virus that causes disease. Viruses are not just engineered and assembled from nothing in a lab.
Biological warfare exists. However, the development of infectious pathogens and toxins involves the use of living material. Molecular, serological and genome sequencing evidence of the COVID-19 virus show a very high probability of a bat origin — not a laboratory.
Laboratories across the globe are utilizing genetic sequencing to better understand and map where changes in the virus are occurring. As scientists learn more about the virus’ genetic code and all of its individual parts, they can then isolate specific parts of the virus’s genetic code and separate it. Once the genetic code is separated it can be duplicated and new vaccines can be developed.
Being critical of the media and science is not in whole a bad thing. People should always challenge and ask questions of subjects they do not understand. But, before you subscribe to misinformation and unvalidated “facts,“ do your research.