Letters to the Editor: Stay calm, this too shall pass

Letters to the Editor: Stay calm, this too shall pass


Stay calm, this too shall pass

A lot has been said about the COVID-19 virus, but underneath it all is a basic biology lesson in population ecology. All populations are susceptible to the introduction of a new disease-causing microorganism. Harbor seals get a measles-like disease from a distemper virus. Fish develop tumors from a herpes virus and in 2009 the Swine flu (H1N1) killed 12,469 in the U.S.

When a new disease-causing virus is introduced there is no natural immunity in the population - everyone is susceptible. Most likely, two years from now most of us will have immunity to COVID-19, either from getting it (most people will probably have a mild case), or we will develop immunity after vaccination. Because of healthcare improvements this outbreak will be probably not be as serious as the Spanish flu of 1918 which killed 675,000 Americans and 50 million people worldwide.

The life cycle of diseases can vary. Some epidemics end quickly if the illness is not that contagious or if everyone in a specific area recovers before they can pass it on to someone new. Some infections spread through the population throughout the year. Other diseases, like influenza, will spread widely during the winter when people spend more time together inside, but the number of cases greatly declines in the summer, only to spike up again next winter. We probably won’t know how COVID -19 will proceed until fall and winter of 2020.

The quarantines and containment areas do serve a purpose. They buy time so doctors can see if the medications for influenza are effective against the corona virus and if not develop new drugs. Slowing the spread also gives researchers time to develop an effective vaccine. Each year most of us get the flu (influenza) vaccine because it mutates, and we want to be protected against the newest strain. It is possible that in the future we will also get the latest corona virus vaccine. Early indications are that it does mutate.

The best that we can do is keep calm, use good hygiene practices and spiff up our emergency supplies. This too shall pass.

Muriel Machin



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