*DISCLAIMER (There is no connection between Corona beer and the novel influenza virus COVID-19)
I sit in strange times. It is the 15th of March 2020 and the World seems beset by fear (or at least the anticipation of it). It is several weeks into the outbreak of a previously unseen influenza virus in or near to the Wuhan province in China. Information given seems to suggest it is quit different to normal flus. It can survive much longer outside of host (potentially 14 days or more), it has a unusually long gestation (latency) period (up to 20 or more days – normally its only 4 or so) and it has a fatality rate of 4 or more % (normal flu is about 0.1% fatal). So as it stands it is still not known if this is going to kick off into a Spanish Flu like event and potentially kill 280 million people (4% of 7 Billion) or it will fizzle out and be denounced as some kind of media driven circus.
The Corona virus is named due to its corona (Spanish for crown) which is derived from a distinctive corona or ‘crown’ of sugary-proteins that projects from the envelope surrounding the particle.
An interesting phenomenon has occurred around this viral outbreak. Believe it or not but it has been reported (in the U.S.A. mainly) that Corona beer sales have dropped due to a mistaken belief that the beer and the virus are in some way linked.
This is of course ridiculous.
Constellation Brands (the conglomerate behind Corona, the beer not the virus) put out a statement that “recent misinformation about the impact of this virus on our business has been circulating in traditional and social media without further investigation or validation. These claims simply do not reflect our business performance and consumer sentiment” and that the sales of Corona Extra in the period ending Feb 16th 2020 “remain strong, with dollar sales up 5% in the U.S.”. They continued by saying “We’ve seen no impact to our people, facilities or operations and our business continues to perform very well.”
Only the truly gullible were initially taken in however as the following articles suggest.
And then, this being a media driven event, the memes began…….
Bizarrely enough this is not the first time that the coronavirus has made an appearance in Mexico. In a twist as prophetic as the Simpsons predicting the election of Donald Trump Mexico may have glimpsed the future (possibly as part of a drunken bacchanalia) with an inspired artisan creating the drinking vessel pictured below.
This image depicts a (possibly ritual) drinking vessel of an older but no less famous Mexican drink called pulque. This drink, much like beer, is a fermented drink and reaches an alcohol percentage of about 2-4ish. It is made from the fresh sap (called aguamiel – a drink in its own right) of several species of agave. That is where the similarities end. Pulque is a creamy coloured, viscous textured (think runny egg whites) and slightly acid drink. It quickly (over a few days) becomes too sour to drink. Beer is a (usually) clear, piss coloured liquid that is often too bitter to enjoy. SEE. No similarities.
The vessel above does bear a striking resemblance to the structure of the virus but we must remember that the vessel above was born from the imagination and skill of a talented Mesoamerican artist and the Wuhan virus was created in a laboratory by a madman lunatic. Again. No similarities.
We are yet to see how this virus will unfold worldwide. It is March. I am in Australia. Parts of China, all of Italy and other parts of Europe have closed their borders and quarantined (either voluntarily, or not) their people. In Australia people are beginning to feel the fear. It hasn’t broken yet but you can feel it around you. Like being stuck in a throng, shoulder to shoulder, when the beast undulates across the ground you move with it. Even if you don’t want to. People are hoarding, and the strange thing is that the first commodity off the shelf was toilet paper. There have been fights in the toilet paper aisle of Coles. A delivery driver has been mugged when delivering to a pharmacy. For toilet paper.
I shudder to think how it might be when they want food for their child. Things might get truly desperate. We can only wait and see how it unfolds.