Immunity. It’s something we’ve become used to. We expect it. We pretty much see it as our God-given right.
We have a natural immunity to many things, and we have been immunised against many more – but we have no immunity to Covid-19. Our immune systems can’t help us. Our ability to fight off the disease is purely down to basically how healthy we are and the treatment we are able to receive. Our bodies are having to learn how react to this novel virus – and in so doing they develop antibodies that may or may not mean that we are immune from getting the disease a second time.
We’re quite put out by this idea that we have no immunity. How very dare this virus come along that we’re not immune to. But why do we feel entitled to immunity? Why shouldn’t there be a disease out there that might make us ill and potentially kill us? There always has been – more than one – until very very recently.
And why should there be a vaccine just waiting to be discovered (and soon, if only we throw enough money and enough scientists at it)? I hope there is – but there are no guarantees.
In 1796 Edward Jenner discovered that getting cowpox gave you immunity to smallpox. Just 181 years later, in 1977, smallpox was eradicated.
181 years. And we’re expecting a vaccine for corona virus in 18 months.
Even with a vaccine, diseases don’t just go away. Measles is still around despite a vaccine being available for over 30 years.
One by one the killer diseases have been brought under control – small pox from 1796, cholera from 1885, typhoid from 1896, tetanus from 1924, diphtheria from 1942, whooping cough, polio and TB since the 1950s.
Until very very recently it was perfectly possible to catch measles, mumps, and rubella – I had all three as a child. The MMR vaccine came along in 1988.
My kids’ generation is the first EVER to not have the threat of death from disease hanging over them.
But of course, that’s not entirely true – HIV Aids was a new disease in the 1980s, and only became treatable from 1996.
So yes, corona virus is a tragedy, of course it is. Life will never be the same again.
But until a vaccine is found, it’s the period from 1996 to 2019 – a mere 23 years – that is the anomaly, the time when (in the affluent West at least) death from disease was a thing of the past.
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