(a very short story about the very near future)
This is a story of perseverance, resourcefulness and, finally, victoryof a sort.
It was never determined exactly where the virus originated. Some blamed black-ops bio-warfare labs, others, bats. But whatever its source, it gave the entire human race a common enemy, and an emergency more immanent and self-evident than global warming. Moreover, it offered humanity an opportunity to unite and do itself proud by demonstrating its highest social ideals of collaboration for the general good.
Humanity, however, did not quite rise to the challenge.
Oh, the science and medical communities came through like gangbusters with multiple effective vaccines and with unbelievable speed--a virtual moonshot of epidemiological and techno-pharmaceutical bravura. It was just mostly everyone else who let us down.
"Herd immunity," the strategic goal to defeat the virus, initially seemed within reach. But although face masks, social distancing protocols and vaccinations, the no-tech, high-tech and common sense scientific solutions to the virus, were promoted and made commonly available, the prospect of achieving that goal receded all over the world. Social and cultural divisions proved too distracting to put aside for the purpose of universal medical relief. Political opportunists used the spreading pandemic, instead, to foment localized conflicts merely to further their individual partisan agendas. And millions died.
"So it goes," as Kurt Vonnegut would say.
So the virus permanently infiltrated the biochemistry of the human race. The moonshot vaccines became stop-gap biannual booster shots, intended merely to keep up with the virus's robust mutations running rampant through nine billion human hosts. And the fallback "achievement," if you will, was simply to maintain politically "acceptable" hospitalization and mortality rates forever.
And yet there was still a victory here. While it is a mystery as to where the virus came from, it is clear where it went. When Elon Musk's first (infected) space crew landed on Mars, not only did that constitute another "giant leap for mankind," but also for our parasitic, viral secret sharer.
There's a new "us" in the solar system.