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botaswana (b.1.1.529) variant histrionics
do humans ever get tired of being lied to and falling for the same tricks?
this is not history rhyming.
this is maybe even past history just repeating.
i’m starting to worry that we’re caught in some kind of groundhog day time loop.
just in time for the holidays and the real start of seasonal covid expression, here’s the same exact pollyannas prophesying the same exact doom using the same exact tactics of “super scary new variant.”
as it so often seems to, our new chapter starts once more at imperial university, the proud pants wetting capital of britain whose hopelessly inept and inapt prognostications and models have been wreaking havoc upon that sceptered isle and the rest of the world alike since early 2020.
and once more, a gleeful UK press is ready and willing to play up the terrors.
one might be forgiven for mistaking this for the simpsons.
(this is, of course, grossly unfair to the simpsons who, in fact, have quite an astonishing track record of predicting things whereas the folks from imperial and the UK health agencies would struggle to prophesy wednesday following tuesday…)
these cut rate chicken littles have but one message to relentlessly repeat:
but is there any actual truth to this barrage of histrionic fear porn?
details on b.1.1.529 (possibly soon to be dubbed “nu” variant) remain a bit scant, but so far, the answer looks like a resounding “no.”
“most mutations ever on the spike protein!” sounds scary, but it’s not.
it might actually be great news. viruses tend to mutate to become less, not more dangerous. that’s their evolutionary gradient to maximize reproductive fitness. killing the host is badly maladaptive.
there’s not a ton of data and what they have is, typically, not being released publicly yet, but this is the take that seems to be eliciting such a response:
“Mr Javid said: 'The early indication we have of this variant is it may be more transmissible than the Delta variant and the vaccines that we currently have may be less effective against it.
'Now to be clear, we have not detected any of this new variant in the UK at this point in time. But we've always been clear that we will take action to protect the progress that we have made.”
so, we’re panicking in case we need to panic.
breathless graphics were produced to make the growth look extreme:
and all the panic pushers came rushing out of the woodwork.
scary sounding (but badly misleading) stats were cited.
“Nationally, infections in South Africa have surged tenfold from 100 per day to 1,100, after the variant was first detected in neighbouring Botswana on November 11.”
i mean, a 10X jump! how horrible! what dire circumstance must south africa find itself in!?!
oh, wait: none. yup. you heard me. none.
let’s look, shall we?
here’s their raw case data:
to make it easy to comp year on year, i plotted it overlaid:
cases per million are 16 vs 44 on this date last year. this wild, dangerous superspreading variant as resulted in (wait for it) a 64% drop in cases vs a year ago!
i mean, seriously? this is what’s supposed to be terrifying us?
to be thorough, i adjusted the cases for testing level to avoid injecting a sample rate based artifact.
nope. still not scary.
but it IS well chosen because this IS the time of year when south africa gets a big seasonal spike. they sure did last year.
so, this is cunningly positioned right in front of that and the propogandists appear poised to try to pass off a seasonal rise as a “double secret extra scary new variant.”
and no, it’s not showing up in deaths either.
in fact, one of the interesting aspects of many of the new emerging variants are their very high asymptomatic rates.
those with the AY.4.2 mutation (no word yet on whether “nu” has this mutation, but i suspect it’s likely) are far less severe. 2/3 of those contracting them get no symptoms.
this whole thing is just a cavalcade of nonsense for nonces.
more mutations does not mean more dangerous.
i’m not even seeing any clear evidence yet that this is more contagious. (more rapidly becoming dominant does NOT prove that or even necessarily suggest it)
we are, once more, swerving around a chimpmunk in the road like it’s a 3 headed fire-breathing dragon.
it’s simple: SA is coming into season. delta burned itself out there. a new variant is becoming dominant.
we have no proof it’s more contagious and good reason to suspect as a base prior that it’s milder than delta.
we’re not being threatened by a new plague of virus, just the same old plague of incompetent hysterics determined once more to drive the world into a ditch because it gets them power and grant money.
the world has had enough of these clowns.
it is LONG past time we shut this circus down.