Britain’s Covid alert level has gone from 3 to 4, meaning infections are high or rising exponentially, and if nothing changes we could be looking at 50,000 new cases a day by mid-October.
What are we doing in response? Well, weddings in England are now limited to fifteen people but funerals can have thirty. If you like a big party, I recommend dying.
People who work in stores now have to wear masks. Customers have had to wear them for some time, but who knew that staff members breathe as well? We learn something new about this disease every week.
Pubs and restaurants will close at 10 pm, because the virus is a creature of the night and we need to be tucked safe in our little beds when it prowls.
People who can work from home should. Again. They were mostly doing that until the government sent out the virtual sheepdogs to round up as many of them as possible, sending them off to work from work. It would be fine, the government told them. They wouldn’t even need to wear masks, because their employers would make the workplace safe (stop laughing when someone’s typing, people; it’s rude) and besides the virus doesn’t have the attention span for eight hours in an office. Besides, the economy needed them to be out there buying a sandwich for lunch, a coffee to reward themselves for showing up, and a pen with metallic green ink to bring home for a seven-year-old.
No, I don’t know why we’ve had this upsurge either.
Hospital admissions are also going up, although not as sharply as infections. They do lag behind, so that may or may not mark a change in the way Covid’s affecting people. Stick around long enough and we’ll find out.
What is new is that the rise includes women between the ages of twenty and forty who work in hospitality, in the care sector, or who have kids in school. In other words, women who are at higher risk of exposure than the general population. They’re not in the age groups we’ve all considered vulnerable, but they seem to be vulnerable anyway.
As far as I can tell, from my highly unscientific seat on the couch, this is a change, and a worrying one.
An experiment that involves testing sewage sludge for Covid (some people get to have all the fun) has not only tracked the virus accurately but spotted trends in the local infection rate five days ahead of the time when individual testing did. If they start using the system where you live, you can feel civic minded every time you use the toilet.
What crazy theories about the virus are getting enough circulation that the BBC feels a need to debunk them?
- That a Covid vaccine will turn us all into genetically modified creatures and “hook us all up to an artificial intelligence interface.” That one got 300,000 views on YouTube.
- That a Covid vaccine will implant us with microchips so the Gates Foundation can track our locations.
- That the vaccine used during the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918 was responsible for 50 million deaths.
That last one’s my favorite. There was no vaccine during the Spanish flu epidemic. Scientists did try to find one, but they were looking at bacteria and it was caused by a virus. At that point, no one had a clue.
Be careful where you get your news, friends. It’s crazy out there.
Can we check in with a bit of real science, just to lift our spirits, not to mention the tone of the blog?
An experimental cancer drug may keep Covid from infecting cells and replicating itself–in other words, it would effectively kill the little bastard. It’s called AR-12, and it works by inhibiting cellular chaperones.
Yes, chaperones. They don’t follow the coronaviruses around at dances to keep them from getting too familiar with the boys. Nope, these chaperones are proteins that run around after the cells and keep them from getting bent out of shape.
Well, more or less–probably a bit less, given that I’m the one interpreting this–but they do help the cells maintain their shape. Mess around with their shape and the little virii don’t reproduce themselves, and the whole purpose of a virus’s life is to reproduce.
Earlier trials have shown the drug to be safe and tolerable. Now they need trials to show that it distracts the chaperones, allowing the viruses to get themselves into all kinds of trouble.
Other approaches are in the works–lots of them–but I try to limit myself to the ones I can explain, at least marginally well. Or failing that, make fun of.