Friday, March 05, 2021

Early signs COVID-19 vaccine jab ‘clobbers’ more transmissible variants

British researchers say there is growing evidence that the full two courses of existing vaccines will “clobber” the more transmissible strains of COVID-19 — a development that could help unlock international travel and help relieve millions of people from lockdowns.

The emergence of strains in countries with major coronavirus outbreaks, including Britain, Brazil and South Africa, have led to further international travel restrictions and measures. Governments have feared the strains would be resistant to the vaccines that were designed before their discovery.

This week the Australian government extended the international border closure by another three months, citing the more transmissible strains that had emerged overseas.

Britain has also introduced hotel quarantine for travellers from countries where the strains are prevalent and stopped recreational international travel.

Professor Tim Spector, from King’s College London and principal investigator with Britain’s ZOE COVID Symptom study – where millions of Britons log their symptoms and vaccine side effects – told an online webinar that early fears about the variants’ resistance to vaccines might prove to be unfounded.

“There’s been some more reassuring data showing that once you’ve had the second dose, it really clobbers all the variants; we just need time to show that,” Spector said.

Ellie Barnes, a professor in hepatology and experimental medicine at Oxford University and member of the UK Coronavirus Immunology Consortium, said there was data showing the jab worked well against the South African variant, but only after the second dose.

“We’ve got Oxford data which basically shows that after one dose your antibody titre [concentration] is not so high – it’s high but it’s not super high – and that is not enough to neutralise the South African [variant],” Barnes said.

“After you give the second dose you get really robust neutralisation of the South African variant, so I think we can be reassured of that.

“And even after a single dose the data from these vaccines in South Africa itself shows a single dose prevents you from hospitalisation and severe infection. “But you do need the second dose to get fully protected.”

Barnes said the same outcome was likely against the Brazilian variant, which is similar to the strain that emerged in South Africa. She said the next generation of COVID-19 vaccines would be specifically designed to counteract the South African variant and said she was not sure that annual vaccines would be required, as has been previously touted.

“There’s only so many mutations a virus can make before it’s no longer able to infect cells; it’s unlikely to go on indefinitely,” she said. “SARS-CoV-2 is not the same as influenza. I’m not sure we’ll need vaccines every year; we’ll see, time will tell.”

Barnes said there was emerging data to support anecdotal reports of people who had previously had COVID-19 experiencing stronger side effects to the vaccine.

She said this was because the body’s T-cells were activated by the COVID-19 infection and their memory was able to respond “very rapidly” to vaccination.

“So if you’ve been infected before and then you get a first dose of vaccine, you have a really excellent response to that single dose comparable to someone that wasn’t infected before and was on their second dose - that’s the data that’s just coming out in pre-prints,” she said.

She said it was for this reason that it is recommended people wait one month after being infected with COVID-19 to receive their vaccine.


Are Liberals Really More Egalitarian?

Recent studies find conservatives treat others more equally than liberals

Recent experiments reveal that in some cases it is liberals who tend to treat information and people more unequally on the basis of sex, race, and group status.

In a set of studies, liberals wished to censor written passages that portrayed low-status groups unfavorably more than identical passages that portrayed high-status groups unfavorably, whereas conservatives treated the passages more comparably.

This does not necessarily mean that liberals are not egalitarian. It might be that liberals prioritize equality of outcomes and view unequal treatment (at least for a time) as a means of attaining equal outcomes.

On personality measures, liberals are more egalitarian than conservatives. This preference for equality is often measured with the Social Dominance Orientation Scale, which contains items about both equality of treatment (e.g., “We would have fewer problems if we treated people more equally”) and equality of outcomes (e.g., “We should strive to make incomes as equal as possible”).

However, sometimes personality scales do not map onto behavior in expected ways. For example, despite the fact that conservatives score higher in epistemic needs for certainty, they appear to be no more politically biased than liberals (i.e., no more likely to evaluate politically congenial information more favorably than otherwise identical politically uncongenial information). A paper forthcoming in the American Journal of Political Science replicated this “symmetrical bias” pattern in two nationally representative studies, finding that epistemic needs for certainty actually did not predict political bias.

So, consistent with liberals’ self-reported support for equality, do they treat people and groups more equally than conservatives? Several recent studies over the past few years cast doubt on this proposition.

Scholars test for unequal treatment (sometimes also called bias) by presenting participants with identical or very similar stimuli (for example, a scientific finding, a resume) and manipulating whom or which group that piece of information is about (for example, a scientific finding about men or women, a resume for a Black or a White job applicant), and then having participants evaluate the piece of information. To the extent that people treat the stimuli differently in the different sex or race conditions, this is considered unequal treatment or a bias. If people rated a male candidate as more qualified for a job than a female candidate with the exact same resume, this would be considered an unequal treatment or bias in favor of men (or against women).

Recent experiments and quasi-experiments of this kind suggest that, at least sometimes, it is liberals who tend to treat information and people more unequally on the basis of sex, race, and group status.

Evaluations that favor or disfavor some groups

For example, two sets of studies by two different research teams found that participants evaluated science on sex differences more favorably when women were portrayed more favorably than men (as better drawers and less prone to lying and as more intelligent) than when men were portrayed more favorably than women. In both of these sets of studies, these tendencies were stronger as participants were more politically liberal.

Similarly, in a more naturalistic study on Twitter, liberals were more likely to amplify the successes of female and Black athletes than male and White athletes, whereas conservatives treated the successes of groups more similarly.

In another set of studies, White liberals presented less self-competence to Black than White interaction partners, whereas White conservatives treated Black and White interaction partners more similarly. And in another set, liberals had stronger desires to censor passages that portrayed low-status groups unfavorably than identical passages that portrayed high-status groups unfavorably, whereas conservatives treated the passages more comparably.

Other teams of researchers have found similar patterns in other domains. For example, people had more generous acceptance criteria for admitting Black than White candidates to an honor society, and this tendency was stronger among liberals. Whereas those high in social dominance orientation favored a White over a Black job applicant, the reverse tendency to favor a Black over a White job applicant was stronger among those low in social dominance orientation.

And whereas those high on system justification (correlated with more conservative ideology) found jokes that target low-status and high-status groups similarly funny, those low on system justification (liberals) found jokes that target low-status groups less funny than those that target high-status groups.

Limitations and a word about future research

These findings are far from a comprehensive overview of the literature on these kinds of studies. In order to draw any conclusions that one group (liberals or conservatives) treats groups and people more equally in general, one would need to conduct a thorough meta-analysis (if anybody wants to conduct a meta-analysis, perhaps as part of an adversarial collaboration, do let me know). Moreover, it seems quite possible that preferences for equality of treatment and equality of outcomes in relation to political ideology have changed over the past couple of decades and may continue to change in the future, and so one would have to take time into account as well.

However, these results may suggest that we cannot assume that liberals, being more egalitarian than conservatives, treat individuals and groups more equally. They might not.

This does not necessarily mean that liberals are not the egalitarians they claim to be. It might be that liberals—first and foremost—prioritize equality of outcomes and view unequal treatment (at least for a time) as a means of attaining equal outcomes.

But likewise, that conservatives are more tolerant of inequality of outcomes does not necessarily mean conservatives oppose equality. It might be that conservatives—first and foremost—prioritize equality of treatment and view unequal outcomes (at least for a time) as an unfortunate side effect.

None of this research can adjudicate which of these positions (if either) is more empirically or morally justified. But it may lead one to wonder whether the relationships between ideology and egalitarianism are more complicated than certain mainstream narratives suggest.



Pentagon: One militia member killed, two injured in Syria airstrike (UPI)

We're shocked — shocked! Iran rejects Biden offer to discuss new nuclear deal (Disrn)

California lawmakers reach agreement to return schools to in-person learning (UPI)

Minneapolis prepares for unrest during Derek Chauvin trial next week (Examiner)

Virginia to become 16th state to legalize marijuana (Daily Caller)

Andrew Cuomo backers reevaluate fundraising amid sexual harassment probe (CNBC)

Conservative United Methodists detail breakaway plan (World)

Golden Globes suffer ratings nightmare (Disrn)

Biden State Department nominee Victoria Nuland is a defender of Chinese propaganda (Free Beacon)

Twenty-three embarrassing Andrew Cuomo takes that just didn't age well (Disrn)

Base with U.S. troops in Iraq attacked with rockets after being targeted by Iran (Jerusalem Post)

ICE conducting human smuggling investigation after California crash that killed more than a dozen (Fox News)

ICE locks Twitter account that alerted public of illegal immigrants freed by sanctuary cities (Washington Times)

Treasury Department sanctions Russian officials in response to the poisoning of Aleksey Navalny (

Home prices surged by 10% in January, the largest annualized jump since 2013 (Forbes)

Prices at the pump are going up thanks to Texas's epic cold snap (Examiner)

Governor Cuomo to be stripped of pandemic emergency powers in legislative deal (NBC New York)

Poll finds more Americans concerned about Black Lives Matter riots (55%) than Capitol riot (45%) despite the Leftmedia's ignoring the former and obsession with the latter (Disrn)

Earth's green vegetation has increased 10% since 2000 (Disrn)

Skipping mammograms raises odds for breast cancer death in women (HealthDay News)

Policy: Bringing back pork would be a disaster (National Review)

Woke Mob Believes CPAC Stage Is Nazi Symbolism — The Leftmedia pushes the conspiracy theory by claiming it resembles a symbol used by the SS.

We Are All Essential — Mike Rowe tells John Stossel that COVID rules had a huge unintended consequence: They crushed work, sapping meaning from many people's lives.




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