After the virus: next time, be prepared

If coronavirus has taught us anything, it’s that the immune system matters.

It takes a natural disaster to realize that food does not actually come from shops, that borders are figments of our imaginations, and that everything that we construct to shield ourselves from the natural world is an illusion that can be swept away in seconds by a flood, an earthquake, a hurricane, a wildfire. A virus.

The coronavirus crisis is one that we’ve been sleepwalking towards for a very long time. About 11,000 years, in fact. We really should have been better prepared.

In truth, most of us are lucky to be here at all. Once, the survival of our species was determined by natural selection, as it is with all other animals. For virtually the entire history of humanity, beginning with the Palaeolithic era, natural selection meant that our reproductive success was low. The likelihood of a newborn baby growing up to pass on its genes to the next generation was just 30%. Only half of newborns reached the age of 15.

Natural selection is a brutal but effective system, operated throughout the animal and plant kingdoms, that ensures the survival of a strong species at the expense of the weak. However, it no longer applies to humans: we’ve overridden nature.

Today, modern medicine and public health interventions have ‘produced for the first time in human history virtual lack of the operation of natural selection on biological traits of humans.’


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Copyright © 2020 Maria Cross All rights reserved.


Image: Gerd Altmann/Pixabay





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