The shaky science behind the “deadly new strains” of Sars-Cov-2

By Rosemary Frei | OffGuardian | February 8, 2021

According to what we hear from officials and the mainstream media, the new variants are the most dangerous and unpredictable beings since Osama bin Laden.

Everyone needs to stay safe from these invisible but murderously mighty microbes by shunning contact with the unwashed, unmasked and unvaccinated.

But is that drastic approach — which is accompanied by severe curtailment of civil liberties and constitutional rights — warranted?

It turns out that the case for the variants’ contagiousness and dangerousness centres largely on the theoretical effects of just one change said to stem from a mutation in the virus’s genes. And, as I’ll show in this article, that case is very shaky.

I also have an accompanying nine-minute ‘explainer’ video, below:

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

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.

[…]

Via https://alethonews.com/2021/02/08/the-shaky-science-behind-the-deadly-new-strains-of-sars-cov-2/

 

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