Credit: Cynthia Goldsmith, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
What If We Eradicated All Disease? | A Cure for Everything
In this weekly series, Life’s Little Mysteries provides expert answers to challenging questions.
Imagine a world withِ noِ HIV, noِ malaria, noِ tuberculosis, noِ flu andِ so onِ downِ to theِ absence ofِ the common cold.
With scientists chasing afterِ cure-all anti-virus treatments andِ a universal flu vaccine inِ labs aroundِ the world, theِ eradication ofِ infectious diseases certainlyِ appears toِ beِ medical research’s ultimate (if remote) goal.
But whatِ ifِ we actuallyِ got there? As theِ Princeton mathematical epidemiologist Nim Arinaminpathy put it, If weِ hadِ a magic pill thatِ gotِ rid ofِ allِ infectious diseases, period, wouldِ weِ reallyِ use it.
Survival of the unfittest
For eons, thisِ battle hasِ weeded outِ the weak, andِ in a lessِ combative environment, standards forِ human survival wouldِ grow lax.
In muchِ of theِ West, people areِ alreadyِ kind ofِ artificial animals, Racaniello told Life’s Little Mysteries.
Otherwise, itsِ victims haveِ alreadyِ passed onِ their genes toِ theِ nextِ generation, regardlessِ ofِ whether thoseِ genes madeِ them susceptible toِ theِ pathogen orِ not.
A healthy population
The malaria parasite isِ so rampant inِ Africa thatِ manyِ children areِ afflicted overِ andِ over inِ a nearlyِ continuous cycle.
Meanwhile, HIV isِ running amok inِ sub-Saharan Africa, similarly stifling development andِ productivity.
And althoughِ wiping outِ malaria, tuberculosis, sleeping sickness, HIV andِ the otherِ tropical plagues wouldِ meanِ significant population growth inِ just theِ areas thatِ areِ alreadyِ experiencing runaway birth rates andِ food crises, theseِ socioeconomic problems wouldِ beِ far moreِ tractable inِ a disease-free society.
Does regularly getting theِ cold or theِ flu whenِ we’reِ young helpِ us later.
These viruses mightِ somehow aid inِ the growth andِ development ofِ our metabolisms, orِ evenِ our organs.