Covid-19: History & Future

I’ve been lucky enough to be attending Cambridge University’s ‘Virtual Summer Festival of Learning Talks’ and in particular one given earlier this week by Dr Chris Smith, a Medical Consultant specialising in Clinical Microbiology and Virology at the University of Cambridge and Addenbrooke’s Hospital. He sheds some informed light on Covid-19 – where did it come from and when will it go away.

Health warning: The following is written based solely on my own understanding of what Dr Smith said during his 45-minute lecture.

When and why? 

There is good evidence suggesting that the first cases of Covid-19 predated China’s announcement in January 2020 to the World Health Organization. But it is also fair to suggest that prior to January 2020, no one – including the Chinese – had a real grasp on the severity of the situation.

Sadly, by that time, Covid-19 had spread widely without anyone realising it. In large part this was because around 80% of people infected show no symptoms. Likewise, only one in five of those infected develop an illness serious enough to attract attention. The most likely culprit regarding the severity and speed of the global spread was unmitigated air travel during the crucial time between late 2019 and early 2020. By the time borders started to shut in 2020, we were already in deep trouble.

There are about 5,000 coronaviruses occurring in nature some specific to humans and some specific to certain animals. Only a handful can jump species. But when that happens, the way in which the virus behaves in the new species is wildly different and can rapidly change without notice. There is sufficient evidence to suggest that is what happened with Covid-19, although no one can ever be certain. But we are fairly certain that exactly this type of thing has happened before – as with the flu that in 1918 infected 1/3 of the world population and in 2002-2003, with the SARS Mark 1 virus. 

What about Wuhan? 

According to Dr Smith, this is a smoking gun. Not only is the genetic code of Covid-19 nearly 96% similar to bats in China, but Wuhan does have a lab dedicated to corona virus research, which, by the way, is funded by many different countries including the United States of America. The point to remember is that such research is not only routine but also highly legitimate and it is carried on in the same way for the same reasons, in many parts of the world.

Dr Smith thinks it highly unlikely that if the virus escaped from the lab, it was allowed to do so on purpose. There are many ways in which, accidently, this might have happened. But is that what happened? We do not know. All we know is that the lab did have something very close to this strain on the premises. But for a more informed opinion, we would need further information and unfortunately on this point, China is not currently playing ball.

How contagious is Covid-19?

Dr Smith explains it’s all down to R-value (reproductive), which at the beginning of any outbreak starts at R-0. As things move forward, we shift forward into R-2, which means that each infection causes two more infections. 

We might expect that without anything to stop it, Covid-19 would rise to R-3 or R-4, which makes it twice as infectious as the flu. But don’t forget that there are a variety of important factors that are not so easily measured as with, for example, the effect of ‘super-spreaders’ (i.e., highly networked people with multiple points of contact). 

By comparison, consider the measles that carries an R-value of 12-20. 

Should you get vaccinated?

The data now suggests that as compared to the unvaccinated, vaccinated adults are 95% more protected from severe cases of Covid-19 and/or death.  For children, especially the 12–16-year age group, let’s face the fact that they are as likely to catch the virus as the R rate operative in their area otherwise suggests.

But although their chances of serious illness/death are much less likely than adults or those considered vulnerable for other reasons, they are still carriers. 

Here’s the real kicker: combine the data showing that 80% of those infected show no symptoms with the data suggesting that 80-90% of all transmissions of Covid-19 occur in your own home, and you may want to reconsider your position on vaccination both for yourselves and your kids. 

There are risks with any vaccination but one of the main risks here is myocardial titus ,or inflation of the heart, and the 1 in a million chance of developing this are about the same as expected with actually contracting the virus.

Are masks effective?

This, as Dr Smith reminds us, is a political hot potato and when evaluating it we need to consider that PPE and masks in the hospital environment is not the same thing as wearing masks in public.

Wearing a mask when walking down the street is, in his opinion, a wasted effort. Wearing a mask in a more crowded indoor environment with inadequate ventilation and/or little opportunity for social distancing makes more sense. But let’s be honest here, too. Wearing a mask may help to keep those infected from spreading the infection, but it will not keep you from catching it. 

Furthermore, most people outside of the hospital environment are not properly wearing their masks. For example, if you wear eyeglasses and find them fogged over when wearing a mask, that is a pretty clear indication that your mask is ineffective. Likewise, consider standing in a smoky room. If the smoke is getting to you, then so is the Covid-19 virus, which is actually smaller than the particles found in that smoke. 

Will Covid-19 go away?

The short answer is no. 

It’s in nature and even if we did manage to eradicate it, it would just come back again. Consider that of the 8 billion people on earth, there are 7 billion that are either uninfected or unvaccinated and that’s a whole lot of people with whom the returning virus can have a field day. It is Dr Smith’s opinion that we need find a way to live with Covid-19 and in this respect, vaccination is key because it converts a lethal infection into something that, like the flu or the common cold, is for the most part mildly irritating. 

By the way, notes Dr Smith, if we think that we think we can go on avoiding catching Covid, then think again. Many suggest they’ve never had the flu. Yet that reality is highly unlikely. The reason you thought the flu that you actually had wasn’t much more than a cold is because the vaccination or herd immunity kept it at bay. Same with Covid. The more opportunity our immune systems have to come in contact with such viruses (without it killing you), the better and better our immunity will become.

Whilst it is true that future variants will develop some resistance to the vaccines, it is the view of Dr Smith that such variants will never become completely resistant. The suggestion is that as long as we continue to share information globally so that as with annual flu vaccines, the Covid-19 vaccines are continually updated, we will beat the variants.

Finally, as we open up here in the UK we can expect the current levels of infection will continue to rise  – perhaps up to 50,000 to 100,000 cases each day. This should peak in a couple of months. But Dr Smith is reasonably confident the vaccines will hold serious illness, complications, and death at bay. In January, we had similar levels of infection as we have now and then 50% of all NHS beds were occupied by Covid patients. At the moment, although infections rates are rising, admissions to hospitals because of Covid-related illness are no-where near that – and although only time will tell for certain, fingers crossed it continues in this way.

Today and Tomorrow are Nine of Swords Days

With the Sun in Virgo (worry-wart) and the Moon in Taurus (fixed, stiff, rigid), today and tomorrow are Nine of Swords days.

In the Joie de Vivre tarot deck, we find Woe, sitting in a tree, frozen by fear. If only he would look up and see the bright flowers on the branches above him, he might feel better. But it would seem that he chooses instead to keep his eyes  firmly fixed on the harpies surrounding him.

th-1.jpegA change in his perspective would make all the difference. But Woe hasn’t yet learned the wisdom offered by the tarot suit of swords – a troubled mind will bring nothing but troubles. Truly, you’re a prisoner of your thoughts.

The Nine of Swords is the most difficult of the deck. It’s reputation as one of ill-omen is well-earned. It is with this card that we plunge in the depths of unconscious conflicts, hidden complexes, and deep-seated neuroses. If you’re not careful with this energy you might even manage to drive yourself mad!

Now, if Woe were a friend of yours, what advice might you give to him?

Buck up? It can’t be that bad? There’s always a solution?


Solar Return (2016-17) Happy Birthday Ms D

Here’s a solar return (2016-17) for a friend of mine – Happy birthday Ms D:

  • Sun conjunct Venus in 11th house
  • Moon in 4th house making no aspects
  • Mercury in 11th house in a grand trine with Pluto and Jupiter
  • Saturn in 5th house in T cross with Neptune and Jupiter


ms D

Summary – the focus this year will be on friends how they fit into the fondest hopes and dreams of Ms. D. However, this may not be as easy as it sounds because such friendships will likely come with some ‘sticky’ strings. This in turn is likely to present Ms. D with some ethical issues – such as are we ‘lovers’ or ‘just friends’ – additionally further complications may arise due to changes in domestic routine, whether due to moving house, or home renovations, some disruption in this arena will become a significant emotional focus.

Sun / Venus

The 11th house is associated with hopes and dreams, group interactions, and friendships.

With bright and shining Solar Return (SR) Venus here, Ms. D is more likely to enjoy a fair share of pleasant friendships with people who will happily support her in achieving her goals. But because the 11th house is also associated with moral dilemmas & social expectations, these friendships may come with some (sticky) strings attached.

The SR Sun is all about intellectual focus = so with the SR Sun (the most significant planet in the solar return chart) also here in the 11th house, the indication is that Ms. M will spend a good bit of time and energy dealing with these ethical issues surrounding these (sticky) strings.

Because (1) the 11th is in opposition to the 5th house (love affairs and creative self-expression) and (2) Venus is conjunct the Sun in the 11th, dilemmas may well arise with issues such as – are we ‘just friends’ or ‘lovers’?


The SR Moon is about emotional focus and in the 4th house, the focus is on house and home. Perhaps Ms. D will be moving house during the year or otherwise changing her residence or domestic situation – there is undoubtedly going to be some domestic-related change or disruption. Because the Moon makes no aspects to other planets, this suggests that Ms. M may be undertaking these alone or that these changes may make her feel as if she’s alone. The good news is that such changes do not appear to be the result of outside interferences hence such decisions are likely based on decisions taken based on their merits to suit the preferences of Ms. M.


SR Mercury is about mental condition – i.e. what Ms. D will be primarily thinking about. Again because SR Mercury is in the 11th house, her mental focus will likely be both on hopes and dreams and how they relate to those friends who come with (sticky) strings. That SR Mercury is caught up in a grand trine with Jupiter and Pluto, suggests those hopes and dreams may well  have significant psychological impact – in the sense that unconscious motivations come to the front and are more clear. There is also a possibility of verbal power plays – knowledge is power – who knows what it is that you need to know?!


SR Saturn is caught up with Jupiter/Neptune in hard aspect. According to Liz Greene, both these rulers of Pisces (Jupiter & Neptune) have a taste for the boundless – together they are the visionary; they are also hallmarks of the the foolhardy dreamer. Potentially misplaced optimism, pie-in the sky hopes and dreams, miscalculations, and poor decisions are all possibilities – secrecy and perhaps downright deception may also play a part here. ‘Buyer beware’ comes to mind – if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.

SR Saturn symbolizes the reality of any given situation and emphasizes how we really are ultimately responsible for our lives. SR Saturn is in the 5th house of love affairs and creative self-expression and suggests circumstances making it difficult to express yourself naturally as you have in the past. Relationships, especially love affairs, can be difficult especially due to limitations imposed by circumstances beyond your control. For example, she may not really fit in with his friends or he may not really relate to her friends.

Because of the influence of Jupiter/Neptune, such a situation might tempt either to pretend to be something other than who she or he really. But with Saturn around, this is probably not going to turn out to be such a good idea.

Composite Jupiter/Neptune

Composite Charts

The composite chart is created by taking the midpoint between pairs of each of two person’s natal planets (in this case Venus and Uranus) and using them to create a third, new chart. The composite chart is not the same as synastry, which examines how one person impacts the other. Instead the composite chart represents the relationship as a whole giving insight into the dynamics upon which it, as a relationship, functions.

Composite Jupiter

Jupiter symbolises key areas of  growth for the relationship as well as how the partners to that relationship find meaning together. Composite Jupiter also provides a shared spiritual commitment – an inspired, optimistic vision for the future. The trick is not to go overboard.

Composite Neptune

Neptune brings magic, colour, and soul into a relationship, shared creativity and beguilingly beautiful dreams. The problem with Neptune is that is that doesn’t play by ordinary rules. Hence Neptune is oft associated with disappointment, deceit, and disillusion.

Impossible-Dream-300x213Composite Jupiter/Neptune

Both Jupiter and Neptune share a taste for the boundless. They are the signature of the dreamer/visionary with a foolhardy naivety about the ‘real world’. When Neptune is involved in a composite chart, there is bound to be a sense of being soul-mates and hence it is all the harder to put on the brakes.

Neptune/ Jupiter is likely to manifest in a shared spiritual or idealistic vision that unfortunately might turn out to be pure delusion:

  • This is especially the case with the conjunction.

  • With trines and sextiles the idealism is not likely to be as destructive although it can turn a romance into something more platonic like a student/teacher relationship.

  • With the square, it is important to ensure both parties know where they stand with each other and avoid reluctance to acknowledge relationship problems.

  • The opposition is also likely to allow both parties to build up a false sense of security. The key with making this aspect work out is to avoid idealizing each other. Equally important is to avoid playing deceptive games with each other. If you honestly understand yourselves and what you have to together, there can be no illusion. If you don’t, you’re likely headed for disaster.

An Interesting Solar Return Year

Recently, I was asked what to make of a solar return (SR) chart with:

  • Venus conjunct Neptune in the 10th house (opposition to Jupiter in the 4th)
  •  the Moon (2nd house) trine Mars (6th house)
  • Pluto is in the 8th

Remember that a SR chart serves as an astrological map for the next 12 months starting with an individual’s birthday.

Executive Summary

Emotional focus on joint finances. Expect unpleasant power plays. Money/wealth seems to ‘slip away’ causing financial uncertainty; this is probably to do with finances relating to the home. At the end of the day, however, this individual can expect the year to result in a positive life changing experience.


Moon/Mars aspects in the SR chart are suggestive of mixed emotions which, because the Moon in the 2nd house, reflects mixed emotional needs regarding finances. The first question to ask is how financially dependent is the person in question upon others? The next question  is how does that make him/her feel? With the Moon in the 2nd SR house, it is clear that finances will play a major role during this individual’s unfolding year and that this will be his/her  emotional focus.  How it will all play out we don’t yet know but, with Pluto in the 8th SR house, we can be sure there will be unpleasant power plays regarding shared finances. Because that Pluto is caught up in the current Jupiter/Pluto trine, however, we can  expect this to be a (beneficial) life changing experience.


SR Venus can either relate to romantic relationships or finance but with the Moon in the 2nd SR house of finances, the focus here will be on wealth/money. With Neptune around, money seems to slip away perhaps due to unemployment, illness, or even divorce. The by-word with this configuration is financial insecurity. Expect ‘something too good to be true’ regarding finances that will lead to disappointment and disillusionment and because this Venus/Neptune is in the 10th house, it’s all going to play out in a very public sphere.


SR Jupiter in the 4th house indicates the need for peace and security within the home. But because of other configurations in the chart, this year this probably isn’t achieveable. Renovations or other improvements are a possibility either related or unrelated to the need to refinance or pay off a mortgage. In any event, because SR Venus/Neptune (financial insecurity) is in opposition to this Jupiter in the 4th house, finances regarding the home are likely to become an issue. But because Jupiter is in trine to Pluto, in the long run this is likely to somehow benefit this individual.