COVID-19 Doesn’t Want to Kill You

“What does not destroy me, makes me stronger.”

Friedrich Nietzsche (or was it Kelly Clarkson?)

Addison WigginDear Reader,

“Please, Addison, a bit more precision here,” our favorite critic implores. “Coronaviruses, of which COVID-19 is one, do not contain DNA. They are RNA viruses.”

While we’re still confounded by our reader’s defense of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), he does have a point here. Living cells contain DNA — deoxyribonucleic acid. The coronavirus has ribonucleic acid (RNA).

The difference is crucial, both for how we fight the virus and its propensity for mutation. But having never pored through a microbiology tome, I’d have to regurgitate a Wikipedia article to explain it in more detail.

Or I could just pick up the phone and call our science advisor, Ray Blanco.

Ray was kind enough to chat with me, despite the 13-hour time difference between Baltimore and the island of Mindanao in the Philippines. He’s staying with his wife’s family. “I’m just a few steps away from the Philippines Sea of the Western Pacific,” he reports.

He tells us COVID is a big topic of conversation on the other side of the world, too. “I only understand a few words of the local language, but they say vaccine,” he tells me. “Everybody’s always talking about vaccines.”

Ray left the United States just as Omicron started rearing its ugly head. He had to spend seven days in a Filipino “quarantine hotel” before he was allowed free access to the country.

Overall, though, he’s not too concerned about Omicron or any other variations that may crop up.

As we explained yesterday, diseases naturally mutate as they spread throughout a population. Ray confirms there can be “recombination where one virus will swap genetic material with another one.” And the COVID virus strains “are following a trend that has been observed in the past with outbreaks of viral, pathogenic, infectious disease.”

That trend is a “tendency to become less deadly over time.”

It makes sense if you think about it. All a virus wants to do is propagate — create more vessels with its genetic material. But it can only do that by hijacking the reproductive processes of living cells. “It does the virus no good to kill you,” Ray says, “because when you die, it dies.”

So natural selection favors milder forms of infection. “It’s best to keep you alive as long as possible and keep you sneezing all over everybody in sight so it can spread.”

Omicron is following that playbook. It’s “insanely transmissible, which is bad,” Ray explains. The major symptom is a dry cough and severe sore throat, as one of our unlucky team members can attest. “But at the same time,” Ray adds, “it’s not nearly as pathogenic as other strains.”

In fact, “it tends to just be an upper respiratory infection. It doesn’t get really deep down into the lungs” — where it would cause more damage. “It’s at the level of the common cold,” he says.

What’s really fascinating to Ray is how Omicron seems to have popped out of nowhere. “It’s directly descended from a B strain that no one has seen out in the wild in more than a year and a half,” Ray says.

In other words, it’s a type of coronavirus that had seemingly died out before it suddenly reappeared with “a massive number of mutations.”

Ray walks through a number of theories, from the strain quietly taking a hold in immunocompromised HIV patients… to it taking a sabbatical in mice before jumping back to humans… to the possibility it was “tweaked in a lab.”

That last one isn’t quite what you think, though. The theory is that scientists deliberately created a more contagious / less lethal form of COVID to crowd out deadlier strains of the disease.

“It’s the perfect mandatory vaccine,” Ray tells us.

We’ll talk more about that tomorrow…

Follow your bliss,

Addison Wiggin

Addison Wiggin
Founder, The Financial Reserve


Addison Wiggin

Addison Wiggin

Addison Wiggin is founder and executive publisher of Agora Financial LLC, an independent economic forecasting and financial research firm. He and Bill Bonner began writing the firm’s flagship Daily Reckoning in the midst of the tech boom and bust. It was one of the first widely distributed email newsletters on the Internet. The publication’s critical eye on finance and economics continues today. He’s also creator and editorial director of Agora Financial’s daily missive The 5 Min. Forecast.

Recent Alerts

Crypto Freeze

“Not your keys, not your crypto,” warns our resident crypto geek Chris Campbell. “Take your security seriously.” Read More

Power to the People (Options)

“The ability to trade any market, anytime, from anywhere has changed everything,” says options-trading expert Alan Knuckman. Read More

Ukraine and the End of the Dollar

U.S. officials are talking about imposing what amounts to the financial death penalty on Russia… But Russia has given themselves a reprieve. Read More

Cuban Missile Crisis Redux

The proverbial “geopolitical tensions” involving Russia have a funny way of bubbling up around the Olympics. Read More

Pain and Suffering (Crypto)

“If you believe demand for BTC will grow in the coming years,” says crypto expert Chris Campbell, “a lower Bitcoin price in the short term is a good thing.” Read More

2022 Outlook: Gold

In contrast with the mainstream, Jim Rickards says gold will reclaim its 2020 record highs this year. Read More

The Amazing Shrinking Stock Market

“If there is a bright spot in the economy today, it is in the abundant flow of private and public capital,” says our resident futurist George Gilder. Read More

The Fed vs. the Stock Market

After more than three decades, it’s possible the Fed no longer has the stock market’s back. Read More

Bombshell 2022 Crypto Forecast

Crypto investor James Altucher predicts: “Ethereum will be the next trillion-dollar coin, hitting $100,000 before 2023.” Read More

2022: Inflation-Proofing Your Portfolio

“You can continue to grow your wealth in 2022 even though different stocks will be leading the market forward,” says our retirement specialist Zach Scheidt. Read More