Below is Seneca III’s wrap-up of his two-part essay (part 1 is here) on the coronavirus crisis in the UK, with a particular focus on Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
“The rules of the world-historical game change from decade to decade, and the dogmas that we have now will probably become obsolete.”
— Freeman Dyson Mathematical Physicist, Polymath and Philosopher, 15 December 1923 — 28 February 2020, a sad loss to humanity even after such a great run.
Covid in a Time of Turmoil
Part II. Covid 19 as an inorganic socio-political enzyme.
by Seneca III
||A virus is made up of a core of genetic material, either RNA or DNA, surrounded by a protective coat called a capsid which is made up of protein. Sometimes the capsid is surrounded by an additional spikey coat called the envelope (see above). Viruses are capable of latching onto host cells and invading them.
||An enzyme is a substance that acts as a catalyst in living organisms, regulating the rate at which chemical reactions proceed without itself being altered in the process.
Later, for the purpose of this analysis, let us change ‘chemical reactions’ to ‘human interactions’ but first, in a very simple way, let us look at how the enzyme, furin, enables and accelerates the penetration of a living cell by a virus, followed by a short description of how mutations occur, and then a look at vectors.
First, enzymes. Enzymes have a region known as an ‘active site’ that binds to a protein or other substance during a reaction. The envelope proteins (capsids) of viruses such as HIV, influenza, dengue fever, several filoviruses including Ebola and Marburg virus, and possibly SARS-CoV 2 must be cleaved by furin or furin-like proteases to become fully functional. The human enzyme furin is encoded by our chromosome No. 15, band 15q26.1.
Some proteins are inactive when they are first synthesized and must have sections removed in order to become active. Furin cleaves these sections and activates the proteins. Furin is also known as PACE (Paired basic Amino acid Cleaving Enzyme. (Note: see mutations!)
Second, once the virus has penetrated the cell wall, aided and abetted by furin, it injects its own short-string RNA (ribonucleic acid) or DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) into the cell and supplants the cell’s own reproductive function, replacing it with its own and then reproducing itself using the resources of the original cell, thus rendering that cell dead and depriving the infected body of a part of its essential functionality.
Vector is the word used to describe the way in which infections travel (are transmitted) between living organisms. For example, the vector for Yersinia pestis, the Black Death bacterial strain, was the fleas that lived on rats and transmitted that strain to humans by biting them. The vector for malaria is the anopheles mosquito which carries and injects infected blood containing the plasmodium that causes malaria. The vectors for Covid can be personal contact, contact with surfaces with the virus still alive on them, viruses travelling in airborne aerosols from coughing and sneezing, and also from infected faeces. This is why cleanliness in all respects and social distancing reduces or precludes the chance of cross-infection.
Note: The shorter the genetic string of a micro-organism, the harder it is to kill. The converse is why we as human beings with our huge genome are so vulnerable to micro-organisms such as viruses. The human genome has over 3 billion base pairs and is organized into 22 paired chromosomes, termed autosomes, plus the 23rd pair of sex chromosomes, (XX) in the female and (XY) in the male. These large linear DNA molecules contained within the living cell nucleus are open to a variety of attack vectors and what they carry, and the latter can now be bio-engineered via the use of rRNA (recombinant RNA) techniques and other methods… none of which were invented by bats or pangolins!