New Covid Variant!

There is a new covid variant from South Africa out there! Learn more in this NY Times series of articles

It should be freely accessible.

Better get a case of ivermectin!


Eventually, since this happens every time you turn around, it will cease to be news

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No it doesn’t. Not this degree of spike protein mutation. Out of several mutations a day.

A top UK health official calls it “the most significant variant” to date, while an Oxford scientist tells the BBC: “It is bad news but it’s not doomsday”

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Read the article. There aren’t many variants. And Variants are a real cause for concern.

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Most of the varients will fade to oblivion, but that will not keep the media from dramatizing them to keep up readership. It is interesting to see how outlets like Yahoo! tend to Chicken Little everything. and are neither right nor left in their bias but try to create controversy across the spectrum.


One should be neither too carried away nor too blasé about this variant. Yes, the media make every possible variant sound as scary as possible. On the other hand, this one has everyone in the field (including me) pretty twitchy. I think the dramatic increase in frequency may reflect one early superspreading event that amplified it, but it’s got a mess of functionally important mutations that could mean it’s nastier than anything we’ve seen before. Or maybe not, but there is cause for concern.


Yes, it’s better to be safe than sorry. has lots of stories about sick and dead people who never took covid seriously.

Saint Alfred once said, “What, me worry?”

The new variant’s name is Omicron. It’s a letter of the Greek Alphabet. It sounds like a sci-fi movie.


@Randy – Wow.


Francis Collins, founder of BioLogos has weighed in, and explains his cause for concern:

COVID-19: New Variant’s 50 Mutations Make It Different From Original Virus, NIH Director Says

You can listen to his comments here

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Having just seen an updated phylogenetic tree of Omicron, I no longer think this is a likely explanation. The alternative is that the rapid spread of this variant really does represent greater transmissibility or immune evasion. (Settings here won’t allow me to quote an epidemiologist’s response to the same tree, but it consisted of the same four-letter word repeated multiple times.)

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Probably this one, shamelessly copied from one of Joel Duff’s posts elsewhere:


Hopefully, early reports that it is less severe in effects will prove accurate, and it will move closer to just being another bad cold virus. However, you really can’t take much for granted with this virus.

No, the tree I saw was one just made by somebody in our local community, and it included European samples. (I won’t go into details at the moment since it’s not public work.)

On the other hand, I’ve now seen yet another brand new Omicron phylogeny (this one – all the best science is done on Twitter these days), and this suggests a rather different conclusion. I think I’m going to go think about other things for a while and see what develops.


Starting to worry more about this Omicron character. Had been gearing up for live meetings of my horticultural society next year as well as our first garden visits in two years. After reading accounts of vax’d and boosted folks bringing it back here from a spreader event in Wisconsin I’m feeling like the groundhog who trundles back into his den for extended winter.


This is from FactCheck, a very good resource:

Q&A on the Omicron Variant

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Scientists have found that Omicron is spreading more than twice as quickly as the Delta variant in South Africa.

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