ASK THE GIRL IN THE LAB COAT PT.2

Another interview with Morgan Freney. I got a lot of great feedback from the first one. A lot has happened since, and you guys still needed more answers, and I still had a never ending list of questions, Morgan was so kind to dive in again and give us some more insight on what we are truly dealing with here.

What would happen if vaccines didn’t exist? What would the world look like given the multitude of pandemics we have faced? Would we be extinct?
You just have to look at the past to appreciate what we have now. The world before vaccines… An estimated 300 million people died from smallpox alone in the 20th century. That’s one virus. A world without just one vaccine. Without any vaccines at all, the world would be very different. I think we would all be living as those in the poorest countries do. Giving birth to many children in the hope that just one survives. I don’t think we would be extinct. Vaccines prevent infection and death from disease. Many people survive viral infections but often with long lasting problems and disability- what we call ‘morbidity’. The burden of all those people on the health system would be devastating to the economy and I think we would be living in a very unhappy world.

What if we can’t find a vaccine and this becomes endemic? How will we be living?
I think that if that happens, social distancing will have to remain the norm until majority of people become infected and hopefully immune. This could take a couple years before herd immunity is reached and then we don’t know how long that immunity would last. I think young people would have to go back to living normally to allow for herd immunity to occur, as older people are most at risk of severe disease. Only then, would it be safe for the older demographic to go back to normality. This is the worst-case scenario, however, we know that flattening the curve will still prevent a large proportion of deaths, so it’s not all doom and gloom.

What scares you about SARS-CoV-2 the most?
The spectrum of disease that it causes. It seems to cause mostly mild disease, but the reports of symptoms seem erratic. Some people never have fever or cough. Some have abdominal pain only. Some have strange rashes, which don’t seem consistent between cases. Then, you have those that suffer difficulty breathing, pneumonia and have to be ventilated before succumbing to the illness despite being perfectly healthy. Some people never even have symptoms at all and don’t know that they are even infected. I think that’s what makes this virus so difficult to deal with. How can we possibly contain and track a virus when people don’t know they are infected but are still capable of spreading it? That’s why testing is so important.

Is Covid-19 a strange virus to you compared to others? What makes it so special?
I don’t think so. Because I study viruses, I know their capabilities. When a virus is so transmissible and can spread before its host even ever presents symptoms- that is impressive to me. All viruses are awe inducing to me. Little tiny strands of genetic information wrapped in a protein coat that are capable of so much damage to their hosts. The SARS-CoV-2 virus is special in that it has a combination of traits that make it perfect for spread, in addition to just the right amount of lethality.

If I looked through a microscope in an attempt to dismantle the virus, what would it look like?
You wouldn’t see anything looking into a light microscope. Viruses are so small you can only see them with special microscopes- You don’t use an eyepiece and lens to look through these. These microscopes instead use beams of electrons to illuminate the virus. At 10,000-40,000 magnification what you’d see is a round shape with little protrusions or spikes pin-pricked around the surface of the virus particle. These spikes are the proteins used to bind receptors on the surface of cells that the virus uses to infect. The spikes are inserted into an envelope and membrane which constitute the outer structure that protects the inner compartment. This outer structure is all that you’d see with this microscope. You can freeze the virus and collect thousands of single images and overlay these to get a higher resolution image- this will show you the exact shape the other viral proteins take. If you can see inside the outer structure, you would see another structure that looks like a ball/mesh of string- this is the nucleocapsid that encloses the genetic material- the ‘genome’. Which genome encodes for all the proteins that I’ve just mentioned. However, the virus needs a cell to read (translate) it’s genome into these proteins- to reproduce its progeny.

Does the physical size have anything to do with how quickly it spreads?
No and yes. The size of viruses doesn’t have an effect on their ability to spread. If a virus was a thousand times larger, then yes, it wouldn’t be able to infect cells like it can with its small size. It wouldn’t be able to travel in the respiratory tract like it does now to cause disease. However, there are no viruses that are this size for that reason!

Is Coronavirus a live virus? What makes a virus live? Can you explain a little about what the life of a virus looks like?
 It is a ‘live’ virus, but its not alive. We call viruses ‘killed’ when we use them in vaccines. That’s because they can no longer replicate within cells and cause disease. It’s confusing because we don’t consider viruses to be alive as they only perform their functions with the help of cells. If they can’t infect cells, they die. Viruses infect cells by pretending they are a molecule the virus needs to consume. They evade detection from the immune system and get taken up into cells where they uncoat their outer structure and release their genetic material. Inside the cell, the virus takes over its function to make what is essentially a production line. They force the cell to read their viral genome using the cells own machinery. The code is read and translated into protein, which folds and takes a shape that has a function. These viral proteins may exert certain effects which elicit immune responses that cause damage to tissues and result in cells killing themselves to prevent viral spread from cell to cell. SARS-CoV-2 causes disease by turning the immune system against us. These viral proteins may also change the internal features of the cell to suit the virus’s replication. Once all the proteins have been produced, the virus assembles into fully mature particles and exits the cell to infect neighboring cells. This replication may also directly kill the cell as the cell’s machinery which is required for cell function, is turned off/ re-directed to manufacture viruses.

“How can we possibly contain and track a virus when people don’t know they are infected but are still capable of spreading it? That’s why testing is so important.”

Are humans at fault for pandemics? Or is it just Mother Nature?
Both. It is only natural for viruses to cause disease. They do this in other animals too. Outbreaks often occur and kill animals, other than humans. Viruses are ‘natural’, whether Mother Nature has some divine plan with them in mind, I don’t know. Viruses will do what they do, and they are essential to evolution. Most viruses don’t even cause disease, in fact they are ‘inventors of genes’- responsible for introducing many genetic elements into other organisms that are required for evolution to occur. If we didn’t have viruses, we likely wouldn’t exist. So, we can’t exterminate viruses entirely, but we should be able to prevent the deadly ones from killing us, and we are entirely capable of doing this. Instead, we turn a blind eye and pretend like good hygiene and sanitation has rendered pandemics a thing of the past. It is our own ignorance that is to blame, in that, we haven’t done anything to prevent this from happening. We are headed for a future where these things become all the more common, antibiotic resistance is not far away, climate change and deforestation mean that increasingly, the vectors and reservoirs that spread disease are encroaching on human populations (or the other way around?). Dying from infectious disease is not a thing of the third world or the past. Unless we change our culture and behaviour, the way we live, the technologies that exist to fight these pathogens. This is the future we have to look forward to. 

How long do we have to practice social distancing for the pandemic to end?
Social distancing is working! In my country, Australia, this is very evident from the data. The virus spreads by anticipating its hosts behaviour, it has evolved to do exactly this. Unfortunately, many countries won’t take on these behavioural changes. They won’t be able to implement social distancing like we have and will suffer for it. It’s frustrating to see how behaviour and culture contribute to viral outbreaks. Archaic cultural practices must change to keep up with the modern world. For Ebola, touching the dead during burial practices and eating exotic animals led to transmission. For SARS, wet markets- the outdated practice of bringing humans and animals to congregate in a confined space- instigated viral outbreaks. Religious and cultural practices that are from times where we didn’t believe pathogens existed, contribute to the spread of disease. Moving forward, I don’t believe there’s a place for these sorts of practices. Hopefully, social distancing will be broken once a vaccine is developed (~12 months) and herd immunity is achieved. But I do believe this is the turning point where outdated human behaviour needs to stay in the past. We need to listen to what this pandemic is teaching us to avoid the same pitfalls in the future.

Corona is said to be a virus that effects the bronchial area, why would some people have digestion issues with it too?
The family of coronaviruses are known to be both respiratory and enteric viruses- meaning they also infect the intestines. We don’t have much conclusive evidence regarding infection of the intestines for SARS-CoV-2 but infection with the original SARS virus (SARS-CoV-1) does involve the digestive system, especially the epithelial cells of intestinal mucosa. Gastro-intestinal lesions and haemorrhages were found in those who succumbed to SARS. This would explain the digestion issues people are suffering. The virus is actually replicating in many other organs of the body- not just the respiratory tract. SARS-CoV-1 has been found to be present within the stomach, small intestine, renal tubule, sweat gland, parathyroid, pituitary, pancreas, adrenal, liver and cerebellum. We can expect that SARS-CoV-2 could be also replicating in and potentially damaging these tissues in addition to the respiratory tract.

When you get the virus, what does it attack first that leads to pneumonia?
It attacks whatever cells it reaches first. If it enters and starts replication in the upper respiratory tract, you get head flu symptoms, sore throat, a cough and fever. If it reaches down into the lower respiratory tract and replicates in the different tissues here, then we see damage that may result in pneumonia. Essentially, its replication elicits an immune response, where all these immune cells come flooding in to remove the virus, but instead of doing that, they over-react and start attacking the cells that contain the virus as well as those that don’t. Inflammation in the form of a cytokine storm occurs- where the immune cells elicit cytokines- chemicals that are meant to signal for antiviral defences to be put up, but too many cytokines are produced, too much inflammation occurs, and the response is not targeted, but destructive. This, in combination with significant cell death results in fluid leakage of the alveoli. Alveoli are responsible for taking up oxygen from the bloodstream, when they can no longer do that, pneumonia is the result.

If cats are susceptible to getting the virus, would a dog be too? And can it mutate where they can eventually give it to us?
Yes, dogs are susceptible to infection with the virus as they contain the ACE2 receptors. However, early evidence suggests they are less susceptible than cats. Its possible it could mutate to enable transmission to us, but it would have to be spread through like a community of cats over many months even years before it developed that mutation and that’s very, very unlikely to happen. Personally, I hate that there’s so much focus on other animals transmitting it to us. We are the vectors of this virus. We are now risking other animals lives by spreading the virus. It makes me so angry that people are hurting and killing animals. That disgust should be directed at humans. It really riles me up because we want to blame animals for transmitting this virus when we are the ones that enabled transmission to occur by trafficking them and encroaching on their habitats. We should be more worried about getting the virus from humans and we should all be protecting our beloved pets from ourselves. When I get home, I take my shoes off outside, I wash my hands as soon as I enter my house before I pet my cats. We need to protect them because they can’t change their behaviour like we can. Please look after your animals and keep them inside.

Should I be wiping down all groceries when I get home?
You can. That’s what I’m doing. I have 70% ethanol in a spray bottle and I use that to spray the outside of all the packages I have, the grocery bags too. Leave it to dry and then put it away. Wash your fruit and veg. This is all about risk minimisation. You can’t reduce risk to zero, you can only do what’s feasible for you and within reason. We could be stockpiling months of food and sitting inside, never leaving the house or ever ordering take-out. Seal up the doors so air can’t get through… That’s unreasonable. Just stay home, social distance and wash your hands. If you can’t feasibly control what you are bringing into your house, what you are eating, its enough that you are already doing these 3 things. Maybe for those that are higher risk like the elderly, can take the time to do a little more to reduce that risk.

What headlines have been made about SARS-CoV-2 are you excited about?
Gosh I don’t know. As a virologist, honestly, any headline about viruses and I get excited! Obviously, when I see the devastation and headlines regarding individuals who’ve died from the virus, that makes me upset. But when I hear about clinical trials in particular, or headlines regarding my own labs/ colleague’s research that makes me especially happy. Its so amazing, just to hear how fast science is progressing. How the scientific community is coming together to fight this virus. Ah, science is just so beautiful, and it gives me hope in humanity, that we can do better and be better.

How many valid vaccines do you see in trials? When many vaccines are in trial, what does this mean? Are they all vastly different in structure or basically the same shit?
I think there’s over 40 in pre-clinical trials and 2 in clinical trials! To have so many currently in development is fantastic. For each vaccine being tested, that’s one opportunity to have a chance at stopping spread. The only way I can see this pandemic ending and life returning to normal, is by either having a vaccine released and vaccinating everyone or as many as we can to achieve herd immunity so that the virus has no where further to spread. Or, achieving herd immunity through natural infection and having millions die. 40 chances to achieve an effective vaccine is pretty solid. Though, its more of a race. Which one is shown to be effective and can be manufactured first will be the winner. Some have already proceeded to clinical trials without extensive pre-clinical testing. It might be the case, that these will fail the clinical trials and be set back to initial development. Others, like my lab’s vaccine, are still in pre-clinical testing but are already proceeding with manufacturing so that by the time clinical trials are complete, the vaccine will be ready for roll-out. Other vaccines will complete clinical trials but then may not have an efficient way to scale-up manufacturing. There are about 10 different types of vaccines all with varying degrees of immunogenicity (strength) and safety. Each have their pros and cons. Some are entirely experimental, with no current parallels on the market. Other types are tried and tested, we know if shown to be effective against SARS-CoV-2, they will make great vaccines. 

People on the internet are saying Bill Gates created the virus to make money off of pharmaceutical industries, because he patented a coronavirus a few years ago. Can you explain in simple terms why some people patent viruses, even pre-existing ones?
You can’t patent a pre-existing virus. If the genetic code for that virus doesn’t exist you just can’t and even if it does, there’s rules for filing patents that state you can’t patent an organism. A patent must cover an ‘invention’, not simply a discovery. This is so funny to me, because you don’t have to read more than a few sentences into that patent to realise what it’s for… Not SARS-CoV-2 but an avian infectious bronchitis virus- i.e. a bird coronavirus. This is a perfect example of science illiteracy. Coronaviruses are a family of viruses, not a single virus. That vaccine is for birds and the patent is in no way linked to SARS-CoV-2. Additionally, Gates funds lots of vaccines- he didn’t fund the Pirbright institute to file that patent and develop that vaccine though. The reason he funds so many vaccines is because of just this, he is aware of the threat that viruses pose to humanity, a threat others choose to ignore. He’s not alone in predicting this pandemic, in fact, every infectious disease researcher could have predicted this pandemic. It was only a matter of time. Conspiracy theories are the result of cherry-picking information to suit inherent biases based on a surface-level understanding. When you have no clue about something and you’re trying to read information where you are not the target audience, that leads to misinterpretation and misinformation. Technology is patented in advance to protect that idea from being used or intentionally stolen by other groups. Because developing a vaccine can take many years and is incredibly expensive, there is a need to protect that development or all that will be wasted.

What’s the most insanely false claim you’ve gotten regarding coronavirus?
5G causes COVID-19… the stupidity of this claim hurts my brain. Even worse, I have ‘friends’ (no longer), that believe this garbage, ugh! I guess that’s more of a conspiracy theory than a single false claim. It’s like, connecting dots where there’s no possible connection and rationalising that based on whatever surface-level understanding you have of these technologies. I just can’t even fathom how people can believe something crazy like this and expect me to listen to them as they try to convince me otherwise. Basically, they believe the frequency of 5G operates in a way that suppresses your immune system and is enabling this pandemic. There are so many assumptions here- 5G is non-ionizing radiation- it doesn’t affect biology, there’s no studies to state that non-ionizing radiation affects the human body. It’s not like UV that can cause mutations and affect the virus or the immune system to ‘suppress’ it. If the immune system was somewhat supressed, that doesn’t mean the virus would infect more people and cause more disease. The virus binds the ACE2 receptor and the immune system has no bearing on the presence of that receptor. SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 is present in like every country! Majority of these countries don’t have 5G. The virus is quite capable of infecting, spreading and causing disease without help! We don’t need to make up arguments for why the virus causes a pandemic, it’s quite proficient at that all on its own.

How effective is wearing a fabric mask? Are there any specific fabrics you recommend?
If you wear a fabric mask correctly, its effective at reducing the risk of infection. Not entirely, not as good as a properly- fitted N95 (save these for our healthcare workers pls), but still effective. We know most transmission is occurring through these droplets that carry the virus, coughing, sneezing and talking can produce these. Anything that covers the face will protect against most of these droplets. You have to think about the eyes too because it can infect through there as well. Glasses, a fabric mask, this reduces risk if you’re aware of infection through the eyes, nose and mouth. That awareness is important. Gloves and masks don’t work if you’re not aware, have a false sense of security and still touch your face without washing your hands. Whatever you have at your disposal that is breathable and can be washed (at high temp). I would say pillowcases would be good, t-shirts, scarves- that’s what I would be going for.

Are there different types of airborne viruses? What would be the difference between the droplets in the air of SARS-CoV-2 and say Ebola?
You could say that there are different types, I don’t know too much about this- could be because there’s just not that much information or its hard to study. Essentially, this is dependent on where the virus replicates and the stability of the virus itself. Ebola is actually not spread by the air, it is transmitted by blood, secretions, tissues, organs, and other bodily fluids from dead or living infected persons. Ebola isn’t contained with small droplets that would be produced by sneezing and coughing because it’s not thought to be found in the respiratory tract. Compare that with SARS-CoV-2 that replicates in the nose, mouth and throat. It’s much easier for this virus to be contained within droplets and projected out into the air. Some viruses are very sensitive to temperature, pH and other factors so they die after a period of time when subjected to different conditions. They might not last very long in the air and so it’d be rare for it to transmit this way. In addition, different viruses have different infectious doses. If a virus has high survivability in the air and low infectious dose, it is much more easily transmitted through the air.

How airborne is it? And how would you compare it to other pandemics in re; to how airborne it is? Can a virus stay in the air forever?
Most cases can be traced back to those who have been in directly contact with an infected individual. This suggests the majority of transmission is through direct contact i.e. droplet and fomite transmission, not airborne/ aerosol transmission. The Spanish flu pandemic infected around 200 million people within the first 4 months, compare that to COVID-19 where we have less than a fraction of that number (~2 million), and that’s not taking into account how we have a much larger population now with more global travel. It’s likely that that virus was significantly more airborne than SARS-CoV-2 for it to be that explosive. It’s my opinion that SARS-CoV-2 is an opportunistic airborne pathogen. That’s means, with the right conditions, it can be aerosolised and then is capable of staying in the air for a period of hours. I say this because we don’t know that coughing, sneezing, even talking is enough to generate the small aerosols that stay suspended in the air. know that for SARS-CoV-1 this didn’t seem to be the case, but there’s evidence of hospital and community infection clusters where a procedure or toilet flushing for example, was enough to enable airborne spread that infected many individuals. I don’t think viruses can stay in the air forever, they disperse, drop to the ground and are no longer capable of infection once ventilation in an airspace occurs. I think only a fraction of all transmission may be occurring through indirect contact and aerosols. This contradicts what the WHO is saying, but I believe its important to avoid denying the potential for airborne transmission just because you risk scaring people.

 What makes SARS-CoV-2 a virus and not a bacteria? What’s the difference between all the pathogens put simply?
SARS-CoV-2 isn’t alive, it doesn’t have organelles, it’s not a cell. Bacteria are cellular, viruses are not. So, the real question is how are viruses different to cells? Viruses do not carry out metabolic processes. They cannot generate their own energy to perform functions and cannot translate their own genetic code into protein. Bacteria perform their function on their own. Viruses require cells to replicate, they are parasitic and exist as little, dead, pieces of code, when they are outside cells. Viruses are much smaller than bacteria, about 100 times smaller. There are even viruses known as bacteriophage that specifically infect and kill bacteria. Bacteria and viruses can cause disease that looks very similar, but the way they do it is much different. Differences between pathogens is genetic. Viruses have evolved completely differently from bacteria but just so happen to perform in similar ways.

What about that medicine that they’re pushing called hydroxychloroquine/ chloroquine (HCQ/CQ)?
I don’t agree with ‘pushing’ a medicine that hasn’t been proven to work. This drug hasn’t shown efficacy (effectiveness) in a large, randomised study against SARS-CoV-2. The great thing about this drug is that many people already use it for other conditions. However, if a drug like this is pushed by the media and politicians in the way that it currently is, that’s encouraging desperate people to go out and take it. Medical advice should only be delivered by medical doctors. These are toxic drugs with potential adverse effects. These drugs have been tried against other viruses such as Dengue and they failed to reduce viral loads in patients despite having efficacy in vitro (cell culture). Despite being an ‘anti-parasite’ drug these drugs do have effects (mechanism of action) against viruses that make sense. It’s not all fabricated, it’s just that the excitement surrounding them as ‘cures’ has been blown out of proportion. We have to wait for the science to show them to be effective before we start advising the public on their use.

How come scientists do not get paid enough? Where has money generally gone? And when you see pharmaceutical industries making so much money, do you believe the system may be off when the people in your field are ultimately the ones creating everything?
Most scientists are not financially focussed people. They pursue science out of passion. I always said to my partner that he had to get a well-paying job to allow me to pursue science, because I was driven to do what I loved rather than to make money and he wasn’t too fussed either way. Honestly, though, I’m leaning towards heading into the biotech industry because academia is very backwards. Its not that you don’t get paid enough, its financial instability- that you don’t know if you’re even going to have a job if your idea doesn’t win you funding. Your salary is linked to funding. That’s wrong to me. It pushes so many promising scientists out of the field, and they are made to feel worthless if they can’t get funding. I believe that yes, science that can be translated into a product is deserving of that money. That money shouldn’t be going to the CEOs and big guns at the top alone, the inventor should get a large share of that and those that helped them develop it too. If there’s no pay off to come up with these world changing ideas, then it’s hard to aspire for that. I’m focussing on translating science into products i.e. vaccines and drugs, because I feel motivated by knowing that I could be saving lives with the little contribution I can give. However, basic science builds the foundations for those discoveries to occur in the first place- it’s equally as important. 

Questions from you guys:

Can you get the virus again? If you do will it hit you as hard?
I don’t believe it’s likely. I’m not going to say it’s impossible. Most people develop immunity. We call it immune memory because certain cells produce antibodies, which are proteins that specifically bind viruses, and retain the memory of the virus that they were exposed to during infection. However, these antibodies are sometimes not ‘protective’- to be protective, antibodies must bind all the spikes on the SARS-CoV-2 virus particle to stop it from infecting cells. That, or they must elicit a response which brings in immune cells that can quickly fight off the virus before it takes hold. Most people develop this immune memory- it’s the entire principle behind vaccines and immunisation. If they didn’t, they could be re-infected. This shouldn’t be the norm though, just in cases where people’s immune systems don’t work like they’re supposed to. There’s something called antibody-dependant enhancement, where antibodies can work against the immune system and aid viruses getting into cells during a subsequent infection. We don’t know that this is happening for coronaviruses, but its conceivable.

For those who have it and are in isolation, what would you suggest to get better quicker?
Treat it like you would if you had the flu- unless it gets worse and you have difficulty breathing, then the symptoms will be similar to the flu. What I do is I drink lots of hot teas, take some steamy baths and showers to de-congest. Eat fresh fruit and veg when you have the energy. Rest is most important. I usually use some nasal sprays, throat sprays and lozenges, cough medicine, cold compresses for fever – that kind of thing. And don’t stress! Honestly, I always get sick when I stress, I really believe stress affects the immune system. Stress affects the diversity of good and bad microorganisms you have in your gut- it’s microbiome- and your gut health affects everything. 

Do you know if there will be side effects from the vaccine? Is there a downside to rushing a vaccine trial?
Something I want to emphasise is that vaccines can have side effects. They are, after all, composed of a killed virus or some part of it. The side effects from vaccines are dwarfed by those from infection with the virus itself- that’s why we prefer vaccines, to protect against the risks of disease. The antibody-dependant enhancement could be a concern in this regard because if we vaccinate and induce those protective antibodies and then that person is exposed to the virus, that could make the infection worse and not protect at all. I run the risk of scaring people by saying that, but I just want to address all possibilities and remain transparent. We know from previous failures that this could occur so they will be testing for that during the development. It’s not something that should deter you from taking this vaccine. I will be most definitely getting it and making sure all my loved ones do too! I don’t think there’s a downside for rushing development per se, more like the risk of failure is greater because there’s no time for contingency planning.

The fact that a tiger got it, does this mean it mutated? And how quickly can a virus like this mutate?
Nah. The virus is mutating all the time, but mutations don’t equal changes in function- they rarely do. I’m not worried about it at all. SARS-CoV-2 binds ACE2 receptors that are expressed on different cells for infection. Cats and many other animals have these receptors in their respiratory tracts and so if they are exposed, they can become infected, simple as that. The virus kind of sifts through the mutations to only pick those that are advantageous for transmission. This virus transmits just fine the way it is, and I doubt its going to get any better at that. It’s not advantageous in fact, for a virus to become more deadly because then its harder for it to transmit. If your host can’t cough and sneeze anymore, kind of hard to spread to the next host. 

Why are some people more sick than others? Even in the younger population? Do you think there is a genetic component? Can there be?
Could be! Woman are less likely to experience severe illness from many types of pathogens. Why? I don’t know that much immunology, but we think it’s got something to do with the X chromosome (women have 2, men only have 1) and the genes encoded on that chromosome that are related to health. That and the differences in hormones, immune signalling chemicals and a few other factors. It’s absolutely due to the immune system and how the virus redirects that to its advantage. The more dysregulation, the more inflammation, the more severe the disease outcome. I think with those that are young and healthy but still die, its really the luck of the draw. Same with flu, young and healthy people can suffer terribly despite everyone else being just fine after a few days. We really don’t know what the definitive answer is as to why.

How can I advocate for increased funding for virus and vaccine research?
Good question, I don’t really know the answer. I think the change must come from governments and as a whole from society demanding that change. So, I guess contacting your local politicians and voting for those that promote science and research in their policies. You can start up petitions and get signatures to send to your politicians. If you show them that they are going to lose a significant number of votes by not addressing these issues, then you can change their policies. Don’t vote for those that are anti-science. I think that’s how democracy works anyway. If you promote all science and speak up against anti-science, the funding will eventually also come to virus and vaccine research specifically.