Following the science for COVID-19: societal constraints and limitations
We the undersigned wholeheartedly endorse the views expressed in your recent editorial relating to the COVID-19 pandemic (1). There are many examples from the history of medicine that support the assertion that when good science is suppressed patients die. When Ignaz Semmelweis’ advocacy of handwashing to prevent deaths from infections in maternity wards was roundly ridiculed, the fatalities continued unabated. For new and unsolved problems in science a blind adherence to orthodoxy could literally prove fatal – the solution of such problems always lying in the morass of heterodoxy. Determining the form which this heterodoxy might take is always the challenge.
The difficulty of “following the science” in the case of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is that in many aspects the discussion of the science itself has often been ill-defined and moreover betrays a lack of understanding of all aspects of the problem. The first uncertainty relates to the origin of the virus itself. The hypothesis of a corona virus passing from bats via an intermediate animal to humans is widely accepted though by no means proven nor, as we have argued in detail, scientifically plausible from haplotype analyses of COVID-19 genomes and related isolates (2,3).
In a series of articles, we have developed the unorthodox proposal that the Covid-19 virus, like many other pandemic viruses, may have an extraterrestrial origin and was initially dispersed in the high atmosphere from a disintegrating cometary bolide (3-10). The first major infall of the virus from this primary source in the Hubei province of China would have inevitably led to a massive amplification of the virus in humans, a fraction of which would have been lofted back to the upper atmosphere to be carried in global wind systems across the world. Furthermore, we have shown that this novel hypothesis actually explains much of the evolving science on COVID-19 which we have seen over the past twelve months (5,9,10). Although initially the idea that this virus originated extraterrestially seems outrageous, as Sherlock Holmes might have said: "Once you have eliminated the impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."
In our model of the pandemic we argue that trillions of virions entered the Earth’s upper atmosphere sometime in the latter part of 2019. Virus-laden dust clouds were thereafter able to break through to ground level locations, and spread of the pandemic around the world subsequently occurred through a combination of such infall, viruses transported in global wind systems, and eventually by person-to-person spread. This model accounts for a swathe of data that is otherwise difficult to explain – for example the sudden emergence of new foci of infection as recently happened in Sri Lanka where a cluster of thousand or more cases arose suddenly with no hard evidence of any identifiable “superspreader”(9, 10). Similar mysterious outbreaks have occurred elsewhere around the world including on ships at sea – many of these were instances where entire cohorts of passengers and crew were repeatedly tested negative for COVID-19 prior to embarkation.
Other aspects of the current pandemic that are poorly understood include a lack of knowledge about the precise modes of person to person transmission. This in turn leads to uncertainties about the best strategies to be deployed for minimising transmission. There is also a need, in our view, to respond urgently to well-attested facts relating to differential morbidities in various cohorts of the population, for example the older age groups with comorbidities. We need more information on the nature of the protective immune response against COVID-19 and how this might vary in different cohorts.
Finally, we note that recent data showing a correlation of COVID-19 case rates with high levels of local atmospheric particulate pollution is worthy of adding to the “science” that the authorities might choose to follow. Micron-sized pollutant dust particles in the atmosphere could not only mop up infalling virions from the troposphere, but also accrete virions that are exhaled by victims, and such dust particles can be shown to take considerable lengths of time – many hours - to settle to ground level (11,12). A high level of smog and pollution is therefore to be regarded as a significant additional risk factor for COVID-19 in locations where the infections prevail-the high rates in the Lombardy district of Italy, and in heavily industrialized urban centres around the world are consistent with this notion. In view of the links to atmospheric pollution new ways of protection of the more vulnerable cohorts may need to be considered.
N.C. Wickramasinghe, MA, PhD, ScD, FRSA, FRAS, University of Buckingham, UK; National Institute of Fundamental Studies, Sri Lanka; Centre for Astrobiology, University of Ruhuna, Matara, Sri Lanka
R.M. Gorczynski, MD, PhD, Professor Emeritus, Depts Surgery & Immunology, University of Toronto, ON, Canada
Anthony Perera, MBChB, FRCS
Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon
University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff
A. Nimalasuriya, MBBS, MD, Consultant Physician, Kaiser Permanente Riverside Medical,10800 Magnolia Ave # 1, Riverside, CA 92505, USA
Patrick Carnegie, PhD, School of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology, Murdoch University, WA, Australia
Milton Wainwright, PhD, Institute for the Study of Panspermia and Astroeconomics, Gifu, Japan; Centre for Astrobiology, University of Ruhuna, Matara, Sri Lanka
Predrag Slijepcevic, PhD, Department of Life Sciences, College of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Brunel University, London, UK
Max K. Wallis, MA, PhD, FRAS, Institute for the Study of Panspermia and Astroeconomics, Gifu, Japan
Stephen G. Coulson, BSc, PhD, FRAS, Institute for the Study of Panspermia and Astroeconomics, Gifu, Japan
Daryl H. Wallis, BSc, PhD, FRAS
Institute for the Study of Panspermia and Astroeconomics, Gifu, Japan
Director, Institute for the Study of Panspermia and Astroeconomics, Gifu, Japan; Centre for Astrobiology, University of Ruhuna, Matara, Sri Lanka
Director, History of Chinese Science and Culture Foundation, Conway Hall, London, UK
CYO'Connor ERADE Village Foundation, 24 Genomics Rise, Piara Waters, 6112
Edward J Steele, PhD
CYO'Connor ERADE Village Foundation, 24 Genomics Rise, Piara Waters, 6112; Melville Analytics Pty Ltd, Melbourne, Vic, AUSTRALIA
(2) Steele, E.J., Lindley, R.A .(2020) Analysis of APOBEC and ADAR deaminase-driven Riboswitch Haplotypes in COVID-19 RNA strain variants and the implications for vaccine design. Research Reports doi:10.9777/rr.2020.10001
(3) Steele, E.J., Gorczynski ,R.M,. Rebhan, H., Carnegie, P., Temple, R., Tokoro, G., et al (2020) Implications of haplotype switching for the origin and global spread of COVID-19 Virol Curr Res Volume 4:2, 2020 DOI: 10.37421/Virol Curr Res.2020.4.115
(4) Steele, E.J., Gorczynski,R.M., Lindley, R.A.,Tokoro , G., et al. (2020) Origin of new emergent Coronavirus and Candida fungal diseases- Terrestrial or Cosmic?- Adv Genetics 106, 75-100.
(5) Hoyle, F. & Wickramasinghe, N.C., 1979. Diseases from Space (J.M. Dent & Son Lond) (see also revised edition published by World Scientific Publishing Co.); Hoyle, F., & Wickramasinghe, N. C. 1990. Influenza—Evidence against contagion. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 83, 258–261
(6) Wickramasinghe, C., Wainwright, M. & Narlikar, J.V., 2003. SARS – a clue to its origins, The Lancet, 361, 1832
(7) Steele EJ, Al-Mufti S, Augustyn KK, Chandrajith R, Coghlan JP, Coulson SG, Ghosh S, Gillman M. et al 2018 "Cause of Cambrian Explosion: Terrestrial or Cosmic?” Prog. Biophys. Mol. Biol. 136: 3-23,
(8) Steele EJ, Gorczynski RM, Lindley RA, Liu Y, Temple R, Tokoro G, Wickramasinghe DT, Wickramasinghe NC. 2019 “Lamarck and Panspermia - On the Efficient Spread of Living Systems Throughout the Cosmos”. Prog. Biophys. Mol. Biol. 2019 149 : 10 -32.
(9) Wickramasinghe, N.C., Wallis,M.K., Coulson, S.J., et al 2020, Intercontinental Spread of COVID-19 on Global Wind Systems. Virology Current Research (4:2). Volume 4:1,2020 DOI: 10.37421/Virol Curr Res.2020.4.113
(10) Wickramasinghe NC, Steele EJ, Nimalasuriya A, et al (2020) Seasonality of Respiratory Viruses Including SARS-CoV-2 Virol Curr Res Volume 4:2, 2020 DOI: 10.37421/VCRH.2020.4.117
(11) Coccia, M., 2020. Factors determining the diffusion of COVID-19 and suggested strategy to prevent future accelerated viral infectivity similar to COVID, Sci Total Environ729, 138474
(12) Zhu Y, Xie J, Huang F, Cao L. 2020. Association between short-term exposure to air pollution and COVID-19 infection: Evidence from China. Sci Total Environ. 2020;727:138704. DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.138704
Competing interests: No competing interests