X Close

How worrying is the South Africa variant? There is huge uncertainty around the latest study's findings

Boris Johnson visiting a mass vaccination centre at Derby yesterday (Photo by PHIL NOBLE / POOL / AFP)

Boris Johnson visiting a mass vaccination centre at Derby yesterday (Photo by PHIL NOBLE / POOL / AFP)


February 9, 2021   6 mins

It’s amazing how things become old hat. The “British variant” which kept us locked down over Christmas  was the terrifying newcomer only a few weeks ago. Now I feel almost nostalgic for it.

The “British variant” had many mutations, but its key one affected its ability to spread: it was about 50% better at jumping from person to person than the original Covid. More recently, different strains have arisen, with that same mutation — but also another one, which appears to make it harder for vaccine-primed immune systems to fight against. One of these arose in South Africa, hence the talk of the “South African variant”, but the same extra mutation has arisen twice, independently, in the British strain too. The idea of the vaccines not working, after all this time waiting for them to save us, is genuinely chilling.

So: what’s the reality? Do the vaccines work against the new variants? This week more bad news came in: a study from South Africa finding that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine “fails to protect” against mild and moderate cases of the mutant strain first detected in that country. 

It’s worrying, of course, but there are complicating factors. I think there are some reasons to be less worried than the headline suggests.

First: this is an extremely uncertain finding. As the virologist MĂŒge Çevik points out, the study was small: it had 1,700 participants, which sounds reasonable enough, but your study’s statistical power comes from the number of cases, not the number of people in the study. And there were only 42 cases of coronavirus in the control and the treatment arm put together.

Of those 42, 19 had been given the real vaccine, and 23 had the placebo. The study itself isn’t available, but screenshots taken from an online briefing say that it is believed to be 22% effective. But because of the small numbers, the uncertainty around them is huge: the 95% uncertainty interval stretches from 58% to -49% efficacy.

So, while it is very likely that the vaccine is less effective against the South African strain than against the more old-school varieties, it is still likely to give some protection against mild to moderate disease, and it is very possible that it gives much better protection than this study suggests.

An aside

I wanted to have a somewhat tangential, but serious, grumble at this stage. It is ridiculous that we only learnt about this study via a Financial Times story (and, later, a Times story). It is even more ridiculous that the only reason we have any of the data at all is because a couple of enterprising journalists took screengrabs from the briefing. 

There are all sorts of problems with scientific publishing. One of them is that peer review, as well as being flawed in many ways, is slow: it takes time for (unpaid) scientists to review a paper before it can be published in a journal. But the rise of the internet has meant that it is possible to avoid that problem, by publishing on preprint servers, and letting the peer review process happen in its own time. In the Covid era, that speed is vital; days or even hours might matter, might save hundreds of lives, if some discovery is made about whether some drug or intervention works or doesn’t work.

There have been tens of thousands of Covid-related papers published on the biomedical preprint server MedRxiv in the last 12 months; some of them have been absolute garbage (the XKCD comic reminds us that it probably makes sense to simply refer to them as “PDFs”, rather than “unpublished studies”), but at least it is possible for other scientists, and science journalists, to look at the data. 

So why on Earth wasn’t the South African study made available on preprint? It’s not that the paper hasn’t been written: the FT story was based on a pre-peer-review, i.e. preprint, version, and the slides were clearly written from a written-up paper. It’s just baffling to me. The Oxford vaccine is likely to save millions of lives; its scientific team should rightly be lauded as heroes, as should everyone involved in its manufacture. But communicating science is part of science, and this has been a big failure. I’ve asked the Oxford press team to see if they can help me understand it; if they respond with something interesting, I’ll add it in here.

Back to the point 

As I was saying. My main reason for worrying slightly less than the headlines suggest is because the headlines say that it doesn’t protect very well against mild to moderate disease. The study only looked at younger people — the median age was 31 — so there were no severe cases at all, in either the treatment or the control groups.

Intuitively, you might think that if a vaccine doesn’t protect against mild disease, it won’t have a chance against severe disease. But that’s not how it works. “Most severe disease is a consequence of someone’s immune system not dealing with the level of viral load,” says Stephen Evans, a professor of pharmacoepidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. “If you drive the viral load down in someone they’re less likely to get severe disease.” It may not be enough to stop them from developing a PCR-detectable, or even a symptomatic, case of the disease, but it might stop them from ending up in hospital.

Or at least that’s the theory, according to our understanding of virology. But it’s not actually been easy to show in the case of Covid because severe disease is, mercifully, rare. Even in the main Lancet study into the safety and efficacy of the Ox/AZ vaccine, there were only 11 severe cases, including one death, among the 11,600 participants in the study. Ten of them, including the death, were in the control group, suggesting a greater-than-90% efficacy against severe disease; but the uncertainty interval (determined using an odds-ratio calculator) is huge, from 99% to 22%. Pfizer’s results are similar; Moderna’s are a bit more robust, but still hard to draw firm conclusions from.

Evans had an idea, though, which I thought would be interesting: what if you aggregate the results from the main vaccine studies? It would obviously have many problems — the various studies have slightly different endpoints; they looked at different populations; and of course they are different vaccines with different effects. And still the sample size is small: across the Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Novavax trials, there were only 52 cases of severe disease or death, of which only two were in vaccinated people. (Notably, 29 of them came in the Moderna placebo group, so that vaccine’s results are overrepresented.)

But it would, nonetheless, be somewhat reassuring to find that the vaccines are, on average, more protective against severe disease than milder disease. I did that, and found that they are: 96% effective against severe disease, compared to 87% against mild or moderate. 

(Confidence intervals 99% to 84% for severe, 90% to 83% for mild/moderate; full data here. Prof Evans hopes to write a rather more professional version of this up as a short scientific paper in the future.. He tells me that the comparison between mild and severe disease is a bit more complicated than this, because the data aren’t entirely independent, but I think it’s OK for a crude comparison.)

I don’t want to make too much of this — the fact that those confidence intervals overlap mean we can’t be too sure that the effect is real — but it seems likely that Covid vaccines are better at keeping people out of hospital than they are at stopping them getting the disease at all. So even if the Oxford vaccine isn’t brilliant at stopping you getting the South Africa variant, I’d expect it to be somewhat better at stopping you dying of it.

This doesn’t mean that the South African data (or what we can see of it) isn’t bad news. The 22% efficacy finding is still unnerving; and even if it is better at preventing severe disease, there’s still plenty of room for “better” to mean “still not great”. And it is probably less effective at stopping transmission, so the disease can carry on spreading, and mutating, and eventually becoming even better at evading vaccine-primed immune systems. In separate bad news, the South Africa strain was found to be less susceptible to antibodies produced in response to the Pfizer vaccine, which doesn’t mean it won’t work – there’s more to the immune system than antibodies – but isn’t a great sign.

But on the other side of the ledger, we now have several approved vaccines that can easily be repurposed for newer variants – Sarah Gilbert, of the Oxford study, was saying on Andrew Marr’s show that they are already preparing a new version, just as they started preparing this one back in January last year. This time it won’t take so long to get approval – there are protocols in place for the flu vaccine, which changes its target slightly each year to keep up with new variants, and doesn’t need full-on Phase I, II, III trials each time. The mRNA vaccines are even easier to make new versions of, and new vaccines are going to keep on coming for the next couple of years. And we have all the factories up and running already. The vaccination process might have to go on a bit longer, but this isn’t a disaster.

Of course, by then there’ll be new new variants. The South African one will be a distant, nostalgic memory, which we look back on with inappropriate fondness. But the same facts will apply.


Tom Chivers is a science writer. His second book, How to Read Numbers, is out now.

TomChivers

Join the discussion


Join like minded readers that support our journalism by becoming a paid subscriber


To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

222 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Aidan Collingwood
Aidan Collingwood
3 years ago

We have a virus. It’s a nasty virus if you are susceptible and in a high-risk group. It’s a very nasty virus and can kill you if you are very unfortunate. The vast majority of working age people, on this planet at least, are totally unaffected by it.
We have magicked up 4 or 5 vaccines within a year – a blink of an eye relative to how long these things can apparently take to procure normally. None of them are perfect, but they work enough to protect most people and health-care systems from collapse, it seems thus far.
So, what more do people want or expect? We are in a fortunate position now to be able to vaccinate people against most of the worst effects of the virus, so surely the healthy among us should be allowed to go about our normal lives again – once offered the vaccine, of course. Those at risk should be shielded as best as possible, of course – accepting that all life has a risk attached and some people may still die of Covid… and flu and pneumonia and all sorts of other things.
Perfection is, thus far, unattainable in the face of a mutating virus, or even the flu which can kill 20 000 a year even with a tweaked vaccine. A moribund economy and poorly educated children, locked down for perpetuity because Covid still exists, will kill far more people in the long run, now that vaccines are available.
We should proceed back to normal with caution, but proceed we should.

Duncan Cleeve
Duncan Cleeve
3 years ago

The flu has been cured around the world, even though last year for around three months it was killing 6 to 10 times more people than covid, even with muzzles and anti social distancing in place, but apparently journalists don’t find that interesting. The Italians, Austrians and Polish have discovered the best cure so far, tell your government to shove it and don’t wait for their permission to open up, apparently this is also uninteresting to journalists.

Nigel Clarke
Nigel Clarke
3 years ago
Reply to  Duncan Cleeve

Ah yes, covid cures the flu. How serendipitous!

Tom Fox
Tom Fox
3 years ago
Reply to  Nigel Clarke

Probably better to conclude the obvious, since flu is many times harder to catch than covid is. If you keep away from other people and wash your hands you are very unlikely to catch influenza. Sars-Covid-2 on the other hand, especially in its Kent and South African iterations, is very easy to catch indeed.

As an example, I live in a rather remote area around the middle section of Hadrian’s Wall. There is a small town not far off with a factory which makes plastic bottles. About sixty people from the little town work in that factory, and some of the workers come from places like Alston, a tiny place in the Pennines. Up until Early December, the numbers of cases of Covid in the ward of which this town is a part, were tiny. It bubbled away at about four to eight cases in an 8000 population. Hardly worth worrying much about. Then in early December, two executives in the bottle factory came from London and at least one of them had the Kent stain of Covid. Within days, forty of the workers had the virus and within a fortnight the rates per hundred thousand in this out of the way spot were at 1400 per hundred thousand. A number of people died. It spread far and wide and into Cumbria. Hospitals in Cumbria could not cope with the numbers of people they were receiving who were in respiratory failure and were shipped sixty miles to Newcastle which had spare ICU capacity. It was in teh local schools (which were open at the time) and one person I met, caught it on a farm from his boss who caught it from his daughter, who caught it at school, fifteen miles away. I don’t know how many have died following that visit by an infected executive at the bottle factory. One man that I knew killed himself on being told that his poor wife would certainly not recover.

Fiona Mortimer
Fiona Mortimer
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Fox

Ok what do you think you are doing coming here with a simply worded statement based on personal experience? This comments section is for quasi intellectual and pseudo scientific content only. You are in danger of pointing out the emperor’s new clothes here. In addition you have failed to include the word of the week which is ‘Napoleonic’. This must be used with particular reference to Covid restrictions but can be used in any context where it ensures that no one has a clue what you are on about: only the really clever people will be able to see your clothes, sorry, meaning.

CYRIL NAMMOCK
CYRIL NAMMOCK
3 years ago
Reply to  Fiona Mortimer

Upticked- my sarcasmometer was fully functioning when I read your post.

CYRIL NAMMOCK
CYRIL NAMMOCK
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Fox

Desperately sorry to hear of your multiple tragic experiences.

Tom Fox
Tom Fox
3 years ago
Reply to  CYRIL NAMMOCK

Thanks, but fortunately for me, they aren’t my tragic experiences, just experiences that happened in the community around where I live. There are many more sheep in this area than there are people, and yet it became the epicentre of an outbreak.

Duncan Hunter
Duncan Hunter
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Fox

More sheep than people. Interesting.

Tom Fox
Tom Fox
3 years ago
Reply to  Duncan Hunter

It’s great – believe me. I spent today wandering in a winter wonderland of snow laden trees along a river gorge up to Hadrian’s wall. The sky was a deep and vivid blue, the air, ice cold, and the snow squeaky clean.

Elizabeth W
Elizabeth W
3 years ago
Reply to  Duncan Cleeve

I fully agree Duncan. We have been led down a garden path to nowhere.

David Probert
David Probert
3 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth W

Or much more likely, to somewhere we do not want to be?

SUSAN GRAHAM
SUSAN GRAHAM
3 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth W

And the catalyst for this madness has been the social media cesspit, signaling the end of normal discourse – unfortunately the genie cannot be put back in the bottle.

Tom Fox
Tom Fox
3 years ago
Reply to  Duncan Cleeve

Where does your figure of flu killing six to ten times the number that covid kills come from? Dd you make it up or read it on a Q Anon website?

CYRIL NAMMOCK
CYRIL NAMMOCK
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Fox

What’s Q Anon, Tom? Please inform me.

Tom Fox
Tom Fox
3 years ago
Reply to  CYRIL NAMMOCK

Can I refer you to Google instead. Take it as an example of teaching a man to fish rather than handing him a fish.

Corrie Mooney
Corrie Mooney
3 years ago
Reply to  Duncan Cleeve

Where do you get “6 to 10 times”? In January to March when we had a few hundred cases of Covid?

The main problem with Covid is its propensity to expand exponentially in a naïve population. We could have had exponentially more deaths without the lockdowns.

steve sykes
steve sykes
3 years ago
Reply to  Duncan Cleeve

I have just got back from my second of two trips a week to the hospital for light therapy for skin cancer and it is frightening to see the number of sheep walking in the fresh air wearing masks. If this cancer, which is incurable, gets into my blood stream or lymph nodes I will have approx two and a half years before I die. I do not want to spend that time seeing folk scared to death of their own shadows, and/or locked up in their homes like prisoners. I want to be able to live not just exist and I want to see peoples faces

Juilan Bonmottier
Juilan Bonmottier
3 years ago

Unfortunately doomsday fearmongering and demoralisation has become a morbidly addictive preoccupation with the MSM, our leaders, and amongst the general populous. Because it is not just Covid where we see this attitude -it’s everything from the weather (‘Beast from the East 2!) to sport (‘It’s all racist!), to politics to just about every aspect of the future. I think that’s the problem when you let too many ‘activists’ into our institutions. Activists thrive on stirring up feelings of discontent as a means of motivating people to ‘act’ -usually in some crazy un-thought out direction. We don’t have much sensible containment going on at the moment.

Elizabeth W
Elizabeth W
3 years ago

Again, I agree with your post. Years back when we would have a snowstorm of about 20-30 inches, it would be announced as quite a storm coming. Now MSM relays a storm with a few inches with “there’s a weather watch in effect” – give me a break. It is just to instill fear where there is none.

Juilan Bonmottier
Juilan Bonmottier
3 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth W

…with the obligatory colour coded warnings, and now the ‘naming’ of storms too, like it’s a media ‘event’ so we all have to stay glued to the tv just in case we miss the catastrophically dire thing that is looming just over the horizon and out to get us. We used to have a reputation as a nation for talking about the weather, perhaps sometimes as a substitute for talking about something more meaningful, but it was just a sort of normal backdrop to our lives -it came and it went – now apparently its another thing to be absolutely terrified of, a perpetual potential threat and something under which we must never feel settled or comfortable -too hot, too cold, too dry, too windy, and now here comes another terrifying storm/ flood/ cold front etc..!

Aidan Collingwood
Aidan Collingwood
3 years ago

I agree. This naming of storms thing is irksome. It never used to be like this. Now every storm is as dangerous as a tornado! A ridiculous state of affairs.

Juilan Bonmottier
Juilan Bonmottier
3 years ago

I don’t want to bang on about it (though clearly I do!) but I was thinking how this sort of thing would be exactly where satire would step in to restore some sanity to proceedings. I was thinking about The Day Today etc… But it seems to me this new way of thinking won’t tolerate satire, or allow itself to be taken as anything other than deadly serious. That’s the puritan streak in it. And because it has such a grip on the establishment at the moment it’s unlikely any really scathing or insightful (incisive) satire will be produced.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago

It may be produced…but then forbidden to be re-produced.

CYRIL NAMMOCK
CYRIL NAMMOCK
3 years ago

There’s nothing ridiculous about it. They want us to feel frightened and vulnerable- oops, I meant to say Extreeeemely Vulnerable”.

Geoff Cooper
Geoff Cooper
3 years ago

Yes, another puerile import from the USA where they’ve been naming storms for years. At first they were all given men’s names until the feminists objected that they wanted nasty, dangerous, destructive (powerful?) things to have women’s names as well, Katrina wrecked New Orleans not long after.
We’ve even imported US pronunciations too. Since when did we ever call a force 11+ storm a hurry-cane?

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago

-but it is not just weather any more-the horror of once avoidable, but now inevitable catastrophic climate change makes it absolutely mandatory to emphasize every fluctuation in what we once, naively called “weather”.

Juilan Bonmottier
Juilan Bonmottier
3 years ago
Reply to  stephen f.

No -I mentioned a few other things in the preceding post. It’s a wholly pervasive climate of fear and catastrophe!

Johnny Sutherland
Johnny Sutherland
3 years ago

Never forget its all down to man made climate change, Woops I should say person mad climate change.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago

See my point above. Not a conspiracy at all.

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Hold on Wheatley what are you doing here?

24 hours ago you posted this, after an embarrassing outburst of sanctimonious self pity:
“After this post I retire from UnHerd as a contributor”.

Phew! We all thought that you had gone for good, but now you have returned, why?

Dorothy Slater
Dorothy Slater
3 years ago

Many years ago in Western Mass where I grew up, snowstorms were a fact of life – indeed we WALKED to school = AND came home for lunch. Times have changed of course. Our children can’t walk to school in fair weather let alone in the snow and there are many many more cars on our roads which is the problem

There is constant castigation about the stupid careless selfish people who don’t wear masks and can kill anyone passing by. I would like to aim the same castigation to those who arrive in snowy climates from sunny California or Florida having no idea how to drive in snow They assume that slowing down is unnecessary since their massive Yukons and Tundras will save them crashing.

Those are the ones who are REALLY a danger to the rest of us passing by and the rising accident rates show it.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 years ago

Recent cretinous expressions on the BBC like “Beast from the East 2″ render me speechless.

CYRIL NAMMOCK
CYRIL NAMMOCK
3 years ago

Agree entirely.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth W

In the UK this reaction goes back to 1985 when there was a very big storm in London and the weather people said, “There’s quite a storm coming.” They were criticised afterwards and heads rolled so ever since then they have exaggerated everything. It is the fear of litigation.

I was in Atlanta a few years ago and the day we were due to come back the Weather Channel announced there would be a tornado that afternoon in Atlanta. The man in the hotel reception laughed and said, “It’s the Weather Channel, they have to say things like that because there is a Weather Channel.”

The point is, everybody is suing everybody else so the answer is to overplay something and then you will be safe. Not a conspiracy theory to get all hot and excited about, another great splash for UnHerd. Just the way things are in the world today.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

I am sure that each individual lemming racing for the cliff feels safe in the certainty of knowing that this is “just the way things are…” Sometimes “in the world today” events do not require an overt conspiracy, just a herd…

Juilan Bonmottier
Juilan Bonmottier
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

I don’t think ‘fear of litigation’ is really the answer, because litigation should (not saying it is) be a relatively sane way of resolving a conflict. But if the fear is that litigation will produce extraordinary and unexpected results, that I get.

I think the reaction you refer to of 1985 was in some ways an earlier expression of the difficulty now. The issue became something like ‘you’re in charge, why didn’t you save us!?’ – addressed at the BBC. I don’t think anyone was sued. That attitude seems to prevail and be the dominant one at the moment.

But if you think about it, an institution that idealises power and harbours fantasies of totalitarian dominance must secretly love it when they are held responsible for ‘letting someone down’ -it reasserts the power dynamic -though it may also cause some guilt and some sense of reparation – it also totally reinforces the nature of the relationship -I’m in charge and I’ll take full responsibility for it all -but in return you accept that I am in charge (a bit like in a sadomasochistic relationship).

It may not be any different from the way it’s always been -but it does feel more prolific, and freedom is made harder to come by as a consequence.

Hilary LW
Hilary LW
3 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth W

The Daily Express is the prime example of this hysteria – a flurry of snow in Scotland is “Snow bomb to blanket Britain”, and moderate gale is a “terror blast” or some such nonsense.
But I guess they’re relying on a weird craving for bad, or sensational news. The media don’t just dish out the fear, they know there’s a perverted appetite for it.

Elizabeth Hart
Elizabeth Hart
3 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth W

Years back we didn’t have a 24 hour news cycle beating up every story.
I’ve seen the UK Sky News feed at my parents’ place in Australia. Goodness knows how people in the UK bear up under the relentless grim coverage of coronavirus, and the never-ending ‘case’ and deaths meters in the media over there.
Propaganda on steroids. I understand the UK government has people dedicated to propaganda and fear-mongering, eg SPI-B/SAGE.
What sort of government for the people is that…?
And now they think vaccinating the entire population with fast-tracked experimental vaccine products, probably every year, is going to be the answer…
About time there was some thinking outside the square on this matter…

Robin Taylor
Robin Taylor
3 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth Hart

Unfortunately there has been poor thinking inside the box let alone out of it. The UK has the highest deaths with Covid per 1M pop than any other country with the exception of Belgium. It is third in the race to vaccinate its population, behind Israel and the UAE, yet travel restrictions are tightening. We are now told to be very afraid of new variants and that restrictions may have to be in force until 2022 despite ‘reassurances’ that new tweaked vaccines will arrive in the Autumn. I am beginning to think this will only end when the country is bankrupt – and that can’t be very far away.

David Probert
David Probert
3 years ago

It is a bit more than this . We have a media speaking with one voice hyping up the Covid Horror without any relief for year of business wrecking lockdowns and alternative views from virologists marginalised and silenced .

That is not normal journalistic behaviour.

Apparently there is a campaign to protect Freedom of Information now under assault – concerned journalists are having more and more difficulty getting information out of the Government.

I think the “Nothing to see, here it’s just a reaction to a Virus pandemic – move along ” response is looking increasingly thin .

Juilan Bonmottier
Juilan Bonmottier
3 years ago
Reply to  David Probert

“That is not normal journalistic behaviour”would be my point also.

Elizabeth W
Elizabeth W
3 years ago

And for those that are healthy – the ability to choose for yourself whether to take an unproven injection or not must stand. This virus, like the many we have seen before, will wane and we will learn to live with it.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth W

Am I correct in stating that the common cold is a Corona virus? I ask because I am not a medical professional, but that is my understanding. If so, then they are searching out a grail-the cure for the common cold…

David Probert
David Probert
3 years ago
Reply to  stephen f.

Surely people really do need to start doing their own research and find out what we are really facing to know whether politicians are telling the truth – it is so very easy to find out rather than listen to the BBC mouthing and repeating Government propaganda relentlessly.

Epicurus Araraxia
Epicurus Araraxia
3 years ago
Reply to  stephen f.

No, only partly right. The common cold can be caused by other virus families too, such as rhinoviruses. But there are 4 known Coronaviruses that cause the common cold, and by age 2 most of us have been exposed to all 4 of them. After a while the novel Coronaviruses like SARS-CoV-1 (SARS) and MERS and SARS-CoV-2 may well end up with the transmissability of the common cold viruses and a similar morbidity. It’s a superior evolutionary trait (from the perspective of a virus) to be highly transmissable but not to kill your host.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth W

Civil liberty without responsibility is meaningless. It means that anybody can do anything because they have a right.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

I agree with your first sentence, but surely in the ever expanding constellation of “rights” is the right, when healthy and not infected, to not be injected with a (as yet controversial) vaccine against one’s will.

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
3 years ago
Reply to  stephen f.

Do you mean ‘not infected’ or ‘not infectious’? And how would you know?

Jean Redpath
Jean Redpath
3 years ago

But the vaccine doesn’t stop one being infected – and therefore infectious to others. It seems to only protect from severe disease. So why is it irresponsible not to take it? Can someone explain?

Tom Fox
Tom Fox
3 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth W

What? Like smallpox, or maybe like polio?

David Radford
David Radford
3 years ago

I can’t help thinking that the so-called research done in S Africa was statistically speaking a joke in bad taste. A sample size of 2k is negligible and the rigour applied has not been revealed. But give the British Press a choice between a scary but dubious headline story and behaving responsibly in accordance with journalistic code and they will always choose the former.

Elizabeth W
Elizabeth W
3 years ago
Reply to  David Radford

Not just the British press. Include the US, the Canadian and no doubt many more. They want the fear instilled.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth W

I smell a conspiracy theory.

David Probert
David Probert
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Or it just the conspiracy that you smell?

Was it a “Conspiracy Theory “that killed Julius Caesar or just a “conspiracy”?

Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Yes, down with those zany conspiracy theorists complaining about being confined and facing possible fines if they step outside their homes (unless of course it’s to protest against social injustice), while around them local businesses are shutting down. If only they’d follow the example laid out by those non-conspiracy theorists who read the correct news, triple-mask and inform on those who refuse to follow the new rules.

David Slade
David Slade
3 years ago

‘How dangerous are new Covid variants?’ well, how dangerous is any ever present fact of nature you have only just decided to publicise and reorder normal human functioning round?

Probably less dangerous than your obsession with it.

David Probert
David Probert
3 years ago
Reply to  David Slade

More importantly; ” How dangerous now is the Johnson Regime to our freedoms prosperity health and welfare”?

leonardozuid
leonardozuid
3 years ago

Ah yes, a new version of the vaccine, so that in future every six months the entire population can roll up its sleeve. Of course, there is no such thing as a free lunch, so a new business model and complementary tax model has arisen. Conscientious objectors will be locked in their houses and slowly starved to death. The ultimate goal is a flock of sheep that will live forever in solemn admiration of the overlords. But who wants to live forever? Come with me to Paris and Di.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  leonardozuid

‘Conscientious objectors will be locked in their houses and slowly starved to death.’

But not before being forced to read a compendium of Tom Chivers’ articles on the whole wretched racket.

gbauer
gbauer
3 years ago
Reply to  leonardozuid

This shit show has made me fear death less and less, so whatever new variant emerges — Canadian, Greek, Flervy Dervy, or Hubba Jubba — I’m good.

David Probert
David Probert
3 years ago
Reply to  gbauer

I’m more worried now about the “Johnson Variant!

After apparent recovery, it seems to affect the brain.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 years ago
Reply to  gbauer

Escaping the fear of death is a wonderful gift for a million reasons.

Suffering stinks, but death is really not a problem.

steve sykes
steve sykes
3 years ago
Reply to  gbauer

we all have to die at some time and it its only very recently that we have been anything like able to put off death

David Probert
David Probert
3 years ago
Reply to  leonardozuid

Why is nobody interested in the long term potentially damaging effects of these experimental “gene therapy” vaccines? The serious questions surrounding them are well documented by independent sources – even if casually dismissed by the manufacturers .

It seems incredible that no questions are being asked, even though it is fully qualified, eminent and experienced virologists who have expressed serious concerns. What is the matter with people?

The level of sheer irresponsibility seems breathtaking!

Dorothy Slater
Dorothy Slater
3 years ago
Reply to  David Probert

I am “getting the needle” reluctantly on Friday. The only reason is that I am hoping to continue traveling at some point after more than a year of watching the paint dry in my apartment. Unconfirmed rumor has it that you may have to produce proof that you have been vaccinated to get on a plane. A year ago that would have seem totally bizarre. Unfortunately, it no longer does.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 years ago
Reply to  leonardozuid

We need a system/vaccine where conscientious objectors can leave their houses – but if they become ill – let them “go private”, and if they infect others – let case law develop that allows them to be successfully sued.

voodoopolitics
voodoopolitics
3 years ago

Chivers is my least favorite unHerd writer. I’m not sure why a computer person is considered your “Sciency” person. He writes many, many words that all add up to: how much should I scare myself today? And parsing “mild to moderate” is laughable. Cases are falling everywhere and he’s still scared. Frightened people really shouldn’t be writing about this at all.

Michael Dawson
Michael Dawson
3 years ago
Reply to  voodoopolitics

Maybe you could tell us your qualifications and we can comment on those? Tom was quoting ‘mild to moderate’ from the news coverage of the South African article – it was not his own expression. I think you misunderstand the word ‘parsing’ – you mean combining or conflating. Cases are falling, but do you think the various lockdowns and restrictions in the UK and elsewhere might conceivably be having some impact on that? I don’t think ad hominem attacks are likely to persuade any neutral judges.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago
Reply to  Michael Dawson

Cases are falling, but do you think the various lockdowns and restrictions in the UK and elsewhere might conceivably be having some impact on that?
lockdowns in some variation have been ongoing since last March, so how are they impacting anything?

David Probert
David Probert
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

They have had no identifiable measurable impact whatever – apart from demonstrably ruining – even endangering lives -and wrecking the economy of course.

The only way they can defend them is to use the absurdist “Tiger Horn” defence.

Michael Dawson
Michael Dawson
3 years ago
Reply to  David Probert

It depends what you regard as the counter-factual.

If it’s ‘everyone carries on exactly as they did before covid’, it is completely obvious that they have had a big effect in reducing transmission. That’s just the basics of virus transmission. Is this what you have in mind,? Frankly, I don’t see it as being a remotely realistic scenario because that’s not how people behave.

If it’s ‘leave people to make up their own mind about the risks’, the difference between lockdown and this option is much smaller because most people would want to take some precautions against catching the virus, and these would escalate as the NHS became unable to cope. Under the lockdown, the average age of a patient dying of covid is 81 or so. But this would not be the average age if case numbers increased to the point where the NHS simply could not cope. Without medical care, far more people would die and so people would be a lot more risk averse.

So it’s a lot more complicated than a simple rubbishing of lockdowns would suggest (and I am well aware that there are very big costs of lockdowns and other restrictions, but your argument seems to be that lockdowns are bad even excluding those other costs).

CYRIL NAMMOCK
CYRIL NAMMOCK
3 years ago
Reply to  Michael Dawson

Where to begin? All I can say for certain is that the above post is written in English. Anybody want to take over? It hardly makes sense even grammatically- I think the poster knows what he means and expects the rest of us to know as well.

Elizabeth W
Elizabeth W
3 years ago
Reply to  Michael Dawson

Most of Tom’s articles are pro vaccine and fear instilling. He is not just delivering what he ‘see’ but also adding his own twist.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth W

Isn’t that what you do, what we all do? How are you so good that you can see the truth?
What you do in fact see is the truth as it appears to you, with your degree of training, depending on the latest things you talked about with your friends ….

David Probert
David Probert
3 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth W

Exactly just like the leaflets available for the NHS and circulated by GPs – they are not objective information.

The bottom line is simple”nearly everybody should have the vaccine regardless of age or any medical condition ” – all concerns are dismissed.

David Probert
David Probert
3 years ago
Reply to  Michael Dawson

The criticism was of what he wrote not the person – it is not therefore ‘ad hominem’ it is “criticism”of content.

Your comment, by contrast is pure “ad hominem”!

Michael Dawson
Michael Dawson
3 years ago
Reply to  David Probert

Really? My first point, maybe – but that was a direct response to Voodoo Politics’ post, so it’s not obvious why mine is ad homienem and his isn’t. My second one pointed to a misunderstanding of a word. The third pointed out that there is a very obvious reason why case numbers are falling, just not one Voodoo Politics likes.

CYRIL NAMMOCK
CYRIL NAMMOCK
3 years ago
Reply to  Michael Dawson

Well, as far as I can see, VP did not call into question your “qualifications” to make such comments as you did. Whereas you, as far as I can see, did so about him.

CYRIL NAMMOCK
CYRIL NAMMOCK
3 years ago
Reply to  David Probert

Good heavens, I’ve just made exactly the same observation somewhere North of this posting.

CYRIL NAMMOCK
CYRIL NAMMOCK
3 years ago
Reply to  Michael Dawson

Then stop making such ad hominem attacks. The above poster may be completely uninformed and utterly stupid, or he may not be; but he is entitled to put forward his opinion. The idea that a given subject may only be discussed by those with formal qualifications in it is the default trope of the saloon-bar bore.

voodoopolitics
voodoopolitics
3 years ago
Reply to  Michael Dawson

I am an anonymous account. I could tell you I have a Ph.D. in interplanetrary communications and you wouldn’t know if I was telling the truth. But here’s a qualification for you: I know how PCR tests work and I know what a cycle threshold is. I’ve read a lot of Chivers and have seen no evidence that he understands either. Do you? If you don’t, you’re not in a position to judge my qualifications even if I typed out my whole c.v. in this little text box. I have every right to criticize Chivers because I like unHerd, and keep reading his articles and find myself at the same conclusion: He doesn’t have the basic science background to do it well. As for why case numbers are crashing, I refer you to the WHO advisory on In vitro diagnositic testing and following the required number of cycle thresholds. Doing so in many countries may have radically lowered the case numbers. THAT is a story. Not Chivers’ parsing of his personal terror level today.

David Probert
David Probert
3 years ago
Reply to  voodoopolitics

Has he friends in SAGE I wonder?

Jake Prior
Jake Prior
3 years ago

I keep hearing about this South Africa variant, so assume it must be really bad in South Africa. Looking at the data from worldometers, the infection rates there are falling off a cliff. The daily rates worldwide are also down to nearly 50% of the peak. Where is the reporting on any of this?

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Jake Prior

Alex Belfield on the Voice of Reason videos reports on facts like this. You can watch him on YouTube.

David Probert
David Probert
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Until they take it down.

Elizabeth W
Elizabeth W
3 years ago
Reply to  Jake Prior

Why? Because people will finally start to relax and we wouldn’t want that now, would we?

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
3 years ago
Reply to  Jake Prior

I live here and the surge has bottomed out with no hard lockdown…. just some restrictions, only one of which would have had any impact on infections. That was a ban on crowds in shouty places. That said there was no ban on large minibus taxis which are full of people shouting! I would take the less efficacious AZ vaccine long before any mRNA vaccine. So much drama everywhere.

William Murphy
William Murphy
3 years ago

Thanks for the information on minibus taxis. For weeks after Boris’ ludicrous March 2020 “lockdown” the London Underground trains were still packed – no face masks at that time.

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
3 years ago
Reply to  Jake Prior

All over the internet, including the gov.uk bit, even. Not hard to find. You may be mistakenly thinking that newspapers (or the BBC) do news still.

michael_stokes
michael_stokes
3 years ago

Dory to insert a pet theory. I’m old enough to remember when the BBC did news rather than opinion and emotional reporting. Neither can be challenged rationally. Surely the technology that encouraged 24/7 news is to blame somewhat. Opinion/emotion have expanded to fill the time vacuum. So we have endless repeats of recycled opinions rather than investigations of actual facts, their validity and relevance. Sound bites are cheaper

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
3 years ago
Reply to  michael_stokes

You may be looking in the wrong places.
You could try BBC Radio 4 : More or Less, The Briefing Room, Analysis, How to vaccinate the world.

Hyperbole free zones and lots of numbers that are suitably interrogated.

Robin Taylor
Robin Taylor
3 years ago
Reply to  Jake Prior

And Covid deaths per million of population in South Africa are half what they are in the UK.

Jean Redpath
Jean Redpath
3 years ago
Reply to  Robin Taylor

Unfortunately South Africa is not as good at counting Covid deaths as the UK. Excess deaths exceed 120 000.

Having said that at the height of the untreated HIV/AIDS epidemic in around 2006 we saw about 200 000 additional deaths in South Africa.

More than half of the 120 000 occurred in the “resurgence” or 2nd wave – during December/January i.e. summer -at almost exactly the same time as the rest of the world, even though the first wave peak was only in July.

donovanbayley
donovanbayley
3 years ago
Reply to  Jake Prior

Another South African here. Our figures are indeed falling like a stone, but when they were rising they shot up almost vertically, much more steeply than in the first wave.

The armchair epidemiologist in me wonders if both the steep rise and the sudden collapse can be explained by two things: much greater infectiousness of the new variant against a background of widespread immunity to the original strain.

SA has been remiss at antibody testing but the few not-very-representative surveys done after the first wave found a high rate, in the range of 40%, of people having antibodies.

Reaching or nearing herd immunity seems the best explanation for the decline of the first wave here. It’s not as if we had a severe lockdown at the time, and people were socialising as if there were no tomorrow.

One of the fun epidemiological things we’ve learnt in this period is that the population percentage required for herd immunity depends on the infectiousness of the pathogen.

So … could this be what’s happened: that the greater infectivity of the new SA strain caused it to punch through the herd immunity threshold and tear rapidly through the remaining susceptible population — so rapidly, in fact, that the new, higher threshold of herd immunity was reached pretty soon?

Hope I’m not talking through my hat. There is (of course) already panicky talk of a Third Wave, which would be dispiriting if it happens.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago

Just as people thought the end might be near, the predictable happens. I’m starting to think there are people who never want the fear to end.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

It has been obvious for many, many months that there are many, many people who don’t want the fear to end. They are the people who are doing very well out of Covid.

Duncan Hunter
Duncan Hunter
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

It’s been clear that a new narrative is being unleashed, aided & abetted by the ever reliable MSM – for scare- and scandal- mongering sells best and keeps them in a job.

The run-up to cancelled Christmas was an unpleasant insight into the future, or perhaps the next instalment of this sh*tshow and how it will be extended.

It is increasingly clear that the inevitably expanding list of variant or mutant strains is the new hook, that when needed they will be wheeled out to justify further restrictions and loss of freedoms. Following hard on the heels of new variant announcements (launches?), will be the lack of context, analysis or insight by the media (the SA variant is a perfect example: ignore falling cases in SA, downplay the narrow statistical basis of the data, rush to judgment before peer reviews and broader data is generated).

Next is the requirement for a new vaccine, either novel or a tweaked version of an extant one, and the extension of measures until it is deemed safe to roll out following accelerated or non-existent Phase III trials and overnight regulatory approval. Already members of SAGE are warning lockdowns may need to last for years (Times, today).

Perhaps this was partially what Lord Falconer was alluding to when describing Covid as the gift that keeps on giving? It is manifestly clear a large proportion of the scientific advisory community do not want this to end for some time, if ever. The goalposts can constantly be moved, to the delight of those as you say doing very well out of Covid and misery and ruin for everyone else.

Apart from Sunak and a number of Conservative back benchers, our moral cowards of politicians and their line-toeing lackeys in the media seem determined to let power hungry scientists, a terrified populace and the beneficiaries of Covid propel us perpetually towards oblivion.

brichardbradford
brichardbradford
3 years ago

For the sake of all our sanity, please stop using this meaningless word ‘worrying’.

Worry is subjective; what worries you may not worry me. Don’t foist your reaction to this news onto me.

‘Worrying’ is a word much favored by the ‘progressive’ factions in society, who wish us all to react in a precisely coordinated way rather than deciding for ourselves our level of ‘worry’.

It is a linguistic trap which I am dismayed to see Unherd fall into so easily.

Use a less subjective term such as ‘caution’, ‘problem’ or even ‘threat’ and let me decide for myself how much I am going to worry.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago

now do “concerning,” which has done much the same thing.

Nick Taylor
Nick Taylor
3 years ago

The issue for me is that we have a real struggle between the ‘binary’ world our news media, and many consumers of news, operate in and dealing with complexity. By definition science is not exact and so complex. I well remember the Guardian reporting in the early days of the pandemic that deaths had doubled! This was from two to four – a vast difference of say between 300 to 600. Such reporting (often in headlines) is crass but leaves a void that only critical thinking can fill. The mass reporting of supposed ineffectiveness of a vaccine given the facts presented above is alarmist, designed to stir up trouble and is really poor. I think the almost punditry type commentary on vaccines/development/testing is just poor journalism and shows they cannot deal with anything that is out of a binary situation of good/bad, stop/go, back/white scenario. Thankfully many people on here and this piece can actually think for itself and present the more nuanced and complex reality.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Nick Taylor

‘ I well remember the Guardian reporting in the early days of the pandemic that deaths had doubled! This was from two to four – a vast difference of say between 300 to 600;.

Are you sure the Guardian wasn’t confusing the number of Covid deaths with the number of those who still buy their desperate and deceitful rag?

Joe Reed
Joe Reed
3 years ago

All viruses have mutations. This should not be a terrifying revelation, or even news. I am a science dunce who scraped a D at school and I knew about antigenic drift.

Essentially, the media has entrapped us in Baudrillardian simulacrum of hell, gorging on panicked clicks as it scans the world for viruses, mutant viruses, diseased minks (when it can’t find those it dwells on the Big Virus that does not yet exist and is coming), floods, fires and innumerable other apocalyptic terrors. The wheels are greased by eschatologists with political axes to grind, tech corporations, and other interested actors like the technocratic managers who have such sway over our lives. I am *not* a climate denier, but ludicrous predictions of the world burning up in flame or disappearing under water in ten years are at the centre of this eschatological outlook.

I think it was Adam Curtis who made the point that we have filled the void where all our failed political hopes and dreams used to be with fear. The concept of risk – a word almost unused in political discourse before the 1980s – has extended from the world of finance to infect the whole of social reality, he said. Numerous managers and technocrats came to use data systems to quantify every possible risk, which then get amplified by digital media.

This is not to say that covid, terrorism or climate change are not real challenges that require responses, but they are not world-ending catastrophes. It’s just that we have been taught to be intolerant of all risk. That’s worrying because these scientists and data analysts will continue to find more strains, more viruses, more threats. They won’t be able to stop. We didn’t used to be so worried about all these things because there weren’t all these people looking for them and a 24/7 media telling us we have to be VERY AFRAID all day long. If something happened it happened and we dealt with it.

If an individual spent all their energy looking for signs of bad things that might happen in the future they would be classed as mentally ill.

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  Joe Reed

There will be much, much, worse to come from that unholy trio, HMG, MSM & the NHS.This is a feeding frenzy they just cannot resist.

Stan Glib
Stan Glib
3 years ago
Reply to  Joe Reed

I think underpinning a lot of what you’ve written is a lack of appreciation of tail risk, uncertainty and complexity. It’s easier to do the boring job of weeding now and then to prevent a completely overrun garden. We needn’t dwell on the eventual weedpocalypse, but simply have an understanding of multiplicative events and a ‘stitch in time saves 9’ approach. The trouble is, the more connected a world is, the more of a problem ‘black swan’ events become.

“we have been taught to be intolerant of all risk”

By whom? And who’s we?

High flying Data Analysts at the FT were dismissing the threat of covid in January 2020, and had to later eat their words. Data Analysts aren’t just one group of likeminded statisticians, they are regularly divided on politics. Many of them are very very intelligent idiots.

‘We didn’t used to be so worried about all these things’

Again, who’s we? And when are you talking about? What is this collective agent you speak of?

J A Thompson
J A Thompson
3 years ago

As worrying as the BBC and the MSM can make it. On the other hand, if you are reasonably young and fit, probably not at all.
The desire for covid porn seems insatiable.

Adam C
Adam C
3 years ago

Comic book sci-fi writer Tom Chivers strikes again.

Of course Tom was worried by the news of the first mutations, because it took Tom a year to learn that viruses mutate. 2 or 3 years from now Tom will realise that Covid is endemic, which will absolutely terrify him.

Tom suggests the data behind the South African study is thin … while swallowing every drip of warm manure that the tragicomic SAGE modellers drip-feed him.

The lack of balance in Tom’s bed-wetting response to every inevitable piece of news on the failure to eradicate covid with junk science is embarrassing.

Let go of the illusion of control, Tom. The real world is not like the perfectly controllable digital sci-fi world you imagine and write about.

David Probert
David Probert
3 years ago
Reply to  Adam C

Tom doesn’t appear to have much of a medical background to be telling us all about corona viruses and their behaviour does he?

We can all look them up.

Elizabeth Hart
Elizabeth Hart
3 years ago
Reply to  David Probert

Tom Chivers is a volunteer in the Oxford vaccine trial, and I suspect biased in favour of coronavirus vaccination. See his UnHerd article: I’m on the Oxford vaccine trial – here’s what it’s like, 2 July 2020.
In the interests of transparency, I suggest Tom Chivers should disclose he is a participant in the Oxford vaccine trial on his articles relevant to the coronavirus situation.
For the record, I’m an independent person investigating the over-use of vaccine products and conflicts of interest in vaccination policy. I’m not trying to press medical interventions on people.
I’m not a supporter of coronavirus vaccination, and I’m astonished a vaccination solution is being pursued for this virus which doesn’t appear to be a threat to most people.
We need to track back now and try to understand how this happened, with huge resources being thrown into vaccine research, while effective treatments and promising preventatives such as vitamin D were suppressed.

Emma Miller
Emma Miller
3 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth Hart

yes, and from the start of the pandemic they have not talked about anything else than “once the vaccine is available” with the exception of obsessive testing, which also makes a lot of money for the pharma industry.

If the aim had been “make and keep people scared / limited in their freedoms to rush for the vaccine as way out” then the way govts were acting was just the way to do it!

Have you heard of the 201 event, organized by Johns Hopkins University?
Someone from the Bill and M Gates foundation was of course present.

Almost sounds like it was all planned…including the fear element.

Elizabeth Hart
Elizabeth Hart
3 years ago
Reply to  Emma Miller

Emma, you say “Almost sounds like it was all planned…including the fear element”.
Yes, Event 201 is the blueprint for the industry response to a coronavirus…and a few months later it came to pass…
Except in their simulation in October 2019 there were 65 million deaths after 18 months, while in ‘real life’, they’ve only been able to cobble together 2.3 million deaths attributed to Covid in the past year, in a global population of 7.8 billion, with 59 million expected to die in a year from all causes.
Segment 4 Communications of the Event 201 videos is particularly illuminating as to how they planned to use the media to manipulate the masses.

Alex Camm
Alex Camm
3 years ago

What happened to the 30% more ‘deadly’ Kent variety? It seems it wasn’t but useful to keep the fear levels up. Perhaps this is the same?

William Murphy
William Murphy
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Camm

So far they haven’t tried terrifying us about the pet threat, though it seems that cats can get COVID. No doubt we will soon be forbidden from touching anything hairy and embark on a mass inoculation and/or extermination of our feline friends.

Elizabeth Hart
Elizabeth Hart
3 years ago
Reply to  William Murphy

Re pets and coronavirus.
Vaccination against canine coronavirus (CCV) is not recommended
“CCV infections are usually subclinical or cause mild clinical signs. Prevalence of confirmed CCV disease does not justify use of currently-available vaccines. There is no evidence that existing vaccines would protect against pathogenic variants of CCV (Buonavoglia et al. 2009, Decaro et al. 2009) [EB1]. Although CCV can be isolated commonly, the VGG remains unconvinced that CCV is a significant primary enteric pathogen in the adult dog. No studies have satisfied Koch’s postulates for this infectious agent.”
Reference:
World Small Animal Veterinary Association – Guidelines for the Vaccination of Dogs and Cats.
Journal of Small Animal Practice. Vol. 57. January 2016.

George Lake
George Lake
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Camm

What about the Cumbrian killer? 100% lethal.

CYRIL NAMMOCK
CYRIL NAMMOCK
3 years ago
Reply to  George Lake

It certainly is unprecedentedly lethal according to our friend “Tom Fox”.

Shyam Mehta
Shyam Mehta
3 years ago

I did some detailed modelling of the ‘New Variant’. There was a a huge rise in cases (and deaths) since August 2020, bringing the UK up towards herd immunity. Similarly in Sweden 40% of the population have been infected, India 25% (30% by now), USA now 35%-40%. Another 20% or so of the population have natural immunity. And, the above %s are just for antibodies, they exclude T-Cells. This is why all over the world Covid is in decline: many, not all countries have reached herd immunity. For the UK, my detailed projections show fewer than 70 deaths by 31/3/21, and continuing to decline. The vaccination programme makes virtually no difference to this conclusion.
If shutdown is removed, the past evidence is that the R rate will not rise much, say by 0.05. It will still be below 1, it is currently 0.81. The epidemic is over, irrespective of vaccines. In England, for example, the numbers of new cases has declined by a factor of 5 in the last few weeks.
Of course both vaccination and getting the disease may not confer permanent immunity, so Covid could recurr in (1) year..

Elizabeth W
Elizabeth W
3 years ago
Reply to  Shyam Mehta

I have read other sources that say the same thing. Yay … let’s move on.

William Murphy
William Murphy
3 years ago
Reply to  Shyam Mehta

Someone is actually prepared to name a specific number by a specific date…..OK, it’s in my memory, I’m not asking you to bet hard cash.

David Probert
David Probert
3 years ago
Reply to  Shyam Mehta

Sadly, you will certainly not get a job with SAGE after this – this is he wrong narrative for the intended political outcome .

( Now then, back to the main purpose : “How to continue ramping up the fear to push the vaccine”)

dcummi
dcummi
3 years ago

It’s not the minor reactions to the vaccines that worries me it’s the longer term dangers of ADE and Pathological Priming. To glance over these dangers is rather naive and typifies the attitude and brainwashing of the general public. The vaccines are safe according to the tests carried out, I’m sure this is factually correct but if doesn’t reassure me. To suggest that we just combine the various results and use such data to assess the safety of such vaccines is madness, what on Earth were you thinking to suggest such a strategy?

Simon Sharp
Simon Sharp
3 years ago

newsflash – respiratory virus develops new variant. Because they never ever do that. They definitely don’t do that every season. We must all panic and enact more draconian measures to deal with this unprecedented threat…its the only way.

Geoffrey Simon Hicking
Geoffrey Simon Hicking
3 years ago

The Telegraph’s attitude to research is appalling. I would have been kicked off a number of research projects had I put such sketchy initial findings in a headline like they did with that 10% comment.

Su Mac
Su Mac
3 years ago

Whenever I start to get fearful of the virus I am pleased to come across a phrase like “…severe disease is mercifully rare…” and draw a breath. And yet we still are focusing on it as though it is our biggest problem?

William Murphy
William Murphy
3 years ago
Reply to  Su Mac

Jean-Francois Revel had a brilliant line in his 1970 polemic “Without Marx or Jesus”. He declared that, without any outside comparison, his electric kettle was the principle source of energy in the universe. The BBC, the rest of the media, the scientists and the whole Government machine have obviously worked on that principle for the last year. Cancer, heart disease, etc got a mention only in relation to treatments for COVID eating every resource.

Su Mac
Su Mac
3 years ago
Reply to  William Murphy

I know what he meant though…with the thermometer at -1 the kettle has become the centre of my universe ðƾ˜‰

rosie mackenzie
rosie mackenzie
3 years ago

The media sabotaged the Government’s original policy of protecting the elderly and frail and letting life go on for the rest; then they sabotaged the test and trace; now they are sabotaging the Oxford vaccine. They could have fixed on the Pfizer [“In separate bad news, the South Africa strain was found to be less susceptible to antibodies produced in response to the Pfizer vaccine, which doesn’t mean it won’t work ““ there’s more to the immune system than antibodies ““ but isn’t a great sign.”] but they chose not to. Funny that.

I haven’t listed all the other things they’ve sabotaged in the hope of bringing down the Conservative Brexit government they hate.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

If the media keeps up this unending drumbeat of doom and “what can we panic about now” it will be fully responsible for the public tuning it all out and going about their lives without cringing in fear.

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago

I, for one, eagerly await that day.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  stephen f.

Me too. I didn’t even read the article, the headline was enough.

Andy Gibson
Andy Gibson
3 years ago

Well if the South African variant hasn’t got you shaking in your boots, how about the
(Drum roll)…. Bristol mutation…. A variant of concern.

Yes it is never ending.

James Moss
James Moss
3 years ago

Tom asks why this South African “finding” wasn’t published more widely. He then proceeds to put his finger on it. It is a non-statistically significant observation from a study not designed to look at this particular issue. There isn’t at present a reasonable answer to the question Tom poses – adding up a number of disparate studies on different vaccines as he heroically does won’t get us one either.

“How worrying” is it? That’s the question in the article’s title. Well it is quite worrying. The emergence of a successful vaccine escape strain could be disastrous. That is certainly a possibility to worry about. We tend to worry about unknown future events and their consequences. Certainty takes most worry away.

The South African approach, having made this observation in c. 2000 individuals in their 30’s, has been to pause use of the AZ vaccine (they have supplies of others) and initiate a proper study of it in 100,000 subjects across the age range. They’ll have some answers in 3-4 weeks. Best thing for US to do is keep on jabbing!

Aidan Collingwood
Aidan Collingwood
3 years ago
Reply to  James Moss

Agreed, except that I don’t think stopping vaccinations in SA whilst waiting for new that new data is helpful. Surely some protection is better than none? I can understand people who worry that partial protection, allowing people to circulate more, might spread the virus as well, but then a proportion of protection must also be a good thing in the long-term? In any case, even after a jab, there is no protection for 12 days, according to Dr. Campbell’s YouTube channel – a useful source of facts.

James Moss
James Moss
3 years ago

I’m only getting this from a brief TV interview. They have supplies of other vaccines. I presumed they were just carrying on with those. But also consider (a) in relative terms, a vaccination programme is harder for them to fund; (b) as with most african countries, there are far fewer people over 60.

Aidan Collingwood
Aidan Collingwood
3 years ago
Reply to  James Moss

Yes, that’s all true. And they also have huge AIDs figures to deal with which may complicate things. But I do hope they keep jabbing, even with the other vaccines. I think they, as with all countries, have to use several strategies to cope with it ASAP, from distancing to prevention/ vaccination to treating those that get it.

James Moss
James Moss
3 years ago

I agree.

Elizabeth W
Elizabeth W
3 years ago
Reply to  James Moss

From the get-go this has been about vaccinating the world. Bill Gates is at the forefront of this. There is so much government and medical tyranny that I can’t believe how many people suck this information up. Mankind has survived viruses and as long as we have people on earth, there will be more too. This experimental jab is just that – experimental. We have forgotten that we have an immune system and healthy people do not need this jab.

Johnny Sutherland
Johnny Sutherland
3 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth W

Bill Gates is at the forefront of this.

Why?

Elizabeth Hart
Elizabeth Hart
3 years ago

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is exerting extraordinary influence over international vaccination policy.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is one of the largest funders of the WHO, along with the Gates Foundation-backed Gavi Alliance, and Germany, USA, UK and the EU Commission (as noted on the WHO’s Contributors webpage updated until Q3-2020).
It seems to me the WHO is a front for the vaccine industry, being run by organisations and countries that are heavily involved in promoting vaccine markets, most recently coronavirus vaccine products.
In regards to the Gavi Alliance, this was set up in 1999 with a $750 million pledge from the Gates Foundation. The Gates Foundation is a key Gavi partner in ‘vaccine market shaping’.
Bill and Melinda Gates pledged $10 billion for the ‘Decade of Vaccines’. Check out the ‘Decade of Vaccines Collaboration’, consisting of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundations, GAVI Alliance, UNICEF, US National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases and WHO, along with others, including many governments, non-government organizations and other agencies.

ian k
ian k
3 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth W

Anyone can read the original publications on the vaccines in the Lancet and NEJM. Within the designs of the trials. the vaccines are proven to work. They are not experimental.

Having been a UK doctor for over 30 years, I do not recognize the term “medical tyranny”. In what way I and all the people I worked with are tyrants I would like to know.

We do have an immune system and it does not always work. Healthy people used to succumb in large numbers to smallpox, and still do to measles, rabies, polio, yellow fever etc etc.

Elizabeth Hart
Elizabeth Hart
3 years ago
Reply to  ian k

We have medical tyranny in Australia via the coercive ‘No Jab, No Pay/No Play’ laws, which were enacted by Federal and State governments after an aggressive media campaign by the Murdoch press for these laws. It wasn’t disclosed during this media campaign that the Murdoch media, now aka known as News Corp Australia, was also a corporate partner of the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, which is involved in vaccine research. This is a significant conflict of interest that should have been disclosed on articles during the Murdoch tabloids aggressive ‘No Jab, No Play’ media campaign that ran from 2013 until 2016, when the Turnbull Government enacted the Federal No Jab, No Pay law, followed by State No Jab, No Play laws.
Rupert Murdoch’s mother Dame Elisabeth Murdoch was involved with the founding of the original institute, along with her family and others. Lachlan Murdoch’s partner Sarah Murdoch is on the Board of the MCRI, and is also the Ambassador for this organisation.
The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute is now involved in coronavirus vaccine research, a fact which is not disclosed on articles promoting coronavirus vaccination in Murdoch publications.
Now there are calls for the ‘No Jab’ idea to be adopted for coercive coronavirus vaccination, e.g. No Jab, No Job.
When people are subjected to medical interventions such as coercive vaccination, and denied the opportunity to give their ‘informed consent’ to the intervention, this is medical tyranny.

ian k
ian k
3 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth Hart

Well get a grip on yourself, as you are running away into fantasy land now.
Here in the UK we are well aware of the malign influences and practices of the Murdoch press empire. How tabloid headlines equates to “medical tyranny” is beyond me. Newspapers sell on drama, and no-one apart from people like yourselves would take them as anything other than attempts to sell newspapers.

There is no coercive vaccination policy in Australia: there are financial incentives to get children vaccinated, which is not the same as coercive vaccintation.

Elizabeth Hart
Elizabeth Hart
3 years ago
Reply to  ian k

There is coercive vaccination in Australia. Since the No Jab, No Pay/No Play laws have been enacted in Australian, even more vaccines have been added to the schedule, another aluminium-adjuvanted diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis shot at 18 months, and the meningococcal ACWY vaccination.
The children’s schedule is now:
Birth: Hepatitis B.
2 months: Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), hepatitis B, polio, Haemophilus influenzae type B Hib); Rotavirus; Pneumococcal.
4 months: Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), hepatitis B, polio, Haemophilus influenzae type B Hib); Rotavirus; Pneumococcal.
6 months: Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), hepatitis B, polio, Haemophilus influenzae type B Hib).
12 months: Meningococcal ACWY; Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR); Pneumococcal.
18 months: Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib); Measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox (varicella) (MMRV); Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough).
4 years: Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), polio.
12-13 years: Human papillomavirus (HPV) x 2 doses; Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough).
14-16 years: Meningococcal ACWY.
Plus annual flu vaccination is funded for children 6 months to less than five years of age.
And meningococcal B vaccination x 3 doses is funded for children in South Australia, and indigenous children.
This is a large amount of vaccines, and growing. Questioning of this vaccination schedule is not allowed, I know because I have tried.

Elizabeth Hart
Elizabeth Hart
3 years ago
Reply to  ian k

No, it’s not fantasy land.
The Murdoch media ran their concerted No Jab, No Play campaign for three years. Politicians across the political spectrum obliged the Murdoch media with the No Jab, No Pay/No Play laws.
Then Prime Minister Tony Abbott, plus then Labor Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, and then Greens leader Richard Di Natale, all fell into line. Scott Morrison was Social Services Minister at the time, and raised the No Jab, No Pay Bill in 2015, and it was soon made law in January 2016 when Malcolm Turnbull was Prime Minister.
Scott Morrison is Prime Minister now and maintains a cosy relationship with the Murdoch media, and boasts about getting No Jab, No Pay/Play off the ground. The ‘No Jab’ principle threatens to be used to coerce adults to have coronavirus vaccination.
There’s also the threat of the Biosecurity Act 2015, which has the facility to imprison refusers of vaccination for five years, and/or a $66,600 fine. See my BMJ rapid response: Five years imprisonment and/or a $66,600 fine for refusing coronavirus vaccination? 30 October 2020.

LUKE LOZE
LUKE LOZE
3 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth W

Why Bill Gates? why not Dolly Parton? she helped fund some of the vaccine development too.

What does experimental mean? The jabs (plural) have all gone through lots of testing. Just when do they stop being experimental?

Yes we have an immune system, that’s what in various ways all vaccines prime. The odds are if healthy people take the vaccine they’re less likely to suffer from disease and to pass it on to other more vulnerable people.

Tyranny is a more serious subject, in the UK we have a massive feedback loop between the baying mob of the media, the people, government and safety at all costs scientists.

Elizabeth Hart
Elizabeth Hart
3 years ago
Reply to  LUKE LOZE

Yes, I’d say the vaccine products are experimental. What is occurring now is unprecedented, a plan to vaccinate the entire global population with fast-tracked vaccine products. This is a massive experiment underway, we have no idea how this is going to turn out.
Vaccines have been fast-tracked with emergency authorisations, see for example FDA Emergency Use Authorization: Under section 564 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act), the FDA Commissioner may allow unapproved medical products or unapproved uses of approved medical products to be used in an emergency to diagnose, treat, or prevent serious or life-threatening diseases or conditions caused by CBRN threat agents when there are no adequate, approved, and available alternatives.
Note in particular “…when there are no adequate, approved, and available alternatives”.
So if alternatives were acknowledged, no Emergency Use Authorization for the fast-tracked experimental vaccine products they were so eager to promote around the world?
And people were prevented from accessing potentially life-saving treatments, and vitamin D played down…?
What would you call that?

James Moss
James Moss
3 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth W

This is just anti-vax polemic nonsense. Go away and bother someone else.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
3 years ago
Reply to  James Moss

SA MSM is all over the place alarmist about the AZ issue. I would continue and give jabs to health workers (the first tranche) and give them the booster later. Sick of it all already.

Mike Spoors
Mike Spoors
3 years ago

I’m currently self isolating as I have a severe attack of sinusitis which I get when the weather turns cold and damp at this time of the year. I do not have a persistent cough, a high temperature although my sense of taste and smell have never been that good. But, as of last week 142 GP’s say that my runny nose now makes it likely that I (may) have Covid and as such I am now a threat not only to myself but to the wider world if I stray outside my front door. The fact that I suffer with this every year and my own GP merely tells me I will just have to live with it now seems to count for nothing.

If it’s sinusitis, C’est la vie. If Covid, Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives. Now, to further complicate matters what mutation of my possible Covid could I have? Kent? SA? one as yet unknown but surely in the pipeline? Only time will tell, during which I will follow the advice as best I can and I will wait patiently for the invitation to apply for a vaccination, the first having been withdrawn before I could actually book it. Or I can just wait for my sinusitis to disappear and wait for the next set of symptoms to appear that show that I am a risk to myself and to others.

Of course I might already be stricken so it is too late to do more than I am already doing and clearly the NHS is too overburdened to help me anyway.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

It is not remotely worrying. I haven’t had so much as a cold for years, I eat a lot of fruit and veg (including the very important fermented veg), and get out into the sun each day, I am no more than a little overweight, I walk or cycle for a few miles each day, and play football twice a week.

I am, in truth, more worried by the vaccines, which are killing more healthy young people than the virus has or ever will. We learned today of two more healthy young nurses who died – in Italy – days after being given the vaccine.

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

the vaccines, which are killing more healthy young people than the virus has or ever will

Can you name five healthy young people who have been killed by the vaccine? (Not just died after vaccination, but killed by it.)

Andy Gibson
Andy Gibson
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Pinch

Is this like a game of Where’s Wally?

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Pinch

I for one cannot, but am aware of young people killed by Covid motorcycle accidents, heart attacks, cancer, house fires-Covid danger is clearly so dangerous that any means are valid to combat it…then we can get back to actual causes of death that are always with us, and more lethal in the long run…

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
3 years ago
Reply to  stephen f.

aware of young people killed by Covid motorcycle accidents […]

You’ve seen the death certificates, I suppose?

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Pinch

It happened in Florida-you can go there and find it for yourself.

Athena Jones
Athena Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  stephen f.

VAERS ID # 936805-1.
AGE 25. MALE Vaccinated 12/22/2020. Found UNRESPONSIVE and subsequently expired at home on 1/11/2021. Moderna vaccine.

VAERS ID # 943397-1
AGE 28. MALE
Vaccinated 12/23/2020. DIED 1/14/2021. Patient was found unresponsive at work in the hospital. Patient pupils were fixed and dilated. Pfizer vaccine.

VAERS ID # 939050-1
AGE 32. FEMALE
Vaccinated 12/28/2020. Died on 1/4/21 at 7:20am. Moderna vaccine.

VAERS ID # 921667-1
AGE 39. FEMALE.
Vaccinated 12/29/2020. It was reported that the staff member deceased somewhere between 1/3/2021 and 1/4/2021. Pfizer vaccine.

VAERS ID # 923219-1
AGE 41. FEMALE
Vaccinated 12/30/2021. Died. 1/1/2021. Pfizer vaccine. The patient didn’t experience any adverse event at the moment of inoculation with COVID-19 vaccine or the following days. On January 1, 2021, at lunch time, two days after receiving the vaccine, the patient was found unresponsive in her bed by her partner.

VAERS ID # 933578-1
AGE 43. MALE
Vaccinated 1/8/2021. Died 1/9/2021. Moderna vaccine.

VAERS ID # 937527-1
AGE 44. FEMALE
Vaccinated 12/23/2020. Died on 1/4/2021. Pfizer vaccine.

VAERS ID # 929764-1
AGE 45. MALE
Vaccinated 12/28/2020. Died 12/29/2020. The patient was found deceased at home about 24 hours after immunization. Moderna vaccine.

VAERS ID # 939270-1
AGE 48. MALE
Vaccinated 12/22/2020. Died 12/31/2020. Pfizer vaccine.

VAERS ID # 918518-1
AGE 50. FEMALE
Vaccinated 12/31/2020. Died 12/31/2020. Moderna vaccine.

VAERS ID # 938118-1
AGE 51. FEMALE
Vaccinated 1/5/2021. Died. 1/10/2021. Pfizer vaccine. On 1/8/2021 17:30 patient taken to ER, cerebellar hemorrhage, stroke, aneurysm.

VAERS ID # 946293-1
AGE 51. MALE
Vaccinated 1/7/2021. Died 1/12/2021. Moderna vaccine. He became increasingly hypoxic around 1800hours on 1/7/2021. He was transported to hospital for acute on chronic hypoxia respiratory failure. He expired on 1/12/2021@2325 at medical center.

VAERS ID # 930910-1
AGE 52. FEMALE
Vaccinated on 1/8/2021. Died 1/8/2021. Patient received COVID vaccination around 12:15pm. Patient was monitored for the appropriate amount of time by nursing staff. Patient passed away at 2:15pm. Moderna vaccine.

VAERS ID # 933739-1
AGE 54. FEMALE.
Vaccinated 1/8/2021. Died 1/10/2021. 2 days later.
Staff member checked on her at 3am and patient stated that she felt like she couldn’t breathe. 911 was called and taken to the hospital. While in the ambulance, patient coded. Two EEGs were given to determine that patient had no brain activity. Pfizer vaccine.

VAERS ID # 934968-1
AGE 54. MALE
Vaccinated 1/4/2021. Died 1/6/2021. Pfizer vaccine. The patient received the vaccine on 04Jan2021, after which he started not feeling well. He went right home and went to bed. He woke up and ate a bit but not much and then was kind of pale. The patient then started to vomit, which continued throughout the night. He was having trouble in breathing. Emergency services were called, and they took his vitals and said that everything was okay, but he was very agitated; reported as not like this prior to the vaccine. The patient was taken to urgent care where they gave him an unspecified steroid shot and unspecified medication for vomiting. The patient was told he was probably having a reaction to the vaccine, but he was just dried up. The patient continued to vomit throughout the day and then he was very agitated again and would fall asleep for may be 15-20 minutes. When the patient woke up, he was very restless (reported as: his body was just amped up and could not calm down). The patient calmed down just a little bit in the evening. When the patient was awoken at 6:00 AM in the morning, he was still agitated. The patient stated that he couldn’t breathe, and his mind was racing. The patient’s other brother went to him and he was not responsive, and he passed away on 06Jan2021 around 10:15 AM. It was reported that none of the symptoms occurred until the patient received the vaccine. The patient died on 06Jan2021.

VAERS ID # 942106-1
AGE 54. MALE
Vaccinated 1/8/2021. Died 1/9/2021. Pfizer vaccine. On scene, the patient had a witnessed arrest with EMS starting CPR. He was given 3 rounds of epi without ROSC. Patient’s wife, had noted patient had received covid vaccine the prior day.

VAERS ID # 928933-1
AGE 56. FEMALE
Vaccinated on 12/23/2020. Died on 1/8/2021. Moderna vaccine.

VAERS ID # 935511-1
AGE 56. FEMALE
Vaccinated 1/8/2021. Died 1/9/2021. Moderna vaccine. Patient received the 1st dose of Moderna and was found deceased in her home the next day.

VAERS ID # 941811-1
AGE 56. FEMALE
Vaccinated 1/4/2021. Died 1/11/2021. Moderna vaccine. Resident began having fever on 1/11/21. Resident sent to nearest ER for evaluation. Later in the evening the staff AT Medical Center called to inform staff that resident had expired @ 2230 as a result of Respiratory Failure and Sepsis.

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
3 years ago
Reply to  stephen f.

… in other words, no, you don’t have any evidence to support these claims.

Athena Jones
Athena Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Pinch

As of Jan. 29, 501 deaths ” a subset of 11,249 total adverse events ” had been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) following COVID-19 vaccinations. The numbers reflect reports filed between Dec. 14, 2020, and Jan. 29, 2021.

VAERS is the primary mechanism for reporting adverse vaccine reactions in the U.S. Reports submitted to VAERS require further investigation before confirmation can be made that an adverse event was linked to a vaccine.

As of Jan. 29, about 35 million people in the U.S. had received one or both doses of a COVID vaccine. So far, only the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been granted Emergency Use Authorization in the U.S. by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). By the FDA’s own definition, the vaccines are still considered experimental until fully licensed.

According to the latest data, 453 of the 501 reported deaths were in the U.S. Fifty-three percent of those who died were male, 43% were female, the remaining death reports did not include the gender of the deceased. The average age of those who died was 77, the youngest reported death was of a 23-year-old. The Pfizer vaccine was taken by 59% of those who died, while the Moderna vaccine was taken by 41%.

The latest data also included 690 reports of anaphylactic reactions to either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. Of those, the Pfizer vaccine accounted for 76% of the reactions, and the Moderna vaccine for 24%.

As The Defender reported today, a 56-year-old woman in Virginia died Jan. 30, hours after receiving her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. Doctors told Drene Keyes’ daughter that her mother died of flash pulmonary edema likely caused by anaphylaxis. The death is under investigation by Virginia’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and the CDC.

Last week, the CDC told USA TODAY that based on “early safety data from the first month” of COVID-19 vaccination the vaccines are “as safe as the studies suggested they’d be” and that “everyone who had experienced an allergic response has been treated successfully, and no other serious problems have turned up among the first 22 million people vaccinated.

Other vaccine injury reports updated this week on VAERS include 139 cases of facial asymmetry, or Bell’s palsy type symptoms, and 13 miscarriages.

States reporting the most deaths were: California (45), Florida (22), Ohio (25), New York (22) and KY (22).

The Moderna vaccine lot numbers associated with the highest number of deaths were: 025L20A (20 deaths), 037K20A (21 deaths) and 011J2A (16 deaths), 025J20A (16 deaths) . For Pfizer, the lot numbers associated with the most reports of deaths were: EK5730 (10 deaths), EJ1685 (23 deaths), EL0140 (19 deaths), EK 9231 (17 deaths) and EL1284 (13 deaths). For 135 of the reported deaths, the lot numbers were unknown.

The clinical trials suggested that almost all the benefits of COVID vaccination and the vast majority of injuries were associated with the second dose.

Athena Jones
Athena Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Pinch

A bit of nifty footwork. So disingenuous.

You said: people who have been killed by the vaccine? (Not just died after vaccination, but killed by it.)

If I die after drinking bleach, did the bleach kill me? If I die after being vaccinated, is it logical to conclude, given good health and youth, the vaccine killed me?

Correlation is not causation but the greasy nature of modern science-medicine looks, sounds and feels like snake-oil.

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
3 years ago
Reply to  Athena Jones

It is hardly “disingenuous” to ask for evidence of causation, since, as you correctly point out

Correlation is not causation

Andrea X
Andrea X
3 years ago

Ok, I am simple, but can someone explain to me why all this hu-ha? Don’t viruses mutate constantly and haven’t there been already countless mutations around the world? Already a few months back it was suggested that all the deaths in the north of Italy were due to a different “variant” of the virus.
So why now all this fuss? How many “new and improved covid-19” have already been?

Elizabeth Hart
Elizabeth Hart
3 years ago

In regards to new variants, retired scientist Andrew D Stevens also raises concerns in his rapid response on The BMJ, i.e.
I am a bit concerned about Andrew Pollard’s rather brief dismissal of a possible link between the vaccine trials and the SA and Brazil variants. The question doesn’t take into account the other sites of the trials – the UK and the USA – where worrying mutations have also arisen – 4 sites strikes one as more than a coincidence. And also the timing of the trials and the emergence of the mutations seems to fit rather.
To say that not enough people were in the trials to have an effect is surely a bit misleading – it would only take one to act as “ground zero”. I believe this needs much more investigation. If there is a link, it would show that transmission is not stopped by vaccination and long term would perhaps indicate that the vaccinated may be at an ever increasing risk.

I wonder if anyone is following up on these concerns…?
Ref: Andrew D Stevens BMJ rapid response on: Covid-19: What new variants are emerging and how are they being investigated?

David Bottomley
David Bottomley
3 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth Hart

And so, why no major variants in the USA, in Russia, in China , Germany and other countries with massive trials. As might be expected, There are now dozens of variants and its not at all surprising that some have been in countries with trials. In fact, it would,be totally amazing if the only countries without variants were those where trials had been conducted!

Robin Taylor
Robin Taylor
3 years ago

“So why on Earth wasn’t the South African study made available on preprint?…It’s just baffling to me”.

I suspect it has everything to do with Government and big pharma trying to manage the PR. This may have worked in decades past but information gets out easily now and any attempt to manage bad news can quickly backfire creating the impression that you had something to hide. Government and it’s experts are then perplexed when the minions become sceptical.

Georgina Franks
Georgina Franks
3 years ago

Lets hope for better times to come

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago

Coronavirus mutates at least once a month. Less than flu apparently but, like most of us, it likes a change occasionally.

If it carries on at this rate and the vaccines can’t keep up, or the tests that ‘prove’ that they aren’t keeping up aren’t keeping up, then surely we’re all doomed?

Further to this, what are otherwise fit, healthy people ie the young supposed to do who aren’t, thus far, vulnerable to it?

Apparently the answer is that they are a major part of the problem because they’re ‘vectors’ for transmission to those who possibly are vulnerable, and the virus can only mutate if it finds viable hosts.

Hence these hapless individuals now need to vaccinate themselves against something that likely won’t harm them personally, but these essentially novel, relatively untested vaccinations themselves introduced to their otherwise healthy bodies and fighting fit immune systems, and which could prove to be their undoing, possibly will.

Back to the studio….

Athena Jones
Athena Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

Surely it needs to be taken into account that 99% of mortality, and this appears to be global, is in one group – very old and very sick with 2-3 co-morbidities killing them slowly.

How many of them would want younger people to be subjected to highly experimental vaccines to give them a few more months of existence? Very few.

The average of Covid claimed deaths in the UK is 82 and the average age of death is 81????? And for this the vast majority is asked to participate in vaccine experiments?

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Athena Jones

Who has been asked to get the vaccine? The fact that it’s offered doesn’t mean you’ve been asked to take it. Just say no. It’s not mandatory.

Elizabeth Hart
Elizabeth Hart
3 years ago

Haven’t you heard of ‘No Jab, No Job’ being discussed?
In Australia they’re also suggesting people won’t be able to travel internationally or on public transport, or go to pubs or restaurants etc without a jab…in other words, ‘No Jab, No Life’.
And it could get really serious because the Australian Biosecurity Act 2015 has the facility to see refusers of vaccination subject to five years imprisonment, and/or a $66,600 fine, see my BMJ rapid response: Five years imprisonment and/or a $66,600 fine for refusing coronavirus vaccination, 30 October 2020.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth Hart

No jab, no job? Perhaps outside the US?

Wow, didn’t know Australia was that authoritarian.

Jonathan Ellman
Jonathan Ellman
3 years ago

Thanks Mr. Chivers for an excellent piece of science journalism. One of the many failures of the C19 era is scientific communication. So much more is needed. The public are treated as stupid children. One of the surest way of persuading people to become vaccinated is probably to explain the science. No doubt the complexities and details would not be fully grasped by most of us but science good documentaries explain a lot to non-experts through diagrams, animation and so on. These have been dreadfully lacking, more please.

Elizabeth Hart
Elizabeth Hart
3 years ago

Tom Chivers says: “The study only looked at younger people ” the median age was 31 ” so there were no severe cases at all, in either the treatment or the control groups.”
Why were young people involved this coronavirus vaccine clinical trial?
Young people do not seem to be at serious risk with SARS-CoV-2, so why are they included in vaccine clinical trials?

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
3 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth Hart

Healthy young people are usually selected for initial human trials because if there is some risk from the treatment, it is usually lowest for healthy young people. Other groups are usually introduced later as confidence grows that the risk from the treatment is low.

Elizabeth Hart
Elizabeth Hart
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Pinch

Again, if there’s some risk from the treatment why should healthy young people be put at risk?
The Helsinki Declaration states: “Medical research involving human subjects may only be conducted if the importance of the objective outweighs the risks and burdens to the research subjects.”
Apparently the virus is mainly a threat to elderly people with comorbidities, so these are the people who should be represented in the trials, as these are the people now being vaccinated with the vaccine products.

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
3 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth Hart

I believe that vaccine trials are carried out entirely on volunteers, but if you have evidence to the contrary, by all means produce it.

Trials are carried out for two purposes: safety and efficacy. When there’s a reasonable amount of confirmation of safety on subjects most able to bear the risk, the trials proceed to other groups.

Elizabeth Hart
Elizabeth Hart
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Pinch

It’s an ethical matter, I’m not playing point-scoring games.
See my response to you above.

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
3 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth Hart

Neither am I. Obviously no trials should be carried out if there is no benefit reasonably likely to be gained from them. But I regard as perfectly reasonable to carry out trials initially on healthy young volunteers in order to assess the risk, hopefully very low, of proceeding to test on volunteers for whom the harms from those risks might be greater.

Elizabeth Hart
Elizabeth Hart
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Pinch

Do you think it’s ethical to vaccinate children to protect the elderly?
See my BMJ rapid response: Is it ethical to vaccinate children to protect the elderly? 5 August 2020.

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
3 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth Hart

Do you think it’s ethical to vaccinate children to protect the elderly?

In a word: yes. Of course it’s more complicated than that.

Elizabeth Hart
Elizabeth Hart
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Pinch

You think it’s ethical to vaccinate babies, children and young people with these experimental coronavirus vaccines, with so many question marks hanging over these fast-tracked vaccine products?
And children and young people aren’t currently generally at risk with this virus, but you would be happy to see them vaccinated every year, in effect making them dependent on the vaccines and stealing their own natural response to the virus?
Really?

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
3 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth Hart

I said, it’s complicated. But I see no objection in principle. We all have to share risks and benefits in this world. Am I “happy” about it? No, of course not.

Elizabeth Hart
Elizabeth Hart
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Pinch

We all have to share risks and benefits in this world.”
According to you, some more than others it seems…
For instance this lifetime vaccine burden hasn’t fallen on your shoulders…
It’s very clear the response to this virus has been very poorly considered, as it seems the focus was on developing coronavirus vaccine markets from the beginning, when I suggest this was not the appropriate response to this virus that is currently not a serious risk for most people.
Others have to be alerted to think about the big picture now.

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
3 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth Hart

According to you, some more than others it seems…

Not what I said.

For instance this lifetime vaccine burden hasn’t fallen on your shoulders

You have no idea what burdens may or may not have fallen on my shoulders, and I don’t choose to discuss them with you.

You can explain your position if you wish, and I’ll explain mine if you care to hear it. But not on the basis of personal remarks, or misinterpretation of what I said.

Elizabeth Hart
Elizabeth Hart
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Pinch

And you have no idea of the increasing vaccine burden falling on the shoulders of the young, or the emerging problems with vaccine products.
As I said previously, others have to be alerted to think about the big picture now, including those who are accountable for this mess.

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
3 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth Hart

you have no idea of […]

As I said, I don’t propose to argue on the basis of personal remarks like this. You don’t know what it is I know or don’t know about such things. If, as I assume, that’s the only basis on which you’re willing to continue a discussion, then so be it: we’ll leave it there.

I’ll allow myself the suggestion that you will have greater success alerting those “others” by bringing forward evidence and logical argument from clear and explicit principles, as opposed to berating them for their presumed ignorance or bad faith.

Elizabeth Hart
Elizabeth Hart
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Pinch

Richard Pinch, I have raised extremely important matters on this forum which deserve serious consideration.
Are you a specialist in ethics? Or immunology? Or vaccines?
I’m not an ‘expert’ in ethics or immunology or vaccines.
I’m an independent person raising questions relevant to taxpayer-funded vaccination policy and practice, particularly with concerns when people are coerced into this medical intervention.
This is a very difficult task as there appears to be a coordinated effort to hinder public discussion on this matter, with people such as myself often reflexively labelled ‘anti-vaxxers’ and shut down and marginalised. This has been going on for years.
I’m seeking accountability for vaccination policy and practice from politicians and scientists and medical professionals and academics, and organisations such as the UK Royal Society and Australian Academy of Science and others. But these people and organisations basically refuse to be accountable.
This has to change. There must be transparency and accountability for taxpayer-funded vaccination policy and practice.

Paul Goodman
Paul Goodman
3 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth Hart

Surely you are aware of the numerous philosophy departments in universities across the world who have cogitated on the ethics of these issues. In countries like the UK there are also medical, scientific and government advisory bodies and committees who draw up ethical and other guidelines which are then implemented. It is all highly regulated. I am so sick of ill informed opinions and given how complicated everything is most opinions are ill informed.

Elizabeth Hart
Elizabeth Hart
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul Goodman

Rather than provide your own poorly informed opinion, do you want to share an example of ethical consideration of children and others being vaccinated against a virus which isn’t a serious risk to them?

Paul Goodman
Paul Goodman
3 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth Hart

You defeat your own argument: The risks are lower for the young, so those lesser risks and burdnes are more likely to be outweighed by the importance of the objective.

Elizabeth Hart
Elizabeth Hart
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul Goodman

You do not understand the big picture.
What is currently being put in place is a plan to vaccinate the entire global population with coronavirus vaccine products, every year, and possibly even more frequently. This is unprecedented.
Older people might think it worth the risk to take these vaccines for their limited years ahead.
But annual vaccination for younger people is a different matter entirely.
If they are already protected via their own defences, why should they sacrifice this for vaccination every year, which will steal this from them, and make them dependent on the vaccine industry, with who knows what long-term cumulative consequences?
This plan to vaccinate everyone is diabolical and it’s incredible there hasn’t been more pushback, people are not thinking this through.

Paul Goodman
Paul Goodman
3 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth Hart

Oh Please. Try disabusing yourself by having a look at the internet to find out the multifarious vaccines given to children in those countries lucky enough to make them available. Then have a look at what a Mr Gates has to say about vaccines and clean water being the things which add most to alleviation of human suffering.

Elizabeth Hart
Elizabeth Hart
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul Goodman

There many vaccine products and revaccinations for children on the Australian Immunisation Program Schedule – have you had all these?
Birth: Hepatitis B.
2 months: Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), hepatitis B, polio, Haemophilus influenzae type B Hib); Rotavirus; Pneumococcal.
4 months: Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), hepatitis B, polio, Haemophilus influenzae type B Hib); Rotavirus; Pneumococcal.
6 months: Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), hepatitis B, polio, Haemophilus influenzae type B Hib).
12 months: Meningococcal ACWY; Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR); Pneumococcal.
18 months: Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib); Measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox (varicella) (MMRV); Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough).
4 years: Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), polio.
12-13 years: Human papillomavirus (HPV) x 2 doses; Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough).
14-16 years: Meningococcal ACWY.
Plus annual flu vaccination is funded for children 6 months to less than five years of age.
And meningococcal B vaccination x 3 doses is funded for children in South Australia, and indigenous children.
This is a large amount of vaccines, and growing. Questioning of this vaccination schedule is not allowed, I know because I have tried.

Elizabeth Hart
Elizabeth Hart
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Pinch

Richard, do you support children being included in coronavirus vaccine trials?
Speaking about the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine trials in an interview on The BMJ, Professor Andrew Pollard, lead investigator of the trials, said “…we’re moving on to new trials to evaluate different age groups – for example, children”.
I’m questioning the justification for including children in coronavirus vaccine trials, which is setting them up for potentially lifetime coronavirus vaccination.
Young people do not appear to be at serious risk with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
To vaccinate people at an early age with what potentially could be annual coronavirus vaccination throughout life, with unknown long-term cumulative consequences, raises important ethical questions, particularly when they are not at serious risk of disease.
I’m questioning on what basis did the ethics committee evaluating the protocols for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine trials conclude it was justifiable to include children and others not at serious risk of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
I’ve raised this in a BMJ rapid response, see: Is it ethical to include children in the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine trials, 5 February 2021.
I’m also trying to contact the Chair of the Ethics Committee involved in this matter.

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
3 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth Hart

I have no special stance on including children in vaccine trials, except to suggest that at the very least I would expect to see the informed consent of both children and parents (or. other legal guardians).

Paul Goodman
Paul Goodman
3 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth Hart

Elizabeth a lot of words for naught. Only Pfizer is licensed for kids over 16. All the others are over 18 only. Some trials beginning now on over 12s. Obviously.

Elizabeth Hart
Elizabeth Hart
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul Goodman

The plan is to vaccinate children: Health Department secretary Brendan Murphy tells a parliamentary committee that if herd immunity against COVID-19 is possible, we may need to vaccinate children, who are not currently included in the vaccine roadmap as “if recommended”.
Ref: Coronavirus Australia news: Herd immunity may need us to vaccinate children, Brendan Murphy tells parliamentary committee ” as it happened. ABC News, 5 February 2021.

Rob Butterwick
Rob Butterwick
3 years ago

I remember reading about the virus last January. By the end of Feb I was astonished how unprepared we were. I kept following events and ‘the rules’, but by this January the cognitive dissonance got too much. Whatever is going on, the Pandemic is just part of a much bigger agenda and I’m no longer going to by *led*
No amount of gaslighting adverts are going to convince me otherwise.

Brian Newman
Brian Newman
3 years ago

Until sufficient numbers have been looked at and peer reviewed, comment is just not founded on fact…The only clear observation is social distancing, masks and hand hygiene are going to be around for sometime,as this virus mutates

Robin Whittle
Robin Whittle
3 years ago

Please read SARS-CoV-2 RBD in vitro evolution follows contagious mutation spread, yet generates an able infection inhibitor, Jiri Zahradnik et al. Preprint (2nd version) 2021-01-29 https://www.biorxiv.org/con… .

My summary is at: https://vitamindstopscovid…. . The South African / Brazilian variants are independently evolved with the same trio of crucial mutations. The trio gives the spike protein’s receptor binding domain (RBD) 12.7 times the affinity (attracting force) than that of the mid-2020 variants of SARS-CoV-2.

Most worryingly, the researchers report other mutations they evolved (with yeast cells, not viruses) which the wild SARS-CoV-2 viruses probably will evolve sooner or later. One combination of mutations gives 640 times the binding affinity.

This leads not just to greater transmissibility, but (it is reasonable to assume) stronger and harder to eradicate infections – and so the likelihood of greater harm.

Robin Whittle
Robin Whittle
3 years ago

Please read “SARS-CoV-2 RBD in vitro evolution follows contagious mutation spread, yet generates an able infection inhibitor:, Jiri Zahradnik et al. Preprint (2nd version) 2021-01-29.

My summary it can be found by searching for “yeast rather than viruses to evolve genetic variations”. The South African / Brazilian variants are independently evolved with the same trio of crucial mutations. This trio gives the spike protein’s receptor binding domain (RBD) 12.7 times the affinity (attracting force) than that of the mid-2020 variants of SARS-CoV-2.

Most worryingly, the researchers report other mutations they evolved (with yeast cells, not viruses) which the wild SARS-CoV-2 viruses probably will evolve sooner or later. One combination of mutations gives 640 times the binding affinity.

This leads not just to greater transmissibility, but (it is reasonable to assume) stronger and harder to eradicate infections – and so the likelihood of greater harm.

David Probert
David Probert
3 years ago
Reply to  Robin Whittle

“Harm” depends on whether infection is more or less likely to be serious or fatal for the infected individual – at present the virus is non fatal to around 98% and herd immunity and strengthened human immune systems together with other established medications could make it even less fatal – it is credibly reported that he vaccine might actually weaken the immune system acting as a pathogen enhancer when vaccinated people encounter a real live virus which could also provoke very dangerous auto immune reactions -even a “cytokine storm” – organ failure and sepsis.

Also there are other accredited ways using existing, tested pharmacological products to treat this virus which have been totally ignored and positively discouraged – even blocked – in the pursuit of the vaccines by Big Parma..

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
3 years ago
Reply to  David Probert

it is credibly reported that he vaccine might actually weaken the immune system

Reported by whom, and when and where?

David Probert
David Probert
3 years ago

“How worrying?” In the hands of the goon in the picture above – very worrying!

Otherwise not a problem.

Andrew Baldwin
Andrew Baldwin
3 years ago

Great post by Tom. I just hope this news about the South African variant doesn’t slow down the approval of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Canada, which has been as slow in coming as the second coming of Christ.

Georgina Franks
Georgina Franks
3 years ago

Thanks for all your interesting comments.

Russ Littler
Russ Littler
3 years ago

“How worrying is the South Africa variant?”…..”Oh, it’s scary-wary-woooh”

Michael Miles
Michael Miles
3 years ago

How did such a study make it this far with so little good data, with confidence intervals that you can drive a truck through. I am surprised the authors of the study would allow this to happen. It is much too preliminary to be publishing.
There has been so much bad science associated with this pandemic. Rushed papers and publications that no one seems to closely read. Abstract, conclusions and then, Bam, straight to the government health bureaucrats and the media: as long as it fits their narrative. In the studies I have read, usually the authors themselves will state the limitations of their conclusions. Biased sampling, dodgy statistics, lack of control of variables are just some of the problems described.
There have been multitudes of scientific papers presented on COVID over the last year. One can line up on one side of the tally, papers favourable for lockdown and mask efficacy, versus the tally of ones that are not. I read one government publication, here in Canada, that claimed a PCR test accuracy one to two orders of magnitude better than that claimed by the manufacturer.
Amongst the significant noise, however, science has excelled at genomic sequencing and genetically engineered vaccines. Hopefully?

Derek M
Derek M
3 years ago

“But it’s not actually been easy to show in the case of Covid because severe disease is, mercifully, rare.” Indeed, a rather important point

Michelle Johnston
Michelle Johnston
3 years ago

According to ‘ourdata’ the positive rate in the UK and South Africa peaked with a Seasonal High in week 52 and then began to come off its peak quite dramatically again in an entirely seasonal fashion. For what its worth its the same as US and Sweden. People in the lead up to Christmas in those countries socialised more as they do every year and then went hone as they do every year. Oh and its exactly the same in Germany.

I wonder if we can get an answer to this question.

If I wear a mask, a shield and protective gloves avoid public transport and keep SD are these sticker variants more capable of penetrating those defences?

Lets also remember that even with a Flu Vaccine 25,000 die every year in the UK you can not despite hubristic attempts to do so treat this in absolute terms. Once we are satisfied the death yield has been reduced to flu levels we need to crack on with our lives.

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
3 years ago

If I wear a mask, a shield and protective gloves avoid public transport and keep SD are these sticker variants more capable of penetrating those defences?

I am no expert, but I would not expect the mutations to affect the physical characteristics of a virus in that way. But there are several ways in which a mutation in the virus might be relevant. Firstly, it might multiply more quickly in the body, meaning that each cough or breath carries more virus particles in each droplet, this making it more infectious. Secondly, it may be less serious so that infected and infectious people are more likely to go out and about coughing and breathing near you. Thirdly, and most seriously probably, the mutation may not increase your chance of being infected but still increase the seriousness of the disease when you are infected.

All of these have little to do with whether the virus “penetrates” your PPE more or less effectively.

Colin Reeves
Colin Reeves
3 years ago

What tends to go unremarked is that viral mutations are not a bad thing in the long run. Most mutations are (from the virus’s point of view) deleterious and the phenomenon of Muller’s Ratchet means that they acquire them in increasing numbers until you get what the seminal paper by Gabriel, Lynch and Buerger calls a ‘mutational meltdown.’
Another recent paper has studied this effect in several cases of earlier epidemics, including the 1918 flu virus. (Which did, of course, create havoc that comfortably exceeds the effect of Covid before disappearing.) They explain it as follows:
“A viral strain may have a few high-impact beneficial mutations that affect “virulence”… yet at the same time that same strain can be accumulating large numbers of low-impact mutations throughout its genome, which… systematically degrade function and reduce net fitness. Therefore such a strain can be undergoing genetic degeneration, even while it retains (or gains) favorable virulence factors.”
The 1918 H1N1 virus became extinct; so did SARS CoV-1; so did the Pacific Islands Dengue fever virus in the 1970s. The problem is that we have no idea how long it will take.
We could try to help this ‘lethal mutagenesis’ by using drugs such as favipiravir, which induce mutations in the virus. It has been used with some success in Japan, but seems less effective than other regimens. But the big picture perspective might suggest it should be used more widely.

Athena Jones
Athena Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Colin Reeves

Are the MUTATION variants more of the modelling fiasco? Lies, damned lies and criminal modelling systems.

QUOTE: Public-health officials, politicians and the mainstream media around the world turned their collective headlights on the variants right after the publication of three theoretical-modeling papers on B.1.1.7, a variant originating in the U.K. The first was a Technical Briefing by Public Health England published Dec. 21 (it’s the first of an ongoing series of reports on the variant authored by people working at the agency and at other institutions), the second a paper published Dec. 23 by a mathematical-modeling group at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and the third a theoretical-modeling manuscript posted Dec. 31 by a large group of UK scientists.

None of the three papers was checked over for accuracy by objective observers ““ a process called ‘peer review.’ Nonetheless, all three were portrayed as solid science by many scientists, politicians, public-health officials and the press……..

That one change is known as N501Y ” scientific shorthand for the substitution of one protein building block (amino acid) for another at position 501 in the part of the virus called the spike protein.

Specifically, position 501 lies in the portion of the spike protein that’s responsible for the intimate coupling between the virus and cells that lets the virus slip inside and multiply.

[Note that any such amino-acid switcheroo is correctly called a change, not a mutation. Mutations occur only in genes. For some reason many scientists and scribes who ought to know better are mistakenly calling N501Y and other amino-acid changes ‘mutations.’ ]

A very preliminary study published Dec. 22, 2020, suggested that N501Y also is present in the South African variant named 501Y.V2. And another very preliminary study, published January 12, 2021, asserted it was also present in the new strain emerging from the Brazilian jungle, dubbed P.1.

On top of that, the South African variant is being reported as evading immunity and B.1.1.7 sharing this escape route. And scientists are depicting new variants with N501Y on board as spreading very fast. Some say they make herd immunity impossible, so every single person on earth has to be vaccinated. The models also suggest B.1.1.7 is up to 91% deadlier than the regular novel coronavirus.

(Yet so far it seems the main basis for officials saying it’s more deadly is shown in the minutes of the Jan. 21, 2021 meeting of an influential UK committee called New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group [NERVTAG ]. There, they cite modeling papers which haven’t yet been published ““ which means that until they’re published there’s no way to check their work.)

THREE NON-PEER-REVIEWED THEORETICAL-MODELING PAPERS WHICH CATAPULTED VARIANTS INTO THE SPOTLIGHT

(I reached out for comment to Public Health England, as well as to the first author of the second paper Nicholas Davies, and to the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. The only reply I received was from a media-relations person at Public Health England; she told me no one was available for an interview.)

(Neil Ferguson was a co-author of the first and third papers. The UK government has relied on Ferguson’s mathematical modeling for many years.

Article from OffGuardian, the-shaky-science-behind-the-deadly-new-strains-

Rosemary Frei has an MSc in molecular biology from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Calgary, was a freelance medical writer and journalist for 22 years and now is an independent investigative journalist.

Athena Jones
Athena Jones
3 years ago

Are the MUTATION variants more of the modelling fiasco? Lies, damned lies and criminal modelling systems.

QUOTE: Public-health officials, politicians and the mainstream media around the world turned their collective headlights on the variants right after the publication of three theoretical-modeling papers on B.1.1.7, a variant originating in the U.K. The first was a Technical Briefing by Public Health England published Dec. 21 (it’s the first of an ongoing series of reports on the variant authored by people working at the agency and at other institutions), the second a paper published Dec. 23 by a mathematical-modeling group at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and the third a theoretical-modeling manuscript posted Dec. 31 by a large group of UK scientists.

None of the three papers was checked over for accuracy by objective observers ““ a process called ‘peer review.’ Nonetheless, all three were portrayed as solid science by many scientists, politicians, public-health officials and the press.

https://off-guardian.org/20

John Alexander
John Alexander
3 years ago

How can people be so stupid to believe in this propaganda. There is some belif that there is a virus called SARS-Cov2. They never proved the existance of SARS COV1 either, yet there is suddenly a new bogeyman. Its the biggest hoax and deception perpetrated on humanity. Now start moving on.