It's unlikely that there's a super-contagious Wuhan virus floating around
The latest scare headlines warn us that a super-contagious strain of the Wuhan virus has emerged in England and is breaking free into the rest of the world. You can already hear the Chicken Littles running around screaming, "We're all going to die." It turns out, though, that the data are based upon a very preliminary, almost certainly inaccurate, study from the same Imperial College London group that started the original panic about a coming plague worse than the Black Death.
Some time ago, when appearing on Tucker Carlson, Mark Steyn said British prime minister Boris Johnson's brush with the Wuhan virus had destroyed him. He's simply not the same man anymore. Where he was once a confident leader, he's now a nervous follower — and there's no one he follows with more nervous energy than whatever scientist has caught his ear.
On December 18, the British media reported that Boris Johnson was going to announce a draconian series of new lockdowns based upon informed he'd heard about a "new mutation" of the Wuhan virus that was 70% more transmissible than the existing strain. With Johnson panicking, there was a chain reaction of panic in other countries, including the U.S. Suddenly, Britain was on the top of everyone's travel ban list.
The problem, as Jordan Schachtel notes, is that there's really no science behind the latest panic. Instead, it appears in a single, preliminary projection from a team that's been consistently wrong about everything:
British media has reported Boris Johnson received his 70% more transmissible statistic from a single source, Erik Volz, an epidemiologist in his mid 30s who is currently a member of Imperial College London's epidemiology department.
Imperial College London is home to Neil Ferguson, who predicted that 2 million people would die in America — only to pull back and, like Emily Litella, say, "Never mind." This would also be the same Neil Ferguson who, having started a panic, cheated on the lockdown.
Despite his lockdown shaming, Ferguson is still causing problems. Schachtel reports:
Ferguson reportedly played a pivotal role in convincing Boris Johnson to again reinstitute lockdowns over the holiday season. Ferguson has also been in the news for his new series of baseless claims that the new variant has a "higher propensity to infect children."
Volz, the guy with the new horror prediction, is part of that same old Imperial College/Neil Ferguson team. And, Schachtel explains, he's up to the same old trick of sparking major panics by theorizing in advance of his data based upon pathetically inadequate information:
In a presentation last week as part of the COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) consortium, Volz explained how he was in the "early stages" of his thought process on the new mutation, and has admitted that his information, which was transmitted to the world by Boris Johnson, is not particularly useful.
"We're still basically in the very early stages. We basically have one month of growth," Volz stated, adding that "the growth rate" in cases of the new variant "does appear to be quite a bit larger," before again sowing more doubt about his analysis.
Volz continued, warning that "trends you see early on don't always pan out."
"It's really too early to tell, but this is the current state of our knowledge," Volz adds, in revealing the 70% number of projected increased transmissibility over a compared variant.
(You can see Volz's presentation here.)
Schachtel has more information on the ideologically driven science that Ferguson and Volz are pushing, which is based on cherry-picked data and an unshakeable belief that stopping the world from functioning will stop viruses from doing their virus thing.
G.K. Chesterton famously said, "When a man stops believing in God, he doesn't believe in nothing, he believes in anything." Somehow, I feel there's another aphorism lurking near that concept. Perhaps one could say that "When a society starts believing that science has replaced God, it mindlessly believes anything prefaced with the word 'science.'" Certainly, that's what we're seeing with the new panic coming out of England and infecting the rest of the world.
Image: Boris Johnson after leaving the hospital. YouTube screen grab.