Saturday, February 1, 2020

My take on the latest coronavirus outbreak from Wuhan...

Medical and health sciences are some of my weakest knowledge suits. Their technical names are too long for me to remember. But in the wake of the present coronavirus scare, I felt compelled to read a little about viruses. 

I read somewhere that the life of a virus (the literature says, technically, viruses are not alive) generally depends on the conditions of the environment it is in, as well as the type of surface it is on. Cold viruses are said to be able to survive on indoor surfaces for approximately seven days. Flu viruses, however, are active for only 24 hours. All viruses have the potential to live on hard surfaces, such as metal and plastic, longer than on fabrics and other soft surfaces. In fact, infectious flu viruses can survive on tissues for only 15 minutes. 

Viruses tend to also live longer in areas with lower temperatures, low humidity, and low sunlight.

While cold viruses can live for several days, their ability to cause infection decreases after approximately 24 hours, and after ONLY five minutes.

This set me thinking. 

Natives all over the world hunt and eat wildlife - wild boars, civet cats, bats, capybara, birds, snakes and what have you, but we don’t seem to hear outbreaks of killer diseases like SARS, Nipah Virus and coronavirus. But why the outbreaks in, respectively, Guangzhou, Port Dickson and Wuhan? 

Killer viruses may have already manifested themselves in these wild creatures when they are caught. These animals are killed when hunted down and not long after cooked with fire in open air. The process and conditions do not allow viruses to survive long, hence no transmission. Whereas in the wet markets all over East and Southeast Asia, the wildlife caught are caged in the cruelest fashion. They can be in locations for hours. If Darwin’s Theory is true, then the viruses are also keen to jump out to survive and multiply, aren’t they? 

My hypothesis is therefore this: eating wildlife per se is not a danger (but this does not mean I condone the practice), keeping them in the way it is now done by traders in East and Southeast Asia is. 

I am not a scientist; it is just a thought. Feel free to prove it is a wrong conclusion!