Here’s the scariest paper that I read during a month at Harvard Medical School…
“Microbial Genomics and Infectious Diseases” (Relman 2011, NEJM):
Nearly 40,000 strains of influenza virus and more than 300,000 strains of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) type 1 have been partially sequenced
The folks who get paid to tinker with biology keep telling us that a cure is around the corner (just send more barrels of cash!), but why can’t viruses evolve faster than we can spend money on anti-virus research? The Harvard folks seem to think that we’re losing the battle on the antibiotic front. There haven’t been any good new drugs since the 1990s, but there are plenty of pathogens that have evolved immunity to the 20th century antibiotics.
As the U.S. population trends higher (on track to more than double during my lifetime) and more urban, will germaphobes move to dry mountain towns and try to avoid physical contact with anyone who has recently come in from a big city? Lean more heavily on the (clean) Internet for work and social life?