There may be some good news on the way in the fight against the virus.
Scientists are studying if blood from a four-year-old llama named
Winter could produce a special disease-fighting antibody that could put the
kibosh on Covid-19.
This is actual news.
Winter lives in Belgium with 130 other llamas and alpacas. Winter
also lives near Buffalo, New York, but Buffalo’s winter produces only snow
and gray skies, not quite as useful as we’d like.
Nevertheless, early tests show that the antibodies that
Belgium’s Winter produces may block the virus from entering and
As a public service I have done a bit of research on the lives of llamas and
what might be transferred to humans if they got a touch of llama DNA in the
Because we would have to use domesticated llamas, not the kind that run
wild, you should be aware of some llama behavior that could cause problems in
humans. If the llamas are over-socialized by humans when they are young,
they treat humans as they would treat other llamas – by bouts of spitting, kicking
and neck wrestling.
Now, I’m not one for kicking and spitting, but I used to do a bit of
neck wrestling myself when I was 16 and I came to enjoy it, to tell the truth.
She moved on from that, however, leaving me alone in the front seat
of my father’s 1952 Plymouth station wagon. The Plymouth was not quite as enjoyable
But that is not the only thing we humans might pick up from llamas.
It turns out that when llamas mate, the male may participate for 20 to 45
minutes. I consider this the very, very upside of a llama vaccine, so sign
me up. And, I suppose, there are women out there who would also
consider this a plus. I’m not asking for anyone out there to name names,
this being a family blog.
You are all aware, I’m sure, that the capital of Belgium is
Brussels. And, if Winter turns out to be as valuable as we’re all
hoping, we might well be on our way, despite our aversion, to the
next great vaccine using another of Belgium’s great resources.