9 September 2021

Plague 9 From Outer Space

The Back Page

With the jury still resolutely out on the origins of the covid virus, fertile imaginations have not been shy in rising to the challenge of filling an evidence vacuum.

While the range of theories range widely from the batshit bonkers to the mildly plausible, the idea that has tweaked this correspondent’s antennae most recently is the suggestion the virus has come from outer space.

We have mathematician and astrobiologist Chandra Wickramasinghe (who, with the late Professor Fred Hoyle, promoted the panspermia hypothesis that the universe is permeated with lifeforms) to thank for proposing the idea that the covid virus was living on a comet and a piece of that space rock may have fallen to Earth during a fireball event over China back in October 2019.

The British boffin also suggests that comets carrying viruses may have caused similar outbreaks in the past.

Suffice to say, the theory hasn’t really caught on among fellow scientists; however, the concept does raise the question of what might happen if we earthlings really did encounter extra-terrestrial life forms sometime in the future.

Would these ETs carry with them novel viruses which might make Ebola look like a mild sniffle?

Possibly … but probably not, says cosmologist Professor Paul Davies, who’s based at the Arizona State University.

According to Professor Davies, it’s highly likely aliens would bring with them an array of microbes and viruses, but those other-worldly bugs would not necessarily harm us.

How so?

Because alien viruses would have evolved to be harmful to the creatures of their home planet, and probably won’t be able to infect and spread among humans, Professor Davies says.

“The dangerous viruses are those that are very closely adapted to their hosts,” Professor Davies told The Guardian. “If there is a truly alien virus, then chances are it wouldn’t be remotely dangerous.”

Which is all fine in theory, but if the ETs ever come over to Chez Back Page for a meet and greet, we are going to make them wear masks.

 If you see something that seems out of this world, teleport it to felicity@medicalrepublic.com.au.

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