We need to dwell more into the evolutionary theories associated with endemic, epidemic and the medically coined term called pandemic in the present context; instead of we running after novel coronavirus to stop it from spreading or we attempt to escape from the virus that is chasing us multi-dimensionally. Encounter, not escape is the way.
Even if we have to believe the ancestor of novel coronavirus is the one that found in bat and pangolin, still it tells the same story that novel coronavirus cannot be eliminated from our society because it has not yet identified its definite host or it may be on its way to become extinct.
The theory around the origin of novel corona from bat, the host-shift and rapid spread of the virus in pandemic proportion among people all over the world clearly suggests that both the ‘social gene’ of the virus and the anxiety & restlessness of the virus to establish its terminal host may be in all probability causing great concern to human being.
The theory over the origin of novel coronavirus from the one that found in Pangolin also suggests only the above hypothesis.
Bats are social mammals. Although they may not exhibit clear social hierarchy, division of labour or eusocial behaviour, but still they follow communal roosting pattern which makes them look social from the perspective of viral spread from one animal to other in the given bat colony. Further, bats never follow ‘social distancing norms’, are polygamous and promiscuous and such behaviour in all probability shall only favour the spread of virus. Such spread may have further favoured the virus to choose its habitat to be bat. This may be reason for the popular presumption that the grandparent (s) our novel coronavirus may be the one present in bat.
In contrast, pangolin is a solitary mammal. If the virus harbours in pangolin, it has the necessity to stay with its host, adapt and become obligate because getting another animal to shift its host is limited from pangolin. The above statement is made in the context where no human intervention in involved.
If the end host of novel coronavirus is human, then the virus would not have followed the behaviour of ‘generalist’ virus, spread across human population in different geography, equally.
From the evolutionary standpoint, the virus may be anxious and agitated as it has not yet identified its final host. The struggle of the virus to exist is what the real struggle ‘WE’ the human being may be enduring today.
Are we preventing the virus to escape from human being or are we facilitating the virus to exist with human being, thorough the lockdown and isolation?
Why the above question is very significant and relevant scientifically and medically is because of the ‘supra-generalist’ ‘omnipresent’ transmission pattern of the virus.
When a virus spreads so fast across all geography, human race, climatic conditions means…….., we also must look at the problem from microbiology and evolutionary science than seeing through the narrow optics of medicine, patient care and treatment.
If our focus were limited only to COVID 19, then our problem will have different scientific footing. But the whole world is testing people for coronavirus positivity. Ironically, large number of positive cases of coronavirus either fails to show any signs and symptoms of the disease or show very mild symptoms and with or without any great medical intervention, turns negative for the virus in due course of time.
Alongside, another population also exist and exhibit all signs and symptoms of the infection – COVID-19 and some dies?
When the viral transmission is so pandemic, how come the disease manifestation and death are highly restricted to certain individuals with definite co-morbidity conditions? How the same virus could spread all over the world barring all basic tenets of evolution and final selection of a host?
Another funny question also we must ask for the sake enhancing our evolutionary wisdom. Is coronavirus stupid or very intelligent?
The first assumption is that the coronavirus may be stupid. If the virus is still searching for its final host and it is not necessarily the human being means, why it should try out humans in every country to reach its ultimate host? Does that exercise not so costly for the virus from the evolutionary point of view?
Let us assume the coronavirus may be extraordinary intelligent. The easiest and the most abundantly available host for any virus is human being. So the virus may be ploughing through its way, trying to understand different human race and then may select its final host.
When variety and options are available in plenty, why should the virus miss such chance, worrying much about the cost involved in selecting its ultimate host?
If the above such natural selection approaches only novel coronavirus is trying means, we have more to worry and celebrate? Any species follows such rigorous natural selection cannot remain generalist virus anymore, at best, it can remain only as specialist or obligatory and death of the host under such circumstances is less likely.
Whatever be the evolutionary reason, the virus has selected human being to conduct its experiment. The big question is will the nationwide lockdown dissuade such determined, smart virus?
Our confusion is compounded more due to our fear than patience and pragmatism.
Viral spread and COVID 19, we must learn to see separately and independently. We should provide best medical support to COVID 19 patients and should not make too much jigsaw over coronavirus positivity.
In all likelihood the coronavirus may visit every Indian with or without our knowledge, with or without any clinical symptoms. Alongside and along with us, coronavirus is also going to live until it finds its ultimate host or may to perish.
We must ease the life of people. During malaria and Dengue season, we know every mosquito that bites doesn’t either carry or transmit the parasite or virus. Similarly every malaria or dengue patient is not going to die. When death is inevitable, dying cannot be stopped. Let us be a bit philosophical than medical or cynical, realize the truth that lockdown is not going to stop either the spread of the virus or those vulnerable group developing COVID 19. What matter for India is, life and livelihood and strong measures to build our economy from the ruin.