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COVID-19 has Mutated, But Questions Arise Over Real Hazards of New Strain

COVID-19 has Mutated, But Questions Arise Over Real Hazards of New Strain

Surgeon General: “We don’t even know if it’s really more contagious yet or not, or if it just happened to be a strain that was involved in a super-spreader event.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tf3RiS3su1Q

My colleague Vijeta Uniyal reported that enhanced pandemic restrictions in the United Kingdom were being implemented to battle a new strain of the Wuhan virus, regarded as “much more infectious.”

The assertions about transmissibility, the ability to spread between one person to another, are based on modeling.

The British variant has about 20 mutations, including several that affect how the virus locks onto human cells and infects them. These mutations may allow the variant to replicate and transmit more efficiently, said Muge Cevik, an infectious disease expert at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and a scientific adviser to the British government.

But the estimate of greater transmissibility — British officials said the variant was as much as 70 percent more transmissible — is based on modeling and has not been confirmed in lab experiments, Dr. Cevik added.

The British model predicted the US would have over 2 million dead of coronavirus within 3 months of the first cases the last time officials used it. In fact, the model was deemed “a buggy mess” by software experts.

In fact, virologists assessing the theory about the British variant (tagged by scientists as B. 1. 1. 7) say there are too many unknowns to make the claims about it being more infectious. In fact, one of them noted that the mutation involved a change that would make the virus harder to spread.

In a press conference on Saturday, chief science advisor Patrick Vallance said that B.1.1.7, which first appeared in a virus isolated on 20 September, accounted for about 26% of cases in mid-November. “By the week commencing the 9th of December, these figures were much higher,” he said. “So, in London, over 60% of all the cases were the new variant.” Boris Johnson added that the slew of mutations may have increased the virus’s transmissibility by 70%.

Christian Drosten, a virologist at Charité University Hospital in Berlin, says that was premature. “There are too many unknowns to say something like that,” he says. For one thing, the rapid spread of B.1.1.7 might be down to chance. Scientists previously worried that a variant that spread rapidly from Spain to the rest of Europe—confusingly called B.1.177—might be more transmissible, but today they think it is not; it just happened to be carried all over Europe by travelers who spent their holidays in Spain.

Something similar might be happening with B.1.1.7, says Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Georgetown University. Drosten notes that the new mutant also carries a deletion in another viral gene, ORF8, that previous studies suggest might reduce the virus’s ability to spread.

There are also worries that the British strain is deadlier. This concern is also unfounded if one relies strictly on science.

Still, B.1.177, the strain from Spain, offers a cautionary lesson, says virologist Emma Hodcroft of the University of Basel. U.K. scientists initially thought it had a 50% higher mortality rate, but that turned out to be “purely messy, biased data in the early days,” she says.

“I think that is a very strong reminder that we always have to be really careful with early data.” In the case of N501Y, more young people may be getting sick because many more are getting infected; Oliveira says some recent post-exam celebrations in South Africa have turned into superspreading events.

Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams wanted the public to be cautious about the new reports.

Adams cautioned that the public should remember that viruses mutate “all the time,” but that it does not necessarily make them more dangerous.

“We don’t even know if it’s really more contagious yet or not, or if it just happened to be a strain that was involved in a super-spreader event,” Adams told “Face the Nation” host Margaret Brennan. “Right now, we have no indications that it is going to hurt our ability to continue vaccinating people or that it is any more dangerous or deadly than the strains that are out there and we currently know about.”

As a reminder, as of late March 2019, scientists had already detected 8 strains of coronavirus. At that time, they concluded the strains were changing relatively slowly (for a virus) and did not appear to be getting worse after mutation.

Labs around the world are turning their sequencing machines, most about the size of a desktop printer, to the task of rapidly sequencing the genomes of virus samples taken from people sick with COVID-19. The information is uploaded to a website called NextStrain.org that shows how the virus is migrating and splitting into similar but new subtypes.

While researchers caution they’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg, the tiny differences between the virus strains suggest shelter-in-place orders are working in some areas and that no one strain of the virus is more deadly than another. They also say it does not appear the strains will grow more lethal as they evolve.

“The virus mutates so slowly that the virus strains are fundamentally very similar to each other,” said Charles Chiu, a professor of medicine and infectious disease at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine.

One is forced to question the timing of the media’s new concerns over the strains, given that the vaccines are beginning to be distributed.

One last point: Politicians may wish to consider this contrast between the Florida and California responses before deciding that more intense pandemic lockdowns are the solution to the new strain, or any other, of the Wuhan coronavirus.

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Comments

The Friendly Grizzly | December 21, 2020 at 10:07 am

Any excuse for further controls.

COVID19 is a man-made mutation created by Gain of Function experiments by the Wuhan Virology Institute paid for by the WHO.
(Time Magazine)

In nature viruses normally mutate to less virulent and more contagious forms. That appears to be what is happening.

    mark311 in reply to MattMusson. | December 21, 2020 at 10:43 am

    Your first statement doesn’t really have any evidence does it.

    Your second statement is generally true but mutations are generally random to an extent and might not always be true.

      Bruce Hayden in reply to mark311. | December 21, 2020 at 12:16 pm

      Depends on your definition of “evidence”. The original SARS-CoV-2 virus is just too clean to have occurred naturally. None of the genetic debris that you would expect if the virus jumped from another species where it presumably supposedly developed on its own. Plus some other things in the genetics that don’t add up for a naturally occurring and evolving virus. It has pieces of what look like other viruses. But, where would it have evolved? The ACE2 receptor that it works best with is ours. It could have been created (as one Taiwanese researcher has alleged) been constructed using CRISPR gene editing (she has shown how). Or maybe pushed evolution, with a human derived medium. Etc. in any of these cases, human agency would have been involved.

      I saw the other day that the residents of Wuhan are partying like there is no tomorrow right now. Interestingly, there appears to be a racial aspect to susceptibility to the virus. Orientals (and probably esp Han Chinese) are apparently most resistant, and Negroids maybe least. The suggestion has been made that they are less vulnerable to this coronavirus, because historically they routinely deal with more of them, possibly due to their traditionally higher population densities. Or maybe not.

      But it may not have come out of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, but instead a PLA virology lab, also in Wuhan. This is the belief of at least some in our Intelligence Community. But the release Was not believed to have been intentional, but rather a result of shoddy research practices that seem to result more often than they should, from their communist party run bureaucracy.

        None of the science articles I’ve ever read have indicated that a man made origin is plausible. I did a little digging and I’m struggling to find any science articles that back up your theory do you have sources?

      UserP in reply to mark311. | December 21, 2020 at 12:51 pm

      “…mutations are generally random to an extent and might not always be true.”

      So are your comments.

      I have noticed your comments since you started posting here and have seen a softer more consrvative drift. Your posts are thoughtful and often in-depth. Don’t always agree but do enjoy reading them. One thumb up.

      DaveGinOly in reply to mark311. | December 21, 2020 at 1:53 pm

      Natural mutation is always random. Organisms are unable to consciously direct events at the cellular level. Natural selection says that there is selection pressure for mutations that provide greater reproductive success, and selection pressure against mutations that inhibit reproductive success. (“Neutral” mutations that have no effect on survivability/reproductive success tend to remain in a gene pool simply because there is no selective pressure to excise them.) Thus a virus that mutates toward inhibited transmissibility will have less reproductive success, and will be less successful than a virus that mutates towards greater transmissibility and more reproductive success.

        healthguyfsu in reply to DaveGinOly. | December 21, 2020 at 11:13 pm

        Which is also why viruses tend to mutate towards strains that are less lethal is well. Because killing more hosts too quickly hinders spread (like ebola)

      Anyone who doesn’t believe this flu was a weapon Communist China unleashed on the world – in alliance with the American left, and corrupt hacks like fauci and brix: take a look at the party in Wuhan:

      https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/dec/11/wuhan-in-then-and-now-pictures

      Concerts are back on, theaters are filled and the Communist Chinese have decimated the West and put Biden in the White House.

        I’m sorry but your evidence is pictures of life returning to normal in china? Given the difference in response between the USA and China I’d suggest that merely proves that lockdowns work. It does not support your statement at all. You have zero evidence.

I live in a State run by Democrats. Nobody in authority takes this epidemic seriously. Not my Representatives, the Governor, nor the doctors.

I know this because my Representatives and Governor break the rules they set for me, and come up with all kinds of arbitrary rules that penalize churches but not strip bars (?).

Meanwhile, the doctors are testing like crazy, but when they find someone who tests positive for COVID-19, they send that person home UNTREATED. I was on a video conference when one of our number got a call: a girlfriend from school, healthy and in her thirties, had died. Those unmitigated bastards had diagnosed her, sent her home for about 3 weeks, until she was sick enough to go to the hospital. Then they intubated her and she died.

Clinicians have developed a huge amount of data that shows us how to treat COVID-19 on an outpatient basis. In 5 days, if we catch it early. This avoids having the long-lasting repercussions of kidney and lung damage. There is more than one way to do it, and the treatments are inexpensive.

https://academic.oup.com/aje/article/189/11/1218/5847586

https://covid19criticalcare.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/FLCCC-Ivermectin-in-the-prophylaxis-and-treatment-of-COVID-19.pdf

We have people in our government who are not interested in our general well-being.

They have accurate models? Who knew!

This is just more swamp gas. As noted in the article, there is no evidence that this mutated strain is more dangerous than previous strains. There is no evidence that the scientific models are even accurate. In other words, this is complete and total speculation.

Given the track record on the reporting on this virus, both media and scientific, does anyone doubt that this is simply more apocalyptic hype to justify maintaining or increasing useless draconian political responses?

    mark311 in reply to Mac45. | December 21, 2020 at 1:01 pm

    Given the high death rate having a sober conversation about possible mutations seems reasonable.

      UserP in reply to mark311. | December 21, 2020 at 1:04 pm

      Good pont!

      Mac45 in reply to mark311. | December 21, 2020 at 3:01 pm

      High death rate? By what standard? Counting trauma patients, such as auto accidents and gunshot victims as covid deaths because they test positive for EXPOSURE either prior to or after death is highly suggestive of massive padding in death rates. In a single Colorado county, 40% of deaths attributed to covid were actually diretly due to GUNSHOT WOUNDS. Then we have death from existing medical conditions, such as heart, kidney and pulmonary disease. And, how about classifying a death as covid related simply because some doctor THINKS covid may have been a factor, without any corroborating tests being done. Accurate death statistics? Not hardly. Stop drinking the media KoolAid.

      Covid stats are total BS, as are the 2020 Presidential vote totals and both need to be critically audited. THAT is what we need to have a sober discussion about.

        mark311 in reply to Mac45. | December 21, 2020 at 3:16 pm

        Do you have sources for the gunshot claim? I haven’t come across that?

        Well the CDC Guidance is pretty clear it should be listed along with contributory factors. I’m not clear why anyone would put covid if they were shot. I mean what’s the motive? I’m skeptical that there would be a desire to inflate the death rate.

          Mac45 in reply to mark311. | December 21, 2020 at 3:44 pm

          Google the following and take your choice:

          colorado county gunshot deaths reported as covid

          mark311 in reply to mark311. | December 21, 2020 at 4:19 pm

          @mac45 apologies won’t let me reply direct.

          Well it’s interesting. The death certificate isn’t just a means of saying a died because of x. It can also list other factors. My understanding is that the deaths in this case we’re listed as gun related but because they had covid this was put on the form. Not as the form of death but for reporting purposes. Where I’m hazey is whether or not this is then reported as a covid death. I admit I haven’t delved too deep as of yet.

          Mac45 in reply to mark311. | December 21, 2020 at 5:40 pm

          What the media picks up and lists as a “covid fatality”, or death from covid, is all of the deaths which list “covid” as being in any way related to the death by state and federal health officials. In the cases in Colorado, this was a murder-suicide where the victims had tested positive for exposure to covid within 30 days prior to the shooting. The same has happened all over the country. In Florida, a motorcyclist hit a bridge abutment and became a covid death. Then we have the CDC guideline which allows a doctor to declare a death a result of, or related to, covid, based solely upon his opinion, without any corroborating testing.

          We are being led to believe that every single one of the deaths, which are being labeled covid related actually involved a symptomatic covid infection. And, this is a lie.

          Now, the ME in Colorado stated that she believed only 20% of the deaths, in her county, were actually due to covid. Now, if only 20% of the 300000 reported deaths, in this US, are actually due to covid, this would drop the death toll to around 60000. This is severe seasonal influenza territory. Get it? Politicians are making decisions having serious, serious consequences based upon “facts” which have not been verified and are potentially seriously overstated.

          mark311 in reply to mark311. | December 21, 2020 at 6:17 pm

          @mac45 again won’t let me reply direct

          No I get your point. I’m not at all clear on whether having covid listed as a supplemental piece of information is then being incorrectly used to justify the death rate figures. I’ve tried to do some digging but no success so far, I’ll try again later. As you rightly say it’s a pretty important point. My gut feeling (rightly or wrongly) is that there really isn’t a motive to fuck up that badly. They should want a true picture of the spread of the virus in order to combat it effectively.

      There’s an old joke, where someone you know is complaining about an ailment, then you (the joker) gravely mention you know someone who had the same ailment and died. After the person with the ailment recovers from shock, you then say: “Yeah, he was hit by a bus.”

      This same joke is being used against our country by corrupt leftists hacks like fauci and brix (and the democrat media).

      Their b.s. about the death rate is akin to doing autopsy on an 99 year old man and discovering cancer in his prostate – then screaming and yelling the old man died of cancer.

      Enough of this b.s. Our nation is no more. It is ungovernable anymore. We need to begin discussing the divorce now, before bullets fly.

    Actually, most of the articles indicate that SARS-COv2 is slower to mutate that most other viruses.

    The good news is the new mutant HS69/V70 Covid-19 strain does not appear to be more lethal, and the vaccine is expected to be effective against the new variant. But it does appear to be more easily passed on – the new virus is spreading despite UK efforts to impose a strict lockdown.

I happened to run across this information this morning and had already read the original study, the Science magazine article, and commentary from a couple of different epidemiologists. This post is a serious disappointment. It misstates the actual concerns of the researchers and overstates their conclusions. If you read the actual study (https://virological.org/t/preliminary-genomic-characterisation-of-an-emergent-sars-cov-2-lineage-in-the-uk-defined-by-a-novel-set-of-spike-mutations/563) you will find that the primary concern centers of the *extent of the mutation*, because is significant in scope and in location. Their conclusions are not hyperbolic, but guarded. Because of the extent of the mutation and some of the suggestions from the (admittedly limited so far data,) they urge immediate *further study*. Which seems very rational to me.

From their conclusion: “We report a rapidly growing lineage in the UK associated with an unexpectedly large number of genetic changes including in the receptor-binding domain and associated with the furin cleavage site. Given (i) the experimentally-predicted and plausible phenotypic consequences of some of these mutations, (ii) their unknown effects when present in combination, and (iii) the high growth rate of B.1.1.7 in the UK, this novel lineage requires urgent laboratory characterisation and enhanced genomic surveillance worldwide.”

Probably free bonus software when purchasing Dominion voting machines. Does it generate “hockey stick” charts? If so, it is probably software that mutated from Michael Mann’s global warming model.

buckeyeminuteman | December 21, 2020 at 12:17 pm

Anticipating that nobody will show up to a Biden inauguration (Trump will win on 6 Jan), they have to make up a new scary strain to justify a virtual inauguration with nobody in attendance. This will justify ZERO people being excited about and attending the fraudulent inauguration.

It also makes them feel good about now giving everybody $600 of their own money.

A more infectious strain is how a virus kills itself. It adapts towards more infectious and less lethal; but the new less lethal virus also gives immunity to the old more lethal form, and the problem goes away with herd immunity. It develops and distributes its own vaccine, in effect.

Of course if it’s more lethal and more infectious, it’s bad news for the virus strain too.

Viruses tend to mutate in two directions, often simultaneously. First, in the direction of greater transmissibility. Viruses need hosts to replicate, so ease of transmission is always selected and viruses that mutate to become less transmissible fall by the wayside (deselected). Second, they mutate towards being less lethal. Viruses that kill their hosts don’t replicate successfully as much as those that don’t. A side effect of medical treatment is that strains that have mild to no effect on their hosts gives this drift towards less lethal/non-lethal a kick in the pants, because a virus that doesn’t demand medical treatment does not elucidate a response that attempts to wipe it out, and is more successful in replicating even if it does not also mutate towards greater transmissibility.

    With the note, of course, that there is some “sweet spot” where a virus would take just long enough to kill to spread itself far and wide before it started doing so. Some of the hemorrhagic fevers come closest to that, I think. And, some number of scientists in the world are likely seeking that sweet spot – either because they’re malicious or too damn curious for anyone’s good. Plenty of science fiction has been written around that idea, though – naturally occurring or manmade.

The most malignant viruses tend to mutate in one of two directions: biden and harris.

The Communist Chinese saw to that. And we’re buying it????

Thanks goodness the “experts” are weighing in, they add so much value (sarc).

already detected 8 strains of coronavirus
Wrong. They have detected 8 strains of this coronavirus.

There are already a LOT of coronaviruses* – way more than 8. This one is NOT “the” coronavirus, but A coronavirus. Constant repetition by an ignorant media conditions the misinformation into our noggins, though, and even the smart writers here succumb to it.

(* Heck coronavirii are in dirt. Kids are constantly coming into contact with them. It’s likely why they seem generally immune to this one.)

If you want to identify this specific strain, call it Winnie The Flu or Wuhan Flu. If you feel the necessity to use a “scientific” name, use Covid-19, or SARS-COV2. (One of those is the bug, the other one the sickness it causes, technically.) But certainly not “the coronavirus”.

From what I’ve read about this on other sources, it is more virulent (passes more easily), but is not any more dangerous than the ‘original’ virus. Besides, viruses ALWAYS mutate as more and more people develop antibodies; they change until they mutate out of existence – natural or man-made.

Believe me when I tell you this as an RN with 34.5 years of experience: The sky is NOT falling, the world is NOT ending [from a virus anyway], and the earth will ALWAYS abide regardless of our actions.

Peace. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all.

    The issue isnt that its more virulent or more deadly or anything else. Its that its different at all right at the moment a vaccine has been distributed. The scientific commentary is simple they want to take precautionary approach to something new and potentially dangerous. Absolute conclusions have NOT been drawn.

Florida has “limited masks”? Not in the largest (and most liberal) counties it doesn’t. News writers should pay more attention to what is actually happening here, rather than just what the governor does.

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