One of the problems I had with the Zero Covid experiment that some nations pursued, other than the obvious civil liberty violations, is that it creates unusual immunological conditions, under which strange things can start to happen. When it comes to the risk of dangerous new variants emerging, it’s more dangerous for 4 billion people to catch SARS2 and 4 million mice, than for 5 billion humans and no mice. People don’t comprehend this, because it requires keeping principles of complex systems in the back of your head that don’t come naturally to most people.
Similarly, the vaccination experiments are very dangerous. You give birth to a select demographic, in which the immune pressure looks very different: Whereas most people have varied immunity against various parts of the genome from natural infection, a small number of people, geographically located close together will have immunity against small parts of the genome. That’s how you generate new variants. It’s likely the Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta variants came into existence due to the vaccine trials.
But it’s equally stupid, to isolate portions of the world and keep the population in those parts of the world immunologically naive, as everyone else builds up immunity. That’s what Australia, New Zealand and a couple of other isolated island nations did. They eventually gave up, once we saw the birth of variants that are so contagious that their zero COVID experiment failed.
But the damage has already been done. In Australia people were still busy building up immunity against the Delta variant, while most of the rest of the world was spreading Omicron variants, which inevitably also land on Australia’s shore. And so although most of the world now has various XBB descendants circulating, Australia now has a pretty unique situation.
In Australia someone got infected with an Omicron and a Delta variant, which resulted in a hybrid virus, with an Omicron Spike and a Delta body. This is of course a logical outcome, of Australia reconnecting to the rest of the world, without having built up the immunity against Delta the rest of the world had built up. They created an unusual opportunity the virus did not have available in most parts of the world.
This virus was named XBC and it only seems to thrive in Australia, where it causes about 6% of all cases. Every once in a while we see a case show up in another country, but then it typically fails to spread there, surrounded by people with immunity against Delta. The hybrid virus seems pretty virulent, New South Wales has about 1400 people in the hospital right now.
In other words, Australia is now playing catchup with the rest of the world. The real problem however, is that the country of 26 million now serves as a Petri dish, where this new version of SARS2 can try out new experiments to survive the growing wave of global immunity.
As an example, it has been observed that this Omicron-Delta hybrid virus, has succeeded at evolving an entirely new protein, due to a frameshift mutation. We can expect it to probably be functional rather than a fluke, as another strain evolved the protein due to a frame-shift mutation too. What it does? Nobody knows.
The fact that we’re not yet seeing this virus spread outside of Australia, doesn’t mean it never will. It could be that Omicron runs out of ways to improve its fitness, the population’s immunity begins to wane and the XBC variants end up with an r0 above 1 outside Australia as a result. It could be we just need to wait until the virus gets lucky and someone brings it to China, another place which hasn’t gone through a big Delta wave yet.
We don’t know how this ends. It could run out of hosts and go extinct. What matters is that we ended up with an unusual hybrid version of the virus, that only survives in a place that sought to isolate itself from the rest of the world. It’s hubris for anyone to think he knows with certainty exactly how all of this will unfold. And because we don’t know what will happen, it’s fair to say that through its attempt to isolate itself from the rest of the world, to keep out a virus that was impossible to keep out for most nations in the world, Australia now endangers the rest of humanity.
We’re not seeing a hybrid Delta-Omicron thrive in Sweden. We’re not seeing it in India. We’re not seeing it in Uganda. We’re not seeing it in Florida. We’re seeing it in the country, that did “everything right”. We’re seeing it in a nation that embraced the most dehumanizing authoritarian policies anywhere in the Western world. Australia’s experience confirms the general principle I have amply documented on my blog by now: The way to kill the most people, the way to keep this pandemic going for as long as possible, is to do “everything right”.