What Darwin could teach us today about modern vaccines and related health policies

Like Molière’s bourgeois Jourdain, who realized he had been speaking prose for forty years without knowing it, we have been talking about Darwinian evolution since the pandemic began and in increasingly stringent ways in the past year. Though usually, it seems, without our even realizing it (2). The emergence and spread in different epidemiological ecosystems of new variants of SARS-Cov-2 were certain facts, like the rising of the sun. So certain that mathematics, so abused to make daily and often disproven predictions of epidemiological changes with increase/decrease of cases or deaths, was not needed. The recurring questions are whether the new variants are more efficient in replicating, transmitting, or causing damage to the host, or if they will escape, as changed in antigenic conformations, immune responses trained naturally by infection with the virus or artificially by vaccines. These are questions pertaining to Darwinian immunology and vaccinology. The topic also concerns the hot debate on the origin of SARS-CoV-2, which at times takes on the profile of a confrontation between those who think that natural selection, with favorable conditions at its disposal, achieved the changes necessary to infect humans, and those who instead think that some artificially estimate of probability of a phenotypic variant (furin cleavage site) is sufficient to resort to a sort of intelligent design (1).

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