Thanks. I read the whole issue. (Love the ads!) Guess I had given up comic books a few years before this issue, as I pretty much inhaled DC comics when I was a kid and don’t remember the Martian character. Miss the corny, straight-arrow superheroes of yesteryear.
There doesn’t seem to be much data yet about how effective various vaccines are against P1 (Brazilian strain). It does have similarities to the B1.351 strain, however, and the Pfizer vaccine, at least, seems to be very effective against that one. Moderna may be less so, but it’s very similar to the Pfizer shot. The vaccine B1.351 seemed to have some ability to evade was the Astrazeneca, which is similar to the J&J. Still, just prior COVID infection appears to provide 50 to 80 percent protection against B1.351, and the vaccines provide better protection than prior infection. In general, the COVID vaccines are spectacularly effective relative to, for example, seasonal flu vaccines. Get your shots, mask up, stay out of potentially bad situations, and you’ll very likely be okay. We may all be lining up in the fall for boosters modified to attack new strains better, but the good news there is that the mRNA vaccines, at least, can be adapted quickly. If one good thing comes out of the COVID pandemic, it may be a new paradigm for rapid vaccine development. We should all be very happy that the naysayers on the human genome project lost out. It cost a lot up front, but now cheap, fast genome sequencing is available and even routine, which has been transformational. It’s like the space program: Can you imagine the world now without weather and communications satellites and GPS?
You can find a breakdown of variants circulating in the U.S. here: https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#variant-proportions. The primary strain spreading now is B1.1.7, the UK variant. It is more contagious than the original strains but does not appear to be vaccine-resistant. The strain that has given the most concern is B1.351, which was first found in South Africa, which does seem partially resistant to some vaccines. It is almost nonexistent in the U.S., however. Then there’s B1.526, the New York variant, which is still mainly in the Northeast. No data yet on vaccine resistance. For a good breakdown on vaccine-resistance of various strains, see: https://www.advisory.com/daily-briefing/2021/04/16/variants-vaccines. The good and bad news is that B1.1.7 is becoming increasingly dominant, crowding out other strains. The bad news there is that B1.1.7 seems to be among, if not the, most contagious (the reason it is crowding out other strains). The good news is that existing vaccines seem to work well against it.
The vaccines are effective against all the major strains found in the U.S., and fully against the U.K. variant, in particular, which is now the most common one here. I believe that is the one you’re referencing, as it is more contagious and possibly more deadly than the original strains.
Cuba has controlled malaria just by being extremely vigilant about standing water, and it’s not a problem there. Not many other countries could mount such a broad and coercive public-health program, though.
Depends somewhat on where you live. Seems to be very bad in Michigan, for example. Where I am in the Northeast, however, cases are running slightly below where they were this time last year and appear to be declining again, despite recent dominance of the more contagious UK variant. In the last week, Rt (rate of transmission) has gone from slightly over 1 to 0.91, which is an important milestone. So far slightly over 40% of the state’s population has received at least one shot and slightly over a quarter have been fully vaccinated, with both going up about 0.5 to 1 percent per day now. I think we will be in pretty good shape in a couple of months, especially if Pfizer and Moderna get pediatric approval soon.
Those samples could prove useful if smallpox were to return somehow. (Hard to know whether a virus really has been totally eradicated in the wild). Diseases such as smallpox that spread easily from person to person through the air are not so good for biological weapons as they are hard to contain to the target population.
He would like $15, but he can’t do it by fiat. Talk to the other Joe, Manchin.
Ah, the good old days!
The point was that there’s nothing in the strip to suggest that the study was created with an end result in mind or was in any way not objective, because we know nothing about it other than how it’s referenced in the first panel. What the strip illustrates is laid out explicitly in the second panel: Does the conclusion stated in the first panel reflect causation or merely a correlation with possibly different underlying factors? Maybe the lady in panel one answers Dilbert’s question in panel four, after the break. Since we never get to see panel four, we’ll never know. :-)