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Suzan Mazur interviews virologist Luis Villareal on COVID-19


Suzan Mazur, science journalist and author of The Paradigm Shifters: Overthrowing ‘the Hegemony of the Culture of Darwin’, along with several other books on evolution controversies, recently interviewed virologist Luis Villareal, at her blog Oscillations, on the COVID-19 virus. Villareal is a critic of neo-Darwinism and in the interview he refers to this type of virus as a “quasispecies”:

Luis Villarreal: All of these RNA viruses exist as quasispecies, which is a population of variants that hover around the average. The sequence of a viral glycoprotein generally represents the consensus of the sequence that’s generated.

Now, according to neo-Darwinian thinking, the average is “the master fittest type.”

But if you examine the way quasispecies behave, the average is more like “your average Joe”—the most common version, the most ubiquitous version, and a relatively stable composition.

Suzan Mazur, “ Covid-19 Vaccine and Neo-Darwinism?—Virologist Luis Villarreal Weighs In” at Oscillations

He thinks that these facts make creating a vaccine easier, which will be good news for those who would like to see an end to the current lockdowns, crackdowns, and panics.

Here is some more information about the quasispecies concept:

This variation, which is a consequence of the error prone nature of viral replication, has since been confirmed using other viral systems. Virologists now understand that virus populations are not made of a single member with a defined nucleic acid sequence. Rather, they are dynamic distributions of nonidentical but related members called a quasispecies. It was given this name because the classical definition of species – an interbreeding population of individuals – has little meaning for viruses.

Vincent Racaniello, “The quasispecies concept” at Virology Blog (May 11, 2009)

Well, viruses don’t mate, do they? They must acquire mutations in other ways.

Before you go, more from the weird world of viruses: One way viruses get spread “never should have evolved”

Reset! Different segs of virus genome can exist in different cells but work together

Viruses devolve. (PaV)

Virus expert highlights the conflict over whether viruses are alive In short, it is an open question. The question relates to the role viruses can play in evolution, among other things. Are they precursors of life, detritus of life, or something in between? Or all three? Keep the file open. 

Viruses invent their own genes? Then what is left of Darwinism?

Why viruses are not considered to be alive

Another stab at whether viruses are alive

Phil Sci journal: Special section on understanding viruses

Should NASA look for viruses in space? Actually, it’s not clear that RNA came first. Nor is it clear that viruses precede life. A good case can doubtless be made for viruses being part of the scrap heap of existing life. But no matter. If you think you can find viruses in space, boldly go.

Why “evolution” is changing? Consider viruses

The Scientist asks, Should giant viruses be the fourth domain of life? Eukaryotes, prokaryotes, archaea… and viruses?

Viruses are alive.


Are viruses nature’s perfect machine? Or alive?


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