Viewpoint: Human ‘evolutionary changes’ inevitable from pandemics

| | April 23, 2020
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This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

We all know that viruses are living organisms that can evolve and change, but did you also know that they play a key role in human evolution, affecting the cells in our bodies and our social structures? It’s true, and as we live through the coronavirus pandemic and ponder post-corona life, we would be wise to consider the evolutionary changes that are to come so that we can prepare for and support our ongoing and inevitable growth and development.

A 2016 research study by scholars at Stanford University revealed that, “viruses hijack nearly every function of a host organism’s cells in order to replicate and to spread, so it makes sense that they would drive the evolution of the cellular machinery to a greater extent than other evolutionary pressures such as predation or environmental conditions.” Basically, we’re changed more by viruses than by external factors like environmental conditions and threats.

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History has shown us that viral epidemics lead to scientific, medical, social, and cultural advancements. Let’s begin with the black plague, which ravaged Europe and other parts of the world throughout the middle ages. … The rapid spread of the plague throughout the population and among all the classes led to the advent of quarantine, an effective method of containing viruses that we’re all currently becoming intimately familiar with.

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