• Senthil Kumar Sadasivam

After all, it’s just a Pandemic! Do not panic!!

This might sound sarcastic but it is true!!!

Photo: The Triumph of Death by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1562. Photograph: Mondadori via Getty


Pandemics are not new to us. We, humans, have fought and won a lot of battles against infectious diseases in the past. Of course, they have changed the course of our History but still its only Humans who won at last. So this war against COVID-19 is just a chapter in the history of our survival on this planet earth. Religious beliefs can fail, scientific inventions can fail but the process of natural selection in evolution has not. We, humans, are the greatest piece of work by evolution. We are the most refined species and are on the top of the evolution. With this perspective let us redefine the event of a pandemic; it is a war between the tiniest and the mightiest species on this planet Earth.


You might guess the result now! Certainly, it is always the mightiest which wins in-spite of the time taken and the count of the casualties.


So do not panic!!


Some might think this as an infusion of new theory, but it is not actually. This is my perception, in finding a clue for the quest of the finest organism evolved so far.

Despite the fact that no species is the best choice for evolution, let us try to figure out who or which can be the dominant species on earth being successful in spreading all over the world. You will get a number of answers to this question; votes cast for different organisms. Some might say, plant, crow, cockroaches, human or microbes depending upon whom you ask. My inclination is always towards the extremes. Microbes and man both are in the opposite extremes in evolution. One is the most primitive and the other is more complex and intellect. And now the war is between both the worlds. A fight for existence between a parasite and prey, of course, we humans are also a parasite in another way. So this pandemic, COVID 19 is the battle between the ultramicroscopic parasites, the virus and the ultra-modern macroscopic parasites, the humans. Does it sound like a riddle? Certainly, this pandemic is the fight between two parasites. Both being a parasite, my intuition says, only the second parasite (Humans) will win the battle.


The first parasite, Virus has occupied this planet millions of years before. They are not ordinary parasites; they are extraordinary, obligate Intracellular Parasites. Viruses have evolved phenomenal ability to get into to host cells, survive its defense system, astonishingly manipulate the host behavior and predictably boost their own reproductive success in its host. In the height of their cruelty, they are capable of out-evolving their hosts. All these make them a deadly species on earth. It is with this deadliest species which we are now fighting.


In fact, the Great Darwin went wrong in assessing these parasites as “degenerates”, whereas Louis Pasteur, the father of Microbiology understood them well and said, “Never underestimate the power of microbes”. His saying has a multifaceted meaning and even here, it fits in the context of the article. Undoubtedly with all said and more capabilities they deserve to be designated as the Evolution’s finest. Either you see them survival strategy as vile or detestable, you have to admit that they are the masters of it.


Then how are we going to win this battle?


It is time to remember Sun Tzu, a Chinese General’s philosophy, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles”.

I would argue, even more impressively about the second parasite, which we as humans, deserve the title “A masterpiece of Evolution”.


Nevertheless, like a virus we are not here on this planet from time immemorial, we have no record of great accomplishment or even a clue in our hundred thousand years of history indicating that Evolution’s handpicked group of apes are going to take over this planet.

So we are the latest and the intellect in the Evolution. In the less time given to us by the Evolution, we have done extremely impressive things here on this planet, of course not individually but collectively. Every species on this planet has the ability to procreate but we are exceptional and that is our imagination and the ability to create unnatural things. And that’s what makes us sit on the top of the food chain, capable of controlling and manipulating almost every single species which encounters us on this planet earth.


Could you still argue that some other species on this planet be the Masterpiece of Evolution than Humans?


As Yuval Harari beautifully described in his Bestseller book “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” that Humans are not only capable of describing the reality surrounding us through his language but also capable of creating new realities and fictional realities are religion, Capitalism or democracy. Unfortunately, these unnatural realities have become more powerful nowadays. The very survival of any other species on this Earth is now the will and wish of humans. So even the spread of a VIRUS!


So don’t panic in a pandemic!


Our ancestors have dealt these threats to humanity in the past; our fellow men would do now and also in the future. We, humans, will develop resistance with both natural realities and through new realities (be new drug or vaccine)!!


We are Evolution’s finest!!


Either you call me a genius or a dunce, my perspective is also true.


This is authored by Dr Senthil Kumar Sadasivam, Faculty of Botany, National College (Autonomous), Tiruchirappalli and it is a free radical view on evolution and why humans have a winning edge over the battle against COVID 19. Readers should be aware that experts in the same field may have different opinions. Please be informed that the content in this article has no medical advice in any form.


Further Readings

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/04/06/pandemics-and-the-shape-of-human-history

https://www.visualcapitalist.com/history-of-pandemics-deadliest/

https://www.mphonline.org/worst-pandemics-in-history/

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2015/09/150911-how-we-became-human-theories-evolution-science/

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/science/intelligent-designs-on-god-fail-the-test-of-evolution-1.896109

https://www.npr.org/transcripts/468882620?t=1587016334911

Inspired by:

https://www.bmj.com/company/global-health-ii/dont-panic-its-just-a-pandemic/

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/science-sushi/darwins-degenerates-evolutions-finest-observations/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/ericjackson/2014/05/23/sun-tzus-33-best-pieces-of-leadership-advice/#657bc5cd5e5e


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