30 August 2023

Natural selection back in action

There are signs that we may be in for a resurgence of covid.  I noted this item in the last link round-up, and the growing insistence of evil bosses and politicians on dragging work-from-home employees back to offices is creating ideal conditions for infectious diseases in general to spread.  There have also been stories of a new variant emerging.  It's not clear how effective the current vaccines will be against it -- based on past experience, new versions of the vaccines tailored for it will be developed, but it's unpredictable how long this will take.

One thing that is predictable is that, if the new covid surge is seriously dangerous, some parts of the US will be hit much harder than others.  From what I'm seeing around the right-wing blogs and news sites, rejection of anti-covid defenses (vaccines, masks, etc), and denial of the seriousness or even existence of covid, are far more entrenched and militant there now than they ever were during the pandemic.  Some examples are here, here, here, here, and here -- that last is a "meme" collection, but many refer to covid defenses.  A common view is that the new covid surge is a scam contrived to bring back various restrictions as part of a plot to steal the 2024 election for the Democrats.

Given the deep commitment to such views, it's obvious that the heavily science-denialist parts of the country will almost totally reject whatever precautions the medical establishment finds necessary to combat a new covid surge -- vaccines, masks, lockdowns, or whatever else.  Even a substantial rise in the death rate will not dissuade them -- remember, most of these people are convinced that it's the vaccines, not covid, which are killing people (there is an entire fake documentary dedicated to supporting this belief).  By contrast, here in left-leaning Portland, masks are already making something of a comeback -- the last couple of times I went out shopping, I saw more people wearing masks than at any previous time in the last year or so, though they are still far from the majority.  If the government recommends a return to masks and stores start requiring them, most people here and in other "blue" cities will likely go along.  Certainly most will accept the vaccines.  And the situation will give workers a major weapon in their battle to resist the bosses' back-to-the-office campaigns.

So, depending on how deadly the new variant is, the stage will be set for another large divergence in death rates between science-denialist and science-accepting parts of the US.  There are already huge regional differences in life expectancy:
Most of the early-death counties are concentrated in "red" states and regions, while the longest life expectancies are found largely in the "blue" urban areas.  If the former reject vaccines and other defenses while the latter embrace them, and if the new variant turns out to be particularly dangerous, we could see the gap in death rates grow monstrously wide.  Once again the US will be the scene of a brutal demonstration of natural selection in action.


Anonymous rick shapiro said...

The difference in death rates between magats and others is likely to be much less in the next wave for two reasons. First, the new variants appear to be somewhat less deadly than the older ones. And more importantly, a large proportion of magats have already had a bout of covid-19.

30 August, 2023 04:48  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

How deadly the new variants are will probably be a major factor. Having already had the disease isn't very protective -- it's common for a person to get covid multiple times, though there's some tendency for later cases to be less severe. Also, overall health conditions in the "red" areas are generally worse -- more smoking, more obesity, more consumption of meat and processed foods, etc. It also matters that hostility to vaccines and other precautions is far more entrenched and truculent now than during the pandemic -- which is my main point here. If the new variant is highly dangerous, that hostility will have disastrous results.

30 August, 2023 08:52  
Blogger run75441 said...


This virus is still new to humans. Covid appears to be constantly mutating. The latest has evolved with a new spike to which vaccines may not prevent a serious outcome. As one Tulane study suggested viruses can mutate also themselves out of existence.

People appear resistant to becoming inoculated against Covid. There is more to this than just a nasty flu bug or cold. What does the virus attack or where does it end up? Will it weaken vital organs resulting in a shorter life span. Keep in mind too, there is no cure for Long - Covid and it does attack the body's organs.

Getting inoculated is just one part. Limiting exposure to others is the other part,

02 September, 2023 09:04  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At this point I'd like to actually go to Africa, get some ebola, bring it back to the US while simultaneously launching a huge media campaign that says that Ebola is a hoax and encouraging all white trash to not cooperate with the government.

02 September, 2023 09:48  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Run75441: The latest variants were first detected in other countries before spreading here, and we haven't heard about any really disastrous rise in deaths in those countries where they've been present longer, so it seems the current vaccines and other precautions are reasonably effective.

As to the rejection of vaccines and masks by some groups, it's willful refusal to use available protection, rather like riding a motorcycle without a helmet. That's what I mean by natural selection in action.

There are some treatments for long covid beginning testing, but it will probably be a year or two before we know whether they work.

Wesley: At this point, even if we had an outbreak of something like ebola, a lot of the hard-core anti-science types would probably believe it was some kind of conspiracy and refuse to take any precautions. And of course a completely new pandemic is possible at any time, and likely in the long run.

02 September, 2023 21:41  
Anonymous Annie said...

People also need to be aware of the vaccine available to prevent RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus), which is especially dangerous for those over 60 (particularly with underlying conditions) and babies. The virologists I’ve read (such as Dr Peter Hotez) recommend yearly vaccinations now for Covid, flu, and RSV.

04 September, 2023 05:42  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

I hadn't heard about RSV -- have to look into that one.

04 September, 2023 20:52  

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