Thursday, August 26, 2021

Vaccine Inventor Questions Mandatory Shot Push, Biden’s Covid-19 Strategy


The Biden administration’s strategy to universally vaccinate in the middle of the pandemic is bad science and badly needs a reboot.

This strategy will likely prolong the most dangerous phase of the worst pandemic since 1918 and almost assuredly cause more harm than good—even as it undermines faith in the entire public health system.

Four flawed assumptions drive the Biden strategy. The first is that universal vaccination can eradicate the virus and secure economic recovery by achieving herd immunity throughout the country (and the world). However, the virus is now so deeply embedded in the world population that, unlike polio and smallpox, eradication is unachievable. SARS-CoV-2 and its myriad mutations will likely continually circulate, much like the common cold and influenza.

The second assumption is that the vaccines are (near) perfectly effective. However, our currently available vaccines are quite “leaky.” While good at preventing severe disease and death, they only reduce, not eliminate, the risk of infection, replication, and transmission. As a slide deck from the Centers for Disease Control has revealed, even 100% acceptance of the current leaky vaccines combined with strict mask compliance will not stop the highly contagious Delta variant from spreading.

The third assumption is that the vaccines are safe. Yet scientists, physicians, and public health officials now recognize risks that are rare but by no means trivial. Known side effects include serious cardiac and thrombotic conditions, menstrual cycle disruptions, Bell’s Palsy, Guillain Barre syndrome, and anaphylaxis.

Unknown side effects which virologists fear may emerge include existential reproductive risks, additional autoimmune conditions, and various forms of disease enhancement, i.e., the vaccines can make people more vulnerable to reinfection by SARS-CoV-2 or reactivation of latent viral infections and associated diseases such as shingles. With good reason, the FDA has yet to approve the vaccines now administered under Emergency Use Authorization.

The failure of the fourth “durability” assumption is the most alarming and perplexing. It now appears our current vaccines are likely to offer a mere 180-day window of protection—a decided lack of durability underscored by scientific evidence from Israel and confirmed by Pfizer, the Department of Health and Human Services, and other countries.

Here, we are already being warned of the need for universal “booster” shots at six-month intervals for the foreseeable future. The obvious broader point that militates for individual vaccine choice is that repeated vaccinations, each with a small risk, can add up to a big risk.

It’s an arms race with the virus.

The most important reason why a universal vaccination strategy is imprudent tracks to the collective risk associated with how the virus responds when replicating in vaccinated individuals. Here, basic virology and evolutionary genetics tell us the goal of any virus is to infect and replicate in as many people as possible. A virus can’t efficiently spread if, like with Ebola, it quickly kills its hosts.

The clear historical tendency for viruses crossing over from one species to another is to evolve in a way that makes them both more infectious and less pathogenic over time. However, a universal vaccination policy deployed in the middle of a pandemic can turn this normal Darwinian taming process into a dangerous vaccine arms race.

The essence of this arms race is this: The more people you vaccinate, the greater the number of vaccine-resistant mutations you are likely to get, the less durable the vaccines will become, ever more powerful vaccines will have to be developed, and individuals will be exposed to more and more risk.

Science tells us here that today’s vaccines, which use novel gene therapy technologies, generate powerful antigens that direct the immune system to attack specific components of the virus. Thus, when the virus infects a person with a “leaky” vaccination, the viral progeny will be selected to escape or resist the effects of the vaccine.

If the entire population has been trained via a universal vaccination strategy to have the same basic immune response, then once a viral escape mutant is selected, it will rapidly spread through the entire population—whether vaccinated or not.

A far more optimal strategy is to vaccinate only the most vulnerable. This will limit the amount of vaccine-resistant mutations and thereby slow, if not halt, the current vaccine arms race.

Fortunately, those most vulnerable represent a relatively small number; and these cohorts have already achieved high levels of vaccine acceptance. They include senior citizens, for whom the risk of serious disease or death increases exponentially with age, and those with significant comorbidities such as obesity, lung, and heart disease.

For much of the rest of the population, there’s nothing to fear but fear of the virus itself. This is particularly true if we have lawful outpatient access to a growing arsenal of scientifically proven prophylactics and therapeutics.

For example, there has been much controversy over ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine. Yet, with the emergence of a growing body of scientific evidence, we can be assured these two medicines are safe and effective in prophylaxis and early treatment when administered under a physician’s supervision. Numerous other useful treatments range from famotidine/celecoxib, fluvoxamine, and apixaban to various anti-inflammatory steroids, Vitamin D, and zinc.

The broader goal when administering these agents is to moderate symptoms and take death off the table, particularly for the unvaccinated. Unlike vaccines, these agents are generally not dependent on specific viral properties or mutations but instead mitigate or treat the inflammatory symptoms of the disease itself. (Pfizer is now actively marketing its own antiviral therapeutic—tacit admission Pfizer’s own vaccine is incapable of eradicating the virus.)

We are not “anti-vax.” One of us (Dr. Malone) invented the core mRNA technology being used by Pfizer and Moderna to produce their vaccines and has spent his entire professional career developing and advancing novel vaccine technologies, vaccines, and other medical countermeasures. The other (Dr. Navarro) played a key role at the Trump White House in jumpstarting Operation Warp Speed and ensuring timely delivery of the vaccines.

We are simply saying that just because you have a big vaccine hammer, it is not necessarily wise to use it for every nail. The American people deserve better than a universal vaccination strategy under the flag of bad science and enforced through authoritarian measures.


New Zealand is back in a lockdown time warp

by Jeff Jacoby

WHEN FORTUNE magazine recently published its annual ranking of the world's 50 greatest leaders, New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern topped the list. The editors lavished praise on Ardern's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, hailing the way she "targeted not just suppression of the virus, but its complete elimination." Fortune deemed her strategy a success: Only 26 people had died of the disease in New Zealand, which imposed the first of several aggressive nationwide lockdowns 17 months ago and closed off the country's borders to all non-citizens and non-residents.

Ardern's leadership is no longer looking quite so brilliant. On Aug. 17, after a single COVID infection was reported in New Zealand, the prime minister again ordered the entire country to close. Under the so-called Level 4 restrictions, all Kiwis must stay at home except for food or medication, or to exercise alone. Bars, restaurants, gyms, theaters, swimming pools, museums, libraries, and playgrounds are all shuttered. So are schools and daycare facilities. Weddings and funerals are banned.

"Do not congregate. Don't talk to your neighbors. Please keep to your bubbles," Ardern told the nation. "The delta variant ... can be spread by people simply walking past one another, so keep those movements outside to a bare minimum." The latest lockdown is to remain in force at least through midnight Friday, but may be extended on the prime minister's say-so. Meanwhile, as of Monday, nearly 150 infections had been reported since the appearance of that single case last week.

"Here we are back in the world's strictest lockdown," journalist Andrea Vance wrote in Stuff, a top New Zealand news site. "The rest of the world is embracing its post-pandemic future while New Zealand enters a March 2020 time warp."

It turns out that a strategy to achieve "complete elimination" of the coronavirus is a strategy for failure. During last year's heated debates in the West over the wisdom of trying to control the pandemic by bringing economic life to a near-halt, lockdown supporters praised Ardern fulsomely for having so forcefully "squashed" the virus. New Zealand's ultra-low rate of infection and death was seen as proof that strict lockdowns were indeed the best way to defeat the disease.

But they weren't. Dozens of academic studies have concluded that lockdown decrees were largely futile in preventing the virus from spreading, and accomplished little that could not have been achieved through less restrictive means. The trajectory of the pandemic since early 2020 has made it clear that, as the New York Times put it in a recent headline, "Covid Isn't Going Away." So across the United States, even as the highly contagious Delta variant causes hospitalizations to surge, governors and mayors have not reverted to last year's approach of pulling the plug on the economy.

"Most of the country remains fully open," reported the Times, "and ... most officials have so far steered away from restricting or shuttering businesses." The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that Americans with compromised immune systems, those who remain unvaccinated, and some others continue to wear masks, but has not called for shutting down businesses.

The key difference this time around, of course, is that most Americans, like residents of most advanced democracies, are vaccinated. Nearly 61 percent of the US population has been given at least one dose, and 51.5 percent has been fully vaccinated, according to Bloomberg's Covid-19 Vaccine Tracker. Across the European Union, the fully-vaccinated level is nearly 57 percent. In Israel, it's 60 percent. In Britain, 63 percent. In Canada, 65 percent.

The fulsome praise lavished on Prime Minister Ardern turned out to be premature.

But in New Zealand, barely 19 percent of the population — less than 1 in 5 — has been fully vaccinated. Just one-third of New Zealanders have gotten even a single dose. In no developed nation have vaccinations lagged so badly.

New Zealand is back in a "March 2020 time warp" because its focus for the past year and a half was not on getting the virus under control but on the chimera of eliminating it entirely. Bamboozled, perhaps, by all the flattery she was getting, Ardern persisted in what she called a "Stamp it Out" approach. More than once she declared that New Zealand had defeated COVID.

Only now, at long last, is the government making it a priority to get the vaccine into as many people as possible. Only now has it sunk in that the virus can't be wiped out for good — not even an island nation like New Zealand can wall itself off from the pandemic. The way out of the COVID nightmare is through vaccinations, not through nationwide closures and sealed borders. Americans and Europeans have put 2020 lockdowns behind them. It's time New Zealand followed suit.




No comments: