F Rosa Rubicondior: Malevolent Designer News - It's Just Like It Can't Help Itself!

Thursday 29 July 2021

Malevolent Designer News - It's Just Like It Can't Help Itself!

How relaxing Covid-19 restrictions could pave the way for vaccine resistance - UEA

For devotees of a supposed intelligent [sic] designer, the COVID-19 pandemic must look like their idol is simply obeying natural laws like an automaton.

For the supposed creator of the Universe, this is an embarrassing comedown - bound by statistical laws and compelled to act as though it has no free will but is just obeying the rules of Darwinian evolution; unable to prevent its design killing its supporters and detractors alike or prevent its supporters dying after attending one of their super-spreader events to gather together to shout and bellow songs of praise to it. And apparently, compelled to come up with modifications which are both predicable and predicted by scientists using scientific laws.

This is perhaps best illustrated by a communication from the University of East Anglia which explains how and why the SARS-CoV-2 virus mutates predictably according to clearly-understood Darwinian mechanisms such as random mutations and non-random natural selection, in a very large population, where highly unlikely mutations can quickly accumulate in the population to become the predominant form, driven by the prevailing environment in which it finds itself:
Relaxing Covid-19 restrictions could pave the way for new vaccine-resistant virus mutations – according to researchers at the University of East Anglia and the Earlham Institute.

A new article published today warns against relaxing Covid-19 restrictions prematurely.

It describes how we are in an ‘arms race’ with the virus and how rising cases could provide opportunities for it to evolve into even more transmissible variants.

The researchers fear that any new variants could be more virulent, more vaccine resistant, and more dangerous for children and vulnerable groups such as transplant patients.

Over the past 17 months, economies, education and mental well-being have suffered tremendously due to the restrictions imposed in an attempt to stem the spread of the pandemic.

Although vaccines have weakened the link between infection and mortality, they should not be used as an argument to justify a broad change in policy for countries experiencing an exponential increase in infection numbers. This is because most of the world’s population are still unvaccinated, and even in countries with efficient vaccination programmes, a significant proportion of society, particularly children, remain unprotected.

Relaxing restrictions boosts transmission and allows the virus population to expand, which enhances its adaptive evolutionary potential and increases the risk of vaccine-resistant strains emerging by a process known as antigenic drift. Put simply, limiting the spread of Covid-19 as much as possible restricts the number of future deaths by restricting the rate with which new variants arise.

Successive SARS-CoV-2 variants such as the Alpha and Delta variants, have displaced one another since the outbreak. Slowing down the rate of new variant emergence requires us to act fast and decisively, reducing the number of infected people including children with vaccines and in combination with other public health policies. In most cases, children are not vaccinated against Covid-19 because the risk to them becoming seriously ill is very low. But new strains may evolve with higher transmissibility in children, and vaccinating children may become necessary to control the emergence of new variants. In other words, a policy of relaxing restrictions while children are not vaccinated, risks inadvertently selecting for virulent variants that are better able to infect children and are also more problematic in vulnerable groups.

Children may be particularly at risk because they are the only group that has remained unvaccinated. But there is no guarantee that the virus won't evolve the ability to infect children too, and the data shows that new variants are relatively more often found in younger age groups. Only when a large proportion of the world’s population is vaccinated, or has acquired immunity from infection, can we relax other social measures.

Professor Kevin Tyler Norwich Medical School
University of East Anglia

We have an arms race on our hands. On the human side, the arms race is fought with vaccines, new technology such as the NHS Covid-19 App, and our behavioural change, but the virus fights back by adapting and evolving. It is unlikely we will get ahead in this arms race unless we can significantly reduce the population size of the virus. But given that the infection rate is about the same now as it was during the first wave, we are pretty much ‘at evens’ with this virus. And as with many other coevolutionary arms races, there are no winners.

This is what evolutionary biologists mean when we say that coevolution is a ‘zero-sum game’. But what you cannot do is suddenly drop your guard in the middle of an arms race. That gives your opponent - the virus - a real advantage. So we must continue doing the things we have been doing for the past 18 months, particularly in countries where the number of infected people is increasing.

Entrusting public health measures to personal responsibility is a laissez-faire approach that many governments are now taking towards Covid-19 management. During exponential transmission of virus, we need an ongoing, mandatory public health policy that includes social distancing and the compulsory wearing of facemasks in crowded indoor spaces such as shops and on public transport.

Our current vaccination programmes alone will not end the pandemic and scientific evidence suggests that we can only safely start to relax social restrictions when the R number is below one.

Professor Cock Van Oosterhout, Co-author
Evolutionary biologist
School of Environmental Sciences
University of East Anglia

As long as there are large numbers of unvaccinated people around the world transmitting the virus, we're all at risk.

High numbers of Covid-19 cases increase the likelihood the virus will evolve to become more virulent, more transmissible, or capable of evading vaccines. It's critical we continue using public health measures to bring transmission rates down. We have to co-exist with caution - if we ignore global health policies which have proven to reduce infection, the virus will further adapt.

When we weigh up the benefits and risks in vaccinating young people, we have to consider the impact on wider society too. The current approach to protecting young people seems to be letting them reach herd immunity through infection. Every day that approach continues, we give the virus the upper hand and prolong this pandemic - increasing the burden on healthcare systems and economies.

Professor Neil Hall, Co-author
Director of the Earlham Institute (EI)

New Cases (UK)
27 July, 2021
Source: Gov.uk
The experts reach this conclusion by applying the basic principles of the Theory of Evolution. In a open access paper published in Virulence in January 2021, the same experts made predictions of what would happen under certain scenarios that have proved to be accurate, given the course of the pandemic and the appearance of new, more virulent strains in the last 6 months. In that article, they said:
Governments are negotiating a precarious balance between saving the economy and preventing COVID-19 fatalities. However, the roll-out of economic stimulus packages and related activities in many countries appears to have fuelled the rate of person-to-person transmission. This created two distinct problems. Firstly, at the start of the winter, the population number of the virus continued from a much higher base than would otherwise have been the case. With an exponentially growing rate of the infection (R0 > 1), the time it takes to increase the number of infected hosts from N to 2 N people is the same, irrespective of N. In other words, if we had halved the number of infections, we would have had (approximately) half the number of cases now. Secondly, the probability that the pathogen evolves, and that the next infection is caused by the mutant strain of the virus, is equal to the mutation rate for each transmission (μ) [7]. By not absolutely minimizing the R0 when we had the chance, we extended the pathogen transmission chains, allowing it to mutate and evolve into more virulent variants. Put simply, more transmission leads to a higher chance of evolution of new strains, and it promotes selective sweeps and the establishment of such strains in the susceptible population. As such, continuing public health efforts to encourage vaccination as well as continued use of proper personal protective equipment (PPE), such as proper masking and maintaining safe social interactions, is of utmost importance.

COVID-19 vaccine deployment is now underway, but a threat to vaccine effectiveness comes from other emergent strains, both existing and yet to come. For example, another highly virulent SARS-CoV-2 variant has been identified in South Africa (SouthAfricaV501.V2 clade), which like B.1.1.7, appears to be transmitting more quickly than other strains. This lineage has rapidly become the dominant circulating strain, and it too is mutated in several areas of the viral spike protein [3] as are a group of Brazilian (B 1.1.28) variants now predominating in Amazonas state [8]. The fear is that variation generated by mutation could give rise to vaccine-resistant strains in the long term. Such vaccine escaped mutants can potentially be favoured during protracted infections in patients with a weakened immune response and longer transmission chains. Such conditions increase the input of new mutations and the time for natural selection to act on this novel variation. Furthermore, rather than selecting for increased transmissibility, the next stage of virus evolution may involve adaptations that increase the duration that a host is contagious. After all, in directly transmitted parasites, R0 is the product of transmission efficiency (β), the contact rate between susceptible hosts (c) and the duration (d) that an infected host is contagious [9]. A sufficient level of vaccination coverage will reduce the number of contacts between susceptible hosts, and hence, selection pressures for increased R0 are likely to involve adaptations that prolong the infection. [My emphasis]
The above was written before the second, more devastating wave of infections in India, the probable source of the δ strain which gave rise to the recent spike of infections in the UK and which is quickly becoming the predominant strain in the USA and elsewhere. Coupled with the high rate of vaccination resistance, due to right wing, evangelical Christian and Trumps-supporting disinformation campaigns, seen in 'red' states, experts are already predicting a devastating wave of infections and deaths in those states. We can also expect new, and potentially vaccine-resistant, strains to arise there in the midst of such a wave.

In their recent paper the same scientists say:
The development and deployment of effective vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 infection have boosted public confidence and heralded a change in public health policies. The wearing of facemasks and social distancing has become increasingly relaxed in some countries, and large gatherings are again permitted. Here, we provide a biological argument against relaxing the COVID-19 restrictions during the exponential growth phase of infections whilst a significant proportion of the population remains unvaccinated (the so-called “British Experiment”). Using coevolutionary and epidemiological theory, we explain the likely long-term consequences of this policy, and we argue for the benefits of “vaccination passports” and childhood vaccination.

Although vaccines have weakened the link between COVID-19 infection and mortality in some countries, using this as an argument to justify a broad change in policy for countries experiencing an exponential increase in infection numbers is flawed on two counts. First, most of the world’s population remains unvaccinated, and even in countries with efficient vaccination programmes, a significant proportion of the society remains unprotected. Children, the clinically extremely vulnerable, such as patients on immunosuppressants, and those who choose not to be vaccinated (or are unable to receive a vaccine) are all placed at an increased risk when relaxing COVID-19 restrictions. Initial analysis of UK wide data on the “Clinical Extremely Vulnerable” group of immunosuppressed transplant patients both shows the significant advantages of vaccination in this group, and simultaneously demonstrates that the risk remains at a level substantially above that of the general population [1, personal communication]. Consequently, without “vaccination passports” being enforced in crowded public places, vulnerable people are unable to manage their personal risks when traveling or socializing in a society with little or no COVID-19 restrictions.

Second, relaxing restrictions boosts transmission and allows the virus population to expand, which enhances its adaptive evolutionary potential and increases the risk of vaccine-resistant strains emerging through antigenic drift [2]. A fundamental theory of biology is that the rate of adaptive evolution is a function of the (additive) genetic variation present in a population or gene pool. This is known as Fisher’s fundamental theorem [3], and it implies that the adaptive evolutionary potential (present in an assortment of new variants) tends to increase with population size. In the case of a directly transmitted pathogen, such as SARS-CoV-2, this evolutionary potential scales positively with the number of infected hosts. Thus, by minimizing this number, we reduce not only the current COVID-19 related mortality rate but also future COVID-19 related deaths by restricting the rate with which new SARS-CoV-2 variants arise.
The interesting thing is, how well the TOE, as applied to these sorts of parasite/host arms races, explains the observable facts and makes accurate predictions.

If one is gullible enough to have fallen for the Intelligent [sic] Design hoax, it must appear from these predictions and the subsequent outcomes that, if there is an intelligent designer running this show, it has no choices over what to do next, but is bound by the outcomes from simple, mathematical models, as though there really isn't any plan or intelligent input at all. The whole thing is on autopilot and the pilot has deserted the plane.

In fact, the course of this pandemic is making it look like Creationism's favourite malevolence can't help itself and is obliged to behave just like a mindless automaton, obeying perfectly natural laws and processes such as evolution by natural selection, like a boulder bouncing down a ravine under the control of nothing more sentient than gravity, with no regard for who or what may be in its path.

However, for some undisclosed reason, suggestive of a hidden agenda, Creationist frauds like the professional liars at the Deception Institute, would rather their dupes continue to believe their favourite god behaves that way than that a mindless, amoral, natural process without a plan, and not requiring magic or gods, is the cause of these parasite/host relationships.

Thank you for sharing!

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1 comment :

  1. Yea, the 'Creator' certainly moves in mysterious ways. But us mere mortals can never understand the infinite ineffable deity, or can we? It appears that god is directing current events according to scientific principles ie, Darwinian selective evolution. How do the fundies square intelligent design, when god is clearly a grand exponent of evolution- I think they should be told?


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