In which I give my sister Susan some advice about wearing masks in public:
People love to tell me that there are no stupid questions.
Well, there are, and I ask them.
I think it’s important to ask questions. I think it’s especially important to ask questions even when you think they might be stupid. Chances are somebody else is wondering the same thing. And once you know the answer, you are less stupid than you were before.
So here’s a list of questions I have about the virus officially known to the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses as “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2,” and “SARS-CoV-2”, or simply as the disease Covid-19 to the rest of us.
I am under no illusion that any of these questions are particularly astute or original. Some of them are obvious; others might well be stupid. Some have probably already been answered. Others, I know, nobody has answered yet, though scientists and medical professionals the world over are hard at work trying to come up with answers.
So, without further ado, and in no particular order, here’s what I’ve been wondering about:
- Once you’ve had Covid-19, can you get it again?
- If you get it and do become immune, how long is that immunity likely to last?
- Are there different strains of Covid-19 out there? The answer appears to be yes, though the differences are minute. And it doesn’t appear that one is more dangerous than the other. Will yet more strains emerge? Might they be more or less dangerous? I would like to know.
- Considering that Covid-19 is a novel coronovirus, a new strain that has not previously been identified in humans, why do otherwise healthy people respond differently to it? Why do some succumb to it, others get very sick, others experience minor symptoms, and yet others show no symptoms at all? Not talking about the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions; just wondering why healthy people respond differently.
- Just how infectious is Covid-19? What are the actual odds of getting it if I’m talking to someone who’s infected and I foolishly touch my nose, eyes, or mouth? Will I definitely get it, or am I just likely to?
- How exactly did this begin? We know that its origin was natural. Apparently there are two primary possibilities. It could have evolved through natural selection in a non-human host (most likely a bat) and then jumped to humanity through an intermediate host (such as a pig). This is the most likely scenario, and if indeed this was the case, it could easily happen again. A less likely possibility is that a non-pathogenic version jumped to humans (from an animal such as a pangolin) and then, once inside humans, evolved a ruthless ability to bind to human cells, and became the super-villainous virus we all know and hate today. So… which was it? Or was it some other natural phenomenon altogether? Whatever the case, what can we do to reduce the possibility of it occurring again?
- Approximately one third of the planet is currently in lockdown because of the pandemic. What are the rest doing?
- Are people still fighting wars while the pandemic rages? If so, where? And more importantly, why? And what will the impact of that be? Nothing good, I would imagine.
- Will there be a second pandemic wave? If the 1918-1920 Spanish Flu is any indication, the answer is yes. How do we prepare for that?
- When will it be safe to emerge from our homes? The Spanish Flu pandemic lasted two years (though the worst of it was one three month period in 1918). We know more than we knew then. We are responding in an unprecedented fashion pretty much worldwide. One has to hope this will result in a much better outcome.
If I stumble upon any answers, I’ll let you know.
An awkward social distancing (dogstancing?) encounter the other morning walking my pooch.
Some people in the neighbourhood like to give my Golden Retriever treats. I know they mean well. With my dog on a leash, though, this means getting up close and personal for all involved.
This morning we met one of the treat givers (who for the sake of this tale I shall call Leopold). Leopold, I observed, happens to be in a particularly dangerous age bracket for Covid-19 (I know that we all are, to one extent or another). I kept my distance from Leopold until Maxwell spotted him, and he spotted Maxwell.
“Maxwell!” Leopold cried, and started toward him, a treat in hand. I did my best to keep 95 pounds of muscular beast back, but that’s hard to do at the best of times, let alone on snowy, slippery ground. I slid gradually toward Leopold.
“No!” I said. “Social distancing!”
Leopold shot me a look of incredulity. He stopped, though.
“Throw it to him!” I suggested.
He did. It didn’t make it all the way. Maxwell dragged me closer and gobbled it up. To my dismay, Leopold threw him another tidbit. I got dragged even closer. Maxwell gobbled that one up too, after which Leopold continued on his way, leaving me feeling rather sour about the whole thing. I felt like a crazed jerk, especially not having had the opportunity (or presence of mind) to explain myself.
My dog doesn’t need treats. That can wait until this is all over. If I see you walking your dog, I don’t mean to be rude, but I’m going to keep my distance. The risk of us transmitting Covid-19 to one another might be small (although it’s increasing exponentially every day), but the consequences of one of us getting it is potentially catastrophic, either to ourselves, someone we love, or a fellow citizen.
My circumstances right now are such that I am much more likely to give you Covid-19 than the other way around. Either way, now that Covid-10 is about to hit this country full blast, I’m taking social distancing very seriously. Be great if everyone else did too.
And our dogs.