16 research outputs found

    The Evolution of Diversity

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    Since the beginning of time, the pre-biological and the biological world have seen a steady increase in complexity of form and function based on a process of combination and re-combination. The current modern synthesis of evolution known as the neo-Darwinian theory emphasises population genetics and does not explain satisfactorily all other occurrences of evolutionary novelty. The authors suggest that symbiosis and hybridisation and the more obscure processes such as polyploidy, chimerism and lateral transfer are mostly overlooked and not featured sufficiently within evolutionary theory. They suggest, therefore, a revision of the existing theory including its language, to accommodate the scientific findings of recent decades

    Natural Selection and Natural Processes: a philosophical examination of the processes of evolution

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    This thesis concerns evolution and how it is explained. The ambition here is to identify clearly the many aspects of evolution, and to evaluate past and present explanations of evolution for their coherence and validity. Historically natural selection has been taken to be the central and main explanans, with other explanations playing lesser roles. Here it will be argued that the sheer complexity and diversity within nature cannot be accounted for by any single explanatory mechanism and that a plurality of explanatory mechanisms is required. Loading natural selection with the main weight of explanation is an overburden which, far from strengthening its explanatory powers, actually renders it vacuous. A critical historical and philosophical examination of the concept of natural selection reveals that it has never received a formal scientific definition that commands universal respect. This has created a problem of demarcation between that which natural selection can legitimately be said to explain and that which it cannot. In fact, the ontology of natural selection is equivocal, giving rise to the many controversies that have plagued evolutionary biology. The disambiguation of the concept of natural selection is the principle aim of this thesis and guidelines on how this should be accomplished are provided. However, should these reforming guidelines fail to achieve a consensus then a more radical alternative is proposed. It is recommended that the selective terminology is replaced with the less anomalous and demanding principle of ‘meeting the conditions of existence’. Moreover, talk of the evolution and origins by means of natural selection is to be replaced by talk of evolution and origins by means of natural processes. Finally, drawing from a ‘Structuralist’ alternative, it will be demonstrated that biological evolution should not be divorced from general or cosmological evolution. Rather, elucidation should be drawn more deeply from the fields of physics, chemistry, mathematics and topology, without the use of selection-tinted spectacles

    Logic: A Modern Guide

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    This book is written for those who wish to learn some basic principles of formal logic but more importantly learn some easy methods to unpick arguments and assess their value for truth and validity. The first section explains the ideas behind traditional logic which was formed well over two thousand years ago by the ancient Greeks. Terms such as ‘categorical syllogism’, ‘premise’, ‘deduction’ and ‘validity’ may appear at first sight to be inscrutable but will easily be understood with examples bringing the subjects to life. Traditionally, Venn diagrams have been employed to test arguments. These are very useful but their application is limited and they are not open to quantification. The mid-section of this book introduces a methodology that makes the analysis of arguments accessible with the use of a new form of diagram, modified from those of the mathematician Leonhard Euler. These new diagrammatic methods will be employed to demonstrate an addition to the basic form of syllogism. This includes a refined definition of the terms ‘most’ and ‘some’ within propositions. This may seem a little obscure at the moment but one will readily apprehend these new methods and principles of a more modern logic

    Safety and efficacy of the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine (AZD1222) against SARS-CoV-2: an interim analysis of four randomised controlled trials in Brazil, South Africa, and the UK.

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    BACKGROUND: A safe and efficacious vaccine against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), if deployed with high coverage, could contribute to the control of the COVID-19 pandemic. We evaluated the safety and efficacy of the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine in a pooled interim analysis of four trials. METHODS: This analysis includes data from four ongoing blinded, randomised, controlled trials done across the UK, Brazil, and South Africa. Participants aged 18 years and older were randomly assigned (1:1) to ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine or control (meningococcal group A, C, W, and Y conjugate vaccine or saline). Participants in the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 group received two doses containing 5 × 1010 viral particles (standard dose; SD/SD cohort); a subset in the UK trial received a half dose as their first dose (low dose) and a standard dose as their second dose (LD/SD cohort). The primary efficacy analysis included symptomatic COVID-19 in seronegative participants with a nucleic acid amplification test-positive swab more than 14 days after a second dose of vaccine. Participants were analysed according to treatment received, with data cutoff on Nov 4, 2020. Vaccine efficacy was calculated as 1 - relative risk derived from a robust Poisson regression model adjusted for age. Studies are registered at ISRCTN89951424 and ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT04324606, NCT04400838, and NCT04444674. FINDINGS: Between April 23 and Nov 4, 2020, 23 848 participants were enrolled and 11 636 participants (7548 in the UK, 4088 in Brazil) were included in the interim primary efficacy analysis. In participants who received two standard doses, vaccine efficacy was 62·1% (95% CI 41·0-75·7; 27 [0·6%] of 4440 in the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 group vs71 [1·6%] of 4455 in the control group) and in participants who received a low dose followed by a standard dose, efficacy was 90·0% (67·4-97·0; three [0·2%] of 1367 vs 30 [2·2%] of 1374; pinteraction=0·010). Overall vaccine efficacy across both groups was 70·4% (95·8% CI 54·8-80·6; 30 [0·5%] of 5807 vs 101 [1·7%] of 5829). From 21 days after the first dose, there were ten cases hospitalised for COVID-19, all in the control arm; two were classified as severe COVID-19, including one death. There were 74 341 person-months of safety follow-up (median 3·4 months, IQR 1·3-4·8): 175 severe adverse events occurred in 168 participants, 84 events in the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 group and 91 in the control group. Three events were classified as possibly related to a vaccine: one in the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 group, one in the control group, and one in a participant who remains masked to group allocation. INTERPRETATION: ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 has an acceptable safety profile and has been found to be efficacious against symptomatic COVID-19 in this interim analysis of ongoing clinical trials. FUNDING: UK Research and Innovation, National Institutes for Health Research (NIHR), Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Lemann Foundation, Rede D'Or, Brava and Telles Foundation, NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, Thames Valley and South Midland's NIHR Clinical Research Network, and AstraZeneca

    Safety and efficacy of the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine (AZD1222) against SARS-CoV-2: an interim analysis of four randomised controlled trials in Brazil, South Africa, and the UK

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    Background A safe and efficacious vaccine against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), if deployed with high coverage, could contribute to the control of the COVID-19 pandemic. We evaluated the safety and efficacy of the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine in a pooled interim analysis of four trials. Methods This analysis includes data from four ongoing blinded, randomised, controlled trials done across the UK, Brazil, and South Africa. Participants aged 18 years and older were randomly assigned (1:1) to ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine or control (meningococcal group A, C, W, and Y conjugate vaccine or saline). Participants in the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 group received two doses containing 5 × 1010 viral particles (standard dose; SD/SD cohort); a subset in the UK trial received a half dose as their first dose (low dose) and a standard dose as their second dose (LD/SD cohort). The primary efficacy analysis included symptomatic COVID-19 in seronegative participants with a nucleic acid amplification test-positive swab more than 14 days after a second dose of vaccine. Participants were analysed according to treatment received, with data cutoff on Nov 4, 2020. Vaccine efficacy was calculated as 1 - relative risk derived from a robust Poisson regression model adjusted for age. Studies are registered at ISRCTN89951424 and ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT04324606, NCT04400838, and NCT04444674. Findings Between April 23 and Nov 4, 2020, 23 848 participants were enrolled and 11 636 participants (7548 in the UK, 4088 in Brazil) were included in the interim primary efficacy analysis. In participants who received two standard doses, vaccine efficacy was 62·1% (95% CI 41·0–75·7; 27 [0·6%] of 4440 in the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 group vs71 [1·6%] of 4455 in the control group) and in participants who received a low dose followed by a standard dose, efficacy was 90·0% (67·4–97·0; three [0·2%] of 1367 vs 30 [2·2%] of 1374; pinteraction=0·010). Overall vaccine efficacy across both groups was 70·4% (95·8% CI 54·8–80·6; 30 [0·5%] of 5807 vs 101 [1·7%] of 5829). From 21 days after the first dose, there were ten cases hospitalised for COVID-19, all in the control arm; two were classified as severe COVID-19, including one death. There were 74 341 person-months of safety follow-up (median 3·4 months, IQR 1·3–4·8): 175 severe adverse events occurred in 168 participants, 84 events in the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 group and 91 in the control group. Three events were classified as possibly related to a vaccine: one in the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 group, one in the control group, and one in a participant who remains masked to group allocation. Interpretation ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 has an acceptable safety profile and has been found to be efficacious against symptomatic COVID-19 in this interim analysis of ongoing clinical trials

    Single-dose administration and the influence of the timing of the booster dose on immunogenicity and efficacy of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 (AZD1222) vaccine: a pooled analysis of four randomised trials.

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    BACKGROUND: The ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 (AZD1222) vaccine has been approved for emergency use by the UK regulatory authority, Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, with a regimen of two standard doses given with an interval of 4-12 weeks. The planned roll-out in the UK will involve vaccinating people in high-risk categories with their first dose immediately, and delivering the second dose 12 weeks later. Here, we provide both a further prespecified pooled analysis of trials of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 and exploratory analyses of the impact on immunogenicity and efficacy of extending the interval between priming and booster doses. In addition, we show the immunogenicity and protection afforded by the first dose, before a booster dose has been offered. METHODS: We present data from three single-blind randomised controlled trials-one phase 1/2 study in the UK (COV001), one phase 2/3 study in the UK (COV002), and a phase 3 study in Brazil (COV003)-and one double-blind phase 1/2 study in South Africa (COV005). As previously described, individuals 18 years and older were randomly assigned 1:1 to receive two standard doses of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 (5 × 1010 viral particles) or a control vaccine or saline placebo. In the UK trial, a subset of participants received a lower dose (2·2 × 1010 viral particles) of the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 for the first dose. The primary outcome was virologically confirmed symptomatic COVID-19 disease, defined as a nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT)-positive swab combined with at least one qualifying symptom (fever ≥37·8°C, cough, shortness of breath, or anosmia or ageusia) more than 14 days after the second dose. Secondary efficacy analyses included cases occuring at least 22 days after the first dose. Antibody responses measured by immunoassay and by pseudovirus neutralisation were exploratory outcomes. All cases of COVID-19 with a NAAT-positive swab were adjudicated for inclusion in the analysis by a masked independent endpoint review committee. The primary analysis included all participants who were SARS-CoV-2 N protein seronegative at baseline, had had at least 14 days of follow-up after the second dose, and had no evidence of previous SARS-CoV-2 infection from NAAT swabs. Safety was assessed in all participants who received at least one dose. The four trials are registered at ISRCTN89951424 (COV003) and ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT04324606 (COV001), NCT04400838 (COV002), and NCT04444674 (COV005). FINDINGS: Between April 23 and Dec 6, 2020, 24 422 participants were recruited and vaccinated across the four studies, of whom 17 178 were included in the primary analysis (8597 receiving ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 and 8581 receiving control vaccine). The data cutoff for these analyses was Dec 7, 2020. 332 NAAT-positive infections met the primary endpoint of symptomatic infection more than 14 days after the second dose. Overall vaccine efficacy more than 14 days after the second dose was 66·7% (95% CI 57·4-74·0), with 84 (1·0%) cases in the 8597 participants in the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 group and 248 (2·9%) in the 8581 participants in the control group. There were no hospital admissions for COVID-19 in the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 group after the initial 21-day exclusion period, and 15 in the control group. 108 (0·9%) of 12 282 participants in the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 group and 127 (1·1%) of 11 962 participants in the control group had serious adverse events. There were seven deaths considered unrelated to vaccination (two in the ChAdOx1 nCov-19 group and five in the control group), including one COVID-19-related death in one participant in the control group. Exploratory analyses showed that vaccine efficacy after a single standard dose of vaccine from day 22 to day 90 after vaccination was 76·0% (59·3-85·9). Our modelling analysis indicated that protection did not wane during this initial 3-month period. Similarly, antibody levels were maintained during this period with minimal waning by day 90 (geometric mean ratio [GMR] 0·66 [95% CI 0·59-0·74]). In the participants who received two standard doses, after the second dose, efficacy was higher in those with a longer prime-boost interval (vaccine efficacy 81·3% [95% CI 60·3-91·2] at ≥12 weeks) than in those with a short interval (vaccine efficacy 55·1% [33·0-69·9] at <6 weeks). These observations are supported by immunogenicity data that showed binding antibody responses more than two-fold higher after an interval of 12 or more weeks compared with an interval of less than 6 weeks in those who were aged 18-55 years (GMR 2·32 [2·01-2·68]). INTERPRETATION: The results of this primary analysis of two doses of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 were consistent with those seen in the interim analysis of the trials and confirm that the vaccine is efficacious, with results varying by dose interval in exploratory analyses. A 3-month dose interval might have advantages over a programme with a short dose interval for roll-out of a pandemic vaccine to protect the largest number of individuals in the population as early as possible when supplies are scarce, while also improving protection after receiving a second dose. FUNDING: UK Research and Innovation, National Institutes of Health Research (NIHR), The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Lemann Foundation, Rede D'Or, the Brava and Telles Foundation, NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, Thames Valley and South Midland's NIHR Clinical Research Network, and AstraZeneca

    Who Holds the Moral High Ground?

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    Meta-ethical attempts to define concepts such as 'goodness', ‘right and wrong’, ‘ought’ and ‘ought not’, have proved largely futile, even over-ambitious. Morality, it is argued, should therefore be directed primarily at the reduction of suffering, principally because the latter is more easily recognisable and accords with an objective view and requirements of the human condition. All traditional and contemporary perspectives are without suitable criteria for evaluating moral dilemmas and without such guidance we face the potent threat of sliding to a destructive moral nihilism. This book presents a possible set of defining characteristics for the foundation of future moral evaluations and engagements, taking into consideration that the historically maligned female gender may be better disposed to ethical leadership
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