Brigitte Holt: ‘Why I’m angry’

Published: 9/20/2021 2:32:51 PM

In her Sept. 7 guest column (“Turning against each other is cruel”), Kathy Grey states that “Unscientific beliefs are multiplying. ‘People who are unvaccinated are causing new mutations,’ for example. This is utterly false, mutations happen at random.”

Ms. Grey is absolutely correct about mutations. They occur at random, most are neutral and neither help nor harm, harmful ones are eliminated, and occasionally, mutations that have a positive effect on the organism spread and are passed on to the next generation. This is the way organisms adapt, and this is the basis of Darwinian evolution by natural selection.

Like all organisms, the coronavirus’ DNA replicates. This is when mutations (errors) occur. The more the virus replicates, the more “errors” or mutations can occur. Some of these mutations have occurred in the area of its DNA that improves the virus’ ability to bind to human cell receptors, i.e. to transmit itself. The very successful delta variant is a perfect illustration of Darwinian evolution by natural selection.

The majority of infected people are now unvaccinated. As the virus infects more and more people, its DNA will have many more opportunities to replicate, with more mutations occurring, improving its ability to infect humans and probably eventually evade the vaccines. That is how evolution works.

So why I agree that cruelty toward those who do not think like me, or toward any human or animal, for that matter, is abhorrent, I am angry. I am angry because my grand-daughter still has to wear masks at school, because my partner who lives far away still cannot travel so we can be together, because the economy is not recovering, because many people must continue to live in fear.

No, unvaccinated people do not cause mutations, but they provide many more opportunities for this virus to improve and to ruin lives. Please get vaccinated so we can all reclaim our lives.

Brigitte Holt

Amherst




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