This is a short continuation of U.S. spy agencies monitor COVID-19, concerns about India, mainly for people who understand the basics. The primer will come later. We now know that there are at least two strains of COVID-19, which compete by the laws of natural selection. (Oxford Scientific) On the origin and continuing evolution of SARS-CoV-2. Type L produces severe disease; Type S is comparatively mild.
The following was mentioned in COVID pandemic “could be over by June” Chinese adviser; Third World Reservoir. Delving deeper,
- In China, selective pressure towards Type S may have occurred, resulting from stringent quarantine, a reduction of virulence.
- Yet Type L evolved from Type S, in the direction of greater virulence. It is logical to extend the inference: Early in the Wuhan transmission chain, before quarantines, Type L was selected, with greater virulence.
- This partly thought and partly real experiment implies that social behavior, particular to a society, strongly affects the competition of Types L and S.
Village India, like Village Pakistan, harbors the remains of tribal culture in the panchayati raj system of local government, dating to 250 AD. Villages contain strong elements of extended family, frequently acting in ways that are officially forbidden by central governments. Items that occasionally make international news include honor killings and femicide, with infanticide too common to report.
Now assume that in some village somewhere in the Third World,
- There are not already circulating corona viruses with enough sero-similarity to provide some immunity.
- COVID-19 arrives, quickly differentiating into something like Type L and S.
- The sanitary infrastructure is weak, so isolation is impossible.
How natural selection acts on types L and S depends upon social choices innate to the villages. Types L and S may not even be identified by a village as related diseases. Customs older than recorded history provide the framework for response. Which custom will dominate?
- The village implements a non selective quarantine, nurses the sick, and disposes of the dead with aseptic funerary rituals. No selective pressure.
- The severely ill die before expulsion. As with Ebola, preparation of the dead for burial is a major driver. Type L out-competes Type S.
- Expulsion of the severely ill. Type L-infected dies alone on the road. Possibly selective for Type S.
- Inside-out reverse quarantine. With leprosy as the precedent, the village nurses the mildly ill and expels the severely ill. The severely ill person transits to another village, and is taken in by relatives. Type L out propagates Type S.
While the China experience suggests that quarantine allows Type S to out compete Type L, the inside-out reverse quarantine does the opposite. It promotes Type L, of greater virulence.
See COVID-19: A Warning. Other ways in which virulence can be promoted will shortly be discussed.