Livin' on the MDedge

Australian apocalypse essentials and bacterial evolution stoppers


Irony 1, Council on Foreign Relations 0

It’s not a great time to be a business owner right now. People everywhere are feeling nervous, thanks to our old friend COVID-19, and it can be difficult to actually sell things when half the population is staying indoors hoarding toilet paper.

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So if you are a business owner, you’re probably thinking: “Gee, it sure would be nice to meet up with my fellow business owners to come up with a plan on how to operate in a world dealing with a potential pandemic.” Right?

That’s the idea behind the Council on Foreign Relations’ roundtable discussion called “Doing Business Under Coronavirus,” scheduled for March 13, 2020, in New York. Or at least, it was the idea, because the conference has been canceled. And you’ll never guess why.

Okay, it was coronavirus. Uh, you probably did guess that. We’re not entirely sure what that means for business owners, but come on, there’s no need to worry, at least the infectious disease physicians had their meeting this past weekend ... oh wait. Hmm, maybe it’s time to start searching Amazon for some toilet paper.

Wipe away coronavirus fear

People now have smartphones to read the news while on the toilet, but at one point or another, having a newspaper to read in the john was probably pretty essential to combat boredom. Our friends down under, however, seem to have found another essential way to use a newspaper in the bathroom.


The coronavirus is slowly making its way around the world, and in Australia, people are stocking up on toilet paper. Toilet paper companies are working extra hard to keep a steady supply of toilet paper in supermarkets. A newspaper has tried to help by adding extra pages to its newspapers that could potentially be used as toilet paper. This seems like a good time to swap out your smartphone for one of these newspapers as it would not be wise to use your smartphone for toilet paper.

No one is sure why everyone in Australia is in a frenzy over toilet paper since it’s not a very big necessity in a large coronavirus outbreak. Are Aussies preparing to hide out in their homes just in case those affected by coronavirus turn into zombies, thus creating a zombie apocalypse? In that case, yeah, toilet paper, among other things, is probably essential.

Resistance meets resistance

As our planet moves from zombie apocalypse to coronapocalypse, even the business news has gone full COVID-19. So, it would be pointless for us to cover any other topic, right?

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Well, welcome to the Bureau of Missing the Point. Ladies and gentleman, we give you [drum roll, please] bacteria.

That’s right, we said bacteria. In a world ruled by coronavirus, LOTME dares to bring you the latest edition of Bacteria vs. the World.

This week, we’re talking antibiotic resistance. The problem is that bacteria have the ability to pick up DNA from their surroundings to create resistance. That ability, known as competence, could be considered a form of evolution, and scientists are trying to stop it.

Investigators at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands and the Swiss University of Lausanne “developed a high-throughput assay to simultaneously test cells for competence and growth,” lead investigator Arnau Domenech, PhD, said in a written statement. Of the 1,366 approved drugs that they tested against Streptococcus pneumoniae, 46 blocked bacterial competence.

“When cells are under growth stress, for instance in the presence of antibiotics, they try to find a solution and become resistant to these drugs,” Dr. Domenech explained. “Importantly, we did not observe resistance to the drugs found here as they do not cause growth stress.”

The drug concentrations used to block competence may be too high to be safe for humans, but the results suggest that competence blockers are, indeed, anti-evolution drugs. As we go bacteria to the future, it seems, the ghost of Charles Darwin is working for the humans. Thanks, Chuck.

Oh, one more thing … CORONAVIRUS!

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