Oh, dear 2020, I had such high hopes for you. It’s official, the world has gone slightly mad! Everywhere we look it’s coronavirus this or Covid-19 that… this virus or at least the threat of this virus has the entire world living in fear. But is our intense fear truly warranted? Should we be hiding in our homes and shutting out the rest of the world? While my antisocial partner and myself are all for self quarantining, there’s only so much Netflix I can handle before the cabin fever sets in. This article is my take on the virus and the sheer chaos that is falling in its wake.
So what is a virus?
Not to get too technical, because I’m not actually all that smart, a virus is an organism with its own DNA and RNA whose sole purpose in life is to reproduce. Here’s where it gets us involved. A virus needs to have a compatible host to reproduce by entering compatible cells and using them to reproduce. Once it has copied itself to the full capacity that the cell can handle, the new viruses burst from the now spent host cell (usually destroying it in the process) and go forth to find new cells to reproduce in. It is this killing of the normal healthy cells that wreak havoc in our bodies.
Our bodies naturally respond in several ways to what’s going on when we encounter a virus. Our complex immune systems have T cells and NK cells that patrol our bodies and look for specific factors in our cells that are a cause for alarm. T cells will look for viral proteins protruding from the cells and NK cells will look for lower than normal levels of proteins protruding from cells. Once an anomaly is detected, the entire cell is destroyed to prevent the virus from spreading. Viruses that avoid detection while in the cell and are on the joyride for new host cells will start being picked up by antibodies. Our bodies produce more antibodies when it realizes that there is a threat. The antibodies neutralize the viruses, can bundle them together for easier handling or even engulf them completely, kill them and remove them from our bodies… Brilliant engineering if you ask me!
The Coronavirus is a sneaky one. It knocks on the door of cell receptors in our lungs and its let right in. Once in the cell, it can reproduce millions of times before detection until the cell is eventually completely depleted and dies. This vicious reproduction is what makes this particular virus so dangerous. The immune response can be just as vicious in return. The immune response is what causes the fever and body aches. If the response is too vicious, even healthy uninhabited cells can be caught in the crossfire. The result is a fluid build-up in the lungs that’s loaded with viruses and dead cell matter, and we all know how that can end.
How does it spread
When an infected person coughs or sneezes, virus loaded droplets come from deep within the lungs and make their debut with the outside world. These tiny droplets hang in the air for a while and land on people and surfaces in the nearby vicinity. These droplets can be inhaled or transmitted by our hands to our mouth, nose or eyes where the virus will gain entry and the whole cycle starts over again. So… Listen to the experts who are telling you to WASH YOUR DAMN HANDS!! Like, why is this even so necessary to tell people? When did people stop washing their hands regularly? eeeeewwww… julle vuil mense!
How to survive the virus
Believe it or not, your chances of surviving the virus are actually pretty good. Well, that is if you are a part of the majority of the population who are young to middle age and are in relatively good health. Fortunately, my partner, myself and our kids fall into that range. But there are some people whom we love so very dearly who do not fall into this range, and that’s where it gets really scary. I’m just not ready to part with my nearly 60-year-old diabetic mother, my 80-year-old grandmother or my 70-year-old cynical mother in law. So, in my highly uneducated opinion, it’s not about worrying about myself, it’s about making sure that those in the population who will struggle to survive it don’t get it. And this is where it’s so important to self-quarantine if you feel ill and to make sure that we are constantly sanitizing everything until this thing is under control. So if you are feeling ill, don’t pawn off your kids to their grandparents. The chances of your beloved little septic tanks already having the virus are pretty good. Stay at home with those little monsters and all get over it together.
Panic Buying 101
Just don’t, it’s as simple as that. If you went straight to the stores and bought every single hand sanitizer, all the toilet rolls, and whatever else that left you R20k in debt for “supplies,” I think you’re an idiot. And a damn selfish one at that. Think about everyone else who also needs to sanitize their hands and last time I checked, we ALL use toilet paper. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not all about you. 12 months down the line you people will still be paying off the toilet paper you bought on credit, what a bunch of tossers.
Will a face mask prevent me from getting the virus?
All the experts are saying that it has zero protection, so no, it’s not going to prevent you from becoming infected. And if you’re wearing a mask while panic buying, you just look like the idiot I already think you are.
How to deal with the school closures
I know that there are many parents and guardians out there who will genuinely struggle with this, and yes, it will be tough, but there is always a way around it. Companies are understanding that this is not something in our control and its necessary to try and control the spread of the virus. (coz kids are little germ hoarding carriers, mine included) But, to those parents who are working from home, or have been given that option… STOP YOUR WHINING! Heaven forbid you should actually have to interact with your kids now. You have it better than the rest of us who need to make plans with friends and relatives or even worse, need to take our terrors with us to work or even take unpaid leave to look after them. So enough already with those annoying social media posts about not knowing how to keep your kids entertained while you’re all sitting at home. Teach them some valuable life skills like how to bake, or change a plug, or sew on a button. You know, be an actual parent for a change.
What are companies doing during this time?
For some companies right now, like the one I work for, it’s business as usual and I’m really happy about that. Some companies are letting their staff work from home. Some companies are giving staff unpaid time off (you’re a shithole company if you do this, #justsaying.) The scariest part is that there are companies who will be retrenching, or even closing down, and I don’t even know what to say to you if that happens… I’d like to say “keep your chin up, sport!” but I would want to smack someone in the face if they said that to me. I have it on good authority that a top company in Johannesburg is already shortlisting for retrenchments if things really do take a nosedive… OUCH! It’s all very uncertain for now, but one thing that is a certainty is that the world economy will take a massive blow because of this.
Busting the Myths
The myths and untruths circulating about the virus are even scarier than the virus itself. Especially when looking at the advice being given for self-diagnosing and at home remedies… come on people. Has the world’s IQ really dropped this low? Here’s a list of some utter bullshit statements I have seen:
“If you can hold your breath for longer than 10 seconds, you don’t have the virus” … um… sure… even people with TB can hold their breath for this long. It doesn’t prove a dam thing.
“The virus will cause fibrosis in the lungs”… I don’t even have a response for the turd nugget who came up with this gem.
“drinking hot water will kill the virus” … personally I wouldn’t enjoy blisters in my throat.
“Drinking lemon water will kill the virus” … upping your vitamin C intake will only have a mildly supportive effect on the immune system. Them lemons ain’t killing nothing.
“Drinking lots of water will wash the virus from your throat into your stomach where the stomach acid will kill it”… I must add here that while this will most certainly not work in the way described, keeping hydrated will definitely help your body cope and fight the disease.
“Snorting a gram of cocaine will kill the virus in your nasal cavity and throat”… Listen, guys, now is not the time for this kind of party.
“Breathing in hot air from a hairdryer, or sitting in a sauna to raise the body temperature will kill the virus” … to kill this virus with heat we would need to almost cook our bodies at around 65 degrees all the way to the core. No thanks, let’s move on.
“Coronavirus is a global killer”… oh my holy soul *rolling my eyes* No, it would take something far more violent and volatile to wipe our 7.8 billion people
And lastly, the creme de la creme… “Drinking cow urine will cure you of the viral infection” thanks, but I’D RATHER DIE!
My overall take
While I’m absolutely following the guidelines and doing my bit to curb the spread, I think that this virus has been blown violently out of proportion by the media. Like HOLY SHIT! We are losing our minds to this thing when TB and the regular flu kill more people on a daily basis than this virus kills in a month. The WHO estimates that FLU kills between 300 000 and 600 000 people a year worldwide… Now that’s something to think about. Why aren’t we losing our minds because of the Flu? Probably because it doesn’t have a cool name like COVID-19 and won’t get enough traction to take our minds away from the other atrocities occurring around the world … misdirection is usually always the reason.
So, my dear fellow members of society, just calm the fuck down.