Category Archives: Genetics

Arms and the virus

LETTING the virus that causes Covid-19 circulate more-or-less freely is dangerous not only because it risks overwhelming hospitals and so endangering lives unnecessarily, but also because it could delay the evolution of the virus to a more benign form and potentially even make it more lethal…

Roadblock

This article first appeared in The Guardian on 19 November 2020. To continue reading, click here.

LOSS of muscular energy was one of the earliest symptoms,” wrote Dr Jamieson, “and convalescents have been more struck by their astonishing lack of strength than by anything else.” He noted sluggish pulses and instances of “mental aberration” persisting far into convalescence. For some the aberration took the form of delirium, for others apathy and depression…

This article first appeared in New Statesman on 8 October 2020. To continue reading, click here.

SARS-CoV-2 is changing at a glacial pace

SCIENTISTS have had eyes on Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, since the beginning of this pandemic. They can see it is evolving, but it is happening at a glacial pace compared with two other viruses with pandemic potential: those that cause flu and Aids. That is good news for efforts to develop vaccines and treatments, but scientists remain wary that anything could still happen…

Tiruppur, India

This article first appeared in The Guardian on 18 September 2020. To continue reading, click here.

On the origins of smallpox

THE death date of smallpox is clear. After killing more than 300 million people in the twentieth century, it claimed its last victim in 1978; two years later, on 8 May 1980, the World Health Assembly declared that the variola virus, which causes smallpox, had been eradicated. But the origins of this devastating virus are obscure. Now, genetic evidence is starting to uncover when smallpox first started attacking people…

Korean smallpox goddess, late Joseon era (17th-19th Centuries)

This article first appeared in Nature on 23 July 2020. To continue reading, click here (paywall).