Four years into quarantine the virus has changed and so have we…
Described as a ‘terrifying thriller’, in the Songbird movie SAR2-Cov has mutated into COVID-23 virus and the world is now in its fourth year of lockdown. In this new dystopia infected Americans are dragged from their homes and forced into quarantine camps. Or shot.
Toss in a separated lovers story, a dash of authoritarian police brutality, you get the idea.
Covid mutations: Fact from Fiction
Viruses do actually mutate – at the rate of about once every 15 days, though in reality these changes are minute. Over time these alterations, if spread, can slightly change a viruses composition and or shape, leading to a new mutation of the virus, which can be more virulent, or less, or the same, just different. Over many such iterations they can form a new strain of the virus (as happens with say colds and flu). (The coronavirus family is known to include at least seven sub groups that infect humans, four common (alpha: 229e, nl63, beta: oc43, hku1), and the more deadly (MERS-CoV, SARS-Cov, SAR-CoV-2 (Covid-19)).
e.g.: By July (2020), as reported in the Nature / Journal of Human Genetics, scientists had “identified a total of 1234 mutations by comparing with the reference SARS-CoV-2 sequence”
(SARS-CoV-2 genomic variations associated with mortality rate of COVID-19)
While the Michael Bay movie is just attempting the cash in the pandemic, such an iteration is EXTREMELY unlikely though, scientifically speaking, a version of SAR-CoV-3 with a mortality rate equal to MERS-CoV is not beyond the realms of possibility. (Noting, MERS is still around, unlike SARS).
Similarly, in May (2020), NMNI conclused that “COVID-19 might produce new mutations, specifically in glycoproteins, so caution and complete preparation by health authorities is required.”
(Mutated COVID-19 may foretell a great risk for mankind in the future)
From the CDC: “Sometimes coronaviruses that infect animals can evolve and make people sick and become a new human coronavirus. Three recent examples of this are 2019-nCoV, SARS-CoV, and MERS-CoV.”
In terms of genome sequences, these mutations are basically typos and:
It’s really important to keep in mind that most of these mutations do not affect the virus at all, molecular epidemiologist, Emma Hodcroft, told CGTN Europe.
(What are mutated strains of COVID-19 and are they important?)
That said, turning to the Lancet, the virus is changing, some of the infections – and (note) reinfections – can be worse. “Findings: … the second infection was symptomatically more severe than the first.”
(Genomic evidence for reinfection with SARS-CoV-2: a case study)
The current bruha and arguably needless mass slaughter of tens of millions of minks is because it jumped from humans to minks and back again. So people are panicking. Well, some are.
(e.g. Denmark to cull up to 17 million mink amid coronavirus fears)
Arguably the Songbird movie is just in really bad taste, unless you are a conspiracy nut, in which case it’s a heads-up. Or an epidemiologist, in which case it’s a case study, to be scoffed at, or not.
It’s an Michael Bay movie, expect it to be silly. But maybe there’s a smidgeon of science in there too.
While I am self-educated, largely, I am not scientist as such and have no medical training. I am not virologist, or any other type of -ologist, though I am comfortable reading medical and scientific papers and journals at a post-doctoral level.