Speaker: Dr Shivakumar Iyer
SARS COV 2 (Severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2) is a virus identified in January 2020 as the cause of the COVID (coronavirus disease) - 19 in humans. COVID 19 originated in Wuhan, China, in December 2019 and has since then emerged as, arguably, the most severe pandemic to affect us in our known history. In this talk, he has explored the origin of the virus; it’s rapid spread throughout the world and how it has affected us in myriad ways.
Viruses are very old. Their history on earth is much longer than ours. If we were to compress the history of the earth into a single calendar year viruses and bacteria appeared on earth somewhere in March. Humankind came on the scene only on 31 December in the hour before midnight. Life is characterised at the most basic level by a desire for survival and SARS Cov2 and humankind seem to be jostling for precisely this. While competition in nature is characterised by survival of the fittest, it is also not the entire truth. Life on earth is also characterised by cooperation and coexistence.
Recent studies in human genetics using RNA genome mapping of bacteria have indicated that all of life has evolved from what has been described as our ‘last universal common ancestor’ (LUCA). Eventually, we hope that SARS cov2 and human will co-exist peacefully, given our common origins.
Following points are addressed in the Talk.
- Is the virus natural or human-made?
- How does it gain entry and spread?
- Why are most of us only mildly affected?
- Are there any determinants of severe illness?
- What is mortality due to COVID 19?
- What is it’s short and long term impacts on science and medicine, human behaviour and society, economics and education!
A medical professional for over 30 years with expertise in critical and end-life care, Dr Shivakumar Iyer has been President of Indian Society of Critical Care Medicine and is currently, Prof and Head, Dept of Critical Care Medicine at the Bharati Vidyapeeth Hospital in Pune, which is operating an over 300-bed facility for corona. He is also a member of the Pune District COVID 19 task force. He is currently doing an MSc in Palliative Medicine as a Commonwealth Scholar at Cardiff University.