Return of the White Death

In “Return of the White Death: the threat of new strains of TB”, Drew Smith, a PhD molecular biologist at the University of Colorado, opines on new strains of tuberculosis (TB) rearing its ugly head.

TB accounted for a quarter of all deaths in European and North American cities in the early 19th century, killing 80 per cent of those it infected. Like AIDS today, TB was so destructive because its usual victims were young adults, the most dynamic, productive and innovative members of society. TB is the reason why so many Georgian and Victorian novels feature orphans and orphanages.

Of the resurgence of TB:

At a certain tipping point, TB could make our progressive, innovation-driven society unsustainable. The same interactions between ‘makers’, who we rely on to drive our economy, will also spread a deadly, difficult-to-treat disease. The hardest-hit among us will be young adults whose lives and careers are cut short, causing immense strains to our social fabric. Our highly interconnected economic system that has reduced poverty to the lowest levels in history will begin to collapse, creating a positive feedback cycle of more disease and disruption…

Smith then dares to think about the unthinkable (mass immigration into the West), but cloaks it in obligatory P.C. overtones (aka “climate change causes mass migration”):

But consider a worst-case scenario: the new strains of TB combined with climate-driven crop failures, resulting in mass migrations. The result could spawn an essentially unstoppable epidemic that would put an end to the modern economy. We are more vulnerable than we realise; the White Death might walk among us once again.

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