Infection Z: A Thought Experiment

What stands out about our idea experiment is how little reliable information we have about the transmissibility of our hypothetical Infection Z and the long-lasting repercussions of its anomalies.

Let’s run a thought experiment on a hypothetical virus we’ll call Infection Z, a run-of-the-mill respiratory range very little different from other viruses which are 1) really little; 2) alter rapidly and 3) contaminate human cells and customize the cellular machinery to produce more viral particles.

Like other infections, Infection Z continuously improves the odds of future replication through the natural choice of any mutations which improve its replication capabilities. Because infections need host cells to replicate, the crucial advantages picked through anomaly are averting hosts’ immune actions to getting into viruses.

As in all organisms in which useful mutations develop and eventually spread throughout the organism’s hereditary instructions, the natural choice of mutations in viruses is not teleological, implying there is no set objective to the evolutionary process aside from whatever is useful in a particular setting.

To use a football analogy, the viral mutations do not have an objective of advancing 10 backyards to get a first down and continue down the field to score a touchdown. Any anomaly which helps the infection avert getting dealt with by the host body immune system is saved, as the viruses which get dealt with and gobbled up by the immune system are no longer duplicating, while the virus which evades the body immune system continues reproducing. Whatever anomalies that allow it to avert getting dealt with are saved in the hereditary coding of all future infections.

In our thought experiment, Infection Z is a novel respiratory virus, i.e. it spreads out via particles of wetness exhaled by human hosts, so most human hosts don’t have a natural resistance to it due to the fact that their body’s body immune system has actually never experienced it before. As a result, lots of people exposed to Virus Z end up being ill as the virus triggers an immune reaction (inflammation, fever, blockage) which disrupts various procedures (oxygen uptake, food digestion, etc.)

Like numerous other pathogens, Infection Z causes the death of some contaminated individuals with jeopardized or damaged body immune systems. In our thought experiment, Virus Z leads to the hospitalization of a portion of infected individuals and the death of around 2% of all individuals who contract the disease.

This is not a remarkable rate in human history, and like numerous other pathogens, Infection Z tends to sicken the old and frail who have less robust body immune systems.

However nevertheless, 2% is not zero, therefore bioscience establishes a vaccine to Infection Z which successfully minimizes the intensity of the disease and this naturally lowers the rate of those passing away from the viral health problem.

The vaccine is checked for one goal: does it lower the intensity of the illness or not? As an outcome of this goal and the testing procedure, it’s unidentified if the infection can stay at low levels in immunized people and be transmissible to others.

In other words, it’s unidentified if some immunized individuals might be infectious although they show no symptoms of health problem.

Just as flu shots are not 100% effective against all pressures of influenza, it turns out the Infection Z vaccine is extremely effective in decreasing the odds of contracting the infection and the seriousness of any subsequent disease, however it does not decrease the transmissibility to no or the variety of those who end up being ill despite being vaccinated to zero.

Considering that it’s not useful to continuously evaluate every immunized person, the number of vaccinated people who still harbor low levels of virus while being symptom-free (i.e. asymptomatic) is unknown. A vaccinated person may be virus-free however then be reinfected by direct exposure to a brand-new variation that makes it through the immune assault however does not produce signs.

So in this pool of X number of vaccinated individuals, the infection continues to mutate, with those mutations which help the infection avert the vaccine-enhanced immune system of the host being the anomalies which are saved, as the viruses which get tackled by the body immune system no longer duplicate while those with the helpful anomaly continue replicating.

The viruses which avert the body immune system tacklers are also picked for enhanced transmissibility, implying those with minimal transmissibility do not contaminate other hosts while those with enhanced transmissibility (i.e. are more infectious) spread with relative ease to other hosts, both unvaccinated and vaccinated, as the vaccine reduces transmissibility however doesn’t decrease it to zeeo.

Since the goal of the vaccine program was to lower the number of those ending up being severely ill and needing hospitalization, the system just counts people who end up being ill enough to require hospitalization: those hospitalized are tabulated in 2 fields, unvaccinated or vaccinated.

As anticipated, the majority of those hospitalized with severe health problem are unvaccinated, as the vaccine effectively minimized the number of individuals who develop serious cases after contracting the illness.

What the vaccine doesn’t do is reduce the number of vaccinated people who contract the illness to no, nor does it minimize the transmissibility of vaccinated providers of the virus to no.

This means some unknown percentage (unidentified since it’s not practical to consistently evaluate 10s of countless people) of immunized people become carriers of the virus. Some unidentified percentage will contract the disease but not significantly sufficient to need hospitalization, so they won’t be counted by the system. A relative couple of will need hospitalization, and will be counted as “breakthrough cases,” i.e. immunized individuals who contracted the virus, became ill and necessary hospitalization.

But since the system does not count vaccinated individuals who end up being ill and stay at home, the variety of formally tallied “breakthrough cases” is an undercount of the total number.

Since reasonably few immunized individuals who are ill in the house will drag themselves to a testing center to verify they have Virus Z, the total variety of vaccinated people who are providers (i.e. are infectious) and who became ill adequate to stay home is likewise unidentified.

Like lots of other infections, Virus Z sets off long-term incapacitating signs in a portion of those who end up being ill, and some percentage of these long-lasting effects take place in people whose disease was reasonably moderate. Considering that it’s it’s not useful to regularly evaluate tens of countless vaccinated individuals, the number who contracted the illness and are experiencing long-lasting devastating symptoms is unknown.

What we do know via careful contract tracing is that one immunized specific transmitted the virus to 20 other individuals, both unvaccinated and immunized, in one encounter in an enclosed space, and this variant is genetically distinct from the initial Infection Z.

This is worrisome, as the transmissibility of an infection is more dangerous than the death rate of those infected. If a virus with low transmissibility causes the death of 5% of those who contract the health problem, and it sickens 1,000 individuals, then 50 of those stricken will pass away. A highly transmissible virus with a death rate of 2% might appear less unsafe, but if it sickens 100,000 individuals and 2% die, that’s 2,000 individuals who lost their lives.

Since the virus has actually been altering in X variety of vaccinated individuals at a rate of anomaly typical of infections (i.e. a high rate), a small however substantial number of these countless anomalies help the altered virus avert the host immune system and whatever advantages were given by the vaccine.

Within this pool of anomalies which averted the body immune system tacklers, those anomalies which likewise boost transmissibility spread rapidly to other human hosts, both unvaccinated and immunized, depending on the relative efficiency of the vaccination in each person, the relative toughness of their body immune system and a range of other intricate factors such as partial natural resistance, exposure to previous variations of Infection Z and so on.

Within this swimming pool of mutations that improve transmissibility, some portion will boost transmissibility to more youthful, healthier people who were less prone to the initial Infection Z.

What stands out about our thought experiment is how little dependable information we have about the transmissibility of our hypothetical Infection Z and the long-term consequences of its mutations. What’s striking is the number of crucial data fields which are unknown, just haphazardly collected, or in which data is so insufficient that it is misinforming.

Science can not advance if information is unavailable, undependable approximately selectively gathered that it’s deceptive. What stands out about our idea experiment is how little is reliably learnt about Infection Z’s transmissibility, virulence or long-term effects.

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