The pandemic exposes human nature: 10 evolutionary insights


I see the problem, it is us.

“Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution” (1), and nothing about the human response to COVID-19 will either. The evolutionary arms race between humans and viruses has existed for millennia. Our bodies, packed with nutrients and the machinery of cellular reproduction, are irresistible targets for exploitation by smaller and faster-evolving organisms (2). Whereas viruses benefit from rapid replication rate and mutation potential, allowing them to quickly adapt to exploit their hosts, humans are not left defenseless. Natural selection has endowed us with a complex physiological immune system (3) that targets viruses at a cellular level and a behavioral immune system (4) that modulates human behavior to reduce the risk of contagion. Moreover, our ability to communicate and develop vast repositories of information, paired with intelligence and innate curiosity, allowed us to engineer extraordinary tools such as modern medicine. And, we have developed cultural systems of coordination that can allow us to erect walls for limiting the spread of disease.


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