Tuesday, April 28, 2020
COVID-19: Why We Still Don't Know How It's Killing Us
I see the pictures of the coronavirus deniers on TV, echoing the murderous ignorance of their master Donald Trump.
I talk about them with some of the frontline workers who are risking their lives to try to defeat COVID-19.
We try to laugh at them, but it's so hard when the coronavirus they are mocking is so deadly.
And we can't actually be sure how that sinister bug is killing us.
The clinical shape of the disease, long presumed to be a relatively predictable respiratory infection, is getting less clear by the week. Lately, it seems, by the day. As Carl Zimmer, probably the country’s most respected science journalist, asked virologists in a tweet last week, “is there any other virus out there that is this weird in terms of its range of symptoms?”
For where we once thought that COVID-16 just attacked the lungs, now we know better, as Science magazine found out when it tried to list what we know about the virus.
“Despite the more than 1,000 papers now spilling into journals and onto preprint servers every week,” Science concluded, “a clear picture is elusive, as the virus acts like no pathogen humanity has ever seen.”
In a single illuminating chart, Science lists the following organs as being vulnerable to COVID-19: brain, eyes, nose, lungs, heart, blood vessels, livers, kidneys, intestines. That is to say, nearly every organ.
It can strike those who didn't even know they were sick.
The patient’s chart appeared unremarkable at first glance. He took no medications and had no history of chronic conditions. He had been feeling fine, hanging out at home during the lockdown like the rest of the country, when suddenly, he had trouble talking and moving the right side of his body. Imaging showed a large blockage on the left side of his head. Oxley gasped when he got to the patient’s age and covid-19 status: 44, positive.
And this is horrifying:
As Oxley, an interventional neurologist, began the procedure to remove the clot, he observed something he had never seen before. On the monitors, the brain typically shows up as a tangle of black squiggles — “like a can of spaghetti,” he said — that provide a map of blood vessels. A clot shows up as a blank spot. As he used a needlelike device to pull out the clot, he saw new clots forming in real-time around it.
“This is crazy,” he remembers telling his boss.
But of course what is crazier and even more horrifying, is that some people just don't get it.
They are determined to endanger themselves, frontline workers, the old and the vulnerable, and the rest of us.
Even though as Andrew Nikiforuk points out, we are now in a new danger zone.
We have now entered the most dangerous phase of this pandemic. We are all tired of physical isolation. We are worried about an economic depression in a global economy already undermined by gross inequalities. We fear for the future, and yearn for something normal even though our exhausted civilization no longer behaves normally.
We want this emergency to end. And many want it to end at any cost. The Tyee is supported by readers like you Join us and grow independent media in Canada And that is where the dangers lie. For we now live in the domain of a novel coronavirus. The virus is but five months old, a mere infant in the scheme of things. By most accounts its global adventures could last two years.
And letting down our guard now could be catastrophic.
The virus will continue to illuminate our weaknesses. Whenever and wherever we let down our guard, this virus will almost certainly explode with a bang.
Do not delude yourself or those you love. This emergency has just begun. Be a strong and active citizen. Demand that leaders ignore the unruly waves of expedience and guide us, instead, carefully through these dangerous waters
And as for all those ugly Cons who would delude themselves, or just don't care about the lives of others.
I promise to return the favour, and not give a damn if they die.
But will do my best to try to arrange the kind of funeral they deserve...
As for the rest of you, don't despair. Try to smile as I am doing.
For we are winning. The thin blue line is holding. If we all do what we must do we will beat that bug.
And then we'll have the biggest party this country has ever seen.
Stay Safe. Stay Strong...