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(LifeSiteNews) – In September of 2021, Emanuel Goldman published an article of concern in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.[1]  Briefly, Mr. Goldman claimed that the unwillingness of certain individuals to accept the experimental COVID-19 vaccine would result in almost certain doom for individuals within the population, including those already vaccinated.  His support for this claim?  Darwinian evolution.

According to the article, the SARS-CoV-2 virus is “evolving,” and the next step in viral evolution may destroy all of “progress we have made in overcoming the pandemic.”  An interesting hypothetical postulate, but how much basis does this fear have in reality?

Evolution has sometimes been characterized as a change in allele frequency in a population.  If this is all that one means by evolution, we grant that this is reasonable and currently occurring with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.  (However, we would call it variation within a kind rather than evolution, which is an important distinction.[2]  Though both processes are said to be driven by natural selection, which is observable, variation within a kind is all that has ever been empirically demonstrated.  Evolution of new kinds of organisms repeatedly fails to pass the test of rigorous scientific standards.[3]

Can genetic change over time result in a super-virus that poses a threat to mankind?  We would argue, based on historical precedents, that this is highly unlikely.

  • Viruses tend to attenuate as they pass from one species to another. This was observed in the original method of vaccinating humans against smallpox using cowpox.  It was also the method employed to culture the mumps vaccine virus, which was serially passed through chicken eggs and then cultured chicken cells.[4]  If SARS-CoV-2 truly jumped from bats into humans, particularly if this occurred through an intermediate host, we should expect to see a similar steep curve of natural attenuation (i.e. the virus will quickly get weaker as it passes through the human population).
  • Viruses also weaken as they are passed through human cells, not just when they are transferred from animals to humans. This very method was employed to produce the unethical rubella vaccine, which was passaged in aborted fetal cell cultures until it was deemed sufficiently attenuated for vaccine production.[5]
  • Attenuation is not just observed in the lab. In vivo observation of myxoma virus in wild rabbit populations clearly demonstrates that there are multiple paths to natural attenuation of viruses, and also that attenuated viruses can revert to their original virulence.[6]  This suggests that viral mutation results in oscillation around a mean and strongly points to phenotypic stability over time.  If this is accurate, we would expect such oscillations to occur until herd immunity is naturally reached, and the virus no longer presents a pathological problem to the population.
  • The same phenomenon is observed in human populations. Research on the 1917-1918 pandemic H1N1 influenza virus indicates natural attenuation over time which leads to viral extinction events.[7]  The authors of that study conclude that the genetic degeneration they observed in the pandemic flu virus is analogous to other flu strains, all of which overwhelmingly demonstrate declining mortality rates over time.
  • Finally, as mutations accumulate in a population over time (including in a particular variant of a virus), the result is genetic entropy. This is the technical term for the decay of genomes towards error catastrophe.  It is quite possibly the most compelling evidence against evolutionary biology, as, in the words of the theory’s developer, “We cannot rationally speak of genome-building when there is a net loss of information every generation!”[8]

As early as February of 2021, a majority of scientists were predicting that SARS-CoV-2 would become an endemic virus.[9]  That is, they were predicting that the virus would become less virulent, but more transmissible, as it passed through the human population.  This is in complete accord with all of the historical examples we have just cited, and is the most likely outcome – regardless of the vaccination status of populations.

If anything, mass vaccination in the middle of the pandemic provides a unique kind of selective pressure to drive variations towards a vaccine-resistant strain.  This has already been well-documented in the case of HPV vaccination against strains which tend to cause cervical cancer.  Since the introduction of the vaccine, the strains included in the vaccine have plummeted; but cervical cancer rates have been unaffected, as new strains have arisen to take the place of the old strains as the leading causes of cancer.[10]

Even if a subtle genetic change occurred that introduced greater virulence into the virus, as occurs with antibiotic resistance in bacteria, this would likely be due to the loss of specificity in the virus rather than the introduction of a new element.[11]  This loss of specificity could lead to immune escape[12], which would appear like an overall evolutionary benefit for the virus.  But it is not a true example of evolution because there is no new information created in the virus – only the degradation of old information (in this case, a loss of specificity in the spike protein).  An increase in virulence would also be bad news for the continuation of the virus – if it is more likely to kill its host, it will be less likely to be transmitted further to new hosts.  Even evolutionary biology, with all of its errors, favors a scenario where the original virulence of the virus will decline drastically in favor of increased transmissibility.

In short, Mr. Goldman’s article is unfortunately just one more not-so-veiled threat against those who choose not to participate in experimental medicine by receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.  And, like many other articles in the same vein, it has no foundation in empirical science.


[1] Goldman E. How the unvaccinated threaten the vaccinated for COVID-19: A Darwinian perspective. PNAS, 2021, 118:39. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2114279118.

[2] This phenomenon is well explained in Wynne J. A Catholic Assessment of Evolution Theory. Kansas City: Restoring Truth Ministries, 2013. p. 403-407.

[3] Though there are many good sources that document this, a brief but pithy overview is given in: Carter R, ed. Evolution’s Achilles Heels. Powder Springs, GA: Creation Book Publishers, 2015. p. 15-47.

[4] Robinson, H. Viral attenuation by design. Nat Biotechnol 26, 1000–1001 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1038/nbt0908-1000.

[5] Plotkin SA, Farquhar JD, Katz M, Buser F. Attenuation of RA 27/3 Rubella Virus in WI-38 Human Diploid Cells. Am J Dis Child. 1969;118(2):178–185. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1969.02100040180004

[6] Kerr PJ et al. Evolutionary History and Attenuation of Myxoma Virus on Two Continents. PLOS Path, 2012 Oct 4; https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1002950

[7] Carter, R.W., Sanford, J.C. A new look at an old virus: patterns of mutation accumulation in the human H1N1 influenza virus since 1918. Theor Biol Med Model 9, 42 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1186/1742-4682-9-42

[8] Sanford, John.  Genetic Entropy. Waterloo, NY: FMS Publications, 2014.

[9] Philips N. The coronavirus is here to stay – here’s what that means. Nature News, 2021 Feb 16; https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-00396-2.

[10] Fischer S,  Bettstetter M, Becher A, et al. Shift in prevalence of HPV types in cervical cytology specimens in the era of HPV vaccination. Oncology Letters, 2016 Jul; 12(1).  https://doi.org/10.3892/ol.2016.4668

[11] This has been repeatedly documented, but some of the best-explained examples can be found in:

Carter R, ed. Evolution’s Achilles Heels. Powder Springs, GA: Creation Book Publishers, 2015. p. 15-47.

Spetner, L. Not by Chance! Brooklyn: The Judaica Press, 1998. p. 125-160.

[12] That is, to the virus changing shape in a manner such that the body’s original immune response to previous versions of the virus would no longer neutralize the new variant.