Mutation of virus is as sure as we pay taxes.

Viruses are efficient creatures that borrow human cells to reproduce themselves without our consent.

From the perspective of the virus, its function and purpose are to replicate and infect the host as much as they can and fast as they can.

Image of Coronavirus from CDC/Dr. Fred Murphy

Mutations in the virus’s genome are normal and guaranteed as it is copied over and over. The GISAID database identified thousands of changes along the genome. Viruses are clever and naturally select mutations that can result in a strain to be more transmissible or impervious to proposed vaccines. University College of London Genetics Institute researcher Lucy van Dorp is a co-author of a study that identified more than 12,700 mutations in the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The naming of these variants is done by WHO, in collaboration with partners, expert networks, national authorities, institutions and researchers in the established nomenclature systems for naming and tracking SARS-CoV-2 genetic lineages by GISAID, Nexstrain and Pango. The letters of the Greek Alphabet, i.e., Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta is chosen to be more practical for discussion by non-scientific audiences.

The working definition of Variant of Concern (VOC)

VOC of SARS-CoV-2 are Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta variants which meets the definition of a Variant of Interest (VOI) and one or more of the following changes:

  1. Increase in transmissibility or detrimental change in COVID-19 epidemiology,
  2. Increase in virulence or change in clinical disease presentation,
  3. Decrease in effectiveness of public health and social measures or available diagnostics, vaccines, therapeutics.

The working definition of Variants of Interest (VOI)

VOI of SARS-CoV-2 variants have genetic changes that are predicted or known to affect virus characteristics such as transmissibility, disease severity, immune escape, diagnostic or therapeutic escape and to cause significant community transmission or multiple COVID-19 clusters to suggest emerging risk to global public health. VOI includes Eta (B1.525), Iota (B1.526), Kappa (B.617.1), and Lambda (C37) from various countries. Recently the Lambda variant has met the definition of VOC. 

So far seven VOC have surfaced throughout the globe:

B.1.1.7, (Alpha) first detected in the U.K. is known to be 50% more transmissible and found in Florida, Michigan and Colorado. 

P.1, (Gamma), first detected in Brazil and Japan, and the U.S. has reported 323 cases of this variant.  

B.1.351, (Beta) first detected in South Africa, again 50% more transmissible and the U.S. has reported 224 cases of this variant. 

B.1.427, first detected in California, 20% more transmissible, and 

B.1.429, another variant first detected in California, 20% more transmissible. 

All these variants do not have clear information whether the various vaccines are capable of protectinginfection or have significant effect on neutralization by antibodies. 

The trend appears that the states which had successful vaccine delivery seem to have decrease in death rate by COVID. 

B.1.617 (Delta variant), originated from India.

C.37 (Lambda variant), originated from South America, particularly Peru.

The coronavirus is composed of five different components: envelope small membrane protein (E), membrane protein (N), spike glycoprotein (S), nucleoprotein (N) and genomic RNA. 

The virus’ genomic RNA is a complete set of genetic instructions that is written in 30,000 “letters” of code composed of A, T, G and C.

Within the genome are various parts: see the diagram below.

Below is the process of how the virus enters into the host cell, which in this case is humans.
Schematic of the SARS-CoV-2 S protein and the mechanisms how virus enters into human cells to replicate themselves using human engines.  
a. The schematic structure of the S protein. 
b. The S protein binds to the receptor ACE2. 
c. The binding and virus–cell fusion process mediated by the S protein. 
d. The life cycle of SARS-CoV-2 in host cells. By Y. Huang et al Acta Pharmacologica Sinica (2020) 41:1141–1149;

Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are made from mRNA in the different spike protein area, a new type of vaccine to protect against infectious diseases by triggering an immune response unlike many vaccines which is made from weakened or inactivated viruses. Vaccines trigger immune response, which produces antibodies, which protects us from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies. Before releasing these vaccines, both companies conducted rigorous studies and the vaccine effectiveness is proven to be 95% from the original coronavirus before mutations when tested among 30,000 people ages older than 18. This means 5% or less still can have a chance to get COVID-19 infection. While the vaccine is not effective in 100%, it is still excellent in preventing infection and at least subsiding its significant symptoms and deaths. 

Will the virus escape vaccines?

If the virus changes by mutation substantially, particularly the spike proteins, then it might escape a vaccine. The race against the virus mutations is on. As the entire population gets vaccinated, we seek herd immunity; likely ~70% of population vaccinated. The goal is to slow transmission globally and slow the clock. If people do not get vaccinations, the COVID-19 pandemic prolongs. We do not have to see any more additional deaths beyond 609,000 people. When the virus mutates increasingly, more vaccinated people will be susceptible to infection because the vaccines were not made from the variants. Time is of the essence to race against virus mutations by vaccinating most people. This is the only way to win over the war against the coronavirus.

God was with the science and scientists who developed these effective and great vaccines in the US. Both mRNA vaccines are superior to any other vaccines known from other countries including China and Russia. We can celebrate superior vaccine science in America and be thankful to live in such a great country.

Comments? Go to top of page on left.

Read Dr. Apple’s fictional novel based on real events at:

  • Ms. Apple is a practicing pathologist…she brings a perspective to the effect of the pandemic that unfortunately is seldom seen, and millions would be enriched and informed by her unique vision…The story begins with a woman intern pathologist arriving on Hart Island to an unimaginable scene of mass burials. The web of relationships and events expands to an international scope. This is a medical but personal story, not a political one. I hope everyone can read and share this book, whose proceeds are going to charity. – Amazon book review

America suffers from a deficit of imagining the lives of other people

Everyone knows someone in their lives who died from COVID-19, and everyone knows someone in their lives who is not willing to get vaccinated. Yet the relationship between these is not necessarily correlated. 

As a physician, it is sad to see the public losing confidence in our medical doctors, CDC, WHO and public health care professionals in general. One reason for this loss of confidence is that people are becoming more skeptical and critical to believe in medicine, and even the medical field’s mass recommendation for vaccination. Perhaps this is due to a preponderance of incorrect information in social media, and particularly, unknown sources. Even traditional media generates stories by reporters who do not have a medical degree or scientific understanding often misrepresent or poorly cover stories.

Here are the primary reasons I hear from people who do not want to receive vaccines:

  1. Vaccines are not safe. Many have a suspicion for everything that goes inside the body. The media inadvertently exacerbates this belief by accentuating side effects after vaccinations, such as “a nurse passed out after getting m-RNA vaccine” before the outlet obtained the scientific evidence and facts. Humans are primed to pay attention to threats or negative information. The subsequent beliefs are hard to change because they are initially based on fear, not logic or evidence-based medicine.
    Even the sunshine is an external element which enters our body to produce vitamin D, but if too much, free radicals can cause skin cancers. What’s not taking things in? Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are taking things in, helping to kill cancer cells. Nearly every person in the US takes over the counter medications, and even these alter the natural mechanisms of our bodies. Food is taking things inside of our body. Everything can be beneficial or harmful at the same time. Vaccines help alleviate infection and avoid death.

Even the sunshine is an external element which enters our body to produce vitamin D, but if too much, free radicals can cause skin cancers. 

2. COVID-19 vaccine went through an unprecedently rapid process with shortcuts, no proper vetting or concern for the safety of humans.

“FDA’s speedy decision for emergency usage of the vaccines was coerced. It was a rapid decision by the federal government with pressure from the big pharma companies without observations of short and long term side effects.” (This is a perfect storm for a conspiracy to evolve by asking questions which will use the scare tactic in general population). “What about the other substances or ingredients such as fatty component aside from m-RNA genetic codes in the vaccine? What if there is an access genetic code or other substances that can trace people who received the injection? What if that code can detect the privacy of the people?”

“Social media was created to help consumer’s needs. Later, businesses began using social media to detect and trace almost everything about us. What if the vaccine substances were also initially created to stop the spread of coronavirus, but later have everlasting negative impact on a person?”

What if the vaccine saves lives? First, let us have life to even worry about “what ifs.”

3. Refusal to see COVID-19 as a serious threat.

“The former president’s experience was not serious, and his claims that the coronavirus was not a big deal were ridiculed by many democrats, who also exaggerated the death rates and its risk.”This thinking has resulted in making the vaccine effort more of a political view instead of a scientific view. To some, COVID-19 is like a mild cold and to some others, it is deadly. As a physician and pathologist, the 609,000 death rates in the US are most likely an underrepresentation. Why take risk of hospitalization, long- haul symptoms and death, when one can have definite benefit of preventing infection and death in a vast percentage of people?

4. Previously infected people with COVID-19 will have natural immunity to protect them.

Even President Trump received two doses of vaccines after he contracted COVID-19. He was never against vaccines. He pushed for vaccine discovery. Some research indicates that the vaccine provides stronger immunity than infection via T-cell activations.

5. Concern for side effects that we do not know about are not told.

Mostly I hear, “I saw somewhere that Covid may cause…” Doctors have documented injection site pain, muscle and joint aches, low fever, fatigue, or in extreme rare cases, blood clots. Unknown, undocumented, and unproven long term health risks like “infertility” are flooding social media and drowning out medical facts and scientific documentation. Why trust unknown sources of science, medicine, and news? Why trust in hearsay? It is like midwives’ myths from old.     

6. No trust in vaccines, institutions, companies, government or even the health care system in general.

The public has lost trust in CDC, WHO and even their own medical doctors. The social media growth is exponential, spreading misinformation and hearsay theories and conspiracy so easily. A good dosage of skepticism is healthy. The CDC has indeed conducted themselves poorly at times and wavered on decisions of masks, for instance. Medicine is never a doctrine but a practice. We call it medical practice, and our practice improves as data grows on open source scientific websites. Research and medicine are more transparent than ever. The coronavirus which caused the pandemic is a novel virus, and initially induced medical and scientific findings as scientific discovery and experimental groundwork. CDC and others are trying their best to figure out the virus as we go and recommending guidelines during current circumstances and new findings. The vaccine is not just an experiment. Look at the results and read the scientific findings instead of believing hearsay news that is intentionally and often anonymously fed into each person’s social media feeds and online search results.

We believe these true stories shown on the left. Why can’t we believe true stories from a vast majority of our medical experts?

7. Younger people trust their own immune system to fight back against the coronavirus, and often believe healthy diets, regular exercise, and healthy lifestyles protect them.

Younger people do have better immune systems in general. In 2019, COVID-19 killed older patients with pre-existing conditions but recently, younger people are also dying; 4,535 deaths occurring from March through July in younger adults ages 25 to 44, or 38% of all excess deaths in that group. Not knowing which groups of younger adults may be more susceptible for death, trusting your own immune system blindly is not wise. “Smart” people are those who prevent a mistake by learning how not to fall into a trap, but “wise” people are those who prevent a mistake by observing how others live and learn from those who fell into a trap. Nearly all victims of serious COVID-19 complications regret not taking a vaccine.

A real electron microscopic image of coronavirus image; look how many viruses are attacking respiratory ciliated human cells. Image produced by US researchers shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles (red), covering human bronchial cilia (blue), and mucus (yellow). (Ehre Lab, UNC School of Medicine)

University College of London Genetics Institute researcher Lucy van Dorp is a co-author of a study that identified more than 12,700 mutations in the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

8. Poor access to get a vaccine.

This is very unfortunate and still quite common. Door-dash vaccine programs and easier access to vaccine sites is urgently required. Millions of elderly and poor community folks may not have access to a computer or technical savvy to register on sites like Many people have no transportation even an appointment can be made.

When will this pandemic pass?
It is entirely up to you by getting in line for vaccination. If the virus changes by mutation substantially, particularly the spike proteins, it leads to a distinct possibility it will escape current vaccines. If that occurs, vaccine development begins again, and likelihood of more lockdowns.

We are in a race against mutations.
It is necessary we all come to a sense of protecting others and protecting the more vulnerable members of society and becoming socially responsible; benefit the whole community rather than arguing for individual or selfish interests. Part of the decision to reject a vaccine should include this fact: Decisions not to get vaccinations is resulting in other people dying—for whose sake? 

America suffers from a deficit of imagining the lives of other people.

COVID-19 battle: Health or Wealth?

April 16, 2020 #5 blog: 

COVID-19 battle: Health or Wealth?
Today, President Trump is expected to spell out when to “open up the US.”  Two impending priorities demand a battle: Health or wealth? Which is more precedent now? Contagious COVID-19 infection causing overload of hospital capacities and resources and death; or, economical suffocation due to unemployment increasing by the day.

For the medical personnel like myself, it is obviously health over wealth but to perhaps a majority of Americans, immediate needs such as shelter, food and clothes to wear are becoming more significant, even though we as a nation then gamble and play the odds of prolonging the contagious virus. 

There are a number of issues we need to sort out during the pandemic in my humble opinion. As news media said, “we are in this together” fighting the silent and deadly enemy. And because this virus is novel, no one can predict, and prepare for the best scenario when unknowns are stacked against our odds. This was manifested by unpreparedness in our most powerful country and medical experts. Medicine is truly practiced at this time.

  1. Americans are saying we need more robust testing.

Here are the current estimated numbers:

RegionTotal population# infected cases% infection# Death% Death
CA40 million  27,2260.07%    8930.002%
US328.2 million657,2300.2%29,9080.009%

– The deaths out of the total number tested is not a true percentage of the death rate caused by coronavirus. It is easy to mistakenly calculate as such.

– These statistics are not the actual numbers because testing is done only in the high risk people where COVID-19 infections are suspected following specific guidelines.

– Even in the current ER admission, unless met with specific symptoms and signs, nasal swab test is not being done.

– Drive-thru testing sites are open in many areas but one needs to have high risk criteria such as immunosuppressed states, diabetics, high blood pressures, etc.

– Even doctors and nurses and health care allies are not given the option for testing because we simply do not have availability of test kits and labs to run the test.

  • No tests currently conducted are “FDA approved.” 
    – No sensitivity and specificity studies are done; if the test result is negative, it does not necessarily mean one did not get infected. 
    – Sensitivity of nasal swab which is a PCR method (most common) and it is expected to have a 70% accuracy rate, which means 3 out of 10 tests may be a false negative result. 
    – Each test requires Sensitivity and Specificity analysis. Sensitivity test is the ability of a test to correctly identify those with the disease (true positive rate). Specificity test is the ability of the test to correctly identify those without the disease (true negative rate).
  • Many labs including commercial, individual hospital labs, and government labs are currently coming out with new rapid tests. None are FDA approved. Each lab test has different sensitivity and specificity rates. There is no national standard check point to validate the accuracy of the test given from each site.
  • Blood testing for antibodies against COVID-19 is the newest and entirely different test that Dr. Fauci talked about. The US FDA recently granted an “emergency use authorization” for this test. In Italy, politicians want to use antibody status to determine which people will get back to work. This test will be able to detect those “asymptomatic COVID-19 infected people” and it has a potential to reveal the true % of coronavirus infection rate. However, in order to do that, we will need to test all people. In the US, a collaborative multiyear project is underway which aims to provide a prevalence of nationwide antibody. The first phase is to collect samples fromblood donors in 6 major urban areas. This will be in combination of 3 national surveys of donors, supported by CDC in this fall and in the fall of 2021. Notice that this study involves blood donors, not entire regional areas, state or the US. How can we ever find out the true infection rate from these data?
  • The antibody test has many presumptions.
  • Influenza (flu), poliovirus and Varicella-Zoster (chicken pox) infections induce antibodies and not only tells who was infected, but provide protection that will be near universal, and have long-lasting resistance. Vaccines against these also provide a life time protection against re-infection. The immunity is permanent.
  • HIV infected people will often have large amounts of antibodies but it does nothing to prevent or clear the disease.
  • Hep B vaccine, Mumps, Measles, Rubella and Closterium (bacteria) which causes botulism need to have regular booster shots even if antibodies are detected in blood.  
  • The presence of coronavirus antibodies may not bring a long-lasting resistance as chicken pox. At this early stage of understanding, we simply do not know yet what it takes to be effectively protected from this infection, how long do coronavirus antibodies remain in the blood and do they protect against re-infection.
  • Do we really know how long asymptomatic coronavirus infected persons can actively transmit to others? It is recommended to be quarantined for 14 days (some say 10 days) but do we really know after these 14 days, it is contagious-free?
  • It is estimated that we will eventually have approximately 5% of the population in the nation to be infected which means 95% are free of infection, and needing vaccine. If we are thinking about re-opening the economy, wouldn’t it make sense to send the people to work who are not infected?
  • In some profession such as medicine, the majority may be exposed to COVID-19. If COVID-19 or antibody test results are positive, does that mean they cannot go back to work and for how long? Who then will remain in the hospital to attend to the sick?
  • COVID-19 Vaccine in works.
  • As of 4/8/20, there are 115 vaccine candidates and 73 are currently at exploratory or preclinical stages. Even though the scale and speed of the global vaccine research and development is at the highest focus, there is an indication that vaccine could be available in early 2021 (which is a disappointing timeline). To expedite the process, tremendous funding, strong international coordination and cooperation between vaccine developers, regulators, policymakers, public health bodies and government are needed.
  • Here is the summary of current vaccines in the pipeline:
  • Current potential treatment: Recent JAMA paper is included for your review:

Go to,

Pharmacologic Treatment for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) by James M. Sanders. 

If China indeed had spilled out COVID-19 from Wuhan Lab (albeit accidently), surely, they should have antidote for this virus and the time to release it is now. 

After I spilled out my thoughts regarding COVID-19 which is all gloomy (I am sorry), I want to say I look for my comfort and peace in God who is called The Son of Man, The First and the Last, The living One, The Son of God, The faithful and true witness, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Heir of David’s throne, Lamb, Shepherd, Christ, the Word of God, King of all kings, Lord of all lords, the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, the bright morning star, Rock of Ages, Redeemer, Bread of Heaven, Living water, our sure foundation, good, fairest of ten thousand, Savior, Mediator, our Advocate, Almighty, the stone the builders rejected, wonderful counselor, friend of sinners, great physician, Anointed one, healer of broken hearts, prince of peace, blessed hope, our atonement, mighty fortress, shelter, the narrow gate, Lord of grace, God of all comfort, Word of life, Rose of Sharon, lily of the valley, Glorious, Immanuel, Living word, chief cornerstone, Creator, Ancient of Days, the eternal One, finisher of our faith, resurrection and life, the way, the truth and the life, everlasting Father, captain of the Lord’s army, strong tower, Yahweh, our defender, our friend, our comforter, the One who prays for us, the Most High Priest, and the most High…

These are just a few names and references for Jesus whom I trust, worship and give thanks to. It is indeed a miracle that we each have breaths today and live life as a gift from God.

Education on COVID-19

March 28, 2020

As I read more about Coronavirus, I wanted my family and friends to know about a few things and to call out to God in prayer. 

The definition of pandemic means a disease is prevalent over a whole country or the world. The definition of epidemic is a widespread occurrence of an infectious disease in a community at a particular time. The coronavirus started as an epidemic in Wuhan China and became a pandemic. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause common colds in people but they also infect other animals and different species. Throughout history, we know that viruses mutate constantly and at times they can become highly infectious and virulent. Corona means the upper portion or crown of a part, as of the head as appears in the electron microscope. This is an example diagram of Coronavirus from Google.

The Severe Acute Respiratory syndrome COronaVirus 2 (SAR-COV-2) and the disease it causes, Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is known to have initiated from Wuhan China in December, 2019. The most common symptoms are reported as fever, dry cough and shortness of breath. The test is by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) from a nasopharyngeal swab. The New York Times Coronavirus dashboard as of today reported more than 606,200 people are infected and at least 28,050 people have died. The US Coronavirus cases and the number of deaths are continually rising. On 3/1/2020, New York Times headline reported “How prepared is the US for a Coronavirus outbreak?” and now merely within a month, we know we were not prepared. 

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) records, flu season in the US which runs from October through May claims 29,000 to 59,000 lives, with most common cause of death from complications such as pneumonia, heart attacks and strokes. Last year, an estimated 80,000 Americans died of flu which was the highest death toll in at least four decades. The death rate from influenza (flu) is generally a fraction of 1% (0.1% to be exact) but the Coronavirus induced death rate is over 1%, (reaching 4.7% today worldwide),  so it is at least 10 times more than seasonal flu.

In 1918, a flu pandemic caused by an H1N1 virus which lasted nearly 2 years killed more than 50 million and infected 500 million (1/3 of the world’s population). It is reported that H1N1 virus originated from genes of avian (bird) origin. In that era, there were no vaccines, antibiotics and medical facilities with ventilators like today and the only way to combat the pandemic was by isolation, quarantine, good personal hygiene, use of disinfectants and limitations of public gatherings; non-pharmaceutical intervention.

In 1957-58, a new influenza (H2N2) virus emerged in East Asia spreading a pandemic (Asian Flu). This virus was first reported in Singapore in February of 1957, Hong Kong in April of 1957, and in coastal cities in the US in summer of 1957, according to the CDC records. The estimated death numbered 1.1 million, with 116,000 of those in the US. This virus originated from Avian Influenza A.

In 1968, Pandemic H3N2 virus comprised a new mutated Avian influenza A. And again in 2009 a novel (new) influenza A (H1N1) virus (H1N1)pdm09 virus, otherwise known as swine flu arose, implicating its origin from swine, occurred in the spring.

The current COVID-19 is thought to have arisen from smuggled pangolins used for both food and medicine. Another possibility is bats, because these two animals have similar genetic codes as in coronavirus. Exactly how the virus jumped from a wild animal to other animals or humans remains a mystery.

According the recent publication in JAMA, the mechanisms leading to death by coronavirus is by filling the lungs with fluid as seen in congestive heart failure symptoms. Human lung is like a tree branching with the end of the tree twigs having grapes with empty sacs. These sacs have a thin membrane which transports oxygen molecule, which is absorbed into the blood flow to provide life to all cells within the body. With COVID-19 infections leading to death, all these grape-like sacs are filled with fluid which leads to inability for oxygen transport. By imaging, the radiologists describe the condition as the “ground glass opacity”. The ventilator is the only way to deliver some oxygen by pushing positive pressure into the lungs. The strong pressure can cause these sacs to “pop” (causing atelectasis) which will damage to the lung permanently. More chronic consequence is the fibrosis/thickening of sac membrane. COVID 19 infection causes this kind of dire situation very fast (within 1-3 days). As in all flus, the most devastating effects are seen in elderly, diabetes, immune deficient populations and other pre-existing medical conditions. 

Knowing these facts, and the history of pandemics, what can we deduce from then and what do we do now? We wait for the specific vaccine against COVID-19. Until then, we go back to what we do know in how to combat the virus; non-pharmaceutical intervention. As we are changing the life style of norms, it is perhaps easy to blame others-governments, organizations such as CDC, WHO, the people of Wuhan China, the President, by saying “only if… “ Strangely, we are so connected by a few people in Wuhan China; their business of what they eat and do are no longer just their business but we are so intimately affected. Their business is now our business whether we like it or not. So, shall we blame the Chinese? What if the next strain of virus comes from a small town in the US? 

When one thinks like the virus, the success depends on the reproduction, increase in potency and easy transport by new and clever mutation of genetic codes and it has nothing to do with the boundaries, races, ages, genders etc. The question we need to ask is when is the next pandemic, and not if. 

As we fight against with this virus today, the only logical way is to distance from each other to stop the spread which will cause less burden to our health care workers and their resources. Most of the health care workers are prepared to fall and are ready to die for the sick. It is their dedication to sick people and promise to the professional Hippocratic oath.

There are always two perspectives and we can choose to see one way or another. One good thing is we have the social media, a technology to connect to the ends of the earth through your phone. We are not alone and thank God for this.

The other thing we can do together is to pray the prayers David had in Psalm 86, 1-3,11-13.

Bend down, O Lord and hear my prayer, answer me for I need your help. Protect me, for I am devoted to you. Save me, for I serve you and trust you. You are my God. Be merciful to me God, for I am calling on you constantly.

Teach me your ways, O Lord that I may live according to your truth. Grant me purity of heart so that I may honor you. With all my heart I will praise you, O Lord, my God. I will give glory to your name forever, for your love for me is very great. You have rescued me from the depths of death.

Snake on a Pole

Numbers 21: 4-9

Then the people of Israel set out from Mount Hor, taking the road to the Red Sea to go around the land of Edom. But the people grew impatient with the long journey, and they began to speak against God and Moses. “Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die here in the wilderness?” they complained. “There is nothing to eat here and nothing to drink! And we hate this horrible manna!” So, God sent poisonous snakes among the people and many were bitten and died. Then the people came to Moses and cried out, “We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take away the snakes!” So, Moses prayed for the people. Then the Lord told him, “Make a replica of a poisonous snake and attach it to a pole. All who are bitten will live if they simply look at it!” So, Moses made a snake out of bronze and attached it to a pole. Then anyone who was bitten by a snake could look at the bronze snake and be healed. 

Jesus was hung on the cross, whosoever believes in Him by just turning the head to look will be saved from the sin. The consequence of sin is death. In 2020, we are facing a pandemic caused by coronavirus which affected the globe, including all 50 states in the U.S. The most tangible way to know how this virus affected our lives is to see the empty streets, highways, restaurants, bars, retail stores and what’s called “non-essential” businesses now. A few places we can see people at are the groceries where toilet paper and food stacks are empty, and the hospitals where the healthcare workers are anticipating and facing the sick without supplies for their own protection. It is as if they are going to the war zone on our front lines without guns and ammunition. Some doctors who treat the infected patients sleep in their own cars so that they reduce the chance to infect their own loved ones, family and friends. 

As we watch the news media, fear rises as the numbers of the infected and the death rate increases daily. Every day we hear new findings, altering our immediate needs and adjusting into a new normal. Fear creeps in, tension rises and the imagination of worse apocalyptic ideas enters our discussions at the table. In times like this when everything seems surreal and it is hard to find norms, we tend to look to see where we can find some controls to fill the void of insecurities. Even fighting over buying a toilet paper package is still comforting because fighting is a part of the norm. People can easily go into a rabbit hole, focusing on the number of infected people and death tolls, preparing for the worst and even exaggerating the scenarios, predicting economic disaster to a point of no return. It is much harder to reflect and ask why is this happening, what can we learn from this experience and what must we do to benefit each other. That answer usually comes from God, who created everything—even the viruses—and who controls the whole world, life, and death and even each breath we take. 

We actually do not have any control over these, but God has already counted the number of hairs each one of us has. He feeds the birds in the sky and birds have no ability to store the food supplies. And this God who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow says anyone who looks at the bronze snake attached to a pole will live. Now, why wouldn’t anyone just turn their head and look at it? This would be such an easy task yet there were people who did not. It is the pride that would prohibit a gaze because what God said does not make sense. Our education, common sense, and every  grain of logic prohibits such a gaze. But God is not of this world and naturally God’s logic will not make sense to us. Why would a loving God make such an infectious virus called Coronavirus, why now, why do we have to face it globally, why is this happening on this earth, why do I have to live through this unprecedented time, who is to blame, who will pay for all these consequences, where is God in all these anyway and all kinds of questions arise without answers. 

When all the dust settles, the turmoil of our mind, confusions and even anger subsides, then we have two choices: To look or not to look at the snake on a pole. I have decided to put down my pride and take a look at it, even if I wind up dying with this virus. We all die at one time; no one has escaped the death except Jesus who died and resurrected. Even though it may be a miserable way to die, and not able to breathe with this virus, the end is the same. Death is a worst scenario. The good news is that physical death is not the whole story of Christian belief. The victory is already determined and we know Jesus has conquered the death and we will be living in heaven in God’s bosom where there will be no more tears. So, calm your hearts, now that God is in control of this Covid19, and focus on Jesus who took away our sins by dangling like a bronze snake on the cross. Turn your head to look at it and receive eternal salvation. Fill your mind with God and pray for our nation and the world. God will hear your prayers and our Good Father will grant your wishes and give you peace that surpasses our understanding.