cold sneeze

There follows a guest post by Lockdown Sceptics' regular Guy de la Bédoyère.

Just when you thought the Covid madness couldn't take any more twists, here comes another one but you'd better brace yourself. The BBC's Science Correspondent James Gallagher has a startling revelation that the common cold (the rhinovirus) can suppress COVID-19 because it's so tough the SARS-CoV-2 virus gets pushed out of the way to make room for it. The news comes from the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

Here's the summary:
Human rhinovirus triggers an innate immune response that blocks SARS-CoV-2 replication within the human respiratory epithelium. Given the high prevalence of human rhinovirus, this interference effect might cause a population-wide reduction in the number of new COVID-19 infections.

From a host's perspective, HRV [Human Rhinovirus] infections, which are usually associated with mild disease, stimulate an antiviral response that prevents infections by more severe (and sometimes lethal) viruses such as SARS-CoV-2.
Fancy that? So, by suppressing COVID-19 we might have successfully suppressed the very virus that might have helped protect against it. Brilliant. Not only that, but also by suppressing all these viruses it's apparently become far harder to work out where SARS-CoV-2 virus sits in the ruthless world of virus hierarchies. That's why it's taken so long for this revelation to emerge.

If that sounds like modest good news, forget it. Thanks to suppressing everything else, natural immunity to those normal diseases has plunged so the 'experts' are already lining up to warn of an apocalyptic consequence. We're all going to get ill from diseases that might usually have not been so bad.

James Gallagher continues:
Dr Susan Hopkins, from Public Health England has already warned of a "hard winter" ahead as a result.

"We could see surges in flu. We could see surges in other respiratory viruses and other respiratory pathogens," she said.
Spiffing. As Basil Fawlty once said.

I can see the headlines already: "Britain Clocks Cold Lockdown after Covid Cock-up."

Forgive me for being so arrogant as to express something approaching a scientific opinion, but doesn't this illustrate perfectly the stupidity of operating overwhelming knee-jerk reactions against a single threat without considering the consequences? Hasn't that been the hallmark of this crisis from Day One?

Perhaps some of the expert epidemiologists who have ruled our lives for the last year could dust off their Physics GCSEs and read Newton's Laws of Motion, particularly the third one: every force has an equal and opposite reaction. I'm sure that could be usefully reworked into the study of controlling infectious diseases.

At the heart of this seems to be the hubristic belief that we can control nature because we're so clever. That we might already be immersed in an immensely complex web of virus interactions does not seem to have occurred to some of the experts so routinely wheeled out to pronounce on how we should live our lives. Nor does the ingenious 'modelling' seem to have taken any of this into account either.

It all reminds me of the line from Spinal Tap when David St Hubbins says, "There's such a fine line between stupid and clever."

Maybe the piece in the Journal of Infectious Diseases has got it all wrong. But somehow the article has the ominous ring of truth, and an obvious one at that, about it.