Dead Man Walking…

Firstly a massive apology to all our friends, family and fans! It’s been awhile since we’ve graced your screens with one of our off the cuff and yet hilariously outrageous blogs. It’s safe to say we’ve been a tiny bit distracted with getting another little project up and running. Now that’s in full swing we can get back to putting the fingers to the keyboards and taping out some much needed time wasters for you ladies and gentlemen, in a time when we are finding ourselves with a lot of spare time. Safe to say living amidst a global pandemic, it’s piqued our interest and we’ve decided to take an investigative look at the wonderful yet dangerous world of virology. What is that you ask? Read on dear friends and discover for yourselves…

Well depending on which website you go to it’ll tell you that Virology is either the study of viruses or a branch of science that studies viruses, same same but different?. Either way we are currently looking at viruses whilst we have a show about pandemics playing in the background. Why a show about pandemics? Well that should be pretty self explanatory given we are currently all locked at home because of one. Many of us for the first times in our lives are having to adapt to what could potentially be the new normal for the next six or so months. With COVID-19 still ravaging many parts of the world, the fight to flatten the curve and keep people at home is an ongoing battle. Even with some locations reporting low to no new cases people shouldn’t feel they are being given the green light to become complacent and go back to their old way of life. Should we even be going back to business as usual or should we be using this as an opportunity to check in and make some changes that will better all of humanity and the environment? We’ve all heard about the wildlife now returning to clean waters, such significant reductions in air pollution that it’s visible from space and the release of animals back into their natural habitats.

It was around 1898 that scientists first started to isolate viruses and assign them to specific diseases. Over time as technology has improved and with that so has our ability to classify and identify viruses. It wasn’t until 1960 that Nobel Prize winner in Medicine and Physiology, Peter Medawar (for his integral work in the area of transplantation), to paraphrase, defined viruses as a piece of nucleic acid surrounded by some extremely bad news. Early pioneers in virology had a limited collection of medicines, techniques and equipment available to them to be able to classify and identify viruses as microbial agents. At the time of their discovery, microscopes lacked the sufficient power to see viral agents. How to grow cell cultures was unknown to scientists and probes such as antibodies and nucleic acids to mark infectious agents were not yet known and identifiable. Thankfully technology has come a long way and we are better able to research and study viruses, and from there develop medications such as antivirals and vaccinations.

A virus is actually quite different to bacteria or fungi, the other two types of infections we as humans have to face. Whilst bacteria and fungi are cells that can survive on their own accord, viruses are much smaller than a cell and require host cells to provide the energy and nutrients required to survive and replicate. Most of the time hosts are unwilling or ignorant to the fact their body and cells have been invaded. Virus’s spread and transfer through direct cell to cell contact such as through respiratory passages, open wounds and the sharing of bodily fluids. Or they hitchhike a ride through an intermediate host such as mosquitoes and the saliva they inject when they bite. Studies have shown that viruses can replicate both inside insects and the host cells ensuring smooth transition from one host to another. A good example of this is the viruses that cause yellow fever and dengue fever. Viruses attach themselves to hosts cells through receptors on the cell’s surface much like interlocking puzzle pieces. They then begin the process of invading the cell and replicating either within the cell until it bursts and spreads integrating itself in to a cells DNA so that each time the cell replicates it also replicates the virus

So now that we have a basic understanding of viruses, let’s delve a little deeper into them and look a little closer at the main one affecting the world today because let’s be real this isn’t the first pandemic the world has suffered and it won’t be the last. Throughout man’s time on earth viruses have ravaged the population, think the Spanish flu or in more recent memory Swine flu. Over time we have developed the science and medicine necessary to combat viruses through vaccines and various other means. But there will always be viruses out there that we do not know about it. It is estimated that at any one time there are over a million undiscovered corona viruses within the animal population, however most of these strains of the virus aren’t transferable to humans. Bats appear to be the prevalent carriers and studies as recently as 2015 in the Yunnan province of China showed the genome sequence of the Betacoronavirus (RaTG13) in the Intermediate Horseshoe Bat was 96% identical to that of SARS-CoV-2. Fast forward to February 7th 2020 and it was learned that a virus even closer to SARS-CoV-2 had been discovered in Pangolin. It’s similarities registered a 99% genome sequence.

Now before you go blaming the poor little pangolins as being the cause of COVID-19 recent studies of the Malaysian pangolin have shown they are less similar with only a 90% genomic concordance. Not sure what this means? Well these results have led scientists to the conclusion that the virus isolated in pangolins is not responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic currently raging. Furthermore if we have previously been able to identify the SARS-CoV-2 virus in animals why is it now causing such a problem for humans. Well further studies have shown that whilst the virus identified in bats can’t enter human cells and the one isolated in pangolins can, the comparison of these genomes suggests that the SAR-CoV-2 virus is the result of a recombination between two different viruses, the process where virus’ restructure themselves in order to overcome adversity and adapt to new environments and hosts, In other words it’s a chimera between two pre-existing viruses. This recombination mechanism has previously been seen in coronaviruses in particular in explaining the origin of SARS.

For recombination to occur, the two divergent viruses must have infected the same organism simultaneously. That still leaves questions unanswered, the main one being in which organism did the recombination occur. Was it a bat, was it a pangolin or was it another species? And above all under what conditions did this recombination take place? Whilst the threat of man made biological weapons produced in labs is a valid risk to the world’s population in this case it looks like mother nature is taking care of things herself.The environment and mother nature has a way of creating its own biological time bombs or chimeras that are just as deadly to the world as man made viruses. The world has known of these threats for centuries in one form or another, some called them curses, some call them diseases and overtime they became known as viruses. It’s even kept up to date with technological advances and we can give them to our computers.

To further confuse people it is because of the process of recombination, that the specific strain SARS-CoV-2came into existence and formed into a virus that is transferable to the human population. It shares genetic similarities with other human respiratory coronaviruses such as SARS and MERS. However the subtle differences in the virus’s genetic makeup translates to significant differences in how readily it is transmitted and the symptoms of infection experienced.. SARS-CoV-2 has all the same core genetic makeup as the original SARS-CoV which caused global panic and outbreak in 2003, and it shares genetic similarities with MERS which emerged in the middle east in 2012.This new virus has weaponised it’s itself, it has versions of the same general equipment for invading cells and replication, however SARS-CoV-2 has a totally different set of genes called accessories, which give this new virus its advantages in specific situations. Not enough is known yet about the roles these accessories play and all of the advantages they give SARS-CoV-2 however an example can be seen in the MERS virus in which a particular protein shuts down a cell’s ability to sound the alarm about viral invaders.

The scientific community has banded together throughout the pandemic in a surprisingly fast and effective manner to pull together results and research allowing us to understand SARS-CoV-2 and it’s disease COVID-19. We understand how it infects the human body, how it’s transferred, partly how it came about and potentially a vaccine to combat this coronavirus in the future. The current pipeline for SARS-CoV-2 vaccines isn’t as full as we would hope but that comes down to the tough science and time it takes to actually make a successful vaccine for human use. The trials alone would take years to seek approval from the various governing bodies before being released world wide. The reason behind this is that no current vaccines for coronaviruses are on the market and no large scale manufacturing capacity for these vaccines exist, we need to build these processes and capacities.

Creating these processes and capacities for the first time can be tedious and time consuming. Funding has been awarded to several highly innovative players in the field, many of them may be successful in eventually creating a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. After consulting many medical journals and spending a weird amount of time on Google looking at YouTube videos and reading about how vaccines are created we’ve come to understand, after further Googling and videos, in attempting to make vaccines most of the companies that are trialing them are targeting something called RNA. What is RNA? Well read on and get lost with us…

Ribonucleic acid (RNA) is a bit like Deoxynucleic acid (DNA) in the fact that both are nucleic acids composed of a sugar, a phosphate group and a nitrogenous base. We all learn about DNA being the building blocks of all life forms, but don’t often hear about RNA’s. Like DNA, RNA is assembled as a chain of nucleotides, but unlike DNA, RNA is found in nature as a single strand folded onto itself, rather than a paired double strand. There are 3 types of RNA’s that work together to produce proteins that are essential in various biological roles in coding, decoding, regulation and expression of genes.Messenger RNA (mRNA) transcribes the genetic information from the DNA, Ribosomal RNA (rRNA) directs the translation of mRNA and Transfer RNA (tRNA) is involved in the actual transfer of the initial genetic information into protein synthesis. Are you with us so far? You’re probably wondering what all of this has to do with the process of developing a vaccine… well many viruses encode their genetic information using an RNA genome.

New technology has allowed us to take a step away from traditional vaccines and to start to take a look at using RNA in vaccines however it has not yet been used on a global scale — meaning scientists can’t yet predict what manufacturing problems might crop up. The idea for this type of vaccine is that a group of RNA’s would attack the SARS-CoV-2 virus when it tries to infect the body. Our bodies naturally have these RNAs however with age and comorbidities they diminish. The vaccine would be designed to boost the specific RNA required for combatting COVID-19. Other groups, such as Duke, the Imperial College of London and Fudan University in China, are also exploring this promising approach. RNA technology leaves researchers with many unsolved challenges, compared to more traditional vaccine types that are already mass produced. One Of these problems is storage to ensure the vaccine doesn’t degrade, which is especially tricky because by nature RNA‘s are intrinsically unstable molecules.

Yet another problem the world is facing in developing a vaccine is securing enough accessory chemicals, critical for vaccine production. Many of the RNA based vaccines are formulated with “magical chemicals” for lack of better words, that look like oil droplets. These accessory materials are expensive and hard to make in large quantities. With all the technology available no one has figured out how to scale up their manufacturing or get the costs low enough so that everyone can get the vaccine.

More traditional methods for vaccine creation are also being researched, where variants of the SARS-CoV-2strain are placed into the vaccine with the idea that our body’s own immune system will be able to develop the antibodies required to fight off the virus when it tries to invade the body. . Pharmaceutical companies GlaxoSmithKline, Novavax and Clover are all at various stages of testing this approach. Protein subunit and recombinant protein vaccines use an approach that is similar to existing vaccines used for HPV and Hepatitis B.

This is all sounding quite promising however even this more traditional approach to vaccines comes with its own distinct scale-up challenges. These vaccines may require booster shots to provide lasting protection against COVID-19. For other vaccine candidate types, scientists are unsure if one dose is enough to generate and maximize a protective immune response, meaning each person might have to be given multiple doses which further complicates an already complicated manufacturing scale-up. All the issues of development, manufacturing, scale-up and distribution, would be nearly insurmountable for one group to tackle on their own. Of the confirmed active vaccine candidates, 56 are being developed by private industry developers, while 22 projects are being led by academic, public sector and other non-profit organizations, according to all the googling we did whilst researching vaccines.

The pandemic has brought unprecedented collaboration among vaccine developers across the world. The National Institute of Health is launching a public-private partnership to speed up COVID-19 vaccine and treatment options, known as ACTIV — short for Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines. Scientists continue to work tirelessly to curb the pandemic through developing a safe, effective vaccine that can reach people across the world. The so-called lab coat wearing experts hope that the enthusiasm for collaboration on a COVID-19 vaccine will transfer to other vaccination efforts in the future.

So to sum it all up into even more words, we are a little while off a vaccine curing us all from the disease COVID-19 caused by SARS-CoV-2. There are going to be newer and even deadlier viruses for us to contend with in the future and now is the time, if not earlier for the world to be identifying them, creating vaccines, medicine and or nanomites to ensure that we do not have to go through pandemic after pandemic. If there is one good thing to come out of all of this though and that’s the environment is starting to spring back. The holes in the ozone layer are starting to close over, animals are migrating back to their regular patterns and we are seeing species that haven’t been seen in years. So when you sit at home and try to find a silver lining to all that is happening in the world around you it’s this. Life is bouncing back, the planet is bouncing back and so will mankind.

The only hope is that we bounce back with some form of respect for what we have and learn lessons from all of this. What’s the saying, “Lack of preparation leads to piss poor performances”. In taking a look back we can safely say the world was not prepared for a virus on this scale or how to contain it. A vaccine is still most likely 12 months away if not longer and each country needs to ensure that it is able to manage in times of crisis that includes Pandemics. Well that’s enough from us and it feels good to finally get something down for you all. Also if you are interested in hearing the voices behind the blog head over to your favourite podcasting app and download “Conversations with The Captain and Commander” trust us you’ll enjoy it. For now it’s adios amigos, stay safe and stay home to save lives…

Wasn’t Expecting That…

A couple of months ago during the height of the bush fire season we wrote about the apocalypse, we didn’t go into detail or discuss the four horsemen but we did discuss what apocalyptic event could potentially wipe us out, which then turned into a little preppers guide to the end of the world. Little did we know that the specific blog would be read by family and friends and the following events would ensue and thus the great people of this country would react the way they have causing pain and heartache for thousands of their fellow countrymen. Well ladies and gentlemen we (not this fine blog) but the nation of Australia have officially lost the plot. We’ve officially gone off the deep end and look it’s a little troubling if we are honest. As we dive into this week’s blog and change tracks like a runaway train we’ll hit you with yet another double punch as we had already started another piece to provide you with when we decided that we needed to weigh in on matters at home.

Let us take you on a little journey to discover the facts and figures around why Australian’s are currently duking it out in the middle of their local Coles and Woolworths. Why panic is beginning to grip the world, why conspiracy theorists are having a field day and why if you own shares you are losing money hand over fist at a rapid rate. In order to do that we’ve decided to look at a chronological order of events. We’ll give you the who, what, where, when and how in the hopes of giving you a little more information and dispelling some of the myths. It might even calm people down hopefully but we’ll see what happens. We may have the opposite effect on the masses and we’ll have riots in the streets inspired by the words from those idiots over at the A Mind of Its Own Blog. So without further distraction or segways we’ll crack the egg of this week’s topic and let the issues of CoVID-19 simmer in your minds while we tap away at our freshly sanitized keyboards in our air conditioned offices where people can easily spread disease.

CoVID-19 or the Coronavirus as it’s better know came to light in late December 2019 when the little, we say little but when there are roughly 11.8 million inhabitants it’s far from little, city of Wuhan in the Hubei province of China, reported a pneumonia that was sickening dozens of people. It wasn’t till the 31st of December that the World Health Organisation (WHO) finally caught wind of this. According to reports Novel Coronavirus (nCov) was identified in early December with the first case diagnosed on the 12th of December. Eleven days later the first death from what would become known as CoVID-19 was recorded. Now depending who you listen to and what articles you read the time lines are little skewed, the number of deaths is inaccurate and the virus was released by the US to kill off Chinese and Iranian’s. Fast forward to the 21st of January and other countries are now reporting their first cases of the Novel Coronavirus. The US, Japan, South Korea and Thailand all recording their first cases. All the people diagnosed had been to Wuhan and all of them had visited a live animal market according to all reports.

By the 23rd of January the Chinese government had decided to impose travel restriction into and out of Wuhan. This could well have been 23 days too late, in an attempt to restrict the spread of the virus they shutdown flights, trains, buses, ferries and ringed the city with checkpoints. By the 30th of January the WHO had declared a global health emergency for just the 6th time in history a designation reserved for extraordinary events that threaten to spread internationally. If you weren’t watching the news on the 5th of February the cruise ship the Diamond Princess was quarantined off the coast of Yokohama, Japan while crew and passengers under went screenings for CoVID19. 700 cases would be later confirmed making it the largest outbreak outside of China. February 11th saw the WHO renaming the novel coronavirus to CoVID-19 with the Co standing for Coronavirus, Vi for Virus and the D for disease. The 19 tacked on at the end is the year in which it was identified. Health officials purposely avoided naming COVID-19 after a geographical location, animal or group of people, so as not to stigmatise people or places.

Yet people are avoiding anyone of Asian descent as they are ignorant, somewhat racist and most of all ill informed. There was even a case in Chinatown, Sydney where a man suffered a heart attack and no one wanted to help him for fear of catching CoVID-19. Our first case was diagnosed on the 25th of January with three other cases being diagnosed by the 27th across two separate states. On the 28th January Australia’s chief medical officer Brendan Murphy makes a fatal mistake in telling the nation there is no need to wear masks as there has been no human to human transmission in Australia. By the start of March there were 27 confirmed cases across the country the number would rise quickly as the first cases of human to human transmission were confirmed. To date there have been 91 confirmed cases, only 3 deaths reported in elderly. But what is CoVID-19?

To break it down for you all, CoVID-19 is the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Like our two headed Tasmanian friends from down south it’s a little strange. Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that are common among animals. In rare cases they are what the smart white coat wearing ladies and gentlemen call Zoonotic, meaning they can be transferred from animals to humans. But how do they transfer you ask? There are 5 main ways in which Zoonotic diseases can transfer from an animal to human.

Direct contact: Coming into contact with the saliva, blood, urine, mucous, feces, or other body fluids of an infected animal. Examples include petting or touching animals, and bites or scratches.

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Indirect contact: Coming into contact with areas where animals live and roam, or objects or surfaces that have been contaminated with germs. Examples include aquarium tank water, pet habitats, chicken coops, barns, plants, and soil, as well as pet food and water dishes.

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Vector-borne: Being bitten by a tick, or an insect like a mosquito or a flea.

Foodborne: Each year, 1 in 6 people get sick from eating contaminated food. Eating or drinking something unsafe, such as unpasteurized (raw) milk, under cooked meat or eggs, or raw fruits and vegetables that are contaminated with feces from an infected animal. Contaminated food can cause illness in people and animals, including pets.

Waterborne: Drinking or coming in contact with water that has been contaminated with feces from an infected animal.

The SARS-CoV-2 virus is a betacoronavirus, like MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV. All three of these viruses have their origins in bats. The sequences from global patients are similar to the one that China initially posted, suggesting a likely single, recent emergence of this virus from an animal reservoir. The science is a little hard to explain and we’ve had to do a lot of research in order to understand what it is but to paint you a tiny picture they are called Coronaviruses due to the fringe they have which is reminiscent of a crown or of a solar corona. The name “coronavirus” is derived from Latin ‘corona’, meaning crown or halo, which refers to the characteristic appearance of the virus particles (virions), they have a fringe reminiscent of a crown or of a solar corona when viewed under two-dimensional transmission electron microscopy, due to the surface covering in club-shaped protein spikes. From what we could translate into our tiny non-scientific brains it’s these protein spikes that attach to cells in the host body and begin replication of the virus. We also found out that the common cold is also a coronavirus, don’t believe us Google it!

So there’s a virus and a disease but what’s the difference? A virus can’t survive without a living host and the disease occurs when cells in your body are damaged as a result of an infection. So the virus in this case is SARS-CoV-2 and damage it causes to your cells resulting in disease has been named COVID-19. Coronaviruses cause colds with major symptoms, such as fever and sore throat from swollen adenoids, primarily in the winter and early spring seasons. Coronaviruses can cause pneumonia – either direct viral pneumonia or a secondary bacterial pneumonia – and may cause bronchitis – either direct viral bronchitis or a secondary bacterial bronchitis. If you aren’t up to date with your doomsday virus and what will kill you the symptoms you need to look out for are fever, cough, shortness of breath and in some cases diarrhea.

How could you get it you ask? Well it is most likely transmitted from human to human via respiratory droplets from either a cough or sneeze, the impact or blast zone is usually around 6 foot, it is also possible that indirect contact via contaminated surfaces is another possible cause of infection as viral RNA has been found in peoples stool samples who are infected. What does that mean for us? Well the usual cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing and wash your hands after using the bathroom or spraying your DNA over them through your mouth or nose. The stats state that at least 60% of the world’s population will be infected with SARS-CoV-2 and mortality rate is something like 3% so there is a good chance if you get it, you will survive. If you are older you are more at risk of the symptoms being more than just mild. Those under 20 seem to be the safest group, representing the smallest percentage of those who have been infected globally.

Ok so you know the who, what, where, how and when now but the burning question for us is why are we having to use rough as guts paper towel to wipe our derrieres because Australia has gone into panic mode and is stocking up on toilet paper? We kid you not, supermarkets can’t get the stuff on the shelves quick enough and the people stocking up like the worlds about to end can’t explain why? We’d kill for just one roll of 4 ply, that quilted goodness against one’s rectum feels so much better than the paper cut razor blade of death paper towel we’ve been using for the past week. Like the potato famine of 1845 to 1849 the supermarket shelves are bare of the number one bathroom product, bogroll, dunny wipes, loo roll call it what you like it’s in short supply or non existent and to make matters worse people are even buying all the paper towel, sanitary wipes, tissues anything they can get their hands on to wipe their bums they are buying in bulk. It’s got to the point we have people throwing fisty cuffs in the isles just to get some dunny roll. We even checked out several supermarkets to see for ourselves, standing in the isle we couldn’t help but laugh at just how far the prepping some people had gone with the threat of SARS-CoV-2 and contracting COVID-19.

Like all crises there are those who are keen to make a quick buck off the misfortunes of others. The fact that we have countries closing their borders and restricting travel and supermarket shelves are left bare of pasta sauce, pasta and toilet paper shows an evident fear in the Australian populace. Check out eBay or Facebook marketplace and people are selling packs of toilet tissue for well above the recommended retail price. The memes that have been generated are both hilarious and disturbing at the same time. There are even cases in which people are stocking up with 14 days worth of food and supplies in case they need to quarantine themselves or hide out for fear of catching the world’s latest Coronavirus.

Viruses mind you which have been around for centuries and will continue to be around for centuries to come. There is some psychology behind why people have chosen toilet paper to stock up on opposed to any other item. It’s an everyday necessity in the modern, western world and therefore the fear of being without it or missing out runs high within the community. Don’t forget in some countries they are still squatting over holes in the floor and hoping for a clean break without having the luxury of toilet paper and here we are punching on in the isles over it. Is it that people have not researched what COVID-19 is, enough to understand or is it just a knock on effect to our already fragile minds after the worst bush fire season to date. There is no doubt some psychologists, looking at the causation and effects of this and the science community, are working double time to understand the virus and whether or not a vaccine can be developed.

For now though we just need to take a couple of deep breaths and chill out when doing the grocery shopping, there is no reason to punch on with your fellow Aussies over bog roll, after all the old saying sharing is caring rings true and last time we checked toilet paper will not protect you from catching a virus despite wrapping yourself to look like an ancient Egyptian mummy. So maybe you don’t need the 3 packets of 24 rolls that are taking up your entire trolley or the whole box of hand sanitizer. Like you do every flu season, wash your hands after using the bathroom or coughing and sneezing, if you are feeling sick stay at home and if pain persists please see your doctor. Chances are you’ve had a coronavirus in the past and just not known about it. That’ll just about do it from us here, we’ve given you an overview of the virus and yes it’s a close relative of the SARS virus and MERS virus, go google them we don’t have time to explain what they are if you haven’t heard of them.

Until next week don’t hog the bog roll, be kind to your neighbours, cover your mouth when you cough and sneeze and most of all just be a good human being. From all the crew here at A Mind Of Its Own, look after yourselves and avoid public areas where large groups tend to congregate if you are that worried about catching the coronavirus and for all our slow mind friends no you can’t catch it from drinking the beer, the poor company have suffered enough over the past couple of months with American idiots Googling if they’ll contract it after a hard night on the Coronas. With that said it’s time to sign off for another week… Take it easy!

Bigger Than My Brain…

As we stared out the 3rd floor window of the nondescript office building in which we conduct our day to day job we couldn’t help but think of a post apocalyptic world. As smoke from what will go down in history as one of Australia’s biggest crisis blankets the skies and the news reels continue to show devastation, loss and tragedy across the nation. Our minds wondered to what would happen and where would we go if the world was to descend into chaos. After all there are plenty of maniacs in power who would love nothing more than to leave there stamp on history that have come close to kicking off the world’s next and what would likely be the final world war. Or the fact that we have pretty much poisoned the planet beyond repair in some places.

Perhaps it was waking up at 9am on a Sunday morning thinking it was earlier than it actually was due to the sun being blotted out by the thick smoke or perhaps it was not seeing blue sky for weeks on end that got us to start thinking about our mortality and what we’d do if there was an event that forced us to literally pack up and run. Then we began to think about what we would need and what we would take with us in such an event was to happen. Unlike all the crazy Yanks, Australians aren’t so big on prepping, we are sure there are the crazy, rich likely cashed up bogans who have no doubt built a fallout shelter or have a bug out plan in place but in general should an apocalyptic event unfold itself, most Australians would not have a clue about what they would do.

There are plenty of apocalyptic events that could have people heading for the hills cause lets face it, if there ever is to be an apocalypse the last place you want to be is in a major population center. Particularly if World War Three is to breakout, major population centers would be targeted right after major military installations. Sadly we have researched all this but on the flip side the best place to move to would be New Zealand. Well that’s our thoughts and we think as we unpack this week’s A Mind of Its Own everyone might start to agree with us for a change. So without any further segways and side notes lets get on with this weeks blog and put together a plan for surviving the apocalypse.

Firstly we need to understand what if anything could these apocalyptic events be and what would they consist of, who would they initially effect and what would the ramifications be if any? In order to answer those questions we’ve asked our chief investigator Google to do a little research and begin combing through articles and research papers. We like to keep everything we write about as close to the truth as possible after all why let the truth get in the way of a good story. But in all seriousness if the science is available to back up our blog we’ll always take it. So to start with we’ll look at the very unlikely but potential threat of a Zombie apocalypse.

We were hoping to find some good news that a Zombie apocalypse was something that could never happen but thanks to science we are now armed with the possibility that it could become very, very true. Reading one particular article it unpacked the 5 most likely causes behind a zombie apocalypse and to be Frank for a minute (We had to ask him if it was ok) they scared the absolute crap out of us. Like change your jocks scary. The first of the freaky 5 to cause a Zombie Apocalypse is Brain Parasites according to Google they turn victims into mindless, zombie like slaves. One in particular Toxoplasmosa Gondii is terrifying and to make matters worse half the human population of the earth is already infected with it. The likelihood of it turning us all into zombies though would a little human intervention and a perhaps a megalomaniac with a highly evolved version of the parasite that had been weaponised.

Then you have neurotoxins whilst not rating highly on the likelihood scale there have been cases documented in Haiti where the word Zombie comes from of Alkaloid toxins being used to control people and make mind numbed zombie like workers who harvested sugarcane. We then turn to a rage virus type scenario something like a super mad cow disease where people turn into mindless killing machine and don’t forget that we are only one brain chemical (Serotonin) away from that happening. We already have a human version of mad cow disease Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and again it would only take some mad scientists to play around with it in a lab to make it a weapon. Moving on to Neurogenesis or basic stem cell research, yeah we spoke about animal/human hybrids a couple of blogs ago but what about regrowing dead brain tissue? You wanted the undead well science is finally delivering, it is now possible to re-grow the brains of comatose head trauma patients until they wake up and can walk around again, throw in the new ability to keep dead bodies in a suspended state of animation and we are starting to sound like a science fiction novel but its all true. Whilst the cortex may die the stem remains so you will be able to function but not actually have any thoughts, feelings or emotions.

Finally we have nanobots yes nanobots, tiny little microscopic, self-replicating robots that can invisibly build or destroy anything. Studies have shown with a decade we’ll have nanobots that can setup and replace neural pathways in your brain. That’s right ladies and gents little mini self replicating robots will be able to rewire your thoughts. So the likelihood of the robot uprising now takes form in the shape of a zombie apocalypse. Think about it, the nanobots are programmed to self replicate but once the host dies so do they. So to preserve themselves they’d need a new host, therefore the last act of the nanobot zombie would be to bite a healthy victim so they can steam in and set up camp. And just like that it’s eat, sleep, bite, repeat and the robot zombie uprising is a real thing.

So what are the other possible apocalyptic events that could have us scurrying like rats leaving a sinking ship? The most likely yet unlikely event is a robot uprising, according to Artificial Intelligence researchers the likelihood of us having a robot overlord is quite slim but if it did happen our robot overseers could combat some of the other threats. The most likely apocalyptic event in which we’d need to bunker down somewhere and then scavenge till the end of days would be a global pandemic or nuclear war and with Trump in power and happy to divert attention away from his pending impeachment trial the later is the most likely to happen as he rattles sabers and assassinated people from the skies above. If it’s not Trump shooting missiles at foreign dignitaries to spark off a war it’ll be climate change deniers that are our undoing as we kill the earth.

If you are wondering if it’ll be something from space that does us in, the chances of an asteroid taking us out is one in 10,000. We are more likely to be wiped out by volcanoes and they are the most underrated threat on the matrix we’ve developed. The sleeping giants that could erupt around the world and blackout the sun while blanketing the earth in ash. There is also the possibility of aliens invading in which we would recommend you hide down the deepest darkest hole you can find and don’t come out for at least a decade. Perhaps Hollywood had been quite prophetic in some of their alien invasion movies over the past century. There is always over population and or of the next big freeze, heck there have even been suggestions that we could be attacked by something below us lurking in the depths of the oceans or below the earth’s surface. There are several other possibilities but these were just the ones that actually made sense or had a likelihood of possibly ever happening.

Chances are that if the world was coming to an end any semblance of order would quickly dissolve into chaos. People would riot and looters would roam the streets. From there things would begin to look a little like the Tom Clancy video game franchise The Division. Whilst we’d like to think people might actually behave in a manner which is respectful and considerate that just doesn’t seem likely and if history is any indication of human behavior in times of chaos we definitely become a bunch of words that mum only allows us to use in the paddock. In times of chaos we change our morals values to benefit ourselves over others so it’s no wonder that people loot stores and gangs lord themselves over others in times of crisis. The end of the world would be one such crisis.

The more research we did, the more we realised that unless you’ve gone to a Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape (SERE) course which are generally reserved for military personnel with a role designation that could see them behind enemy lines, or have studied prepping and began to put in place the resources and tools required to survive most of us are very much under prepared for any of the likely apocalyptic scenarios that we could be faced with over the next couple of decades. Even the basics evade most people, how many people are trained in self defense or hand to hand combat, not to be confused with hand to gland combat which would only take a quick google search for most people to become experts in that one. Getting back on topic how or would you be able to defend yourself if you were required to? There are several books that outline the basics of survival and having read several of them when researching for our pet project we can highly recommend the following if you are interested in staying safe and surviving.

Safe by former 22 SAS Trooper Chris Ryan is a good read and then there is the Violent Nomad series ‘100 Deadly Skills’ by Former Navy Seal Clint Emerson, that outlines survival tips and techniques for all scenarios and environments. There is also the SAS Survival books written by John ‘Lofty’ Wiseman also a former SAS Trooper. There are several other survival books that have good information but we’ve found the above books fonts of knowledge as well as having good example pictures and providing a B.L.U.F or Bottom Line Up Front, in other words there is a paragraph where the conclusions and recommendations are placed at the beginning of the text to facilitate rapid decision making rather than placing it at the end of the text.

So we now know what we can start to prepare, how we are going to survive them. In order to do that we need to prepare for all likely scenarios. A little like the scouts we’ll always be prepared or at least that’s what we think the scouts motto is. What would you put in your end of the world kit? Well we think we’d start with a vehicle or two and our vehicle of choice if money was no option to survive the end of the world would either be a suped up, all the mods & cons Toyota Prado armored up to protect us from either the infected zombies or the less fortunate trying to steal our prized wheels or a Land Rover Defender and yes it would have a machine gun turret. Desperate times call for desperate measures and if it’s the end of the world we want to be protected. Worst case we’d break into a defence base and steal a Bushmaster or a tank, we’d then find the armory and go nuts like a kid in the candy store taking all the toys we wanted and needed.

We’ve put together a list of things that are required for initial survival. First thing you’ll need is a bug out bag these suddenly chic survival satchels, also known as go bags, are typically lightweight military-grade backpacks stocked with provisions for at least 72 hours. Gray wolf Survival recommends a chain-saw blade stashed in an Altoids tin to harvest firewood. Feminine hygiene products are also recommended as something you should have in your Go Bag, even for men, to soak up blood from wounds. One of those things that you should have is currency. While Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies make news, many people are quietly packing their bug-out bags with rolls of pre-1965 American dimes, quarters or half-dollars, which are 90 percent silver and available from coin dealers and precious-metals websites (silver is currently about 17 US dollars an ounce).

Imagine a true economic apocalypse, one that makes the German hyperinflation of the 1920s, with its wheelbarrows of near-worthless paper currency, look like a hiccup. To prepare for the worst worst-case scenario, some doomsday preppers prefer to stock up on daily staples like tampons, vegetable seeds and cigarettes (that timeless prison medium of exchange) to silver or gold as an alternative-currency. Liquor, particularly in easy-to-swap airline bottles would likely prove a hot commodity, since it not only deadens the pain of surviving in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, but also provides useful off-label functions as a disinfectant or an ingredient in herbal remedy tinctures. In the event of apocalypse, bring condoms explained one prepper site. This may sound like a slogan from a sex safety campaign but condoms being featherweight, ultracompact and durable (nonlubricated, please) can be used as a makeshift canteen to store water, a fire starter or as elastic bands for an improvised slingshot to hunt small game.

Should law and order on the streets break down after, say, a massive hurricane or nuclear-reactor meltdown, that condom slingshot might come in handy. But where guns are illegal or highly regulated what are defenseless, law-abiding citizens to do? “100 Deadly Skills,” by Clint Emerson is filled with improvised alternative weapons, like a collapsible umbrella lined with wrenches, Sure, you could master jiu-jitsu but if it’s really on, hand-to-hand self-defense will only take you so far. To balance legality with lethality in a bug-out bag, you have to go simpler hammers, hatchets, heavy tools. That roll of old silver quarters might come in handy, too.

In the event of a breakdown of the food supply that leaves the shelves of Woolworths and Coles bare, you will still have to eat. Many survivalists are placing their hopes of sustenance in rabbit, a high-protein, low-fat meat that is also being embraced as “the new chicken” by sustainable food types. By livestock standards, rabbits are relatively clean and quiet. They can survive on table-scrap vegetables or even grass, and as a bonus, yield valuable fur for improvised winter clothing. And boy do they breed. A doe can produce up to 50 kits a year, yielding 250 pounds of meat, according to researchers.

To master archery and broadsword combat or how to manufacture fabric, bread, ceramic cookware and wood furniture by hand, or to perfect the preindustrial arts of iron craft and tanning of leathers should Armageddon arrive say, in the form of a limited nuclear exchange, global pandemic or cyber mega-attack these hobbies could mean your survival. In other words, chivalry may not be dead after all. You just don’t want to be running around in a suit of chain-mail Armour chances are you’ll be a little slow.

So what we’ve worked out is that, if the world is coming to an end anytime soon your average Joe is not going to be prepared enough to survive for any lengthy duration. In case of a nuclear holocaust the safest place is New Zealand due to it’s lack of major military targets and it’s Australia’s forgotten ugly (yet beautiful, scenery wise) cousin therefore people often overlook they are also an ally of the great Satan. Plus most of New Zealand has moved to the Gold Coast. Everyone needs a go bag with at least 72 hours worth of provisions and tools you’ll need to survive. Having a plan is always a good idea and various iterations of that plan, make it even better. If you can get some self defence training it’s always a good idea even if an apocalyptic event isn’t coming. Ensure you have something to trade or a form of currency and lastly a little faith that it never comes down to you having to survive.

As we wrap up the conclusion is that it’ll only take a couple of deranged scientists and a world leader with an inferiority complex to make the Zombie apocalypse happen. Volcanoes are the most likely apocalyptic event, we’ve researched this way too much and now we are thinking we need to start planning for the worst while we hope for the best. It gets you thinking though and well life is too short for regrets or to be pondering crap like this, live in the moment and make memories that’s what we plan on doing. And just because you identify as a helicopter does not mean you can fly in times of crisis. Until next week we wish well and hope that we haven’t scared the absolute crap out of you. Sometimes it’s good to know that there are freaky things and not all science fiction books and films are made up…