Hard Covid

16 min readJan 29, 2022


©Victor on Unsplash

It has been nearly six months since I wrote Soft Covid. This appalling hiatus is mainly due to writing effort being concentrated on a larger project (no further comment just now), completing a remarkably complicated property sale in a foreign country during Covid, and lately to Covid itself — not the psychosomatic syndrome I dubbed Soft Covid, but the hard stuff. Twice.

The first installment I believe was the Omicron variant. As widely reported, it is highly infectious but not particularly severe. Many identify its milder symptoms with the projected waning of the Sars-CoV-2 virus’s powers. For some countries, like the UK, this seems to fit neatly with the lifting of pandemic restrictions, or, as some commenters have called out, the “crumbling” of the pandemic narrative.

Despite its milder physical symptoms, Omicron is certainly not a friendly pathogen. It is highly infectious. Judging from my very limited exposure to the persons from whom I believe I caught it, I am tempted to say that I did not have a chance. I was never in a closed environment, like a room, with the suspected carriers, I was mostly outdoors, at a distance, and was in good health.

The interesting thing about Omicron was that it had a voice, one I was able to distinguish from my own inner voice. While that can from time to time be rather negative and cruel, it is, like many bullies, a secret softie, and typically keels over into laughter or swells of self-forgiveness when listened to. Omicron was something else. It had a distant feel to it, like a radio programme I was picking up from somewhere It’s message was stark, simple and unrelenting. You’re obsolete, it said.

Of course, this anecdote is hardly scientific. There is no control here. I’m not sure there can be any control. Discussing my own personal experience with others, I have found resonance, agreement with some, and bemusement in others. Not everyone hears this negative voice, it seems. Nor of course did I undertake tests to formally identify the Omicron variant in my system. I was going with gut feeling, with intuition.

Two weeks after this Omicron visitation, I attended a lunch with some friends here in Peru. One friend in particular looked rather red-eyed and frayed. I assumed he had had a big night out. Two days later, everyone who attended this lunch gathering, vaccinated and not, was down with proper, hard Covid.

Maybe it’s one of the older strains coming around again. Maybe it’s the Delta variant. Maybe it’s a new strain. Maybe it’s not one thing, but a mucous ball of various pathogens, like the “flu-rona” combination of corona and influenza people are talking about here. All of which causes one to consider what is Covid, actually?

Sure, the official answer is Sars-Cov-2, a corona virus. But the official answer is also mutating. The Delta variant, we are told, has multiple spike proteins, where its predecessors had only one. How many does it have? Are they all the same? How many mutations, or what degree of mutation makes Delta something else? Having lived in the Amazon rainforest on and off throughout the pandemic, I think of biological classification. When is a new species of insect a new species? When is a variation of a virus a new variant?

The process of answering these questions is highly complex, highly specialised, and relies upon great stacks of theory. As with weather patterns or other complex systems, when it comes to visualising a coronavirus, or its submolecular mechanics, we are totally dependent upon computer models. You cannot look in the old-fashioned, optical sense of the word, and see a coronavirus, let alone tell what variant it is, any more than people could see the germs Louis Pasteur was going on about back in 1859.

Louis Pasteur with his rabies vaccine

Pasteur used scientific method to assert his germ theory over the competing theory of spontaneous generation, which harked back to much older theories based on ether and the spontaneous creative force of life itself.

It had long been observed that meat broth, left to stand long enough, would develop mold etc. How did this happen? What was going on? Using fairly simple equipment, Pasteur was able to show that something got in from the air and contaminated a flask of boiled broth, rather than the boiled broth spontaneously giving rise to a contaminating something. He was also able to show that it was something in the air, rather than the air itself, that did the contaminating. We know now of course that that contaminating something is bacteria. Pasteur won a resounding victory, spontaneous generation was consigned to the history books, and the science moved on.

I very briefly mention this actually rather vast historical moment as it seems we are once again dealing with the matter of unseen contamination. Given the reliance on computer models in virus and variant identification, in other words, on the reliance of theory, it seems to me that questions like what causes Covid? or What is Sars-CoV-2? are far from trivial.

A typical computer visualisation of Sars-CoV-2

I am not disputing the generally accepted science that there is something called Sars-CoV-2, nor am I disputing, as many have and continue to do, that this something has been isolated in the lab, which is as close as anyone can come to seeing it. To be super clear, I write this on my 9th day of suffering from something I am calling Covid, which, as I describe below, is qualitatively distinct from the common cold or influenza.

I am not a Covid denier. Far from it. However, that does not make me a Covid “accepter.” The call here is for skepticism, even and especially as it is rapidly and deliberately being confused with ‘denial.’ It is barely possible to be ‘vaccine skeptic’ any more. Skepticism, or thinking for oneself, has been massively denigrated.

Whatever “side” we are on — bat virus or lab leak, vaxx or anti, thesis or antithesis, Bill Gates or Robert Kennedy, Joe Rogan or Neil Young and so on — there is far more to the matter than we think. Given the pandemic’s global scale and impact on people, societies, economies, institutions of all kinds, we must have our eyes open. Our lives may depend on it.

David Icke on London Real in April 2020

Way back at the start of the pandemic, David Icke stated “there is no Covid” on gollum-faced self-styled hero Brian Rose’s channel, London Real, then platformed on YouTube. Ofcom received 48 complaints and moved to shut the thing down. Just while we’re here, reality show Love Island regularly generated Ofcom complaints in the tens of thousands but well, let’s say the threshold is lower when it comes to the pandemic. Rose became an indie broadcasting hero overnight, raised several million quid from viewers to ‘build his own platform,’ which was later revealed by Rebel Wisdom and other YouTubers to be a standard subscription to the existing platform BitChute, prompting various cries of ‘where’s the money?’

Anyway. I’m not entirely sure where Icke was coming from when he said, “there is no virus” but it is possible that he had spent a few hours on Google and turned up information that virologists are not quite as unified on the theory regarding the isolation of viruses as we might think. Do your own research, with the caveat that you’ll be skimming the highly rarefied worlds of microbiology and biotech.

Nonetheless, it didn’t take long for memes blasting the non-existence of Sars-CoV-2 to go viral, in turn activating fact-checking antibodies from Reuters to Full Fact to Snopes. Google “covid virus has not been isolated” to obtain a full-spectrum fact-check antibody assay.

But how can we isolate something we cannot see? If we can only “see” it via computer models, is isolating it simply a matter of manipulating the computer model? How real is the image of Sars-CoV-2 above? Let’s take a look.

A Reuters non-isolation fact checking article points at numerous scientific studies, like this one published on the National Center for Biotechnological Information database, which asserts that the virus was indeed isolated:

The patient’s oropharyngeal samples were obtained by using UTM™ kit containing 1 mL of viral transport media (Copan Diagnostics Inc., Murrieta, CA, USA) on day 7 of her illness. We inoculated monolayers of Vero cells (ATCC ® CCL-81™) with the samples and cultured the cells at 37°C in a 5% carbon dioxide atmosphere. Until 5 days after inoculation, cytopathic effects were not distinct, which is compatible with the previous findings that no specific cytopathic effects were observed in the Vero E6 cells until 6 days after inoculation in the report about first isolation of SARS-CoV-2.3 Five days after inoculation, we did blind passage of culture supernatant into T-25 culture flask (ThermoFisher Scientific Inc., Waltham, MA, USA) with monolayers of Vero cells, and cytopathic effects consisting of rounding and detachment of cells were observed in the whole area of the T-25 flask 3 days after the first blind passage (Fig. 1A and B).

Having followed this procedure, the authors used electron scanning microscopy to obtain the following images (their caption):

Cytopathic effects of SARS-CoV-2 in Vero cell cultures and electron microscopy image of SARS-CoV-2. Vero cells were inoculated with oropharyngeal swab sample. (A) Vero cell cultures in negative control. (B) Cytopathic effects consisting of rounding and detachment of cells in Vero cell cultures 3 days after the first blind passage. (C, D) Transmission electron microscopy image of Vero cells infected with SARS-CoV-2. White arrow head denotes nuclear membrane, black arrow head extracellular virus particles, and thin black arrow cytoplasmic vesicle including virus components ©. Thick black arrow denotes magnified virus particles with crown-like spikes (D).

Looks like we can conclude that we’re not solely reliant on computer imaging, and that we are, as good as makes no odds, seeing a corona virus in vivo. Also, the symptoms presented by the experimental subject match the classic (flu-like) symptoms generally known as Covid-19.

So what the hell was Icke talking about, when he said there is no virus, and/or there is no Covid? Is it even worth looking into, given there is ample scientific proof that the Sars-CoV-2 virus exists, and that its existence appears to correlate — as evidenced by a number of scientific studies — with the symptoms known as Covid-19?

Do your own research if you want to hear Icke for yourself. I would go there, except these days you have to give London Real your email address in order to access the “Digital Freedom Platform” and I can see from the comments there are people begging to be removed from the mailing list…

There are a number of routes our hypothetical Icke might take here. We might deny a causal relationship between the coronavirus and the symptoms. We might postulate some other, hitherto unidentified factor X, which is also present and which is the real culprit, the real cause of the serious respiratory disease symptoms, fatal in some cases. We might slide into data conspiracy, and claim that all Covid deaths are in fact Covid-related deaths, and the real killer was diabetes, or heart disease or cancer or some other pre-existing condition. There are those who claim the numbers of deaths from Covid now are smaller than they were earlier on, due to the virus having already taken out those with pre-existing conditions. And there are those who assert that the number of deaths has dropped off due to the effect of the vaccines in the population.

Eschewing the extremes of the landscape of arguments here, I think it is safe to say that there is a range of possible interpretations of the data because of the lack of clarity of the causal relationship between the coronavirus and different symptoms observed in different people. Assuming for the moment the Sars-Cov-2 coronavirus is the causal culprit behind the pandemic, we must obviously observe that there is a huge variety in what exactly it causes. In children, for example, it doesn’t seem to do very much, whereas in older people with pre-existing conditions, it is potentially deadly. There is, anecdotally if nothing else, a common midrange of flu symptoms of varying degrees of severity.

So, even if we have established that there is a coronavirus and that it is responsible for large numbers of people falling ill, some of them seriously, we still don’t quite know exactly what that virus does…in the sense of understanding why it affects some people severely, and others not at all.

Just as the proponents of spontaneous generation in 1859 would have done well to be more open-minded, and might perhaps have arrived at Pasteur’s conclusion that it was germs in the air causing the beef stew to go off, might proponents of the coronavirus thesis (that it is Sars-CoV-2 that causes Covid-19) do well to be open to the idea that it might be something else, or also something else, that is at work?

According to a series of essays published by the Department of Logic, Philosophy and Scientific Method at the London School of Economics, while there are certain advantages — linguistic, social, political — to the current view of viruses as discrete things, a better understanding of how they work is afforded by thinking of them not as physical microbiological entities, but as processes.

For example, thinking of viruses as things tends towards a view of viral reproduction in line with a general survival of the fittest natural selection model. Viruses with certain attributes, e.g. an ability to avoid antibodies, will be more successful. There is a genetic advantage for the virus to go on reproducing the antibody-avoiding attribute.

According to the latest research, however, this is not what happens. Viruses hijack host cells in order to produce a mutant cloud, or swarm, composed of diverse member particles. Mutations and recombinations occur within this cloud, allowing it to adapt rapidly to changes in the environment, e.g. host immune response, or the presence of antiviral drugs. The mutant cloud adapts on the fly. Furthermore, the way in which it adapts cannot be ascribed to the virus itself, and therefore be thought of as a characteristic of the virus, or used to identify it. The mutability, diversity, success rate of this mutant cloud in evading immune system and/or drugs is pretty much a non-local process… In order to understand it, we must look beyond the workings of the virus itself, and to the wider context in which it operates…

Philosophically speaking then, perhaps Icke is not so far off the mark as he first appears, though I suspect this is being rather generous to the man.

Please note, this is not a Covid-denying point I am making here, it is a philosophical one, an ontological one… I am not not (two nots) pointing the finger at Sars-CoV-2, but pointing a number of fingers at the virus and its luminal environment and saying, yup, something is going on there… It remains to be seen, remains to be conceived, what exactly the limit of that luminal environment actually is….

Could it be that, in reducing the culprit to the now iconic microbiological entity known as Sars-CoV-2 we are missing parts of the picture? Or worse case, that we are missing the point?

The LSE author, Stephan Guttinger, goes on to identify ways in which the process view of viruses may afford scientific understanding of various phenomena besetting the modern world, including the “jumping” of viruses between animal species, or from animals to humans, and perhaps back again. Perhaps this kind of inquiry might lead somewhere. Perhaps it merely confirms what in my opinion is already devastatingly obvious. That we humans, in trampling natural habitats, in steadily replacing global populations of wild animals with captive populations of domesticated species, and further fucking with those domesticated species via e.g. artificial insemination (in pigs this leads to swine flu), antibiotics, genetically modified feed and so on are messing with natural processes, safeguards, balances we are not even aware of, and bringing about increasingly dreadful consequences. Like Covid-19.

Correction. I believe we ARE aware of these natural processes. We may not know how they work exactly. We may in fact not be capable of knowing how they work at the microbiological level. Even to understand how and why Sars-CoV-2 affects some genomes fatally and others not at all may turn to be beyond us, at the very least requiring super computational modelling, and flirtations with pandemic disaster to come close.

At a mythological level, is this not Icarus all over again? We fly too close to the sun, whether it be microbiological, genetic or subatomic meddling, and lo and behold we end up fucking the entire planet up. The staggering thing is that the likes of Gates and Musk can’t seem to learn their lesson. The former is notorious for proposing (and likely already carrying out in secret) a “solution” to global warming of spraying the atmosphere with metallic particles to reflect the sun’s rays.

And yet we remain enthralled by these ‘geniuses.’ Musk smoked a spliff when he was younger. He must be alright. Vote Musk, vote Gates, vote Peter fucking Thiel and all will be well… just Don’t Look Up.

But let’s come back to Covid.

It is well known that going through Covid is tough psychologically as well as physically. I want to extend that knowledge here a little. It would be easy to write off this ‘psychological’ component of Covid as the negativity, depression, anxiety, low energy thinking one might easily expect of an illlness that can persist for a number of weeks.

There is all that. There is that inorganic, non-self voice I already mentioned in Omicron. In Delta, or whatever the hell it is I am still clearing out of my system, there is something else again. It was at its most acute on about Day 3 of the onset of symptoms. The physical symptoms include headaches, fever, chills — the flu-like symptoms. On top of this came what I am going to call a cognitive hijack.

Chess on the ceiling

For me it started to get weird when I found myself playing chess on the ceiling. If you watched the Netflix movie Queen’s Gambit, or perhaps, if you have suffered an addiction to playing chess you’ll know what I mean. The thing was, I could not make it stop. In fact, it wasn’t me playing. Something was playing me. Not coherently, as if something wanted to play me at chess. It was more that the virus (or its non-local mutant cloud) had discovered the neurology of all my historical chess playing and was… fucking about with it.

At one point I was staring at the coffee table, and became aware I was forming chess relationships between the objects on it. The cup, the vase, the mat. After three days of this, I swore never to play another game of chess. I must remember to cancel my chess.com subscription. I advise you to do the same, if you have one.

After the ceiling and coffee table chess receded somewhat, I was aware of a localised ache around and in my eyes. If I say I was hallucinating, you will think of psychedelic Disney etc but it wasn’t that. If anything it was much more like ketamin or perhaps salvia than like LSD. There was no extra light coming in. I wasn’t seeing things. Rather, I was aware of visual-cognitive hijack. It was interesting (as well as unpleasant) and at the same time I was instinctively aware that I should not mess with this. There was a part of me that wanted to go with it, go with this effect, this trip… to let go and see what happened. And there was another, I think wiser, part that cautioned against doing that. When I asked that part why, the word that came back was possession.

I have spoken to a small number of people who recognise what I am talking about. One of them advised that I was indeed right not to go with it, but instead to avoid screens of all kinds, and to avoid thinking about this phenomenon, which, she said, is “a technology not from here.”

I am aware this sounds crazy. You’ll have to trust me that I did not go with this hijack, and am not, as far as I am aware, possessed.

From my own experience of countless colds and flus over the years, I can say that Omicron and this more virulent variant, whatever it is, have something in them quite distinct from colds or flu. There is another layer. I would describe it as synthetic. There is at times a loved up, lucid side to it that reminds me of synthetic drugs like ecstasy and 2CB from years ago.

There are low-level effects, as in low in the biostack of visual cognitive processing that, as I have already said, one might liken to ketamine or salvia… a depressant effect. At times the hallucinatory effects were intensely surreal… as though I were peering out from a cloud at surroundings that were, while familiar, not normal. There is an effect that seems to heighten colour perception, as if the vividness was turned up, likewise for certain smells. Sound was not particularly affected in my case. I would describe the effects in general as dissociative, and accompanied by mild to medium headaches.

So there we are.

It may be that you recognise these effects from your own experience of Covid. Or not. You might be thinking, thank god I had the vaccine and avoided all this. I hope the vaccine will continue to save you from all this. Or you may have ‘gone with it’ and encountered aliens or machine elves or grays or whatever. We should compile a list of Covid experiences. We could start here, why not? Let me know in the comments.

I find myself wondering if there are indeed people who “went with it” — who went with this cybernetic seduction…this Call of Covid… and are as we speak operating from there. Perhaps something got installed in their heads…

I wonder if all the conspiracy stuff about chips in vaccines, 5G-readable graphene layers in brain cells and so on is tapping into something after all. No, there are neither chips nor graphene layers in vaccines… any more than there is in the virus. I’m suggesting that such fears or projections might originate somewhere other than e.g. QAnon or Russian PsyOps. They might be a kind of subconscious awareness of something even further below the radar than we think. It may be that my imagination was extended or distorted by the neurotropic effects of Covid. The question of whether there is anything ‘out there’ on the other end of those wavelengths is what I would call Carlos Castaneda territory. It may be that I have been watching too much Netflix — Counterpart, Dark, Archive 81… are these narratives not all tapping into something?

I will go as far as to say that there is something strange in the virus. Humans may have opened a door between bats and humans and a coronavirus mutant cloud has walked through it. It might be that we are a long way from understanding what that mutant cloud is or what it is doing.

It may be that this is a door we want to close quick sharpish, just as Icarus, were he able to look back, would not want to fly too close to the sun.

And it may be that this door has been open for some time, and our modern day Icaruses, our Gateses and Musks, are talking to us from the other side, pied pipers that would suck the entire planet into god only knows where.




Essays on convergence, divergence and emergence.