Exploring Human Potential

Who Is The Real Batwoman, and Can She Defeat The Forces of Evil?

Posted on | April 13, 2020 | 2 Comments

Shi Zheng-Li releases bat after capture and testing.

Mike Magee

According to experienced phraseologists, “bats in the belfry” should resonate on multiple levels with Americans currently confronting covid-19. They say: “Bats are, of course, the erratically flying mammals and ‘belfries’ are bell towers, sometimes found at the top of churches. ‘Bats in the belfry’ refers to someone who acts as though he has bats careering around his topmost part, that is, his head.”

Living under the threat of a deadly and suffocating virus, combined with economic destruction and acute, total and immediate human isolation is certainly enough to drive any of us crazy. But add to this the central and mysterious role of bats themselves and we’re into uncharted territory.

Arguably, no one knows more about this disease and bats role in it then Shi Zheng-Li, leading bat virologist at the high security Chinese Academy of Sciences Key Laboratory of Special Pathogens and Biosafety, Wuhan Institute of Virology.

At 7 P.M. on December 30,2019, she received an emergency call to inform her that two patients with atypical pneumonia and respiratory failure had just been admitted to a Wuhan hospital and both were infected with a new coronavirus. Her greatest fear, that the virus had somehow escaped from her vast collection of bat coronaviruses storied in her high-security lab, was soon proven wrong by genomic analysis. But she knew right then that death and destruction were on her doorstep.

For the past 16 years, Dr. Zheng-Li has led the expeditions into China’s caves to capture and collect blood, urine and feces from bats in an attempt to stay one step ahead of the next viral pandemic. In the process, most of her focus has been on coronavirus, the virus whose spiked receptors create the appearance of a crown (corona). The history of this microbe variety is not great. This would be the sixth bat borne disaster in the past 25 years. The others included Hendra in 1994, Nipah in 1998, SARS in 2002, MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) in 2012, and Ebola in 2014.

While bats can be positive contributors – they eat insects and pollinate plants – they seem ideal vectors for pandemics. Consider the following qualities:

1. They can live for 30 years or more.

2. They are incredible reproducers and are extremely diverse, constituting 25% of all mammal species on the planet.

3. They like living in crowds in dark, moist places.

4. They produce vast amounts of bat guano teaming with microorganisms.

5. They fly, carrying diseases for long distances.

In the three months following Dr. Zheng-Li’s engagement, she pretty much confirmed what she had already predicted in 2018 peer reviewd publications  including  MDPI’s Viruses and 2019 in Nature’s Reviews of Microbiology – that a global pandemic from a novel coronavirus was a near-term certainty.

First, the virus was hatched in a bat – specifically the RaTG13 or Rhinolopus affinis, a horseshoe bat that generated a near identical covid-19 virus back in 2013. Its’ full genome was published recently by Penn State virologist Maciej Boni.

Second, the dreaded wet markets of China, criticized by the WHO and all responsible health agencies, that sell eatable wild animals, were not the originators of covid-19. At most, they are middlemen, incubators and multipliers of the organism. Some bad news here – seems domestic livestock, like pork can serve a similar purpose.

Third, a bigger issue may be the tie in between our treatment of the planetary patient and our future on Mother Earth. Global warming already is causing profound ecosystem alterations. And that’s without behaviors outlined recently in Scientific America: “With growing human populations increasingly encroaching on wildlife habitats, with unprecedented changes in land use, with wildlife and livestock transported across countries and their products around the world, and with a sharp increase in both domestic and international travel, new disease outbreaks of pandemic scale are a near mathematical certainty.”

Shi Zheng-Li is the real Batwoman, and she is in a death battle with the forces of evil. Liars and science deniers beware!


2 Responses to “Who Is The Real Batwoman, and Can She Defeat The Forces of Evil?”

  1. Lawrence R Williams
    April 15th, 2020 @ 3:45 am

    Our hubris and underestimation of the raw power of nature are monumental. And so here we are. The entire human race is being ravaged by a biological entity 1/10,000,000th our size. Mother Nature has sent our species a message that we do not own or rule this planet. We are mere tenants here and She can cancel the lease anytime She pleases. Perhaps this is a wake up call for us and if we can get those who worship wealth and political power above all else out of control of the planet we might be able to stick around for a while. We shall see, but the price is going to be unbelievably painful.

  2. Mike Magee
    April 15th, 2020 @ 10:22 am

    Thanks for this, Larry. As you point out, the calamity we now face with covid-19 points the way to a possibly larger disaster with global warming. Best, Mike

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