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In my March 31 post, titled “Attenuation – Darwin Would Agree,” I wrote
“A curious thing about viruses is that they’re not really alive but not really dead either. They are however, smart enough to recognize Darwin was right. Like all Darwinian creatures, viruses seek ways to survive and one way is through attenuation.“
Webster defines attenuation as “a) a lessening in amount, force, magnitude, or value, b) a reduction of severity or virulence: a decrease in the pathogenicity of a microorganism or in the severity of a disease.”
To paraphrase, attenuation occurs as a virus weakens over time. For example, the often referenced Spanish Flu is ubiquitously around us today, it just attenuated to the point of being benign so it can survive. If the Spanish Flu kept killing it’s hosts, it too would eventually fade out and the virus is too smart to allow that. The SARS and MERS viral outbreaks, that were much more deadly than COVID, quickly attenuated to the point of being benign.
Since this crisis began experts feared COVID-19 would not attenuate, in fact John Hopkins University predicts a second more deadly wave of COVID will sweep the country starting in September. Experts now predict that recent rioting all but assures this second wave has already started. Built into these doomsday predictions is the constant reminder that the second wave of the Spanish Flu accounted for most of that virus’s 50 million deaths.
In the early 2000’s, I was involved in federal pandemic modeling. Many of the scenarios we modeled and prepared for were as deadly as the Spanish Flu and there was usually a second, and in some cases even a third, wave – but not always. In every scenario we modeled however, the virus always attenuated. My concern back in March was that because COVID was engineered by the Chinese, they may have incorporated a nefarious anti-attenuating component into their strain.
Perhaps we caught a break though and this Chinese bio-weapon is just as poorly engineered as most Chinese made products. A new study from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, indicates COVID-19 is weakening at a rapid rate. Dr. Donald Yealy, of UPMC said “Some patterns suggest the potency is diminished.” He has treated over 500 patients and the trend he’s observed is that the severity of patient trauma is lessening, “fewer patients are requiring ventilators to help them breathe.” This statement is backed up in part by the fact that the U.S. has so underutilized their limited supply of ventilators they’ve started giving them away to other countries.
“People seem to be contracting the virus less easily and cases appear to be less severe than when the pandemic first began,” Dr. Yealy explained. He even went so far as to say that currently, “the risk of being in a car crash on the Pennsylvania Turnpike is greater than the risk of testing positive for asymptomatic COVID symptoms.”
Let’s hope Dr. Yealy is right. Let’s hope that like most Chinese made products COVID is poorly engineered with a short useful life. Let’s hope the virus continues to weaken to the point that when flu season restarts in September the virus is benign.