Monday, June 07, 2021

Major paper on "Alpha" coronavirus variant; new book "The Plague Year" previewed


Reboboth, 2021/6, recent visit

Biorxiv has a preprint of a major article on the “UK”, or now "alpha" coronavirus variant “Evolution of enhanced innate immune evasion by the SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7 UK variant”, Thorne et al, PDF here. 

Carl Zimmer of the New York Times offers a review of the paper (how the virus variant became "powerful"), explaining in layman’s terms how the variant delays a productive immune response by manipulating some obscure proteins, making the symptoms (nasal and throat) more explosive when the body kicks in, making the virus more transmissible.  It is still interesting to wonder why it took us until late 2020 to recognize it. 

The article sounds scary, yet the major vaccines seem to be pretty effective against it, even if you need two shots.

Furthermore, Carlos Lozada reviews a new book “The Plague Year: America in the Time of Covid”, by Lawrence Wright, from Knopf, 322 pages, in the Washington Post.  The book seems to have a “protagonist”, Matthew Pottinger, deputy national security adviser in the Trump white house, who says he understood the problem in January 2020.  We all know this missteps by the CDC and WHO in the early days.

But one problem you keep hearing from the moralistic Left – American individualism and selfishness on issues like masks, vaccines, and even accepting lockdowns, allowing the more vulnerable to die (having to go to work, living in large households, more health problems) when it is looking more like China’s Wuhan lab leaked the virus indeed – a foreign enemy, comparable to war?  Well, the US had subsidized their gain o function work as had other countries.   (Only two labs in the US can do it, in Galveston TX in hurricane country, and in Chapel Hill NC, maybe at UNC). 

Three mistakes:  denial of entry into China, failure of a testing plan (and to understand asymptomatic spread), failure with early mask use.

Wright had authored “The Looming Tower” about the early warnings before 9/11. 

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