Try and see it from the coronavirus’s point of view. It’s the middle of December 2019, approaching Christmas. All that old grandpa coronavirus has to think about is a few late stocking fillers for the kids and trying to remember the names of his 75 billion grandchildren. An average Christmas.
Then, all of a sudden, some clown of a human orders the Vampire Bat Blue Plate Special in downtown Wuhan and one or two young hotheads in the virus community decide to jump ship from bat to human. “Come on in, the plasma is lovely” they call to their friends.
Word gets back to grandad coronavirus that some of the youngsters have been playing in a different gene pool. He sends them to bed without supper and tells them to stop messing about in humans. Stick to bats. “Next time I shall confiscate your PlayStations” says grandad “just make sure it doesn’t happen again”.
Grandad emits a sigh of relief. We dodged a bullet on that one, he thinks, sitting in his favourite armchair by the fireside. He dozes off, muttering about the impetuous nature of young viruses these days.
A couple of hours later he’s woken by one of his granddaughters, Abigail 327469. She looks anxious.
“What is it, Abigail 327469?” he asks.
“Well grandad” she says “there’s a little bit of a problem”. Grandad coronavirus has a bad feeling about this suddenly.
“I don’t know how to put this” says Abigail 327469 “but one or two of the humans have started… sort of… well … Dying”.
Grandad coronavirus is a sinking feeling.
“One or two?” He asks “well which is it – one or two?”
Abigail 327469 looks sheepish,
“Well sort of 233,000” she says. “Shall I start collecting up the PlayStations?”
“How do you mean 233,000? I thought I made myself perfectly clear last night to everyone”
The phone rings. It is grandpa coronavirus’s friend from the ministry.
“Yes I’ve just heard… No, I told them not to… I thought they had all come back… Yes I suppose it is pretty bad PR… Well, obviously the humans have to blame someone… Sorry, I didn’t catch that… Yes I suppose it is an omnifuck”.
He turns to Abigail 327469. “I want all your brothers and sisters here in an hour”.
An hour later…
“What I told you all about crossing species barriers? No, put your hand down Derek 752226. It was a rhetorical question.”
Derek 752226 raises his hand again. Grandad continues. “Rhetorical means I answer it. You’re really not the sharpest knife in the drawer are you Derek 752226”.
“Why is it that you youngsters are never satisfied. The bats have made us very welcome over the years. We had a deal – they provided accommodation for us and we left them alone to do their batty things. And I have to tell you that the bats are a bit miffed. They feel rejected.”
“And then as if that isn’t bad enough, you start killing the humans. Now call me old-fashioned but I think that’s rather a case of abusing hospitality. You turn up on the humans doorstep, sneaking through the back door and then start ordering pizza. Not good enough, young viruses.
“This host hopping has got to stop. Bats were good enough for your parents and their parents and so on. Nobody worried us and we didn’t worry anybody. This pandemic malarkey on the other hand is about the worst PR disaster we could possibly have. Suddenly we’re public enemy number one. Nobody wants to help us”
Grandad coronavirus pauses for a moment and takes a sip of water.
“Okay youngsters, you got us into this mess. You can get us out of it. Let’s hear your ideas”.
Brief chatter growing louder and turning to laughter.
“What is so funny?” Asks grandad.
“It was Derek 752226’s idea” said one “something to do with injecting Lysol”.
Grandad buries his head in his hands. “God help us” he mutters.