Friday, September 02, 2022

Pandemic profits: Winners and losers in the Covid casino

This week, John Ratcliffe, former Director of National Intelligence under former President Trump, told CBS News that throughout 2020 he ‘had a high degree of confidence that the origins of Covid-19 were in the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV)’ and said there was zero intelligence that points to a natural origin noting, ‘It’s been now almost three years since Covid-19 was first identified and there has never been an intermediary host identified’.

He’s not the only highly placed insider who believes Covid may have leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. In February, Stephane Bancel, CEO of Moderna, told Maria Bartiromo on Fox News that, as he’d said before, ‘the hypothesis of an escape from a lab by an accident is possible. Human makes mistakes. So it is possible that the Wuhan lab in China was working on virus enhancement or gene modification, and then there’s an accident where somebody was infected in a lab and then infected family and friends’.

When Bancel says that a lab leak is possible it should carry considerable weight because he was instrumental in bringing the WIV into existence. His first job was at BioMérieux, a company which sponsored his MBA at Harvard and to which he returned as CEO in 2007 aged only 34. The founder of BioMérieux, Alain Mérieux – and his father-in-law Paul Berliet before him – had a deep relationship with the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, at the highest levels, including Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, Deng Xiaoping and ultimately Xi Jinping.

Mérieux as co-president of the Franco-Chinese Committee on Emerging Infectious Diseases lobbied the French government repeatedly to support the construction of the WIV and in 2007, French president Nicolas Sarkozy signed an agreement in China to ‘ensure that all necessary measures are taken as soon as possible to implement… the Wuhan P4 laboratory’. This coincided with Bancel taking over as CEO and supporting Mérieux who worked personally as a consultant in the WIV construction. The company’s relationship with China was so strong that in October 2012, before being officially appointed president, Xi Jinping received Mérieux in private audience.

In 2011, Bancel took over as CEO of Moderna. Could the scientists at the WIV have been using a sequence patented by Moderna to enhance a virus? It certainly looks like it. One of the closest relatives of Sars-CoV-2 is RATG13, a bat coronavirus discovered by researchers at the WIV in 2013. The only significant difference between RATG13 and Sars-CoV-2 is the furin cleavage site in the spike protein which makes the virus infectious in humans. It is this furin cleavage site which contains the 19 nucleotide sequence patented by Moderna five times between 2013 and 2015 and it shares some similarities with the furin cleavage site in the Mers coronavirus which was first identified in 2012 and might have served as a model for researchers at the WIV looking to enhance RATG13. When Bartiromo asked Bancel in February whether part of the DNA of the Sars-CoV-2 virus had been patented by Moderna, he said, ‘It is possible’.

In addition to his relationship with WIV, in 2015, Bancel partnered with the Vaccine Research Centre, part of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), headed by Dr. Anthony Fauci, to collaborate on vaccines, including mRNA vaccines, and studying coronaviruses. Meanwhile, Fauci’s NIAID was funding gain-of-function research on coronaviruses at WIV via grants to the EcoHealth Alliance headed by Peter Daszak. Indeed, NIAID only terminated the funding last week, after the WIV repeatedly refused to hand over key information about the coronavirus research it conducted with US taxpayer dollars.

Bancel says that it was while he was in Davos for the World Economic Forum in January 2020 that he understood the extent of the impact that the Sars CoV-2 virus would have on the world and started work on his vaccine. Yet Moderna and NIAID had already signed an agreement to transfer their jointly-owned mRNA coronavirus vaccine candidates to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on 12 December 2019 for Ralph Baric to test on animals.

This has taken on fresh relevance with Fauci announcing that he will step down as director of NIAID in December. Republicans say that Fauci might be gone but they will bring him back to testify about what he knew and what he funded at the WIV.

Meanwhile, Moderna has announced that it is suing Pfizer for breach of its patents. It’s a bitter pill to swallow for those who have suffered vaccine injuries and aren’t allowed to sue either company. Unlike Australia with its loss of $144 billion, both companies have profited handsomely from the pandemic. But while Pfizer was already an established titan of the pharmaceutical industry, Moderna was a heavily loss-making biotech with unproven technology, wrote the Sunday Times. As one of Bancel’s peers observed, ‘The pandemic came almost as a blessing to prove the technology’. The question is, what, if anything, did NIAID or Moderna or the WIV do to hasten that blessing?


‘More than 400,000 people’ have had long Covid for over two years

A total of two million people across the country are estimated to be suffering from long Covid, according to a new survey from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Some 429,000 – the equivalent of around one in five (22%) – first had Covid-19, or suspected they had the virus, at least 24 months previously.

The number of people with long Covid who first had the virus at least one year ago is estimated to be 892,000, or 45% of the total.

The figures are based on self-reported long Covid from a representative sample of people in private households in the four weeks to July 31.

They show that long Covid is likely to be adversely affecting the day-to-day activities of 1.5 million people – nearly three-quarters of those with self-reported long Covid – with 384,000 saying their ability to undertake day-to-day activities has been “limited a lot”.

Fatigue is the most common symptom (experienced by 62% of those with self-reported long Covid), followed by shortness of breath (37%), difficulty concentrating (33%) and muscle ache (31%).

The estimates cannot be compared directly with previous long Covid surveys published by the ONS, due to a change in the way the data has been collected.

Prevalence of long Covid is currently highest among 35 to 69-year-olds, at 4.4%, followed by 25 to 34-year-olds, at 3.0%.

People working in social care reported the highest prevalence of long Covid among employment groups (5.6%), followed by teachers and educators (4.4%) and arts and entertainment workers (4.3%).

There is no standard measure for long Covid, with the ONS using a definition based on symptoms that have persisted for more than four weeks after a first suspected coronavirus infection, where the symptoms could not be explained by something else


Australia: Business hails five-day Covid isolation ‘a game changer’

Business has hailed national cabinet’s decision to reduce mandatory Covid isolation requirements from seven days to five for people with no symptoms, declaring it a “game changer” that will help ­alleviate labour shortages.

Anthony Albanese, who labelling the move a “proportionate response at this point in the pan­demic”, also said masks would no longer be mandatory on domestic flights from September 9 – the same day the isolation changes take effect.

However, all workers in high-risk settings, including aged care and disability care, must still self-isolate for seven days.

Government sources confirmed if a person not in those settings has symptoms on day six and onwards, they should follow their state’s health advice.

“There aren’t mandated requirements for the flu or for a range of other illnesses that people suffer from,” the Prime Minister said. “What we want to do is to make sure that government responds to the changed circumstances. Covid is likely going to be around for a considerable period of time. And we need to respond appropriately to it based upon the weight of evidence.

“We had a discussion about people looking after each other, people looking after their own health,” he added.

Mr Albanese did not rule out extending pandemic leave payments worth up to $750, which are now jointly funded by the commonwealth and states. National cabinet is due to make a decision on the payments when it next meets in a fortnight.

The payments will reflect the five-day isolation rule from September 9, meaning they should be worth about $536.

Restaurant and Catering chief executive Belinda Clarke said that with the current staffing crisis, a reduction in isolation days would be a “game changer”.

“As we’ve continued to learn to live with Covid-19, we have to start becoming more flexible,” she told The Australian. “Other countries have had a five-day isolation period for months now, and this goes a long way to helping staff who are asymptomatic return to work and resume their lives.”

Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox said the decision was “overdue and welcome”, stressing it was important for people to get back to work in a more timely manner as the pandemic passes its peak.




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