Friday, 31 July 2015

Another Bad Day For the 'Malevolent Designer'

Electron micrograph of an Ebola viral particle
Ebola vaccine efficacy trial suggest vaccine provides high protection against disease | Science Daily

It's been a bad couple of days for this 'Intelligent (sic) Designer' creationist loons keep telling us made everything and did everything they don't understand.

In this fantasy world, this assumed designer did everything, but we have to ignore the bad stuff. We have to ignore childhood cancer, the fact that illness and misfortune strike the pious and the impious alike, that there are random large-scale slaughters from natural disasters.

We have to ignore the fact that supposed design with intent and for a purpose produced genetic diseases, worms that make children blind by eating their eyeball from the inside; that the viral, bacterial, protozoan, helminth and arthropod parasites that make us sick, disabled or dead were also designed by the same assumed designer, and we have to ignore the fact that this designer appears to be on the side of these harmful parasites when it redesigns them to overcome the antibiotics, insecticides and anti-heminitics we've made to defend ourselves against them.

We have to ignore all this stuff because creationists like to imagine they have a close personal relationship with the creator of the Universe and it made it all just for them because it loves them.

We have to ignore this, otherwise creationists don't feel important enough.

So, it must be galling for creationists when science does what it's done on two consecutive days now.

Yesterday, medical scientists with the WHO announced that they are close to eradicating polio in Africa, reducing this once common and dreaded child-killer worldwide to a few pockets in the remote areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

And today, the results of a small-scale trial of a vaccine against another of this Intelligent Designer's nasty little designs, ebola, published in The Lancet, show the vaccine was astonishingly successful and holds out real hope that this virulent disease, with the potential to devastate the human population on a scale not known since the Intelligent designer's last substantial success in the Middle Ages with the Black Death, can be defeated.

Ebola, which has recently infected nearly 28,000 people in West Africa, killing over 11,000 of them including health workers, and which looked at one time like getting out of control, has been reduced by good medical care and rigorous preventative measures to just 7 cases last week, now looks distinctly beatable, just as smallpox was.

The vaccine was prepared by splicing a piece of the ebola virus RNA onto a harmless virus. This doesn't harm the recipient but causes their body to produce antibodies that recognise ebolavirus, making them able to combat infection. As well as having an effective vaccine, the strategy was the 'ring' strategy that was effective against smallpox. This involves vaccinating all the contacts of the patient so creating a biological 'buffer zone', rather like a fire break, between them and the rest of the population. This was extended to contacts of contacts to widen the buffer zone and add a margin of safety.

The trial was necessarily a small-scale one because the preventive measures have been so successful that there are too few cases now to mount a bigger study, so the results have to be treated with some caution. However, if, and when, ebola stages another comeback, we now have an effective vaccine and a tried and tested containment strategy. Also, unlike poliovirus which only infects humans, ebolavirus can infect other species which can act as a natural reservoir, so even if we can completely contain an outbreak we may not be able to eradicate it completely.

And of course, with this natural reservoir to work with, creationism's Malevolent Designer (i.e. evolution by natural selection) can always 'design' a resistant strain.

Additional reading:
Ebola vaccine is 'potential game-changer' - BBC News

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