F Rosa Rubicondior: Evolution in Progress - How The Different SARS-CoV-2 Variants Rise and Fall In The Population

Tuesday 14 November 2023

Evolution in Progress - How The Different SARS-CoV-2 Variants Rise and Fall In The Population

I came across this the other day while perusing NHS information sources about COVID-19, which is now declining again in UK, having had a brief revival a few weeks ago. It's a chart showing how new variant rise to dominance in the viral population, to be replaced in their turn by newer variants.
Screen clip of page 16 of the National Influenza and COVID-19 surveillance report Week 45
This diagram only covers a year since November 2022.

This, in miniature, is exactly how new gene variants can rise in the species gene pool, depending on how advantageous they are compared to other variants. Some will increase rapidly to become the predominant form and may even stage something of a rally when in competition with a new variant. Some will linger on for a long time as a small proportion of the total, while others will become extinct, or very nearly extinct as newer variants enter the fray. What allows the new variants to increase as a proportion of the total is, of course, that it produces more copies of itself than its rivals do.

It's not that the earlier variants lose their infectivity or reproducibility, it's just that the newer ones are better at it, so what we have here is a diagram of evolution in progress as the SARS-CoV-2 virus evolves in competition both with other variants and also in the presence of an increasing herd immunity as more people are vaccinated or catch the virus and then gradually lose immunity again until boosted or reinfected.

Observed and recorded evolution by natural selection.

From a creationist perspective, this is a diagram of their putative intelligent [sic] designer's struggle to continually design better ways to keep us infected and maintain a high level of death and suffering in the world.

Thank you for sharing!

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