Can an extraterrestrial organism produce a catastrophic pandemic on our planet? Such a question arises every time we consider bringing samples from other worlds in the Solar System, especially now, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
An epidemic like the one we have unfortunately experienced can bring out people's worst fears. Cinema and literature have successfully used fear to write scripts in which an epidemic is the heart of the story or the underlying excuse.
Those of us who are dedicated to the creation and dissemination of knowledge must make intelligent use of its contingent and provisional nature, to promote the idea that what may appear to be weaknesses are, in fact, the features that allow scientific knowledge to progress and be disruptive.
Embracing an evolutionary perspective thus helps to explain why men and women react differently to certain infectious diseases and to understand (and combat) the strategies of viruses in their relentless evolutionary race to infect and spread among us.
Despite all the achievements in such a short period of time, we must stress that obtaining a drug capable of inhibiting any of the proteases in SARS-CoV-2, or any other pathogenic agent, is a long and complex process that requires the participation of different branches of science.
Every historical period has had its epidemic executioner, and it has almost always been the ecological changes between human communities and the environment that have caused changes in pathogenicity and epidemic diseases.
The problem with the handling of COVID-19 in the United States has been more political than public health-related. When a country has a president who «didn’t know» and thought that «most people didn’t know» that the flu can kill people, what can be expected in terms of the handling of a pandemic?
Early criticism of COVID-19 rhetoric cautions against the use of war metaphors that can shift us toward authoritarian and nationalistic sentiment, evoking xenophobia and racism.
Most of the fake news that circulated on the web before this pandemic concerned health and became far more widespread than the real news. Unfortunately, this phenomenon has escalated with the global COVID-19 crisis.
In addition to protective isolation, enhanced medical capacity, safer sociality and health oriented economic stimulus, we will need to turn our hearts, hands, and minds to reweaving and strengthening the complex and vital social web.