On the Origin of the Covid Pandemic

https://gop-foreignaffairs.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/ORIGINS-OF-COVID-19-REPORT.pdf

This is too long for a meaningful excerpt. The origin of the report, and its motivation, are political, but it’s pretty detailed.

Have at it.

107 thoughts on “On the Origin of the Covid Pandemic

  1. I’ve left it in the evolution category because it devotes significant space to speculation about the origin of the virus.

  2. Well, I read section III, as that is the section that would be most dispositive.
    It’s a crock of shit.
    So my guess is that the rest of this politically motivated diatribe is of similarly poor quality. I find this desire to deflect blame unseemly and irrelevant.
    But convince me otherwise. What is it about section III that makes you think this virus was genetically engineered? The furin cleavage site? Anything else?

  3. Petrushka:

    The origin of the report, and its motivation, are political, but it’s pretty detailed.

    As an outside observer, I can’t really comment on US politics with any great insight but I would say I think anything that has any input from the current crop of Republican politicians should be read with great scepticism and any claims fact-checked with care.

    Is there some specific point made in the report that the general public should be concerned about, in your view?

  4. DNA_Jock:
    Well, I read section III, as that is the section that would be most dispositive.
    It’s a crock of shit.
    So my guess is that the rest of this politically motivated diatribe is of similarly poor quality. I find this desire to deflect blame unseemly and irrelevant.
    But convince me otherwise. What is it about section III that makes you think this virus was genetically engineered? The furin cleavage site? Anything else?

    First of all, the report doesn’t conclude the virus was engineered.

    I’m not sure what you mean by deflect blame. Are there factual errors in the timeline?

  5. I do not see why the section on genetic engineering is particularly important. It’s speculation. But investigation of what was being done is important.

    What I see as important is the five month delay in reporting the virus, from October to March. The failure to shut down international air traffic to and from Wuhan, and the attempt to cover up the leak from the lab.

  6. petrushka: What I see as important is the five month delay in reporting the virus, from October to March.

    Total bullshit. It was known in December. I knew about it in January. The orange idiot was certainly informed before I was. If they are going to lie about this, why trust anything else?

  7. Look, it is possible that the virus escaped from a Wuhan research lab. Unlikely, but possible. However, reports like this one, which uncritically regurgitate every conspiracy theory available do nothing to help figure out what happened, and are in fact counter-productive.

    petrushka: First of all, the report doesn’t conclude the virus was engineered.

    The report doesn’t conclude anything. It is a string of cherry-picked factoids spun together to create a tinfoil hat impression.

    I’m not sure what you mean by deflect blame. Are there factual errors in the timeline?

    Of course you don’t know what I mean by deflect blame. I will let phoodoo explain that to you.
    Yes, there are factual errors in the timeline. I did enjoy seeing the parking lot data again, and the Baidu searches for diarrhea. Epic!

    September – October 2019: Car traffic at hospitals surrounding the WIV Headquarters, as well as the shuttle stop for the WNBL, show a stead increase before hitting its highest levels in 2.5 years. Baidu search terms for COVID-19 related symptoms increase in a corresponding manner.
    [p63]

    Additionally, if it WERE correct, what was the second event that made the virus so virulent? According to your political flacks, 9,308 athletes from 110 countries were exposed to SARS-CoV2, and went home in October 2019, leading to outbreaks in Lombardy and Brazil. Why the hell did that not cause a worldwide pandemic then? Why the delay?
    Yeah, the Wuhan authorities were worried that they might have screwed up, and tried to obscure any potential culpability. If this were the smoking gun you think it is, then every Republican in Congress (except two…) should be in jail for the Jan 6th insurrection.
    Really.

  8. DNA_Jock: Yeah, the Wuhan authorities were worried that they might have screwed up, and tried to obscure any potential culpability. If this were the smoking gun you think it is, then every Republican in Congress (except two…) should be in jail for the Jan 6th insurrection.

    You may say that; I couldn’t possibly comment. 😉

  9. I am in no position to comment on the scientific claims in the report, but to dismiss it on account of its source strikes me as ad hominem argumentation of the worst sort. The report, which is 83 pages long and contains 227 footnotes, does some debunking of its own of attempts to exonerate the Chinese government of blame. The timeline, which is on page 63, is detailed and as far as I can see, accurate. The assertion made above that it was known in December is vague. Known to whom? The WHO did not find out about the outbreak in Wuhan until the very last day of December 2019. Also, the report itself makes no claim that news about the virus was only revealed to the world in March 2020; that would be ridiculous. Certainly, everyone in Japan knew about it by some time in January 2020. Finally, the claim made that COVID-19 couldn’t have reached Italy and Brazil in late October/early November 2019 because of the time delay is flawed. Viruses, in their very early stages, can take time to infect a noticeable number of people. Look at the graph for Japan from January to March 2020, and you’ll see my point: https://covid19.who.int/region/wpro/country/jp

    At the very least, we are surely entitled to conclude that there was, initially, a massive cover-up by a government that was more concerned about its own reputation than about the safety of citizens in other countries. Those who dismiss the lab leak hypothesis out of hand need to first address Huxley’s question: “What is your alternative?”

  10. vjtorley: I am in no position to comment on the scientific claims in the report, but to dismiss it on account of its source strikes me as ad hominem argumentation of the worst sort.

    Well, the science is crap and the timeline is in error. I am not dismissing it on account of the partisan nature of the authors, I am merely asking if anyone here is willing to defend it, beyond noting that it is 83 pages long, with footnotes.

    … Finally, the claim made that COVID-19 couldn’t have reached Italy and Brazil in late October/early November 2019 because of the time delay is flawed. Viruses, in their very early stages, can take time to infect a noticeable number of people. Look at the graph for Japan from January to March 2020, and you’ll see my point: https://covid19.who.int/region/wpro/country/jp

    I see that you are comparing Japan in the first quarter of 2020 with Brazil in the last quarter of 2019. I encourage you to look at what happened in Brazil in 2Q2020, and remember that Japan undertook rather effective Public Health Measures. Are you really claiming that COVID was gently smoldering undetected in Brazil for six months in the absence of any Public Health Measures?!?

    Those who dismiss the lab leak hypothesis out of hand need to first address Huxley’s question: “What is your alternative?”

    Well, I am not dismissing it out of hand, but I am asking for data to support it. My alternative? Viral zoonoses, same as every other pandemic/epidemic, evah. Parsimony, man.

  11. Just as a general observation, even in nations with a relatively free press, governments are instinctively going to keep something like a novel virus a secret for as long as they can. VJ Torley is correct in saying “government [is] more concerned about its own reputation than about the safety of citizens in other countries.” Or even the citizens of its own country. Another motivation is to try to avoid public panic while the government tries to get ahead of the problem.

    Inevitably, one side-effect of this effort is that some perhaps sizeable number of people will contract the disease, since a quarantine would be an admission that it exists. Similarly, potentially exposed people won’t be forbidden to travel, lest someone question why. I’d consider the virus to have reached multiple nations during the cover-up period to be more likely than not.

    On top of this, since the virus is novel and mimics known ailments in most victims (like the flu, or a bad cold), and since there’s been little chance for it yet to mutate into something more virulent, it’s quite probable for it to go unrecognized for perhaps months, even in nations not trying to hide it. There was surely a delay before the Chinese government itself became aware that something was seriously amiss.

    Mutation can take some time. As I recall, the initial outbreaks in the US were traced to travelers from Europe, not China – and weren’t caused by the initial virus, but by a variant. It’s not a trivial task to trace back to the individual who started each chain reaction.

    Anyway, by now my concern isn’t with the exactly details of its origin, but with understanding those who would rather die than get vaccinated – as many of them surely will. Some folks must live under enormous peer pressure.

  12. DNA_Jock: . I encourage you to look at what happened in Brazil in 2Q2020, and remember that Japan undertook rather effective Public Health Measures. Are you really claiming that COVID was gently smoldering undetected in Brazil for six months in the absence of any Public Health Measures?!?

    Not as far-fetched as your punctuation implies. Let’s say the governments of Japan and Brazil learned what they were dealing with at the same time. Japan immediately clamps down hard and stays that way. Bolsonaro, meanwhile, is determined to pretend nothing is happening, that the virus is a hoax, so there’s no official government recognition. Wealthier Brazilians can leave and/or suppress publicity, and nobody cares about the poor in the barrios. How long would it take before the situation became so severe that even Bolsonaro couldn’t pretend anymore? How urgent is a pandemic among the poor, unreported by a press not permitted to publish about it?

    No, I don’t think it was smoldering gently for six months in Brazil. But quietly? In a nation that controls its press?

  13. Flint,

    You seem to be making my point for me. The Republican version of events, which vjt considers accurate, is that COVID entered Brazil in October 2019. And we know that Bolsonaro did nothing. vjt finds this timeline plausible, and the entailment that COVID smoldered undetected and unchecked in Brazil for SIX months — to support this he cites the slow inroads that COVID made in Japan, during a period when the Japanese were enacting active and effective PHM.
    We know enough about R0 to know for a fact that COVID did not smolder undetected anywhere for six months. It will increase four-fold every week.

  14. DNA_Jock:
    You seem to be making my point for me.

    Maybe so. Your point seems to be that if the virus is permitted to spread freely in some country, we’ll see two things. First, that the log of new case counts over time will be a straight line – that the growth in new cases will always be exponential and the exponent will be constant. And second, that international visibility into this growth will be essentially fully informed, so that we can SEE this straight line in our news feeds.

    If this is your point, I’m not entirely convinced. I think there are population differences within countries so that case increases won’t be smooth across the entire population. And I think our visibility into events in many countries is pretty lousy. North Korea still claims they haven’t had a single case! How would we know? News coverage in the US of health trends among the Brazilian poor won’t sell many ads unless the media consider domestic populations to be directly at risk – and Brazilian poor aren’t exactly in our spotlight. Hell, those folks aren’t even on Brazilian media radar. And this is combined with Bolsonaro’s media repression.

    So I’m not going to rule out the notion that the virus could be rampant in nations we don’t pay that much attention to, whose leaders don’t want unfavorable coverage. I don’t think it’s entirely implausible that COVID expanded in Brazil for six months before Bolsonaro could no longer control the news about it — largely because Brazil hatched a dangerous new variant, which got the media’s attention.

    (There’s no question that government response makes a big difference. Imagine if the US had had a responsible President.)

  15. One of the few “predictions” I will defend is the assertion that the only thing that matters is immunity. Whether from infection plus recovery, or from vaccination.

    Everything else is just stalling the inevitable. This seems especially true of the delta variant.

    Vaccination can be an order of magnitude faster than recovery for a population. And many times safer.

    I think, but obviously can’t prove, that the rapid development of vaccines will have saved more lives than any other single invention in medicine. At least when weighted by time.

  16. vjtorley: The timeline, which is on page 63, is detailed and as far as I can see, accurate. The assertion made above that it was known in December is vague. Known to whom?

    I knew about it. Are you going to claim that I knew about it before the orange idiot?

    The timeline isn’t accurate at all. By late January the entire world knew about it.

  17. vjtorley,

    There was an attempt to cover up the virus to prevent panic, something that almost every government seems to be guilty of, but that was a week or two weeks of time, not months, as Petrushka and the republicans, have tried to claim.

  18. I like this little tidbit, the lead author of the “gop” paper was Michael McCaul. Besides his support of the orange’s idiot’s idiotic wall, there is this:

    He is frequently named as one of the top ten users of household water in the Austin area, and was the No. 1 consumer of household water in the city in 2017

    I guess he is worried about letting imigrants drink his water.

  19. There is nothing flattering to Trump at this site:

    The National Health Commission later publishes a report of the meeting on their website (some time in February). This memo, dated January 14, 2020, suggests that President Xi Jinping instructed local Chinese officials to prepare for an epidemic prevention response. The memo also notes that human-to-human transmission must be closely monitored and that the spread of transmission may increase significantly.

    The same day: The Wuham Health Commission publicly states that they have not found proof of human-to-human transmission.

    “We have not found proof for human-to-human transmission,” reads the Commission’s public statement. “The possibility of limited human-to-human transmission cannot be excluded, but the risk of sustained transmission is low.”

    https://www.justsecurity.org/69650/timeline-of-the-coronavirus-pandemic-and-u-s-response/

    This was three months after the spread started in Wuhan.

  20. January 26:

    The same day: Dr. Anthony Fauci states on a local radio show that the new virus is a low risk to everyday Americans, but is something that public health officials need to take “very seriously.”

    He warns that, while some coronavirus strains cause the common cold, the ones that jump from animals to humans, like the current strain of the coronavirus, tend to be deadly and have caused serious outbreaks over the past 20 years. He expresses hope that good public health measures can contain the outbreak.

    “The American people should not be worried or frightened by this. It’s a very very low risk to the United States. But it’s something that we as public health officials need to take very seriously.

    This is a virus that has emerged and jumped species from an animal reservoir. … Interestingly, coronaviruses in general cause common colds every season. But what happened about 18 years ago in 2002 was that a coronavirus jumped species from an animal reservoir to humans in China and started infecting people with serious pulmonary disease. There were 8000 cases and about 75 hundred deaths. That was SARs. Then, in 2012, we had another similar outbreak of another coronavirus that jumped species and infected men and women in the Middle East and that was called MERS, or the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. And now, for the third time, we have a coronavirus in China that apparently jumped species from some animal reservoir, infected people, and now we have an evolving situation of many cases that are now evolving more and more each day. …

    We have on our hands an outbreak. … It isn’t something that the American public needs to worry about or be frightened about because we have ways of preparing and screening people coming in and we have ways of responding like we did with this one case in Seattle, Washington who had traveled to China. … It’s an evolving situation and everyday we have to look at it very very carefully. It does not seem to be as efficient in the persistent sustained transmission from human-to-human. Without a doubt it can spread from one human to another. What it doesn’t seem yet to be doing as efficiently, certainly not like influenza, which spreads very efficiently in a sustained way, this does not do so. Which means that, just like SARS, we have the possibility with good public health measures of hopefully getting in control of it.”

  21. That was Fauci on January 26. Was he giving that same advice to the president?

  22. January 28, 2020: At top secret intelligence briefing, senior official informs President Trump that coronavirus will be “biggest national security threat”of his presidency.

    In a top secret intelligence briefing. National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, tells Trump, “This will be the biggest national security threat you face in your presidency,” according to Bob Woodward. The message is “jarring” and Trump’s head “popped up,” Woodward writes. Deputy National Security Advisor, Matt Pottinger, concurs and informs the president it was evident that the world faced a health emergency on par with the flu pandemic of 1918, which resulted in an estimated 50 million deaths worldwide, including 675,000 Americans. Pottinger also warns Trump that asymptomatic spread was occurring in China, saying he had been told 50% of those infected were asymptomatic.

    So January 28 is the first time the president is officially put on notice that there will be many deaths. The Chinese are still lying about this.

  23. Feb 4:

    (1) The New England Journal of Medicine publishes a scientific study from Germany showing that COVID-19 can be transmitted by patients who have no symptoms. “There’s no doubt after reading this paper that asymptomatic transmission is occurring,” says Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases the following day. “This study lays the question to rest.”

    Doubts are quickly raised about the study, but Fauci tells the New York Times (on Feb. 4), “This paper may or may not be flawed — it needs further investigation. But I don’t think it negates the concept.” “We had been getting reports from highly reliable people in China — scientists, investigators and public health people who we’ve known over the years — and they’ve been telling us, ‘There’s asymptomatic disease, for sure, and we are seeing asymptomatic transmission,’” Fauci says.

  24. Feb 29:

    Question: “So, Dr. Fauci, it’s Saturday morning in America. People are waking up right now with real concerns about this. They want to go to malls and movies, maybe the gym as well. Should we be changing our habits and, if so, how?”

    Fauci: “No. Right now, at this moment, there’s no need to change anything that you’re doing on a day by day basis. Right now the risk is still low, but this could change. I’ve said that many times even on this program. You’ve got to watch out because although the risk is low now, you don’t need to change anything you’re doing. When you start to see community spread, this could change and force you to become much more attentive to doing things that would protect you from spread.”

    Question: “Dr. Fauci, quickly, how does this all end?”

    Fauci: “You know, it ends if you — it depends on the nature of the outbreak. I mean, this could be a major outbreak. I hope not. Or it could be something that’s reasonably well controlled. At the end of the day, this will ultimately go down. Hopefully we could protect the American public from any serious degree of morbidity or mortality. That’s the reason why we’ve got to do the things that we have in our plan.”

  25. March 2, 2020: President Trump claims that a vaccine will be readily available.

    “We’re moving aggressively to accelerate the process of developing a vaccine,” says the President at a coronavirus roundtable meeting. “A lot of good things are happening and they’re happening very fast. I said, ‘Do me a favor, speed it up, speed it up.’ And they will — they’re working really hard and quick.” The president suggests the vaccine may be ready “over the next few months,” but Fauci quickly interjects to say, it would be “a year to a year and a half.”

    At a campaign rally in North Carolina that evening, the president says, “We had a great meeting today with a lot of the great companies and they’re going to have vaccines, I think relatively soon. And they’re going to have something that makes you better and that’s going to actually take place, we think, even sooner.”

    Earlier in the week, Dr. Fauci had explained: “So although this is the fastest we have ever gone from a sequence of a virus to a trial, it still would not be applicable to the epidemic unless we really wait about a year to a year and a half.”

    The vaccines completed successful trials early in November. Along with the infrastructure for manufacturing. Eight months.

  26. Late February: the CDC rejects using the WHO’s Covid-19 diagnostic test.

    The CDC declines a diagnostic test made by the WHO. Instead, the CDC chooses to develop its own test, which it later has to recall, causing a long lag in the ability of the United States to meet testing demands.

  27. March 8, 2020: In an interview on 60 Minutes, Dr. Fauci states that he does not recommend that everyday Americans wear masks. He explains that masks should be largely reserved for healthcare providers and people who are ill.

    “The masks are important for someone who’s infected to prevent them from infecting someone else. … Right now in the United States, people should not be walking around with masks,” he states. “There’s no reason to be walking around with a mask. When you’re in the middle of an outbreak, wearing a mask might make people feel a little bit better and it might even block a droplet, but it’s not providing the perfect protection that people think that it is. And, often, there are unintended consequences — people keep fiddling with the mask and they keep touching their face.”

  28. Mid-February: The coronavirus begins to spread in New York from Europe, according to recent studies.

    According to researchers at ICahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, the coronavirus begins to circulate in New York by mid-February. The researchers conclude that the majority of New York cases originated from Europe.

    Note: As of publication, the study is still waiting on peer review. A separate team at researchers at N.Y.U. Grossman School of Medicine came to the same conclusions, despite studying genomes from a different group of cases.

    Anecdote: my son was exposed by his doctor to something that had many of the symptoms of covid, on Feb. 11. No tests were available at the time, but his doctor believes it was covid. By mid March, my son emailed us that “everyone” in Manhattan was sick.

    If the disease hadn’t spread between September and February, why was New York getting cases from Europe? If not, how did New York explode with cases so quickly?

  29. ovember 17, 2019: Possible first case of COVID-19 emerges in Hubei province, China.

    Internal Chinese government data, obtained by the South China Morning Post (in March), show that Chinese government investigators found an earlier case of COVID-19 on November 17. It is not clear that Chinese authorities knew that they were dealing with a new virus at the time.

    “Some of the cases were likely backdated after health authorities had tested specimens taken from suspected patients,” the newspaper reports. “Interviews with whistle-blowers from the medical community suggest Chinese doctors only realised they were dealing with a new disease in late December.” From the 55-year-old patient on November 17 onwards, one to five new cases of COVID-19 are reported each day, according to the government records.

    Note: A report in The Lancet by Chinese doctors from Wuhan’s Jin Yin-tan Hospital refers to the first patient in the study occuring on Dec. 1, 2019.

    Late November-December 2019: U.S. intelligence agencies warn of a “cataclysmic” and “out-of-control” disease in Wuhan, China.

    If covid was raging in November, that implies the epidemic was already months old.

  30. Flint: Not as far-fetched as your punctuation implies. Let’s say the governments of Japan and Brazil learned what they were dealing with at the same time. Japan immediately clamps down hard and stays that way. Bolsonaro, meanwhile, is determined to pretend nothing is happening, that the virus is a hoax, so there’s no official government recognition. Wealthier Brazilians can leave and/or suppress publicity, and nobody cares about the poor in the barrios. How long would it take before the situation became so severe that even Bolsonaro couldn’t pretend anymore? How urgent is a pandemic among the poor, unreported by a press not permitted to publish about it?

    No, I don’t think it was smoldering gently for six months in Brazil. But quietly? In a nation that controls its press?

    That assumes that the virus was kept within brazilian borders for 6 full months somehow, or that the rest of the countries in the area did exactly the same thing. It doesn’t sound very plausible to me. The opposition in Brazil is strong, and even if all the media was under Bolsonaro’s tight leash, people would have been all over social networks telling the world about the virus and all.

  31. DNA_Jock:
    petrushka,
    Curiouser and curiouser. The next two paragraphs following your quote explain why your “U.S. intelligence agencies” quote isalmost certainly wrong.

    Two separate things:

    One is that in the absence of testing, covid looks like a kind of flu. It was commonly described that way. The Early French cases were diagnosed retroactively from blood samples. They date from December. The first one was not someone who had been to China, so it was circulating.

    Second, I think there is a non-criminal, non-stupid interpretation of the slowness of western countries to panic. They thought it was SARS redux.

    What wasn’t clear until February was asymptomatic transmission.

    That makes contact tracing and quarantine nearly impossible.

  32. dazz: That assumes that the virus was kept within brazilian borders for 6 full months somehow, or that the rest of the countries in the area did exactly the same thing. It doesn’t sound very plausible to me. The opposition in Brazil is strong, and even if all the media was under Bolsonaro’s tight leash, people would have been all over social networks telling the world about the virus and all.

    I think what I’m assuming here is that there were widely varying time periods between the day the first infected person entered a country, and the day the infection rate in that country got so bad that the government of that country could no longer ignore or deny it. I think some of this timing variation was certainly due to the different responses different governments deployed, but some could also have been due to how much that first person spread it, what demographic within the country experienced it worst, whether early cases were properly identified, how well relevant data were collected and analyzed, and other factors.

    I find it most plausible that it originated in Wuhan considerably earler than December, and late summer is certainly possible. Apparently by December the virus was spreading in Britain, Africa, Brazil, India, and the US. And the first four on that list each contributed a unique new variant. If new variants arise that quickly, we are in bigger trouble than we’d hoped.

  33. So I’m trying to catch up on the latest discussions of the early pandemic. This is interesting:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asymptomatic_carrier

    Researchers have expressed the desire to better predict transmission methods in order to determine the appropriate public health response.[8] For example, a disease with a known low asymptomatic rate may lead to increased surveillance of symptomatic cases, whereas a higher asymptomatic rate could lead to more aggressive methods such as travel bans and compulsory quarantines, since the number of infectious, asymptomatic cases would be unknown.[6]

    Well, covid seems to have an extremely high rate of asymptomatic carriers. It’s interesting that temperature taking was widely adopted, and travel bans were ridiculed when first proposed. Australia has a combination of travel ban and compulsory quarantine.

    But no civilization can survive indefinitely with Australia’s rules. If you don’t want to wait for the pandemic to run its course, you have to vaccinate.

    I’ve been hard on Sinovac, and I haven’t changed my mind about it. I’ve read it is even less effective against the delta variant.

  34. petrushka: Late November-December 2019: U.S. intelligence agencies warn of a “cataclysmic” and “out-of-control” disease in Wuhan, China.

    So the US knew about it in November (that is kind of going against your earlier narrative, but nevermind), I wonder if they mentioned it to the orange idiot in chief?

  35. phoodoo: So the US knew about it in November (that is kind of going against your earlier narrative, but nevermind),I wonder if they mentioned it to the orange idiot in chief?

    Questions not really answered:

    Was there such a report? It was denied.

    Was there such an out of control epidemic? Did the Chinese lie about it?

    Assuming there was an epidemic, was it another SARS? Was there any reason to believe it couldn’t be managed by case tracking?

    I’ll just stop after pointing out that China has obligations under international law to report disease outbreaks.

  36. Just some data I’m watching.

    It’s going to be a long couple of years for the unvaccinated, and those for whom the vaccine didn’t confer immunity.

    Looking at Chile’s vaccine numbers, they really started using Pfizer about two months ago. The cumulative percentage of Pfizer has increased from nine percent to 23 percent.

  37. petrushka,

    Well, if the report is going to claim that the US also knew in November, I guess they too had some obligation to tell its citizens, no?

    Sort of makes the argument specious doesn’t it?

  38. Flint: And the first four on that list each contributed a unique new variant. If new variants arise that quickly, we are in bigger trouble than we’d hoped.

    Just to put this in perspective, the rate of mutation of the SARS-Cov2 virus is something like 1 per 3 hosts infected. That means “a new variant” is arising very frequently. The reason that sites like nextstrain.org can make a genealogy of SARS-Cov2 viruses is that they use those variations.

    But that is not the same as saying that this is the rate of serious badass new versions of the virus. Because most of those new variants don’t have much effect on the infectivity, the seriousness of disease, or the escape from immune surveillance. People overreact to hearing that there is “a new variant”.

  39. Joe Felsenstein: People overreact to hearing that there is “a new variant”.

    I wonder. As I read it, people are reacting to “serious badass new versions”, and are largely unaware of any other sort. I got vaccinated as early as I could (fairly early, since I’m, uh, a bit older), but the delta variant worries me. Yes, I know the vaccine is highly protective against even that, but serious badass new variants keep arising, and I have no idea what the probability is of something arising somewhere, any day, that can evade the vaccines. The news folks keep telling me that unvaccinated people are incubators for badass new versions. Given that a sizeable percentage of Americans would rather die than get vaccinated (and might at that), how long will vaccinated people remain relatively safe?

  40. Flint: I wonder. As I read it, people are reacting to “serious badass new versions”, and are largely unaware of any other sort. I got vaccinated as early as I could (fairly early, since I’m, uh, a bit older), but the delta variant worries me. Yes, I know the vaccine is highly protective against even that, but serious badass new variants keep arising, and I have no idea what the probability is of something arising somewhere, any day, that can evade the vaccines.

    Afaik the Delta variant is already suspected of having mutations that give it some degree of immune evasion ability. But yes, all evidence so far indicates that you’re still much, much better off being vaccinated even against the latest “Delta variant” than you are being unvaccinated.

    It really is so incredibly sad that things like wearing masks and getting vaccinated became politicized issues. Our species is just so fucking dumb it’s almost physically painful to think about.

  41. Flint: The news folks keep telling me that unvaccinated people are incubators for badass new versions. Given that a sizeable percentage of Americans would rather die than get vaccinated (and might at that), how long will vaccinated people remain relatively safe?

    It’s true that the unvaccinated (depending on how many there are) can become a sort of niche in which the virus can move around basically “freely”, all the while mutating and generating new variants, and it is only a matter of time before one of these new variants emerges that is significantly more effective at avoiding the immune system even for vaccinated people. The time this will take can’t really be known beforehand, but if the development of the pandemic so far is any indication it’s probably only measured in months.

    So it seems we’re consigned to having one part of the population who will need to go get updated vaccines once every six months or once/year, while another part of the population is playing Darwin awards until the virus has killed off everyone with a low level of natural resistance and we reach some semblance of partly-vaccinated, partly-Darwin-awarded herd immunity.

    Fucking idiots.

  42. I would like to point out that what kills people is the overreaction of their own immune systems, and for the most part, breakthrough cases don’t kill people. For a vaccinated person, dying of covid is less likely than dying in a car crash.

    There’s at least one paper published in India that argues experience with lots of pathogens is more predictive of survival than cross immunity. He suggests that is why the death rate in India has been low, despite low vaccination rates and lack of cross immunity. If your system doesn’t fire off nukes and kill you with blood clots, the normal course of producing antibodies will take place.

    That could change, but the usual pattern is for variants to be less deadly. Perhaps that is because populations’ immune systems adapt, rather than any intrinsic property of the virus.

  43. No one can predict where this is going, but I’ll post my expectation.

    I expect covid to be around more or less permanently, but the death rate will decline. Older people have been immunized, and breakthrough cases will be less deadly.

    Populations are no longer virgin. If new variants elude immunity, they will not trigger as often, the deadly form of immune response. The virus will settle down and become a smoldering nuisance.

  44. Rumraket:
    It really is so incredibly sad that things like wearing masks and getting vaccinated became politicized issues. Our species is just so fucking dumb it’s almost physically painful to think about.

    According to polls, more than half of those not yet vaccinated are concerned that the vaccine might do them more harm than the virus. Along these lines, I note that the CDC reports about 2 or 3 adverse reactions to the vaccine per million people. These are sufficiently rare that they’re hard to find, but Tucker Carlson finds them and puts them on his show. Carlson is paid about $40 million a year for this sort of thing. Why would he stop?

    His viewers aren’t idiots directly; they are acting on the best information Fox News provides. But his viewers don’t watch real world news any more than real news viewers watch Fox. Which is almost never.

  45. Flint,

    I listened to a segment of Adam Carolla criticizing California Governor Gavin Newsome, because Newsome was asked why he thinks the remaining 30% of Californians haven’t got the vaccine. Newsome said people like Tucker Carlson, Ron Johnson, and Marjorie Taylor Greene spreading misinformation about the vaccine have made people falsely worried about it. Carolla thought it was totally ridiculous to think that anyone from “California” would even know who those poeple are, little yet listen to them. He was saying how can the Governor be so dumb to think those people could sway anyone’s opinion in California-they don’t even represent the state!

    My first thought was, “They don’t have internet in California?”

  46. Ahh, Tucker Carlson, the guy who argued no reasonable viewer would ever take him seriously in a federal courtroom… and just like that, the judge agreed and dismissed the case. LMAO

  47. Meanwhile, Rupert is safe. There he was at the start of the pandemic, right at the front of the queue, holding his scrawny arm out to be given his free shot (courtesy of national health), while his alter ego Tucker Carlson is spreading lies.

    And Tucker is also vaccinated, otherwise the Fox internal vaccine passport wouldnt allow him freedom of movement in the building.

    Ruperts shot

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.