Sunday, 4 July 2021

Malevolent Designer News - Science is Winning but It Is Not Giving Up on the SARS-CoV-2 Virus Just Yet

What's the 'Delta plus' variant? And can it escape vaccines? An expert explains

News today that should impress dedicated Creationists who are obliged by dogma to believe all things are the work of their putative creator god, in that yet another, potentially even more dangerous, variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus has been discovered. This new variant appears to have been 'designed' by a small but important tweak of the δ-variant which is responsible for the new wave of cases in several countries and which is set to become the dominant form of the virus in circulation throughout the world.

This new variant has been named δ+ or more technically AY.1 or B.1.617.2.1. It is the δ-variant with an additional mutation in the spike protein. This mutation, known as "K417N", is also seen in the β-variant (also known as the South African variant) and this mutation not only makes the virus more infectious (probably because it gains access to the cells lining the respiratory system more quickly) but also appears to enable it to escape the antibodies the immune system produces to counter it.

Professor Sunit K. Singh, Professor of Molecular Immunology and Virology, Institute of Medical Sciences, Banaras Hindu University, writing in The Conversation said:
Will vaccines work against Delta plus?

According to the Indian health ministry, Delta plus could have a similar ability to evade immunity and an ability to reduce the effect of monoclonal antibody therapies used to treat COVID.

The mutation is worrying because it’s located on a key portion of the virus, the spike protein, used to penetrate human cells.

Previous mutations have been on the “receptor binding domain” of the spike protein that allows the virus to attach to the receptors in our cells.

The unique mutations in the Delta variant mean the virus can escape the immune system to some extent. Indeed, Delta has shown to reduce efficacy of vaccines somewhat. This means a single dose of vaccine may offer reduced protection.

However, a second dose has been shown to produce enough antibodies against symptomatic infection and severe disease. It’s important to remember most COVID vaccines don’t provide absolute sterilising immunity, but work to reduce the severity of disease.

UK researchers found the Pfizer vaccine had an efficacy of 33% against Delta after a single shot, and 88% after both doses. In the case of the AstraZeneca vaccine, the efficacy was just 33% after the first dose but went up to 60% after the second dose.

The Delta plus variant might have a similar degree of reduction in efficacy against the vaccines currently in use. Though we’re yet see good data on whether this is the case.

Studies are under way in India to assess the effectiveness of vaccines against Delta plus.

It’s important to note Delta plus hasn’t yet taken off substantially, and the World Health Organization hasn’t yet classified it as a variant of concern.

What do we need to do now?

Variants with increased transmissibility and the potential to escape antibodies pose a threat to efforts to control and mitigate the pandemic. And countries with low vaccination rates may see new outbreaks.

How should our response change? Despite the mutations, no extra special measures need to be taken. We must continue to get maximum numbers of people vaccinated, increase genomic surveillance to track the evolution of the virus, and follow COVID-appropriate behaviour.
To a dedicated Creationist, there is only one way permitted to interpret what is happening here - the intelligent [sic] designer is trying out different combinations of tweaks to the virus to try to get round the undoubted success of medical science in producing a vaccine and, as we have seen in the UK, substantially broken the link between infection and serious outcome; not removing the threat completely but substantially reducing it to the level of one of the more serious forms of influenza.

Covid-19 daily new cases, UK.
Data source: UK Gov
As I showed a few days ago, although new cases have risen sharply in the UK, the number of hospital admissions and deaths are only a fraction of what they were with similar levels in the first and second waves. Although cases have continued to rise since I wrote that, they still vindicate what I said - hospitalisations and deaths have also risen slightly, but nothing like they did in April 2020 and again in January 2021 before the vaccination program got underway.

So, to a creationist then, if must appear that their malevolent creator god is not giving up in its determination to kill as many people as possible, make millions more very ill and ruin businesses and national economies and is not going to treat the threat to its plans from mere human medical science laying down. We can expect many more of these variant in the next few years, but, thanks to the brilliance of the scientists who developed the technology, we should be able to stay in front by quickly developing vaccines to counter the new variants as they arise.

I hope Creationists are not too upset by the success of science and the relative failure of their beloved god so far. But this triumph of medical science is not without precident, we won with smallpox and are almost there with polio and in with a good chance against malaria. No wonder the nut-jobs in the antivaxxer movement and the campaign of opposition to the measures to mitigate the coronavirus pandemic are mostly Creationist religious fundamentalists.

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