Recently, the Geelong Field Naturalists Club, of which I am a member, asked Dr David Boyle, also a member, to run a webinar (like a seminar, but on the internet) about viruses.
David has 50 yeas experience working with viruses and epidemic diseases, especially with the CSIRO at AAHL in Geelong. He is a Virologist.
I found David’s talk fascinating. I thought you might enjoy some details.
Viruses are not just small, but very, very small. The polio virus is 1/10.000th the size of a grain of salt. They are very, very abundant, with hundreds of thousands of types. End to end it is estimated they would stretch for 100 million light years! They make copies of themselves very, very quickly. They can enter a cell, replicate between 100 and 1000 new copies, and exit the cell, all in 20 minutes.
There are viruses in every living organism on earth. They are a natural part of natural processes, living in the cells of their hosts.
We have our own. It is estimated that there are 200 virus particles for every square centimetre of every person on the planet. 8% of our genetic makeup is viruses or virus-like elements inserted into the human genome!
Without them, we would not exist. There are viruses in the womb of every placental mammal, which suppress the immune response of the mother to the ‘foreign’ embryo, permitting it to develop. Without them, we never could have had children.
They are fundamental to life, emerging from its very beginnings.
They do not ‘think’ of course, but mutate and adapt very rapidly, fitting the conditions they find.
Factors such as increasing human population, intensification of food production encroaching onto the natural world, degradation of the environment, and global movement of peoples facilitate this.
‘Don’t blame the bats!’ David said. ‘It’s what viruses do.’
We are learning to understand viruses. There is even room for virus appreciation! Do we really want to praise God for viruses? Well, of course not, but yes! We must learn to live with their more unpleasant aspects, even or especially when they have potential to disrupt or destroy our lives so disastrously.
Maybe it is a bit like the Parable of the Weeds, from Matthew chapter 13, that Philip told us about last Sunday. Only the final harvest will differentiate. In the meantime, we adjust. We pray, we cry out to God for his mercy and help, we hope, we have faith in the Lord of all, whatever our circumstances. We do what we see needs doing. In a pandemic, we continue to love God with all our heart and soul and mind and strength, and to love our neighbour as ourselves.
Lynne Clarke, Locum minister at Holy Trinity Lara and Christ Church Little River.
HOLY TRINITY & CHRIST CHURCH WEEKLY REFLECTION
Welcome to our weekly reflection!