Coronavirus breakthrough: How COVID-19 could wipe itself out

The coronavirus challenge is affecting the daily lives of people all around the world. But as many Britons seal themselves away in their homes – in a bid to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 – others have chosen to disregard the rules. Health Secretary Matt Hancock described those ignoring social distancing measures as “very selfish” today. He fears that more lives will be lost if people do not take heed of the advice not to go within two metres of each other. Similarities have been made between coronavirus and Spanish Flu, which struck towards the end of World War 1. If history is to repeat itself, unearthed accounts claim that the modern virus may actually wipe itself out.

The coronavirus pandemic has infected more than 5,600 people in the UK – resulting in the deaths of 281 and the recovery of 135, as of Monday morning.

Supermarket shelves have been raided for produce, hand sanitiser, other cleaning products and even toilet roll.

Panic-induced bulk buying has spurred a vicious cycle, where the public races to snap up supplies and shamefully some profit from price gouging practices in stores.

Social distancing measures including ‘work from home’ orders and self-isolation for those at the highest risk are hoped to cull the contagion and save lives. 

These practices have been proven to help reduce the risk – but pandemics of the past also suggest the ultimate end for coronavirus could be itself. 

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When the Spanish Flu outbreak reigned chaos from January 1918 to December 1920 it was believed to have wiped out a quarter of the world’s population. 

It was dubbed one of the deadliest viruses to hit humanity – killing off between 50 and 100 million people globally. 

There are many suggested reasons for why Spanish Flu was able to spread so rapidly – including government censorship, less advanced medicine and technology, war and more.

The vicious virus has been compared to the modern day coronavirus – but if natural selection plays its part, today’s pandemic may be its own worst nightmare. 

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According to a 2018 Smithsonian magazine article that analysed the Spanish Flu outbreak – it could be argued that natural selection may lead to the demise of coronavirus. 

Back in 1918, mass immunisation against the flu was not practiced in the same way it is today and so previous exposure was believed to have been vital to helping people to overcome the virus.

Those who had lived for longer and experienced different strains of the flu – prior to Spanish Flu – were better equipped to fight off the virus than their younger counterparts.

Additionally, while more lethal forms of the virus were able to “kill their host rapidly” – this also meant that host was less able to spread that deadly strain. 

The self-destruction of stronger strains could lead to “less lethal strains” of the “rapidly mutating virus” evolving and spreading among populations – which humans were more equipped to fight off. 

The Smithsonian wrote: “This is predicted by models of natural selection.”

While the previous pandemic was particularly dreadful, it is argued that we are in a considerably better position than we would have been during the early-1900s.

Today, scientists are more capable of handling large numbers of sick and dying patients, and antibiotics have dramatically advanced.

This coupled with the “common-sense practices” of self-isolation, social distancing and hand-washing – will all help in humanity’s fight against coronavirus. 

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