So – this is going to test us all a bit. Some thoughts.
- After 30 years of EU integration, we can start closing borders and implementing travel restrictions in about one week.
- If elderly people end up getting ill because socialising youngsters spread the virus, I will be sickened.
- We really don’t know how good we’ve had it. There was the black death, leprosy, cholera, smallpox, polio …. Natural selection and random mutation in viruses means that it’s really just a matter of when … and (although I’m no epidemiologist) the “when” is very roughly determined by:
- For “human only” viruses, some fixed mutation rate multiplied by the number of humans.
- For zoonotic viruses, the number of animals, multiplied by the number of human-animal contact. Zoonotic viruses can also be very nasty because other species can exert different selection pressures on the virii, making them more lethal.
- So – yes. Did we ever get round to eradicating Polio? Compared to what we’re facing now, given that we already have polio vaccines – that looks like a piece of cake.
Second and further order effects:
- Sequestering entire populations which have previously been free tends to produce pretty major economic and political change. I have a suspicion that once we’re done with the epidemic, there will be changes.
- There’s nothing like the fear of death to get people to do shit.