Sunday, 1 November 2020

Malevolent Designer News - Making a Better Coronavirus

Emergence and spread of a SARS-CoV-2 variant through Europe in the summer of 2020 | medRxiv

Phylogenetic overview of SARS-CoV-2 in Europe. The tree shows a representative sample of isolates from Europe colored by the amino acid at positions 222, 477, and 614 of the spike protein. A novel rapidly spreading variant (blue; 20A.EU1) with mutation S:A222V on a S:D614G background emerged in early summer and is common in most countries with recent sequences. A separate variant (20A.EU2) with mutation S:S477N is prevalent in France. On the right, the proportion of sequences belonging to each variant (through the duration of the pandemic) is shown per country. Tree and visualization were generated using the Nextstrain platform (Hadfield et al., 2018) as described in methods.
Click image to enlarge
It's one of those days when intelligent [sic] design proponents need to pretend their putative designer is not responsible for designing something and look around for something else to blame.

The one thing they can't blame, of course, is a perfectly natural, amoral, undirected natural process like evolution by natural selection, because that would concede that science is right after all and that apparent design does not require a sentient designer.

What we have today is news that the coronavirus that caused the Covid-19 pandemic currently ravaging population and economies world-wide looks as though it was modified last summer to make it spread more widely and more quickly than before. In other words, to make it better at making as many people sick as possible.

This is the findings of researchers from the Universities of Basle, Switzerland and Valencia, Spain, led by Emma B Hodcroft, have shown that a variant of SARS-Cov-2 (20A.EU1), the coronavirus that causes Covid-19, arose in Spain in early summer 2020 and has since spread to multiple European countries, including UK. It has sinced increased i frequency from vey low levels before 15th July in Switzerland to 40-70% in Switzerland, Ireland and UK by September. It is now the predominant variant in Norway, Latvia, the Netherlands, and France.

The new varient differs from the 'ancestral' form by 6 mutations, including mutations in the 'spike' protein on the surface of the virus that the virus uses to gain entry into its host's cells, and in its nucleoprotein.


A variant of SARS-CoV-2 emerged in early summer 2020, presumably in Spain, and has since spread to multiple European countries. The variant was first observed in Spain in June and has been at frequencies above 40% since July. Outside of Spain, the frequency of this variant has increased from very low values prior to 15th July to 40-70% in Switzerland, Ireland, and the United Kingdom in September. It is also prevalent in Norway, Latvia, the Netherlands, and France. Little can be said about other European countries because few recent sequences are available. Sequences in this cluster (20A.EU1) differ from ancestral sequences at 6 or more positions, including the mutation A222V in the spike protein and A220V in the nucleoprotein. We show that this variant was exported from Spain to other European countries multiple times and that much of the diversity of this cluster in Spain is observed across Europe. It is currently unclear whether this variant is spreading because of a transmission advantage of the virus or whether high incidence in Spain followed by dissemination through tourists is sufficient to explain the rapid rise in multiple countries.

Frequency of submitted samples that fall within the cluster, with quarantine-free travel dates shown above.
We include the seven countries which have at least 20 sequences from the considered cluster. The symbol size indicates the number of available sequence by country and time point in a non-linear manner. Travel restrictions are shown to/from Spain, as this is the possible origin of the cluster. Most European countries allowed quarantine-free travel to other (non-Spanish) countries in Europe for a longer period.
Click image to enlarge


  • This variant rose in frequency in multiple countries, but we have no direct evidence that it spreads faster. The rise in frequency could also be due to epidemiological factors.
  • There are currently no data to evaluate whether this variant affects the severity of the disease.
  • While dominant in some countries, 20A.EU1 has not taken over everywhere and diverse variants of SARS-CoV-2 continue to circulate across Europe.

Something is causing this new variant to increase in the SARS-CoV-2 population but the researchers point out that there is insufficient data to say whether this is because the new variant makes it more infective or whether this is an effect of tourists going to Spain then bringing the new strain back home in increasing numbers during the Summer, but quite why they would bring this variant back differentially to the 'ancestral type' is unknown.

Intelligent [sic] design creationist have a solution to this problem, of course - it was their putative designer that did it!

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