Sunday, September 20, 2020

Wall Street Journal Series, "The COVID Storm"


The Wall Street Journal offers a series called “The COVID Storm”.  I’ll link to the most recent one, Sept. 7, by Robert Lee Holtz and Natasha Khan, “’Really Diabolical’:Inside the Coronavirus that Outsmarted Science” (paywall).   The master page will link to “A Deadly Coronavirus Was Inevitable.  Why Was No One Ready?”  by Betsy McKay and Phred Dvorak, Aug. 13.

The current essay explains how the virus can attack almost every organ system because it can use several receptors (the most important is ACE2) to get inside cells.

It developed this seemingly improbable multiplicity of ways to damage humans by incubating in bats, whose high metabolism and body temperature forces it to evolve more to survive in them.

Particularly scary are the findings that sometimes the virus has been found in spinal fluid and brain.

I have thought of measles as a reasonable comparison to a multi system disease, but COVID19 does seem unprecedented in the variety of damage a highly contagious respiratory disease can do, because it evolved in an unusual mammal.  The development inside bats probably explains most of the unusual properties sometimes attributed to labs (including a recent rumor on Tucker Carlson).

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