By Jason Gale
This post from Bloomberg’s biosecurity reporter puts Covid in the context of the global polycrisis.Michael Lerner
There was severe liver inflammation in kids in April, monkeypox in May, polio in July, and “tomato flu” in August. Each appears to be the result of an unusual manifestation or proliferation of a virus scientists have studied for decades. So why are they a problem now?
“Viruses have been doing strange things since the Covid pandemic started,” Sarah Pitt, a principal lecturer in the University of Brighton’s school of applied sciences, wrote in a recent article about a freaky tomato-shaped rash in India. Turns out, it wasn’t an exotic new pathogen, but Coxsackie A16, a common cause of hand, foot and mouth disease.
Similarly, the outbreak of severe hepatitis affecting more than 1,000 kids in 35 countries (tragically killing 22 and requiring dozens to get liver transplants) has been linked to an adenovirus that usually causes mild gastroenteritis in children.
It’s not clear how a common virus would inflame the liver, says Philippa Easterbrook, an infectious-disease doctor and epidemiologist at the World Health Organization. One hypothesis is that mask-wearing, school closures and other Covid mitigation measures made kids more susceptible and sensitive to adenovirus. The lifting of restrictions earlier this year may have supercharged its circulation and transmission.