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last week we published on ABC an article signed by Miguel Pita , phd in Genetics and Cell Biology at the Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM) and science popularizer, author of “The DNA dictator”: “One of the few aspects rewarding of this crisis (the coronavirus) is being find interest and scientific language in all kinds of environments, some unexpected. When I heard a couple of days to a waitress talk about his PCR to a client while serving him a cup of coffee with batons, I thought that something had changed in our society,” he wrote.
Without a doubt, this situation has led to that these months have all talked or read about mutations, reproductive rate, or antibodies. With “A day in the life of a virus” (Peripheral), Miguel Pita has managed to create a small and simple manual to not get lost in this tangle and understand how such an insignificant virus, appeared out of nowhere, has put against the ropes to civilization.
Without going into technicalities, the researcher provides the opportunity to read a text informative and intelligent in which two viruses fictitious, RE-SAW and XicuV make your own. One of them is the conquest of the world, thanks to mutations in its protein “Screw” and to certain limitations of the human brain.
is A horde of scammers?
as planned by the author, this pandemic is the result of a war tremendously uneven. Your opponents are a body, the human body, with thirty trillion cells, and the hordes of countless virus: “ viruses are not cells, they are little more than fragments dispersed of genetic material (DNA or RNA) that appear and disappear from time to time, in the history of life”.
The author of “A day in the life of a virus,” Miguel Pita
One of the key features of viruses is that “you need to enter a cell to replicate, that’s why they are discussing whether they are alive or if they are only a molecule with chemical biological ability to autocopiarse”. In fact, he says Pita, your ace in the sleeve is to use a sequence of DNA (or RNA) as director general, “that in the case of the virus is almost more of a con man who is on the loose looking for a company that loot”. These companies are our unfortunate cells, which “deceived” by this DNA, they begin to produce new virus after being infected. So happens, for example, a gorilla dummy called Zero.
If it weren’t for a couple of factors, the infection process would be very similar to what happens in a nuclear plant uncontrolled. Wherever there is a cell with a protein “Lock”, the virus provided of the protein “Key” would come and would destroy his host, after producing thousands and thousands of copies: “Obviously, the virus can do nothing to prevent its spread, since they do not have a brain to make decisions.”
The tireless work of the secret service
But there are two factors that will put a brake. One of them is the immune system. “The immune system works permanently during the life of each gorilla, and of every vertebrate (…) to generate different antibodies that may be useful in the future. is Operates as an army that maintains trained his secret service , and learn new strategies in a time of peace.” The result is that defenses put a brake on the growth in spate of the virus.
“The immune system operates as an army that maintains trained his secret service, and learns new strategies in times of peace”
sometimes a horde of viruses, that Pita called RE-VI, infects a gorilla (as Zero), a species to which they lead attacking thousands of years. As the defenses already know the threat, manage to neutralize it in a week. This would be the end of the virus, if not outside because they have a way of escape: to spread it to other gorilla: “That is the main reason why they (viruses) do not disappear: there is always someone with the flu around the world contagiándosela to another person (or gorilla)”.
Representation of a coronavirus. A lock and key that fit was enough to start a pandemic consequences unrivalled – CDC
While this immune system and the virus struggle, the DNA or the RNA of the virus is going to suffer mutations: “most of the new features that appear by mutation, lead to the virions harboring an impasse,” writes Pita. But sometimes, changes occur in the “Key” of the virus that opens the “Lock” of the cell that is going to attack.
In limited circumstances, these changes can change the story . To do this it is necessary that a poacher hunt and descuartice to Zero, for human consumption.
A mutant too lethal
If the mutation changes the “Key” of the virus and becomes the “Key+”, capable of recognizing the “Lock +” of humans, and not to the “Lock” of gorillas, something very unfortunate for the poacher: there is a new virus, named RE-VI-2.
” the immune system of The poacher has never seen anything like a virus RE-VI-2 “, has been written by Miguel Pita, given that it is thousands of years attacking humans. That is why the virus will be unstoppable. The immune system give blind or even will be harmful to the hunter. Finally, the hunter will die, and the outbreak will come to an end quickly. (Something happened with the outbreak of SARS or MERS).
“the immune system of The poacher has never seen anything like a virus RE-VI-2″is Very catchy and very underrated
But, says Miguel Pita, it is also possible that the virus recently arrived is a bit aggressive, and that has a high capacity of spread. If you have a specific mutation, called a “Screw 2”, will be able to recognize the proteins “Nut 2” of the hair cells of the respiratory system human.
The disaster is served, because it will begin and spread among people: “Without doubt the (virus imagined) XicuV have come across a species that is not going to make it hard : puebla all over the planet and has over seven billion inhabitants, a great part of which not to move from one side to another, and lives a life frantic that gives a curious and false sense of superiority and immortality.”
“The virus has met with a species that is not going to make it difficult: puebla all over the planet and has over seven billion inhabitants, a great part of which not to move from one side to the other,”The pandemic of XicuV
The virus spreads slightly at first, and then unstoppable. The population test with confinement to avoid the spread. If you don’t get it, its expansion begins to slow down only when a high percentage has been infected and have acquired immunity. A few months later came the first treatments, that reduce the lethality and, a little later, the vaccine. In just a matter of years, predicts Michael Pita, listed platforms antivacunas in social networks recommending not to use these medications.
You can say the virus is confronted with an unexpected ally. In the opinion of the author of “The DNA dictator”, although the human brain is a marvel when it comes to learning an abstract language, it has some limitations. One is not able to understand that “overcrowding and the contact little toilet with the wild species that greatly increase the chances (…) that a virus could jump from one mammal to another.” This leads to ” our brain prefer the stories simple, with good and bad “.
“Our brain prefers stories simple, to be possible with the good and the bad”If it is not immediate or close, we are not concerned about
The causality and intuition can lead one to think that the thunder is created by the anger of a lord invisible beard , and that the virus XicuV has been created by an enemy or escaped from a laboratory. It’s a possibility, “but highly unlikely”, according to Pita. In addition, also because of these limitations of the brain, nor are we “able to stop a certain dynamic to not suffer its effects,” usually on “our plans for the weekend or the summer vacation”. Exactly as occurs with the global warming of human origin, or the unstoppable destruction of ecosystems and natural resources spurred by our activity.
similarly, these limitations lead to the fact that, “if we see a neighbouring country to suffer the expansion of an epidemic, it is not easy to accept that we will arrive in a few days “. Why? Because “is not an immediate problem” and because our experience leads us to believe that nations are bodies material, and not merely arbitrary borders.
“By far that we betray our limiting neurological or our personal interests or partisan,” concludes Miguel Pita, “opinion and science can in no way be equated”. It is true that science is not infallible, as any scientist acknowledges, “but it is the best tool that we can go to troubleshoot serious problems, to be useful to address the complexity and impervious to the positions concerned”.
“Opinion and science can in no way be equated with”
To finish, we know that future pandemics are unpredictable, but they will arrive. But, beyond that: “do We will be able to , with a brain that knows no delayed gratification, avoid, at least, the disaster-announced ?”, ask Miguel Pita. “Perhaps, through the experience, we can learn something”.