Our planet Earth, Gaia in Greek, considered as a living being, regularly corresponds with another planet in the universe, Aurora Kepler 452 B in the constellation of the Swan. Gilles Voydeville makes us discover this magnificent interstellar correspondence.
Wild Grass Month on Kepler
My dear Aurora
Thank you very much for your previous letter which brought back memories of the story of my little Charming who was already no more. And how I appreciate the way you make me see the light of the setting rays of your Swan which, when the evening winds subside, brush against the waves of your seas of wild grasses coming to die at the edge of the ravines.
And how I love to read you when you tell me about our Universe by studying the death of our stars. For we try to forget it, we all die one day. As luck would have it, my Charmings have just become interested in Betelgeuse. This great star is the shoulder of Orion, a magnificent giant of strength and beauty, which the goddess Artemis put in the sky to make amends.
Because of Apollo’s deceit, she had killed him with an arrow when, to escape from the Scorpion, he was fleeing into the ocean.
Tomorrow or in a hundred thousand years!
Well Betelgeuse, whose long life has allowed it to become a red giant, must be starting to think about its end. At the beginning of last year, it went dark and my astronomers were hopeful. They were very feverish, because before sinking into the intergalactic immensities, they know that it will turn into a supernova. As you reminded me earlier, in my area such a phenomenon has rarely been observed, except in 1572 in Cassiopeia by Tycho Brahe. And as at that time there were neither telescopes nor real glasses, my astronomers were a bit quick to rejoice at observing an event that was long overdue. When they saw the south of the star disappear (they can observe it better than you because Betelgeuse is only 724 light-years away from me), they did not immediately understand that it had expelled a huge bubble. Aluminum, silicon and magnesium in a gaseous state. As they cooled, these elements solidified and made such a veil of dust that it obscured the light radiation of this star. The light emission having become normalized, they can no longer predict its explosion: tomorrow or in 100,000 years…
An atmosphere of end of the world
And when this happens, it will be seen on my land at midnight as in broad daylight. An atmosphere of the end of the world. If Charming is still present on my land, he will run to the churches, the temples, the mosques, he will immerse himself in the sacred rivers. He will bend under the yoke of the gods and the destiny. The apocalypse, so much announced by the prophets, will make tremble the fishermen and the others. The witches will howl in the woods while riding their broomsticks amidst the vociferations of the beasts.
And then what? I am still young and will stand even under the cosmic dust winds and blinding lights. But Betelgeuse will fade forever.
It will become another: a neutron star or a black hole, this abomination that torments me because I am afraid it will suck me in and lose me forever.
He has worked miracles
No more fear, I must rejoice in the good adventures of my little darling the Sars-Cov-2. For he has worked miracles. We thought he was dying. Despite Charmant’s discoveries and vaccine policy, my adorable little tiara-crowned virus continues to resist as only a hero can.
He has unleashed a fourth wave of infection across my land.
Yet Charmant’s body’s defenses are strong. In Strasbourg, researchers proved that his antibodies remained very present as long as my virus was there, then diminished over the next seven months, then stabilized at a constant level.
For the Missouri Americans, this indicates the existence of two types of cells: the short-lived plasmablasts that give way to a population of long-lived cells, the plasma cells.
According to Rockfeller University in New York, these nest in the bone marrow and continue to secrete antibodies long after infection.
But not in all Charmings, according to the University of Missouri.
This argues for vaccination even for infected Charmings, because the vaccine increases B-cells and antibodies. Because, as I explained to you earlier, these antibodies are not Charming’s only defense: the “memory” B-cells are the other guardians of Charming’s body integrity. In case of an attack, they turn back into antibody secretors. They have an advantage over plasma cells in that they can respond to variants, whereas plasma cells are only effective on the initial virus, according to the Henri Mondor Hospital department. For the one of the Pitié, the best case to resist to my crown is a moderate Covid followed by a vaccination. A third dose would be necessary for people at risk.
A reluctant population
And in spite of all this scientifically established evidence in every country, a charming part of the population refuses to be vaccinated. This reluctant population is my last asset. Because vaccines have already succeeded in eradicating many deadly diseases. Charming is a skinned man with raw nerves, exacerbated susceptibility, endowed with a remarkable egoism which allows him to forget his fellow men. He has lived on my bark for about five million years, and has done some good things there, but I don’t think he will break any longevity records.
The most intelligent being will eventually give way to less endowed but more respectful species.
So partly thanks to this anti-Covax movement, the good news is that my darling Sars-Cov-2 is having a successful fourth wave of attack. This is with the Indian variant which is now called Delta so as not to offend the world’s largest democracy. Until now, the studies of the big pharmaceutical companies were reassuring for Charmant. 95%, 90%, 88% protection. But with Delta, according to the Israeli Ministry of Health, it would now drop to 39%. These results are less glorious… We are approaching the effectiveness of flu vaccines, those that still allow epidemics and especially annual outbreaks. And the Israelis, who are almost all vaccinated, note that the new contaminations are made with this Delta variant: 2000 cases per day with a reproduction rate of 1.4. However, the severity of Covid is less in vaccinated people with very few deaths.
Beta (Afrikaner) and Delta (Indian) variants
Pfizer and BioNtech laboratories have demonstrated that on the Alpha variant, (ex British appeared in September 2020) the efficiency was maximal two months after the vaccination. Unfortunately for them, it decreases by 6% every month. So this is good news for me and my sweethearts who really have a hell of a time, that is, the vaccinated Charmings can transmit the virus without their knowledge. And I have a feeling that it’s going to be even better with the Delta variant which is more contagious. But I also know that the third dose in people over 60 years old will be made possible and that Pfizer says that this third dose will be active on the Beta (Afrikaner) and Delta (Indian) variants.
Pfizer is preparing its second generation messenger RNA vaccine, a multivalent capable of protecting against several strains.
They have reportedly already developed a vaccine targeting Delta and will begin clinical trials in August. And they have again announced that they are able to produce a vaccine adapted to a worrisome variant in 100 days.
The Frenchies who are a step behind are working anyway: Valneva is working on inactivated vaccines and can put several variants in the same vaccine. Like the flu vaccine, with two A and two B strains.
But all these countries have progress to make in the vaccination of children and adolescents. Even in Israel, only 40% of 12 to 18-year-olds are vaccinated. For the beginning of the school year, they will accelerate things.
Smart and naive
My little virus is great. During its first wave it made believe that the children were spared. So Charming did not vaccinate them. Indeed, why take even the slightest risk of a vaccination if the children are asymptomatic. But you have to be charming and a bit stupid to think that children are not vectors.
They are asymptomatic and therefore we don’t vaccinate them… Nice logic! It is absurd.
Vaccines against diphtheria, typhoid, tetanus, tuberculosis, poliomyelitis, smallpox in its time, were all injected to children and to all children to eradicate the disease. And then suddenly, for my little one crowned with a diadem, we say stop. Because this stupid virus doesn’t even know how to infect children. The proof is that they are not sick… I am always troubled by the bipolarity of Charmant: very intelligent and very naive…
France has a dividing line, well vaccinated north of the Toulouse-Mulhouse axis, much less well south of this diagonal.
This is not the diagonal of the madman, but it is a sign of the failure of the voluntary vaccine policy.
In Paris, there is a large laboratory named after the discoverer of the rabies vaccine, the Institut Pasteur. It has just published a study on the effectiveness of containment measures on the transmission of my little virus. In France, the first containment reduced transmission by 80%; the second with relaxed telework, closed universities, open schools reduced transmission by 50%; the various curfews by 30%.
At the moment in Paris, the rate of contamination at the end of July is 250 per 100,000 inhabitants, whereas it was 30 a month before. And this wave affects especially young people between 20 and 29 years old (from 45 to 615/100.000h). The seasons change the situation: less 20% in summer, more 10% in winter.
The Europeans are getting organized
This does not reassure my northern hemisphere, which will suffer the Delta variant as winter approaches. And the Institute is worried that the fourth wave will occur with a transmission rate sometimes higher than 2. The acceleration of vaccination will have to be carried out at full speed if they want to stop the spread of my beloved virus.
The Europeans are getting organized : they have set up the European health certificate. This means that certified people can travel without having to undergo quarantine. Some tourist countries like Malta have become afraid. They almost accepted only the vaccinated ones. Rivalries are on the rise. A French minister has urged his citizens not to travel to Spain or Portugal. The Germans are quarantining their inhabitants arriving from a risk zone for ten days if they are not vaccinated. Angela Merkel, who is the Germanic high priestess, said that we were walking on thin ice… Indeed, we have to be wary of her weight… If she is at the end of her mandate, she is very critical with the Europeans who are not disciplined enough for her taste: the Portuguese, the Spanish. and she does not want the English on the continent.
The Delta variant spreads more in areas with low vaccination rates.
In Central Europe, Hungary has opened its border to Russians, which is in contradiction with the European recommendations.
France is the first country to require the presentation of a pass to access places of leisure, culture, enter cafes, restaurants, board planes, trains and even buses.
In the United States, the president has made vaccination mandatory for federal employees and is encouraging private companies to do the same. But in contrast, five states governed by the Republican Party prohibit companies from requiring vaccination certificates from their employees. Eleven Republican states prohibit governments from making vaccine passports. In Minnesota it is forbidden to ask for the result of a screening test…
My crowned one still has a lot to live up to
Especially since we are not at the end of the discoveries of the outbreak of my beloved virus. The Chinese still want to make people believe that the virus is of animal origin in the markets of Wuhan. But a study looking for a tick host between May 2017 and November 2019, done at the seventeen wet market stalls selling live animals in Wuhan, found no trace of bats or pangolin.
There were palm civets, river dogs, Siberian weasels and mink. So many species considered as intermediate hosts… But no primary host… Ah those Chinese!
My beautiful Aurora, I am done with my stories. It is almost noon at the forty-fifth parallel of the northern hemisphere. I listen to the silence of a pond lost in the middle of the oak forests. The water lilies splash on the nose of the tench. My swans contort themselves to smooth their feathers. They taste the peace of the marshes. I will try to imitate them by listening to the song of the reeds, by admiring the plunges of the kidneys and by letting my star warm me up as much as it can. I like its soft heat, I like the torpor in which it intoxicates me, I like the thousand colors that it delivers to all my riches. I appreciate it all the more because I know that it is not eternal.