Covid-19 and the immune system’s double-edged sword

From an early age, I knew my great-grandmother had superpowers. “Mimi,” we called her.

She was born in the late 1800s, earned a graduate degree from Berkeley in 1919, sipped a glass (or two) of sherry every evening, and charmed us with her wit until the very end. And, like her mother “Nanan” before her, Mimi lived to be over 100.

During the course of her remarkable life that straddled three different centuries and two millennia, she survived tuberculosis (which killed her father), the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the 1918 Flu, retro-peristalsis (the reversal of intestinal smooth muscle movement), and two C-sections before the discovery of penicillin.

In her late 90s — coincidentally, during the late 1990s — she recovered from…

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