Friday, 29 January 2021

Covid-19 Pandemic - Another Victory for Medical Science

Covid-19: Novavax vaccine shows 89% efficacy in UK trials - BBC News

We have another little victory for science in our battle against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus!

The Novavax vaccine has successfully completed trials in the UK and South Africa and has proved to be 89.3% effective against the 'Kent' variant which has become the dominant strain in the UK and responsible for the massive increase in cases which have led to another lockdown, and 95.6% effective against the original strain.

Unlike the other three approved so far, the Pfizer, Oxford/AstraZenaca and Moderna vaccines, this one, called NVX-CoV2373, works slightly differently. Those three are based on the virus' mRNA which codes for the 'spike' protein on the virus' coat. This causes the body's own cells to manufacture the spike protein which them provokes the production of antibodies which then recognise that protein on any virus particles that enter the body. The Novax vaccine contains a synthetic version of a viral protein itself, combined with a plant-based ingredient to help produce a stronger response.

Like the Oxford/AstraZenaca vaccine, this one can be stored in an ordinary fridge, so is much earier to distribute and store than the Pfizer vaccine which requires very low temperatures.

The study involved 19,000 people aged between 18 and 84 with 27% aged over 65. In South Africa, the vaccine was 49% effective in immune-compromised HIV patients.

At the start of the pandemic, many people predicted that it would be science that provided a solution and saved humanity from this terrible plague and that religion would play no part in it. Little did we appreciate at the time just how obstructive fundamentalist religions would prove to be with many refusing to cooperate with the social distancing measures and wearing face-masks, presenting these as somehow a Satanic attack on their religion and part of a plot to close churches, synagogues, mosques, etc.

Covid-19 Daily New Cases - UK
Little did we appreciate just what a political issue these measures would become in places like the USA where Christian fundamentalists saw it as their responsibility to help Donald Trump cover his increasing incompetence and paranoia by pretending the pandemic was not a serious threat and probably all a hoax to discredit him.

But, as always, it is science that is delivering the goods whilst religions stand by heckling from the side-lines, no doubt preparing to rush in and claim the credit within seconds of the pandemic finally being declared over, citing their magic spells and their 'loving' god as the reason and calling for services of thanksgiving for our 'deliverance' and salvation - and bigger donations to the churches to say thank you.

And we still await an intelligent [sic] design creationist explaining why evolution by natural selection is the only explanation for the SARS-CoV-2 virus that doesn't leave their putative designer deity looking like a pestilential, genocidal, malevolent, misanthropic sadist.

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