Posted by Roger Mallett Posted on 4 November 2023

There’ll be another variant along in a minute

THERE have been days when even Global Health Now, the daily bulletin from the Bloomberg School of Public Panic at Johns Hopkins University, has had nothing to say about Covid. One grows hopeful. One also learns.

Just when the Covid narrative seems to be running out of steam, the global healthmeisters throw some coal into the furnace and release information about a new variant. The story is always the same: the variant is ‘spreading’, it may be ‘more infectious’ than previous strains and is likely to become ‘dominant’, all words deliberately chosen to convey to the unsuspecting public that they are in danger. Of course, the not-so-subliminal message is: you may have survived the last variant but this one could kill you.

I am referring to the most recent strain of Covid to be identified, called HV.1, which is causing a fuss amongst Covid watchers in the United States. I assume that ‘HV’ refers to ‘human variant’ but I also note how conveniently similar it looks and sounds to ‘HIV’ – and look how that was used to terrify people. I am sure this is no coincidence.

In fact, if you dig a bit, it is clear that HV.1, if it is responsible for infections at all, causes just the usual range of symptoms, nearly all mild and, as those of us who believe we may have had Covid more than once show, eminently survivable. This is not the perfect time to panic.

Newspaper reports, as usual, are high on percentages and low on real numbers. Thus, HV.1 is already responsible for 25 per cent of current cases of Covid in the United States. But drilling into the figures and combining facts from several sources, it is apparent, at the time of writing, that there are 906,000 purported cases of Covid in the US, which has a population of 332million. So 0.27 per cent of the population have Covid and 0.06 per cent have HV.1. Yet, once again, it is in the news.

NBC News, always ‘on message’ and down with the Covid kids, is keen to blame the unvaccinated for the spread of the new variant. This is because Americans, having seen the light, are turning their backs on Covid boosters. Only 3.5 per cent of Americans have taken the latest in a very long line of boosters. But NBC News, like most of the mainstream media, does not question why. Why would anyone take a vaccine that does not work, with demonstrable side effects including death, for a disease that is not going to kill them? Let me think.

Meantime, a new threat emerges from among what is referred to, in a non-panic-inducing way, ‘the trifecta of respiratory death’. The expression was new to me too; two are influenza and coronaviruses. The third of the ‘trifecta’, the paramyxoviruses, are flexing their viral muscles. The message here, an extension of the Covid variant message, is familiar: influenza may not have killed you, Covid may not have killed you, but this one could.

The threat is said to be ‘simmering in the background’. Paramyxoviruses are airborne (lucky we have face masks!) and one strain, the Nipah virus, has a fatality rate of 25 per cent. This makes it a ‘top-priority pathogen’ (along with all the rest) for the World Health Organization. That’s how serious it is, allegedly. But roll up your sleeves – we have the vaccines to deal with it.

To be fair, Nipah does sound nasty. It seems to be confined to the Indian sub-continent and a small part of Southeast Asia near Singapore. Case fatality rates are indeed high but, in an outbreak in Singapore in 1999 largely involving abattoir workers slaughtering pigs, fewer than 300 were infected and 100 died. That’s 0.0025 per cent of the population at that time: hardly a pandemic. Needless to say, scientists are ‘concerned about mutations’ of Nipah which will be both highly infectious and highly fatal. If such a thing happens, you can be sure that we’ll hear all about it. Until we do, keep calm and carry on.

Read More – There’ll be another variant along in a minute

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