The Variant Variable
Updated: Jun 25
In our efforts to be well-informed, most of us try to skim the surface of multiple subjects.
It’s impossible to be proficient in every arena, so we focus on our area of expertise and rely on the media to give us an overview of the rest.
This is useful for keeping on top of a number of things, but falls short when dealing with complex subjects like Covid-19.
With an optimistic view, this could explain why the media hasn’t provided context for “cases” and “deaths.”
Or why politicians keep unnecessary and ineffective measures in place while citing “variants” as the latest reason - or as the less optimistic like to call them, “scariants.”
So what is a variant?
You may remember Oxford University professor and epidemiologist Dr. Sunetra Gupta’s lesson on herd immunity that I shared HERE.
Today, I share her concise explanation of variants in this rather charming and easy to understand video…
As an artist and lover of fashion, her metaphor of a virus’s “wardrobe” really worked for me.
I don’t want to ruin the fun of learning, so I’ll simply share the main takeaways…
* All viruses have variants.
* Variants are not markedly more transmissible or more virulent than their predecessors.
* Our immune system recognizes them as the same virus, just in a different outfit.
Therefore, if we have naturally-acquired immunity (i.e. we’ve already had C-19), or immunity created by vaccines or other prophylactic measures, we’re good.
* Rises in actual C-19 cases (as opposed to positive PCR tests) are not due to variants but to seasons.
* Like almost all respiratory diseases, C-19 behaves seasonally.
In other words, cold and flu season now includes Covid-19 -- and its impact on mortality is about the same.
Here’s the evidence…
This is a representation of the Government of Canada’s data, as put together by independent investigative journalist, Julius Ruechel, from his must-read article that I shared HERE.
As for the variant studies, here is a clear comparison from the intrepid health expert Ivor Cummins…
What I took away from this 3-minute video addresses the issue I started with -- how the media is getting the science so wrong.
In other words, data that is misread, misunderstood, and misrepresented.
I’ve said it before, but the beauty of science is that it can clarify without prejudice, when understood.
The pitfall of science is that we can’t just get the gist if we don’t understand the underlying principles of how to read the data.
And unfortunately, policymakers and those that report on them haven’t been reliable to do that accurately.
So here we have yet another opportunity to take responsibility for the information we get, the views we hold, and the health choices we ultimately make.
And with responsibility comes new power and freedom.
There we have another example of how our current crisis can be viewed with a dose of optimism.
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