Unintended Consequences, Convergent Evolution And Stranger Things
The term “unintended consequences” defines outcomes that aren’t visible, or predictable at the moment of an action. They are grouped into three main types:
- unexpected benefit — like a touch of luck, or serendipity
- unexpected drawback — when the benefit is tainted by some inconvenient inherent to the solution
- perverse result — when the result is massively invalidating the benefits of the initial action
What this has to do with this article?
Well, as you probably have noticed, for the last year the planet have been turned upside down in an effort to battle a pandemic. A virus infection that affects the entire population, to various degrees. The first response, social distancing, has been maintained in an overwhelming majority of countries, until vaccines came out. But, as vaccines are starting to roll out, a recent development puts this entire last year in a new perspective.
And this development can be summarized in three words: the virus mutates.
As any living being, the virus can adjust and evolve. We usually see evolution as a very time consuming process, stretching over geological epochs. Humans, for instance, have evolved from their closest relatives about 100,000 years ago. But that large time window seems to apply only to bigger living beings, because very, very small living beings, like viruses, can evolve much faster.
We’ve already seen this during the flu season. Even if we had the flu last year, when the flu season “hits”, we’re very likely to have the flu again, only this time is a tiny mutation of the last year flu virus.
Well, this seems to happen to the coronavirus too, but there’s a little bit of a disconcerting behavior around this.
In an article published yesterday in New York Times, a few mutations of Covid-19 virus are described. What makes these mutations interesting is that they occurred in different places more or less at the same time, and it’s impossible to track down the actual carriers — and even the possibility that there were any is still debatable. The most probable scenario talks about “convergent…