Genus reassignment

Times were very hard. The countryside was being squeezed by the urban population, rows and rows of solar panels were being placed not only upon the most productive arable fields but now even upon the pastoral land where sheep may have safely grazed. The panels it was true provided much needed shade from the summer sum, but the diminution of the number of animals put pressure on the economy of the canine population, making life very difficult for the wolves who had families to feed.

As a young wolf Adolphe recognised that the situation was very grievous indeed. How could he raise a family if he could not provide for them was a question he frequently asked himself until one day when he met Flora.

Flora was a Pomeranian who visited the moorland beyond the fields one day. Adolphe was resting in the shade of one of the few trees on the moor when her mistress disturbed him, also looking for shade from the noon-day sun. Adolphe retreated to a safe distance in the bracken, waited and watched. Adolphe never saw her walk. She was always in the arms of her mistress, who treated her more like a cub than a dog he thought. Just then, as it did to Newton when he waited under an apple tree, it occurred to him. It would be a bold experiment, he said to himself, but it may work.

It was many days later that he saw Mutton, a member of the Salish family, running freely among the solar panels. He made her acquaintance and learned that her master was nearby, but she was allowed to run as she will. Adolphe was perturbed by the reference to the master being nearby, and watched carefully. Often the masters carried iron sticks which had deadly accuracy. It was that which he feared.  He bid his time. Mutton and her master continued to visit the area with quite some regularity. Slowly Adolphe got to know her better.

One day her master saw them running together and called her back. She encouraged him to follow, saying that all would be well, as long as he did just the same things that she did.

It was difficult for Adolphe to roll over onto his back to allow the human to rub his belly with a pair of heavy boots, but he noticed that there was no long iron stick on the human’s back. The human allowed them to eat together, though there was not a lot as he had only prepared enough for one dog. Mutton encouraged Adolphe to eat the most.

On the next occasion the human told Mutton to find her friend. A few hours later they both arrived and ate together again, but this time the human had prepared two meals. The lying on the back took place again, and then – this was not part of Adolphe’s plan – something was placed around his neck. He had not noticed before but Mutton also wore one. A vine was attached to it and held firmly by the human. It was time to go. Adolphe remembered what he had been told. ‘It will be alright. Do as I do.’ Adolphe was about to learn new things.

Some months later they returned to the moor. The vine was slipped from his neck and he and Mutton ran freely again. They returned that day to the human’s den, and so for the rest of the week. Mutton later told Adolphe that he was free to go if he wished. The human would be happy either way. Mutton returned home.

They continued to meet on the moor, then one day Mutton asked to see his den. She did not return home that day. Her master, his friends and their dogs, spent the next several weeks looking for her but to no avail. Though they often found evidence of her recent activity – that she was alive and well that was very clear – there were no sightings. The spy-cam that they set up caught many images of the wolves, including Adolphe, but Mutton never strayed into view.

Five months later Mutton arrived back at her former home with a litter of woolly, wolves. They were perhaps six weeks old. She returned to the moor shortly afterward, but continued to make regular visits to her old master.

The leopard changes his spots

Adolphe reflected on the success of his experiment. How much easier it would be for his offspring to remain hidden from the ever watching eye of the shepherd.

As Farmer Giles raised his gun he heard a voice coming from the flock.

The wolf bleated: Don’t shoot – I have had a genus reassignment!

Lupine to Ovine?

The prophet asked: Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Then may you also do good who are accustomed to do evil. (Jeremiah 13:23) The Lord is speaking against his people in Jerusalem, giving them warnings of what is to come if they will not change their ways. The words sound harsh, but they are full of compassion:

Hear and give ear: Do not be proud, for the Lord has spoken. Give glory to the Lord your God before he causes darkness, and before your feet stumble on the dark mountains, and while you are looking for light, he turns it into the shadow of death and makes it dense darkness. But if you will not hear it, my soul will weep in secret for your pride; my eyes will weep bitterly and run down with tears.

Jeremiah 23:15-17

The people are comfortable in their ignorance. Everyone of them wants to do it my way and not the Lord’s way. Pride and godlessness fill the streets. This soon overflows into violence against others. If we insist on my way, and never give in or consider others, we shall soon come into conflict with those around us. If pride fills our hearts, then we shall soon disrespect those around us who do not have quite the same view of ourselves that we have. The apostle rejoins us to not to think of [ourselves] more highly than [we] ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. So he warns them that they must change, but so accustomed to them have their wicked ways become, they cannot change them any more than a leopard can change its spots.

But he problem goes much deeper than that, as intimated by the double simile. It is not just a bad habit which we must shake off, it is an intrinsic part of our make up as human beings just as the colour of our skin. The change required is impossible for us, just as impossible as gender and genus reassignments are. Who then can be saved? the disciples asked Jesus, in a different context (Mark 10). A change is required which is fundamental. The Lord provided the answer: With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible. John records for us as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in his name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Just as the wolf cannot become a sheep, even if he were able to grow woollen fleece as a sheep, we cannot by the will of man become children of God. We must be born again, born from above, born of the Spirit, born of God. With man it is impossible, but with God, simply come to Jesus and receive him.

Fake News?

Coco had only visited the site in order to check whether British or US spelling was being used to describe the class of medical facility which are called health centres, and not to examine whether fake news were being promoted, and whilst the video may contain much accurate information about the response of the government to the outbreak of covid-19, it began on a rather bad foot.

Coco is talking about this item on YouTube:

It is at 19 June 2024 on the home page of the Ministry of Health, Uganda but may be replaced at any time.

In the Ministry of Health Covid-19 response documentary, which was released on the 1 September 2023 we hear:
This virus killed more people in the first twenty-five weeks than HIV/AIDS has killed in twenty-five years.
These words, corrected here by Coco, appear in the transcript at c0:18

That is an interesting claim. It was followed by a reference to the 1918 Spanish ‘flu death toll after which you may see 100,000,000 appear briefly on the screen. Read that carefully: More than 100,000,000 infected. In the context you may be forgiven for thinking that it was a claim that there were 100 million deaths. Coco thought to investigate the claim. Be patient we have to look at a number of sources, some of which may be more reliable than the others.

In brief

According to a study in PubMed: Estimates of global SARS-CoV-2 infection exposure, infection morbidity, and infection mortality rates in 2020 ( in which it is stated that If left unchecked with no vaccination and no other public health interventions, and assuming circulation of only wild-type variants and no variants of concern, the pandemic would eventually cause 8.18 million deaths. According to Wikipedia the estimated actual number of deaths to June 2024 was 7.05 millions.

On the other dies of the coin we have the table at Deaths from HIV/AIDS by age, World which provides figures for all years since 1980.  The total number of deaths since 1980 taken from these tables is c.34 millions.

Using these statistics, if we take the first twenty five years of AIDS there were 16m deaths. In the last 25 years there were 28m deaths. Both of these numbers are greater than both the estimate provided by the PubMed paper for the potential total number of deaths, and the actual number reported by Wikipedia from Covid-19.

On what basis then can the YouTube video claim that Covid-19 has killed more in 25 weeks than HIV/AIDS in 25 years? Is this not fake news?

Further resources

By way of comparison, there are other tables of statistics available for both Covid-19 and HIV/AIDS related deaths, which give higher figures than Coco has used above.

According to the Global HIV & AIDS statistics — Fact sheet 40.4 million [32.9 million–51.3 million] people have died from AIDS-related illnesses since the start of the epidemic. This data does give range rather than simply one figure, into which, though at the lower end, the figure on falls.

The table at Total number of AIDS-related deaths worldwide from 2000 to 2022 indicates, by interpolation, that there have been closer to c.31m deaths in the past twenty five years from AID/HIV.  The figures I have used in the interpolation are given in italics in the list below:

Total number of AIDS-related deaths worldwide from 2000 to 2022 (with Coco’s interpolations)

This table provides smaller figures for the most recent years, but the differences between the two sources amount to less than 500k, which is an insignificant difference in the context of several millions.

Wikipedia also quotes higher figures for deaths.

Concerning totals deaths from Covid-19 Wikipedia reports There have been reported 7,050,691 (updated 17 June 2024) confirmed COVID-induced deaths worldwide. As of January 2023, taking into account likely COVID induced deaths via excess deaths, the 95% confidence interval suggests the pandemic to have caused between 16 and 28.2 million deaths. Even if these higher figures are correct, which we must remember are for a period of more than three years, then it is unlikely that This virus killed more people in the first twenty-five weeks than HIV/AIDS has killed in twenty-five years. In the first 25 weeks the highest figure we could have for Covid-19 deaths is 28,2*25/156, say 5 millions, and the lowest estimate of HIV/AIDS deaths over twenty-five years is 16 millions.

Perhaps the effect of the interventions has saved less than 1m lives (the earlier estimate was for 8 millions but the outcome was 7 millions) over the four years if the PubMed figures are to be believed.

The economic impact

An article in the Grauniad reminds us of the value of a prevented fatality (VPF): £2m in the UK US$11,6 in the USA: Are Smart Motorways Safe

On the basis of those figures the amount to be spent to save those 1m lives would be £2 billion in the UK or US$11,6 billion in the US (which in unconventional language would be £2 or US$11,6 million million). We may well want to ask, How much did they actually spend?

Reports indicate that the US has figures of US$8-14 billion (The COVID-19 Pandemic and the $16 Trillion(sic.) Virus (this article provides alternative measures which indicate lower values of a life), the UK up to £400 million (Covid-19: How much has it cost?). Both of these figures are of course open to discussion and argument. It is likely that the basis on which they have been prepared is far from agreed, though there may be a consensus amongst those who prepared the reports. That they are large and not insignificant costs is hardly however disputable, and as we shall see even if they are out by as much as 50% (ie twice the actual real cost) they are significantly higher than we would expect using the VPF figures.

The following table using figures extracted from the data sets available at Our World in Data: How many people die and how many are born each year? and Explore the global data on confirmed COVID-19 cases (set the metric to confrmed deaths, the interval to cumulative and uncheck Relative to population) shows the estimated expected local cost of saving 1 million lives globally.

Covid-19 Total casesDeaths
WorldWorldUnited StatesUnited Kingdom
31/12/2024               1,634,76334,72624,1330
(2024 is to early June)         
Anticipated deaths (PubMed)8,180,0001,378,187269,142
Saving by interventions(?)1,125,453189,61937,030
Value of a prevented death (VPF)$11,600,000£2,000,000
Expected costs of prevention (millions)$2,200,000£70,000
Actual estimated costs (millions)$16,000,000£400,000
Extracted from the actual data set on GitHub which is presently called owid-covid-data.csv


Assuming that the number of deaths saved in each of these two countries is proportional to the actual number, and that the estimate provided by PubMed is reliable (but we have no other), then the expected spend, based upon the VPF figures would have been US$2,2 billions and £70,000 millions. Both countries based upon their own working VPF models (whatever shortcomings may be seen in the computation of those figures) have spent six or seven times those amounts.

As noted elsewhere, the covid-19 infection was not the Spanish ‘flu in its impact. The death rate has settled down to about 2% of those infected. Contrariwise influenza causes 200-500,000 (possibly as high as 700,000 as we see at the end of the article) deaths per year according to data provided by Our World in Data. A different article in Our World tells us that Yet, data on the flu is limited but such as there is suggests that Influenza occurs all over the world, with an annual global attack rate estimated at 5-10% in adults and 20-30% in children (WHO). Taking these estimates there would be about 300-600 millions in adults and 400-600 millions in children of infections each year.

Forgotten things

It is a quirk of time zones that today means different things in different places, and the tomorrow of GMT, may be the today of a different zone, though unlikely at this late hour to be the yesterday of any less further west than Hawaii.

With that in mind then, and understanding that already ten hours of today have elapsed where today is today, please kindly take note that that today is the day when some would have us to believe that nothing happened, but many interesting and disturbing things did happen on this day, some being so recent as to only achieve the silver Jubilee of their decadary this year.

We need only think of George III of Hanover, who was born on this day in 1738 to understand its importance for the later potential unification of the Saxon peoples of northern Europe, but for a closer personal connection an unnamed, for fear of infringement of the GDPR, lady was also born on this day failing to see the coronation of our late Queen by perhaps a mere thirty five hours.

When we think of disturbing things then perhaps the completion of a great evacuation from northern Europe may come to mind, but on the other hand the not unusual event of one man venturing onto a zebra crossing to bring to a halt the on-coming traffic may speak to some of the completion of another great evacuation which had recently taken place.

Many other such things may well spring to your mind and your remembrance, or otherwise be disclosed to you by the elephantine memory of this forum.


It is a wonder indeed. How complex is life! 160 billiard pairs in a single molecule. It is right that they wonder what the functions of all of its parts are. Having measured its length, the really hard work now comes when trying to identify the several different parts, and assessing their possible single or multiple functions. As they have said ‘[m]any plants have big genomes and scientists want to find out why’. One can but wish them success.

The BBC reported as much in their article World record broken for living thing with most DNA.

Is it true however that “[t]he genome is the complete set of DNA instructions within a cell containing all the information needed for a living thing to develop and grow”? We do not begin life with only DNA, we begin life as a complete cell, which contains the machinery required to read the DNA*. Does that machinery not also contain information which is not necessarily, and does not need to be, carried by the DNA? We have at least two complex independent, but interdependent, structures within our cells both of which carry the necessary information to enable them to interact with each other in the processes which sustain our life. It is a wonder indeed. One could wish that a mind such as Darwin’s had been introduced to these things, what difference that would have made to On the Origin of Species? Coco leaves the answer to that to better minds than his own.

But what a wonder life is: I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvellous are your works, and that my soul knows very well.

My frame was not hidden from you, when I was made in secret, and skilfully wrought in the womb, king David says in the 139th Psalm, I will praise you.

* Molecular Biology of the Cell. 4th edition: Fertilization

See the paragraph: The Sperm Provides a Centriole for the Zygote [redacted here]

Once fertilized, the egg is called a zygote. Fertilization is not complete, however, until the two haploid nuclei (called pronuclei) have come together and combined their chromosomes into a single  diploid nucleus. In fertilized mammalian eggs, the two pronuclei do not fuse directly as they do in many other species. They approach each other but remain distinct until after the membrane of each pronucleus has broken down in preparation for the zygote’s first mitotic division (Figure 20-34).

Figure 20-34: The coming together of the sperm and egg pronuclei after mammalian fertilization.

The pronuclei migrate toward the center of the egg. When they come together, their nuclear envelopes interdigitate. The centrosome replicates, the nuclear envelopes break  down, and the chromosomes of both gametes are eventually integrated into a single mitotic spindle, which mediates the first cleavage division of the zygote. (Adapted from drawings and electron micrographs provided by Daniel Szöllösi.)

In most animals, including humans, the sperm contributes than DNA to the zygote. It also donates a centriole [Short cylindrical array of microtubules, closely similar in structure to a basal body. A pair of centrioles is usually found at the center of a centrosome in animal cells.] – an organelle [Membrane-enclosed compartment in a eucaryotic cell that has a distinct structure, macromolecular composition, and function. Examples are nucleus, mitochondrion, chloroplast, Golgi apparatus.] that is lacking in unfertilized human eggs. The sperm centriole enters the egg along with the sperm nucleus and tail and a centrosome forms around it. In humans, it replicates and helps organize the assembly of the first mitotic spindle in the zygote (Figure 20-35). This explains why multipolar or extra mitotic spindles form in cases of polyspermy, where several sperm contribute their centrioles to the egg.

Figure 20-35: Immunofluorescence micrographs of human sperm and egg pronuclei coming together after in vitro fertilization.

Spindle microtubules are stained in green with anti-tubulin antibodies, and DNA is labeled in blue with a DNA stain. (A) A meiotic spindle in a mature, unfertilized oocyte. (B) This fertilized egg is extruding its second polar body and is shown about 5 hours after fusion with a sperm. The sperm head (left) has nucleated an array of microtubules. (C) The two pronuclei have come together. (D) By 16 hours after fusion with a sperm, the centrosome that entered the egg with the sperm has duplicated, and the daughter centrosomes have organized a bipolar mitotic spindle. The chromosomes of both pronuclei are aligned at the metaphase plate of the spindle. As indicated by the arrows in (C) and (D), the sperm tail is associated with one of the centrosomes. (From C. Simerly et al., Nat. Med. 1:47–53, 1995. © Macmillan Magazines Ltd.)

Fertilization marks the beginning of one of the most remarkable phenomena in all of biology—the process of embryogenesis, in which the zygote develops into a new individual. This is the subject of the next chapter.

The prior section, though not relevant to this article, is rather interesting:

The Mechanism of Sperm – Egg Fusion Is Still Unknown

containing in the light of more recent controversies in its final paragraph the ominous sentences: As the cell biology of mammalian fertilization becomes better understood and the molecules that mediate the various steps in the process are defined, new strategies for contraception become possible. One approach currently being investigated, for example, is to immunize males or females with molecules that are required for reproduction in the hope that the antibodies produced will inhibit the activities of these molecules. 

Given that it was published in 2002 it can neither be accused of bias in relation to the present controversy not can it be represented as fake news.

– with apologies for the false spellings of uncertain words.