SCIENCE IN THE TIME OF COVID

            The spread of the novel Coronavirus has made me realize how nuts I am about scientific method. A friend tells me her church is people. I like that. The Dalai Lama says his religion is kindness. I like that, too. My philosophical perspective nowadays includes both humanism and kindness, leaving plenty of room for science. Including empirical evidence is important to me because I was brought up to respect science and admire scientists and engineers. My parents’ idea of a fun vacation was to attend a conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). My father was a mathematician and liked to have his information verified, preferably by empirical, scientific methods. Even watching television commercials, he’d demonstrate a healthy skepticism for the misleading statistics of four-out-of-five-dentists type claims and taught me to be skeptical, too. 

            With the rise of COVID-19, it’s clear that scientists are constantly working behind the scenes to understand viruses, prevent outbreaks, and deal with contagions. It was a woman named June Almeida who first identified the human coronavirus under a microscope, though she wasn’t taken seriously at first. It’s easy to sit back and speculate about an illness and its origin. Tracking it to its source, whether it is a chimpanzee in the case of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or bats in the case of recent viruses, takes diligent, painstaking effort over the course of years.

            Our neighbor, M.C. Kang, is a chemist who developed drugs for the treatment of AIDS. He noted that, “In a rough sense, it takes thirty years or longer to deliver a medicine from the first understanding of biology to the market. Identification of biological mechanism takes twenty years or so through basic research in biology in academia.” For instance, M.C. worked for ten years to bring a drug called Fuzeon (T20) to market for the treatment of HIV/AIDS.  Such breakthroughs, along with the work of Anthony Fauci, M.D., virologist David Ho, and others, save lives.

            Dr. Fauci says that lessons learned while working on the AIDS virus were useful in tackling the novel coronavirus. “Viruses cause disease by binding to receptors on cells in your body, be they in your upper airway or in your lung, in the case of COVID-19. They then replicate at a rapid rate that triggers a variety of pathogenic processes. Targeting drugs to interfere at one or more vulnerable sites within this replication cycle is something that we learned with HIV.”

            Now people all over the world need tests, vaccines, and treatments for COVID-19. Scientists and doctors are developing them as fast as they can. There will be mutations of the virus that require new vaccines and treatments. And there will be new viruses emerging. As M.C. points out, that’s part of nature. Scientific evidence indicates that the novel coronavirus came not from a laboratory but from nature. And it’s part of human nature to try to understand and cure viral illnesses and, when possible, prevent them. Like the AAAS, we can advocate for evidence and its integrity and hasten our victories over the virus.

5 thoughts on “SCIENCE IN THE TIME OF COVID

  1. Susan Smith Habel

    Good morning, Barbara!

    I liked your article and am glad to be on your mailing list for your perspectives.

    Knowing you personally and then reading your public work allows me to see the honesty and integrity of your voice.

    I like that when I read your words, I hear them in your voice, too!

    Like I said last night, I appreciate your supportive, calm, focus to help rudder the ship of our group conversation to its most productive destination.

    You are such a treasure! Thank you for being present last night. I hadn’t exactly been looking forward to this whole gig and was surprised and encouraged by seeing your smile, and everyone’s faces..that instantly lifted my spirits about it all and what we’re trying to do.

    Your writing is more evidence of the consistency of your character. You are who you are all the way through your being. A force for GOOD!

    Appreciatively, S❤🌞❤

    On Wed, May 6, 2020, 10:01 PM OF THE EARTH by Barbara Terao wrote:

    > BTerao posted: ” The spread of the novel Coronavirus has made > me realize how nuts I am about scientific method. A friend tells me her > church is people. I like that. The Dalai Lama says his religion is > kindness. I like that, too. My philosophical perspect” >

    Reply
  2. BTerao Post author

    From my heart to yours, thank you, Susan. You are a good influence on all of us and I appreciate your encouragement. Because both your parents were medical caregivers, you already know the value of scientific knowledge. Because of the way you apply Buddhism, you already know the power of actual proof, too!

    Reply

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