The Devil’s Virus: Apocalypse Now?
By JEFF WISE — New York Magazine March 18, 2020
Edited and abridged by Lasha Darkmoon
with an introduction, pictures and captions.
The certitude and sincerity of this doom-laden article cannot be doubted. Dismiss it at your peril. The fact that it is published here on April Fool’s day is purely coincidental.
“One woe is past; and behold,
there come two woes more hereafter.”
— Revelation 9:12
Introduction by Lasha Darkmoon
I have taken the liberty of editing and abridging this article in the interests of extra readability, leaving out several paragraphs of highly technical detail which simply get in the way of the storyline; for this article is essentially an exciting suspense thriller with a surprise twist at the end, relating what happened to one healthy young man who contracted the coronavirus quite suddenly.
The original American version of the article, published on 18 March, 2020, in New York Magazine under the cumbersome title “How the Coronavirus Could Take Over Your Body (Before You Ever Feel It)“, was republished in ‘The Daily Mail ten days later, on March 28, in a modified version leaving out or paraphrasing the technical jargon. My own version is largely an amalgam or combination of both previous versions, incorporating the best bits of each. I must also take responsibility for the lurid pictures and captions, chosen with deliberate intent to alarm the sleepwalker and shake him awake from his happy slumbers.
The main thrust of the article is this: if you think the draconian laws enforcing self-isolation and total lockdown, amounting to house arrest, are over-the-top measures to combat a piddling little epidemic that is no more harmful than the common flu, think again. Read this chilling account by renowned science writer Jeff Wise how the Coronavirus can spread and potentially kill millions—if drastic steps are not taken to check its galloping lethality.
Readers who think this article is “fear porn” are more than welcome to do so. Let’s hope they’re right. It would indeed be comforting to think that we have nothing to worry about.
The story is set in New York city. We learn from recent reports that the situation in China is no longer as bad it was. In Italy, another disaster zone, it appears things could be getting better. The virus has now decided to pick on America. It’s now America’s turn. A report in the Independent (‘I’) by Richard Hall spells it out:
In every Hollywood disaster movie, New York seems to bear the brunt of the alien invasions, environmental collapse and deadly storms. This time is no different.
Over the past week, this city has become the epicentre of the global coronavirus pandemic. New York now accounts for roughly a third of the 135,000 infections in the whole United States.
As of last night, 965 people have died of the virus here. The city has not yet reached the peak of its crisis, and yet medical facilities are already close to breaking point. The United States has now overtaken China as the country with the most infections in the world.
New York happens to be the most densely populated city in the US, with 27,000 residents per square mile. This makes social distancing impractical. It’s hard to see how commuters can keep a safe distance from each other in packed subway trains.
New York’s governor Andrew Cuomo warns: “What happens to New York is going to wind up happening to California and Washington state and Illinois. We’re just getting there first.”
President Trump, surrounded by enemies baying for his blood, has been blamed for his handling of the crisis. This is of course to be expected, given that he dismissed the whole Coronavirus crisis as “fake news” to start with, saying there was no need to worry, only to change his mind a few days later and inform the nation that this was deadly serious and that he had always thought so. Most Americans have notoriously short memories. They have managed to forget the lies they were told by their president only last week. Their amnesia is awesome. As one American said to me recently, “Trump lies all the time. But so what? He’s our liar!”
It’s no surprise to learn that, despite all the president’s manifest and multitudinous shortcomings, he has never been so popular. According to the latest Gallup poll, his approval rating has soared to unimaginable heights. It has now reached an all-time high of almost 50 per cent. Half the American population, according to Nunes, believe the opposite of what the media is telling them and have given Trump a staggering 60 per cent approval rating for his handling of the coronavirus crisis.
Meanwhile, we learn that sales of guns and ammunition are soaring across the US as fears of social unrest and civil war are prompting panicky Americans to turn to firearms in the event of Armageddon breaking out.
On the west coast, long lines of customers were queueing up outside gun stores to stock up on deadly materials. At the Martin B Retting gun shop in Culver City, California, the queues stretched round the block throughout the weekend.
What happened to millions of Russians during the reign of terror unleashed on the Soviet Union by the bloodthirsty tyrants Lenin and Stalin, in the early twentieth century, could well happen again to millions of Americans in the dark days ahead. Whether the moon will turn to blood, and rivers of gore gush through the streets, remains to be seen.
The difference this time is worth noting. We now not only have a Deep State with a zombie army and police force at their disposal but also a plethora of deadly viruses concocted in secret laboratories. There they lie and fester in Pandora’s box, awaiting their Dr Strangelove to set them free.
That’s enough alarmist talk from me. But one final word: could this whole thing be a hoax? The answer is yes, most emphatically YES. This could be the most elaborate hoax in history. That staggering possibility cannot be ruled out. Right now, however, I’m assuming this is real and playing devil’s advocate for Reality.
“We see through a glass darkly,” to quote St Paul. Remember that.
Here is evolutionary biologist Jeff Wise (pictured), Harvard alumnus and prophet of doom. He tells a good story, with many a frissson to shiver your timbers.
You will not be bored.
“A single cough, a hand on a door . . . and, in disquieting detail, here is the truth about how this deadly virus can take hold of anyone, with devastating effects.” — Introduction to the re-edited American version of the same article by The Daily Mail, March 28, 2020, p. 22
You call a friend and arrange to meet for lunch. It’s unseasonably springlike, so you choose a place with outdoor seating, which seems like it should be safer. As usual, you take all reasonable precautions: You use hand sanitizer and sit a good distance from other customers.
A part of you suspects that this whole thing might be overblown.
What you don’t know is that ten days ago, your friend’s father met a business acquaintance from whom he caught coronavirus.
Three days after that, he coughed into his hand before opening the door of his apartment to welcome his son home. The saliva of COVID-19 patients can harbor half a trillion virus particles per teaspoon, and a cough aerosolizes it into a diffuse mist.
As your friend walked through the door he took a breath and 32,456 virus particles settled onto the lining of his mouth and throat.
Viruses have been multiplying inside his body ever since.
As he talks, the passage of his breath over the moist lining of his upper throat creates tiny droplets of virus-laden mucus that waft invisibly into the air over your table. Some settle on the as-yet-uneaten food on your plate, some drift onto your fingers, others are drawn into your nasal sinus or settle into your throat.
By the time you extend your hand to shake good-bye, your body is carrying 43,654 virus particles. By the time you’re done shaking hands, that number is up to 312,405.
One of the droplets gets drawn into the branching passages of your lungs and settles on the warm, wet surface, depositing virus particles into the mucus coating the tissue there.
Each particle is round and very small; if you magnified a human hair so that it was as wide as a football field, the virus particle would be four inches across on the same scale.
As the virus drifts through the lung’s mucus, it bumps into one of the cells that line the surface. This lung cell is considerably larger than the virus; on the football-field scale, it’s 26 feet across. A billion years of evolution have equipped it to resist attackers. But it also has a vulnerability—a backdoor from which it can be attacked.
Other viral proteins now block the cell from fighting back. Soon the cell’s normal business is completely overwhelmed by the demands of the viral RNA, as its energy and machinery are occupied with building the components of countless replica viruses.
These travel towards the surface of the cell, which then bursts open and releases new virus particles into your body by the hundreds of thousands.
All up and down your lungs, throat, and mouth, the scene is repeated over and over as cell after cell is penetrated and hijacked.
The replicated viruses spill out into the mucus, invade the bloodstream, and pour through the digestive system. You don’t feel any of this. In fact, you still feel totally fine. If you have any complaint at all, it’s boredom.
You’ve been a dutiful citizen, staying at home to practice social distancing, and after two day of bingeing on movie and television thrillers, you decide that your mental health is at risk if you don’t get outside.
You call up an old flame, an ex-girlfriend, and she agrees to meet you for a walk along the river.
You’re hoping that the end-of-the-world atmosphere might rekindle the old passion, but the face mask she’s wearing kills that vibe. However, she gives you a warm hug as you say good-bye, and you tell her it was great to see her, but you leave feeling deflated.
What she doesn’t know is that an hour before, you went to the bathroom and neglected to wash your hands afterward.
The invisible smear you leave on the arm of her jacket contains 893,405 virus particles.
Forty-seven seconds after she gets home, she’ll hang up her coat and then scratch an itch at the base of her nose just before she washes her hands. In that moment, 9,404 viral particles will transfer to her face. In five days, an ambulance will take her to the hospital.
Meanwhile, your own infected cells spew out virus particles until they burn themselves out and expire.
As fragments of disintegrated cells spread through your bloodstream, your immune system finally senses that something is wrong.
White blood cells detect the fragments of dead cells and release chemicals called cytokines that serve as an alarm signal, activating other parts of the immune system to swing into action. When responding immune cells identify a cell that has become infected, they attack and destroy it.
Within your body, a microscopic Battle of the Somme is raging with your immune system leveling its Big Berthas on both the enemy trenches and its own troops.
As the carnage mounts, the body’s temperature rises and the infected area becomes inflamed.
Two days later, sitting down to lunch, you realize that the thought of eating makes you feel nauseated. You lie down and sleep for a few hours. When you wake up, you realize that you’ve only gotten worse. Your chest feels tight, and you’ve got a dry cough that just won’t quit. You wonder: Is this what it feels like?
You rummage through your medicine cabinet in vain and ultimately find a thermometer. You hold it under your tongue for a minute and then read the result: 38.9C (102F).
You crawl back into bed. You tell yourself that it might just be the regular flu, and even if worse comes to worst, you’re relatively young and healthy. You’re not in the high-risk group.
You’re right, of course, in a sense. For most people infected with the coronavirus, that’s as far as it goes. With bed rest, they get better. But for reasons scientists don’t understand, about 20 percent of people get severely ill. Despite your relative youth, you’re one of them.
After four days of raging fever and feeling sore all over, you realize that you’re sicker than you’ve ever been in your life.
You’ve got a dry cough that shakes you so hard that your back hurts. Fighting for breath, you order a taxi and head to the nearest accident and emergency unit.
You leave 376,345,090 virus particles smeared on various surfaces of the cab and another 323,443,865 floating in the air.
Between life and death
At the hospital, you’re examined and sent to an isolation ward. As doctors wait for the results of a test for the coronavirus, they administer a CT scan of your lungs, which reveals tell-tale fuzzy spots caused by fluid accumulating where the immune-system battle is the most intense.
Not only have you got COVID-19, but it’s led to a kind of intense and dangerous pneumonia called acute-respiratory-distress syndrome, or ARDS.
With all the regular beds already occupied by the many COVID-19 sufferers, you’re given a space in a room alongside five other patients.
Doctors put you on an intravenous drip to supply your body with nutrients and fluids as well as antiviral medicine.
Within a day of your arrival, your condition deteriorates. You throw up for several days and start to hallucinate. Your heart rate slows to 50 beats a minute.
When a patient in the next room dies, doctors take the ventilator he was using and put you on it.
By the time the nurse threads the endotracheal tube down your throat, you’re only half-conscious of the sensation of it snaking deeper and deeper toward your lungs.
You just lie there as she places tape over your mouth to keep the tube in place.
Your immune system has flung itself into a “cytokine storm” — an overdrive of such intensity that it is no longer fighting just the viral infection but the body’s own cells as well.
White blood cells storm your lungs, destroying tissue. Fluid fills the tiny sacs in the lungs that normally let the blood absorb oxygen.
Effectively, you’re drowning, even with the ventilator pumping oxygen-enriched air into your lungs.
That’s not the worst of it.
The intensity of the immune response is such that under its onslaught, organs throughout the body are shutting down, a process known as multiple-organ-dysfunction syndrome, or MODS.
When your liver fails, it is unable to process toxins out of your blood, so your doctors rush to hook you up to a round-the-clock dialysis machine.
Starved of oxygen, your brain cells begin to expire.
You’re fluttering on the edge between life and death.
Now that your organs have packed in, your odds are 50-50 or worse.
Owing to the fact that the pandemic has stretched the hospital’s resources past the breaking point, your outlook is even bleaker.
Lying in your bed, you half-hear as the doctors hook you up to an extracorporeal-membrane-oxygenation (ECMO) machine.
This will take over the work of your heart and lungs and hopefully keep you alive until your body can find its way back to equilibrium.
And then, you are flooded with an overwhelming sense of calm. You sense that you have reached the lowest point of your struggle.
The worst of the danger is over.
With the viral attack beaten, your body’s immune system will pull back, and you’ll begin the slow, painstaking journey to full recovery.
Some weeks from now, the doctors will remove the tube from your throat and wheel away the ventilator.
Your appetite will come back, and the color will return to your cheeks, and on a summer morning you’ll step out into the fresh air and hail a cab for home.
And later still, you’ll meet the girl who will become your wife, and you’ll have three children, two of whom will have children of their own…
That’s what your mind is telling itself, anyway, as the last cells of your cerebral cortex burst in starburst waves, like the glowing algae in a midnight lagoon.
In the isolation ward, your ECG goes to a steady tone.
The doctors take away the ventilator and give it to a patient who arrived this morning.
In the official records of the COVID-19 pandemic, you’ll be recorded as victim No. 592.
Felicien Rops, Satan Sowing Tares, 1882
“AN ENEMY HATH DONE THIS.”
— Matthew 13:28
Source: The Devil’s Virus: Apocalypse Now?