07/23/2021 2:58 PM
Updated 07/23/2021 2:58 PM
Do you remember what normal life was like?
Suddenly, we have been plunged into a dangerous world in which airborne viruses
us when we meet friends, when we touch an object or when we enter the premises where we used to consume.
We look suspiciously at people who do not seem cautious enough to us.
However, in our previous life we moved freely without masks and we greeted each other by shaking hands.
We hugged and kissed
, shared objects, and lived close to each other.
If they had asked us about social distance, we would have thought of
sullen, classist, or even racist
But, in no case would we have talked about being more than a meter and a half away from others every day.
A year and a half of pandemic has led us to think that we were irresponsible and that we gave nature
too many opportunities to
take revenge on us.
Now we consider ourselves guilty of everything that happens to us and we look around in fear for guides, exits, confinements and other restrictions.
Now, at certain times, we feel more secure when we are isolated.
Was the old normal a mistake?
However, it is not clear that our normal life was a mistake.
Social contacts allowed us to strengthen relationships between members of the community.
In addition, from the microbiological point of view, they allowed us to form a
community of microorganisms
that we share among all of us who live together in a city or in a social group.
These shared microorganisms stimulate our immune response, allowing us to be protected against other viruses and bacteria that we encounter on a daily basis.
They also actively participate in the digestion of the food we eat.
We do not live in a sterile bubble but in an environment loaded with microorganisms with which, evolutionarily,
we have learned to coexist
Nothing makes sense in biology if it is not in the light of evolution.
Let us look in that light at our relationship with microorganisms.
As vaccination progresses and cases decline, restrictions are relaxed.
Photo Juano Tesone.
Who taught us to behave like this?
Part of this evolutionary learning of our species is reflected in our behavior.
We would like to think that we touch, kiss, approach and share objects for
rationally decided behaviors
However, the truth is that all these behaviors have been
evolutionarily selected or tolerated
They are part of the domestication of our own species.
That is, over time, those variants of our species that are better adapted to living in a given microbial environment have been selected and have predominated in the population.
For their part, the microbial variants that could best establish themselves in our populations have prevailed over other more lethal ones that, by
eliminating the host
, made their transmission difficult.
We could call this process of coevolution domestication:
of humans and microorganisms.
Although perhaps it would be more correct to change the term of domestication (from domus, home) to urbanization (from urbs, city) since the microbial communities with which we live are those selected for our life in increasingly dense populations.
we will return to our normal life
, since it is what allows us to live better in community.
Certainly, new more or less virulent pathogens will appear that will be introduced in our community and will produce
new epidemics and pandemics
It is an unpredictable natural accident that rises like a great wave that sweeps away everything it encounters.
the wave will pass and the sea will return to calm
We will return to our normal life because it is the result of our selection process: life in community seems to compensate evolutionarily for the risk of the appearance of epidemics.
Use of chinstraps, the normality imposed by the pandemic.
Photo Xinhua / Du Xiaoyi.
The coronavirus will not disappear in the new normal
This coronavirus will remain living in our species permanently.
It does not meet any of the assumptions that would allow us to think about its
It is a virus adapted to the human population with animal reservoirs, the disease it produces does not have a clear and distinct diagnosis and we do not have a vaccine with sufficient efficacy.
In addition, the coronavirus is an RNA virus that, although it is not as variable as the influenza virus, it
is highly variable
, so new strains may appear that will partially escape our immune system and may produce epidemic waves of variable severity.
However, it is to be expected that these waves will tend to be
less pronounced in the future
, although new pandemic variants may occasionally emerge as in the case of influenza.
Successive waves of infection to people who have been vaccinated or who have had the disease will make individual and group immunity spread to the entire population.
The SARS-Cov2 coronavirus will become a
new winter cold virus
that will cause severe cases sporadically.
This protection caused by the
circulation with low incidence
of the virus in the immunized community will occur when we return to the normal life that we described at the beginning of this article.
Maintaining social isolation measures and other measures aimed at reducing the mobility of the microbial community with which we live will reduce the protective effect of this coexistence.
Thus, it will make us more susceptible to the microorganisms that surround us and against which we are protected by the usual sporadic contact of our normal life.
The fundamental problem of pandemics is the
collapse of the health system and the social system
Once the critical phase that causes this collapse is controlled, the normal life evolutionarily selected during the domestication process of humanity will prevail again.
This is how it has happened after all the previous pandemics that our species has suffered.
* By Antonio G. Pisabarro, Professor of Microbiology, Department of Health Sciences, Institute for Multidisciplinary Research in Applied Biology, Public University of Navarra. And Denisse Patricia Rivera de la Torre, Professor in Public Health and Epidemiology at the University of Sonora. The original article was published in The Conversation.
* By Antonio G. Pisabarro, Professor of Microbiology, Department of Health Sciences, Institute for Multidisciplinary Research in Applied Biology, Public University of Navarra.
And Denisse Patricia Rivera de la Torre, Professor in Public Health and Epidemiology at the University of Sonora.
The original article was published in The Conversation.
"Get dirty, that's how you immunize yourself": myth or reality?
Covid-19 collection: this is how the biobank that collects virus samples works