Can RNA Viruses Interbreed?
I guess there is a reason other than sexual reproduction for the two equal – sized populations of Covid-19 like illnesses (CLI) and Influenza like illnesses (ILI) as posted at the CDC. That would be the eeny-meeny-miny-mo approach.
Consider if your respiratory illness led you to visit a physician in a hospital setting, and without any testing of your bodily fluids or nose hairs, that physician made a guess that placed you in the ILI category because your condition at least had much in common with Influenza. That’s a good development because it almost ensures that after a swab is collected from your fevered sinuses, subsequent respiratory disease epidemiological surveillance, using the very best practices, will be applied to nail down the virus strain which made you and others sick.
But consider if the physician made a different guess. A quick detour to justify my rhetoric: All physicians can only guess about your viral condition, if there is no genetic test performed on the virus. So, again consider when the physician makes the other guess, the Covid-19 guess. That’s not a good development for any in the health field or for you. With that fateful guess, epidemiological surveillance best practices, known as the Right Size Roadmap (RSR) are held in contempt. Now contrary to that RSR guideline, if your nasal sample will be tested for anything, that will only be the SARS-CoV-2 strain.
And if it turns out you are negative for Covid-19, will any health professionals revisit your Covid-19 diagnosis, and test your sample for other influenza strains, in accordance with the regulatory strength RSR guidelines? Unbelievably: NO. The actual virus strain now appears to be of no further use to public health practitioners, and never will be identified. It’s a pity that they don’t follow RSR practices for such an arbitrary and early Covid judgement call by your non-virologist local physician. But that appears to be true. If you are initially labeled a Covid-19 sufferer, whether true or false, then you are no longer are entitled to the testing rights that all Influenza sufferers benefit from, and the public is not entitled to the data that they funded.
Moreover, it is not yet clear that your hospitalization case will ever be moved out of the Covid-19 disease category, even with the negative test. The public testing laboratories may inform doctors, who might inform relieved patients that they were not infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. But will the trusted health practitioners move the hospitalization category from CLI to ILI? NO again I would guess. They didn’t test for Influenza, so according to the RSR, they can’t say you have that.
And now there is no further motivation (other than due diligence) to test for any other strain because there is no longer any pressure, funding, or even any permission to do so. If it’s anyone’s fault, don’t look to them. It’s obviously your fault. Accordingly, your hospitalization stay will apparently be attributed to Covid-19 anyway. Given that the taxpayer funded CDC and all of the taxpayer funded public testing labs were informed somehow that they have a pass from the RSR when it comes to COVID, I am fairly certain they plan to keep the categorization as Covid-19 for your hospitalization.
Don’t believe me? Comments welcome. I only hope you will look after your own future and that of your family and dig into this concern on your own, starting with your own physician. I’ve asked a few, which is in part why I can write this.
As always this is a blog and the practices described above are unacceptable if verified. Everything about the pandemic depends after all on the pedigrees of these tests.
ORIGINAL below (postscript was too important to the nature of this post to be buried at the bottom).
I would guess that many virologists would begin by saying there is so much wrong with my title and the analogous image. Yet antigenic shifts and recombinations of RNA viruses have long been identified. These terms describe the cases when two (or more) virus species share their genetic material to make a new virus.
Yes, they need a eukaryotic host cell to engage in their reproductive activities. But many agree that more than one virus can infect any given cell at any one time. And within the cell, their protective sheathing is stripped away. Then transcription begins.
There doesn’t appear to be any identified mechanism to rule out the integration of positive and negative RNA strands. Accordingly, is it a stretch to suspect that negative stranded influenza viruses and positive stranded coronaviruses are loosely equivalent to two “sexes” of the same virus categorization? In this excerpt from a Wikipedia article  on the influenza viruses (Flo for short), The female component can be an RNA strand that lacks a PN, which is a polymerase attached to some nucleoproteins.
The PN is exemplary then of the male component. That is the main distinguishing feature I think. And the longer the PN is, the hunkier the coronavirus.
Consider this image, which shows just how close they are in so-called mutagenicity 
Only their size difference along with the presence or absence of polymerase, are typically attributed to signify their primary phylogenetic and mutational distinctions. Yet again, sexual analogies will not go away at least in my overheated mind. Coronaviruses are somewhat larger than influenza counterparts, but they both share the same class of viral membrane fusion proteins (class I covering hemagglutinin for influenza and S protein for Coronavirus), which is what really matters to each of us. And in our species, males are often larger than females as well. If this sexual reproductive analogy is apt, then the resulting widespread phylogenetic trees for coronaviruses and influenza viruses might make more sense.
After all a phylogenetic tree doesn’t seem to mean as much as one might like. One could post dog breeds phylogenetically for example. And many have. But dogs don’t MUTATE into other breeds. They sexually reproduce and pass on genetic traits. So given some positive and negative stranded viral RNA of the respiratory disease flavors, within the same host eukaryotic cells (most privately), the progeny might explain any so-called mutations. The mutations that are attributed to both types of respiratory virus are always identified by experts to be far more exuberant than other DNA types of viruses, as this recent paper relates to:
The reference is included within the image so any can link to confirm.
Yes this is not exactly the most scientific limb I’ve gone out on for this web site. Moreover it is only a blog, and likely there is additional prior work to cite including numerous reasons to challenge. I’ll incrementally edit and improve over time as is customary at this site.
There is a final item for any to seriously consider. The CDC publishes now (and in a novel development) that SARS-CoV-2 occurs in hospitalization determinations about half of the time. The influenza strains account for the other half. Any can visit the CDC corona dashboard site to confirm.
In our species and all other sexual species, males and females comprise each about half of all progeny, all of the time. What other reason can account for how the CDC has summed the Flo and Cory types?
 Peck KM, Lauring AS. 2018. Complexities of viral mutation rates. J Virol 92:e01031-17. https://doi.org/10.1128/JVI.01031-17.
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