Gary here. Thanks for stopping by!
As we finish three weeks of social distancing and sheltering in place in Northern California, let me share a few thoughts and a moment to take a deep breath.
The coronavirus spreading throughout the country leaves everyone fearful. It feels apocalyptic, something out of a sci fi novel. (And no, that is not my speculative fiction novel, which is far more optimistic.) Let’s remember that pandemics are not new; that people have survived them and then thrived afterward; and that this time we have one secret weapon that we will never let go of: science.
I’m reminded of some family history. The last devastating pandemic (excluding the slower-moving HIV/AIDS) was the 1918 flu pandemic, one of the deadliest since the Black Death of the 14th century. My great-grandfather, living in the Midwest at the time, perished from the 1918 flu. His wife also suffered from it and nearly died. She was nursed back to health by my great-grandfather’s brother. A few years later, they married. It is the story of all humankind—we carry on.
This time, however, one fact is different: we have science. Specifically, we have bioscience, a body of knowledge and an industry which I was fortunate to be a part of in the 1980s, when the company I worked for developed some of the DNA separations techniques (electrophoresis and chromatography) that were key to sequencing the human genome.
Our bioscience has made tremendous leaps since the biotechnology revolution beginning in the 1970s. The new science includes genetic engineering using DNA sequencing and the invention of PCR (polymerase chain reaction) to increase the speed of genetic analysis. The next leap forward is already underway, with the CRISPR-Cas9 technology, that will increase the speed of new drug introduction by an order of magnitude or more.
Developing a vaccine against COVID-19 will take time. We all need do our part now with rigorous social distancing, to protect the most vulnerable. But we can get through this together.
And now, let’s all take a deep breath, and try to relax. Here are a few moments to spend with the bees.
Be well, and stay calm.