How SARS-CoV-2 Evades And Suppresses The Immune System (Part One)

I write this series to celebrate the power of the science and medicine that provide us with deep insight into the nature of the virus that causes Covid-19 and the vaccines and drugs that prevent and treat the disease. But I also write this as a warning not to underestimate our adversary.

Anyone who has engaged in hand to hand combat—for that is what it feels like—with cancer, AIDS, or any of the other great diseases of our time knows how formidable our foe is. Evolution, the same force that gifted us with the intelligence to understand our world, has crafted diseases of great subtlety that seem to slip through our grasp just as we think we have a firm grip. Yes, we have had success in developing Covid-19 vaccines, and new and effective treatments appear to be just around the corner. Yet at the same time, a chill wind of doubt disturbs our optimism, as viral variants begin to break through our vaccines and sicken and even kill a small fraction of those who seek protection.

This is the third major pandemic of my lifetime. I remember polio and all the forbidden summer activities—swimming in public pools, playing with more than two other friends, or enjoying the latest serials in the cool, dark movie theaters I loved. No doubt similar to what today’s children will remember of the restrictions around Covid-19. As a young Harvard researcher working on cancer and AIDS, I remember the War on Cancer and our hopes that we would vanquish the disease in a few short years or, conservatively, a decade or two at most. I remember the HIV epidemic, first for the sluggish reaction of our public health officials and leaders, then for the rapid science advances that led to a deep understanding of the virus and drugs to prevent and treat the disease. With some sadness, I see our dashed hopes for an early vaccine to end the pandemic and now, forty years and 35 million deaths later, see that HIV/AIDS lingers on with a million or more people dying each year.

Read full article on Forbes

Originally published on Forbes (August 12, 2021)

© William A. Haseltine, PhD. All Rights Reserved.