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Ten facts about SARS

It is possible that the virus passed from birds to humans while hybridizing with a strain of swine virus "to facilitate its adaptation" * There are viruses that reach the earth from outer space, "dormant" in cosmic ice shards * Don't panic! This is natural selection

Dr. Danny Shoham

The corona virus. Sars is also from the same family

Is it possible that the "SARS" virus was spread around the world by hostile elements, as a means of biological terrorism, such as anthrax? - Probably not. Although, what has happened so far, when the epidemic threatened to paralyze countries, was seen as a factor that would damage economies - and mainly created panic - indicates what such a virus is capable of causing.

The scientific truth is: this is a natural occurrence.

Here are ten things-characteristics and data (from scientific aspects) that you did not know about "SARS".

* Compared to the other global epidemics caused by viruses - smallpox and influenza - the current one is actually very mild, both in terms of the number of patients who fell ill (and many have recovered) and the number of deaths, so far.

* The virus is now in the midst of an adaptation process to its new host (human). The process, especially in its relatively early current stage - is very dynamic. It will continue until the balance between the two populations (the virus and the person) is established. It is expected that the attachment of the virus to the host will increase. His violence may, equally, intensify or wane. This will shape the epidemic in a way that cannot be predicted.

* The virus itself has no "interest" in causing illness. On the contrary: his "aspiration" - to achieve maximum reproduction in his human host, while causing minimal damage. This included an evolutionary element of each parasite in its "relationship" to its host.

* Since there is currently no drug treatment against viruses (antibiotics work against bacteria), and for the time being there is no vaccine against the virus, the result: a raw natural confrontation between two populations is taking place before our eyes. This is how the concept of "natural selection" is fully expressed in nature.

* The monitoring of the epidemic, although close and meticulous, is flawed by the fact that it is based on a clinical diagnosis, not a viral one. It is not known at all what the number of people infected with the virus who did not get sick, or who did not develop a disease of a severity level that requires a doctor's visit, and there are probably many of them.

* The Sars virus belongs to the corona virus family. Their prevalence in animals is extensive. Some of them cause a similar pneumonia in pigs and poultry ("infectious bronchitis").

* The first victims of SARS, in southern China, were people in close proximity to poultry. It is likely that an avian respiratory corona strain, which underwent certain mutations (genetic changes), is the initial source of the epidemic.

* The transition from birds to humans was probably aided by the hybridization of a porcine respiratory virus strain, which facilitated adaptation in the transition from birds to mammals.

* A parallel course has long been identified, especially in China, in the outbreak of another respiratory virus: the causative agent of the Asian flu.

* The theory that viruses sometimes reach the earth from outer space, dormant in "cosmic ice" (meteorite fragments and comets) should not be completely refuted.

The author of the article is an expert on biological and chemical weapons, a researcher at the Begin-Sadat Center at Bar-Ilan University

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