The new 'mutant strain' of Covid-19 is said to be 70% more infectious than the original version. But is it? Carl Heneghan of the Centre for Evidence based Medicine asked to see the evidence.
Can anyone point me to the evidence that this new variant is “70% more transmissible than the old variant?”
— Carl Heneghan (@carlheneghan) December 19, 2020
The Daily Mail followed up this tweet:
Carl Heneghan, Professor of Evidence Based Medicine at Oxford University’s Nuffield Department of Primary Care, expressed scepticism over the 70% figure.
He said: “I’ve been doing this job for 25 years and I can tell you can’t establish a quantifiable number in such a short time frame.”
He added “every expert is saying it’s too early to draw such an inference”.
Professor Heneghan said there was no doubt this time of the year, the “height of the viral season”, was a difficult time for the NHS. But he said failure to put out the basis of the figures was undermining public trust.
He added: “I would want to have very clear evidence rather than ‘we think it’s more transmissible’ so we can see if it is or not.
“It has massive implications, it’s causing fear and panic, but we should not be in this situation when the Government is putting out data that is unquantifiable.”
He added: “They are fitting the data to the evidence. They see cases rising and they are looking for evidence to explain it.
Dr Mike Yeadon isn’t convinced.
"I suspect it’s invented. It’s one of around 40,000 variants, typically emerging from error prone replication. It would be funny if it weren’t so serious if it turns out to be an asymptomatic variant: easy to catch & pass on but doesn’t make you ill. We could call it a vaccine."
— Yardley Yeadon (@MichaelYeadon3) December 20, 2020
Apparently VUI202012/0 (the 'mutant') was first found in September. It’s not clear where it came from or how long it had existed previously. The delay before it expanded doesn’t fit with super-infectiousness.
Jon Dobinson, Campaign Director of Recovery, commented:
“The evidence suggests that Matt Hancock may have needlessly terrified millions of people by giving misleading information about a variant of the virus which has existed for months."
Anthony J. Brookes, Professor of Genetics at the University of Leicester writes:
"This new variant is most likely just an “asymptomatic variant”, i.e., a strain that causes no or very mild illness. This is exactly what natural selection would throw up and what would have been given a massive advantage when trying to suppress the virus by lockdowns and Test and Trace.
As such, it is likely a good thing, as it will help us achieve herd immunity more quickly, with far less illness. Thereafter, the virus will go away all by itself.
All viruses naturally evolve towards strains that are more transmissible but which cause mild or no disease. One third of detected examples of this strain (or rather its clade) are in Essex, one third in London, and one third elsewhere in the UK. That is not consistent with a new strain with massive transmission advantage arising in one place (such as Essex) and spreading out from there. The chart below actually proves that the new variant is not the cause of the prevalence increase in the claimed “problem” regions. It had the same percentage representation in three very different regions in early November. Whereas, if it were a new variant with rapid spread advantage it would instead have been ahead in one region and spread to the other regions later on.
In short, the new strain is spreading everywhere, as a background variant that causes no or mild disease, enabled to recently increase its relative abundance on account of lockdown and Test and Trace."
Any excuse will do for a lockdown now, it would appear. My cynical interpretation of the latest lockdown based on the 'fake mutant variant' (as I choose to call it) is this:
Firstly, there is not enough enthusiasm about the vaccine. They are now threatening to extend Tier 4 restrictions until enough people have been vaccinated (with that vaccine that does not prevent you transmitting it or catching it..........).
Secondly, cancelling Christmas and closing everything down will prevent even more herd immunity being created (as if there was not enough already....) as there is plenty of evidence that this is NOT a new variant and that it is actually less harmful than the original virus (this happens when viruses spread).
Thirdly, imagine the anger if the masses were to discover that they can actually meet their healthy friends and relatives and nobody catches anything.........the whole totalitarian exercise would fail. This is just wishful thinking however, as most people don't even know about the failings of the PCR test or the lack of evidence for asymptomatic spread and do not even seem to be remotely interested it you try to explain it to them.