Saturday, 14 November 2020

Has The Malevolent Designer Blundered?

This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses.

Illustration by CDC/Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM
Common SARS-CoV-2 mutation may make coronavirus more susceptible to a vaccine | UNC-Chapel Hill

According to Intelligent [sic] Design Creationists, nothing in biology happens without the deliberate involvement of their putative intelligent [sic} designer. Nothing mutates by chance and no mutation increase in the gene pool unless this putative designer wills it.

So, let's play around with that notion in the context of the SARS-CovV-2 virus currently responsible for the coronavirus pandemic causing devastation, death and chaos throughout the world, and in the context of the sort of arms races that often ensue with a parasite-host relationship.

An ID Creationist is bound by dogma to concede that the SARS-C-V-2 vaccine was deliberately designed by a sentient designer and was intended to do exactly what it has done. It could not have evolved by an amoral, non-directed, natural process, driven by random mutations and natural selection because that would concede that evolution is a real, natural, creative process not requiring supernatural input.

What then of the news that a bunch of scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Wisconsin-Madison have discovered that the early mutation which probably enabled the virus to spread more quickly round the world does not give the virus any additional defence against the antibodies resulting from the vaccines medical science is developing in record time, as many people feared it might? In fact, the mutation appears to make it slightly more sensitive to antibodies in animal trials!

The intelligent [sic] designer seemed to have scored an early success when it designed the D614G variant which replicated more quickly to produce up to ten times more copies to pass on to the next victim, than the original design (D614D) in the cells of the nasal mucosa. No sooner was this variant up your nose but you were shedding a much higher viral load, much earlier than if you had caught the 'wild' type. The mutant form also passes more easily in air, so it is much better at getting up your nose in the first place!

The two strains get their name from the amino acid at position 614 in the 'spike' protein with which the virus gains entry into the cell. The spike protein attaches to the ACE proteins on the cell surface by opening a small flat at the tip of the protein. This allows the viral contents to get inside the cell, but the flap remains open. This in turn allows antibodies to get into the virus and disable it. This remains the case regardless of whether the spike is a 'D' or 'G' type!

Did the omniscient, intelligent [sic] designer fail to anticipate the need for an ability to shut out or neutralise antibiotics in its creation, to keep it one step ahead of human medical science, like it tries to do with antibiotic resistance in harmful bacteria?

The research was published open access a couple of days ago in Nature


The spike D614G substitution is prevalent in global SARS-CoV-2 strains, but its effects on viral pathogenesis and transmissibility remain unclear. We engineered a SARS-CoV-2 variant containing this substitution. The variant exhibits more efficient infection, replication, and competitive fitness in primary human airway epithelial cells, but maintains similar morphology and in vitro neutralization properties, compared with the ancestral wild-type virus. Infection of human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) transgenic mice and Syrian hamsters with both viruses resulted in similar viral titers in respiratory tissues and pulmonary disease. However, the D614G variant transmits significantly faster and displayed increased competitive fitness than the wild-type virus in hamsters. These data show that the D614G substitution enhances SARS-CoV-2 infectivity, competitive fitness, and transmission in primary human cells and animal models.

It seems then that Creationism's putative designer really missed a trick here. Having gone to all the trouble of creating the SARS-CoV-2 virus, then tweaking it a little to make it better at infecting many more people more quickly, it failed to allow for human medical science. And yet is regularly wages an arms race with medical science's battle against the nasty little pathogens that it keeps creating to make them better at evading our immune system (that it created to protect us from its creation in the first place) and any antibiotics or antibodies that science is continually have to develop against them.

It's almost as though this intelligent [sic] designer suffers from acute amnesia and continually fails to learn the lessons of its earlier mistakes or to apply the work-arounds it designed earlier for problems it created even earlier. Like a car designer reinventing wheels and engines every time it designs a new model.

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