Friday, December 10, 2021

Vaccine Manufacturer Now Says Three Shots Required to Fend Off Omicron

Our third COVID-19 winter is now arriving, and there appear to be varying ideas about just what the world should expect.

Winter time has long brought about fears of an increased spread of the illness, thanks to the fact that many more folks will the gathering indoors, where the virus will have an opportunity to spread with less resistance.

But the newest variant of the virus has been described as “mild” by the doctors most familiar with it, and even the normally-glum Dr. Anthony Fauci seems to have backed off of his earlier concerns a bit.

Pfizer this week released a statement suggesting that their vaccine, originally administered in two doses, will require a third shot to be effective against omicron.

Preliminary lab studies show two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine may not provide sufficient protection against the Omicron coronavirus variant, but three doses are able to neutralize it, the companies said in a news release on Wednesday.

Samples from people who had two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine saw, on average, a more than 25-fold reduction in neutralization ability against the Omicron variant than the earlier virus, “indicating that two doses of BNT162b2 may not be sufficient to protect against infection with the Omicron variant,” the companies said.

The companies said two doses may still provide protection against severe disease.

“Although two doses of the vaccine may still offer protection against severe disease caused by the Omicron strain, it’s clear from these preliminary data that protection is improved with a third dose of our vaccine,” Pfizer Chairman and CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement. “Ensuring as many people as possible are fully vaccinated with the first two dose series and a booster remains the best course of action to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

The news is sure to elicit some grumbling from the masses, who are very much over the continued hysteria regarding COVID-19.


Great variations in which vaccines are allowable

A vaccine that’s deemed safe for some people may not be deemed safe for others. Take the Moderna vaccine, which North American governments endorse for those under 30 years of age. If you’re a 29-year-old Swede, your government decided against authorizing its use as of Dec. 1, continuing a pause it began in early October. Finland has a similar prohibition, while Denmark touts the Moderna vaccine for people over, but not under, 18. Iceland discontinued the use of Moderna altogether.

These Scandinavian countries’ authorities fear Moderna causes needless risk of myocarditis in young people, especially in young males and especially after getting the second shot. Their health authorities instead steer people to the low-dose Pfizer vaccine, which provides 30 micrograms of mRNA, the live agent, compared to Moderna’s 100 micrograms.

France’s High Authority for Health not only didn’t recommend Moderna for under 30-year-olds, it also removed its recommendation last month for anyone, of any age, for a Moderna booster, even though it explicitly recommends Moderna over Pfizer for those over 30 for the first two doses. Authorities in the United States and Canada have no such prohibitions, even though for young males Moderna has a myocarditis rate of five times that of the Pfizer.

The Pfizer vaccine has its share of concerns. In November, Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center decided to pause Pfizer’s second shot in 12- to 17-year-olds after 16 Taiwanese teens developed myocarditis. Taiwan will restart jabbing youngsters in mid-December, with the recommendation that the second shot be taken 12 weeks after receiving the first shot, but maybe not if the child has an adverse reaction to the first shot. Taiwan recognizes that the Pfizer vaccine increases the chances of contracting myocarditis, especially in young boys, and requires letters of intent and parental consent before a child can be jabbed.

Other concerns over Pfizer threaten to lead to future restrictions. While Pfizer raises fewer red flags than Moderna over myocarditis, it raises more over breakthrough infections, which hit Pfizer vaccinees 57 percent more often than those vaccinated with Moderna.

The mainstream media in Israel, the poster child for mass vaccination using Pfizer, has of late been in open debate about Pfizer’s value, with the medical director of Israel’s leading center for respiratory care stating in early August that Israel’s vaccinated accounted for 85 to 90 percent of COVID hospitalizations at Jerusalem’s Herzog Medical Center.

Pfizer’s failure to prevent breakthrough cases in Israel is compounded by the discovery that it wanes much faster than expected, necessitating two and possibly three boosters a year to maintain immunity. Yet boosters may not work either, says Israel’s National COVID-19 Experts Committee, which warned the government that its policy of relying on a third booster shot in its recent Delta wave was not proving itself.

All the vaccines have had on-again, off-again stints. In mid-April, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration paused its authorization of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after six women developed a rare and sometimes deadly blood clotting condition following vaccination. Vaccinations resumed 10 days later, albeit with a warning to women under 50 about the blood clotting. With a new study out last month in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine conducted by the Mayo Clinic showing the J&J vaccine to increase the risk of developing brain blood clots by a factor of 3.5, and for women by a factor of 5, health officials may once again revisit the cost-benefit.

Slovenia last week did decide to permanently stop using the J&J vaccine after an expert commission concluded a 20-year-old woman’s blood-clotting death in September was indeed caused by the vaccine she received days earlier. That decision followed a high-profile death of the wife of a Slovenian diplomat in May, also within days of taking the J&J vaccine. According to Bojana Beovic, the head of the Slovenian government’s advisory group on vaccinations, Slovenia will “most likely” also discontinue the AstraZeneca vaccine, whose viral vector technology resembles that of J&J’s and which has also been linked to rare blood clots.

The UK in May restricted use of the AstraZeneca vaccine by those under 40 years of age, following a spike of blood clot cases. Though the cases are rare, they can be deadly, with a 73 percent mortality rate when the clots appear in the brain and an average mortality rate of 23 percent for all clot cases. AstraZeneca, the world’s most popular vaccine with authorizations in 184 countries, has been restricted in various countries in diametrically opposite directions. Some countries, such as Italy, restricted those under 60 from taking AstraZeneca because of concerns for younger populations while others, such as Germany and Poland, restricted those over 65 due to concerns for the health of seniors.

When government officials and scientists tell us vaccines are perfectly safe, they mean they’re relatively safe, that on balance, we’re better off risking an adverse reaction from a vaccine than risking COVID-19. When governments fine tune their advice by recommending, say, that a vaccine not be given to those under 60, they’re increasing the odds that the patient will be spared an adverse reaction. But governments rarely go further than identifying broad-brush age-related categories. Take differences in vaccine outcomes by sex, which vary dramatically between men and women.

While men taking either Moderna or Pfizer account for the overwhelming proportion of myocarditis cases, women taking either Moderna or Pfizer account for the overwhelming proportion of anaphylaxis cases. Whether patients are obese or diabetic or have other ailments also loom large. The more fine-tuning, the better the ability of patients and their doctors to determine which vaccine is relatively safe to take for their age, sex, and individual comorbidities.

Most citizens follow the expert advice of their particular government’s health authority, avoid vaccines that aren’t recommended, and trust those that remain. But if all the cautions raised by all the governments’ health authorities were to be taken seriously—if a citizen of the world, say, was to accept as valid all the warnings issued by governments around the world—most of the vaccines would be under a cloud and many of the rest would be unavailable to people of different demographics.




Thursday, December 09, 2021

Omicron may be able to evade vaccines. Here's what Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca plan to do about that

The United States led the global race to develop a viable vaccine against COVID-19.

But a year after the first shots received emergency approval from federal regulators, new variants of the virus are changing the game.

Omicron, the wildcard variant already detected in multiple US states and more than 30 countries, including Australia, is the latest to emerge.

With its dastardly combination of mutations, scientists fear it may spread quickly and sidestep vaccines.

A small study out of South Africa suggests the Pfizer vaccine provides only partial protection from Omicron, but boosters might make up the difference.

Governments and companies worldwide are already moving to stop the variant wreaking havoc, with some floating the possibility of variant-specific booster shots.

Here's what's happening so far, and what it could mean for you.

One of the biggest questions facing scientists as they scramble to learn more about the Omicron variant is how existing COVID-19 vaccines will perform against it.

"There are three main characteristics that we worry about with viruses like Omicron," said Dr Celine Gounder, an epidemiologist from the NYU Grossman School of Medicine.

"First of all, is it more infectious or contagious?

"Number two, is it more virulent or less virulent? In other words, does it cause less-severe disease in individuals who are infected?

"And, number three, is it immune-evading? And this is one characteristic of Omicron that is concerning."

The new variant has around 50 mutations — more than double its predecessor, Delta — including many on its spike, the viral protein that vaccines or illness train the body's immune system to fight with antibodies.

Even so, Dr Gounder is optimistic current vaccines will continue to provide some level of protection, especially with the addition of booster shots.

"We suspect there may be some reduction in vaccine effectiveness but that people will still remain well protected against severe disease, hospitalisation and death, even with an Omicron infection," she said.

While scientists assess the threat of the new variant, vaccine manufacturers are looking at whether their products may need to be modified.

What are vaccine manufacturers doing?

The makers of US-approved vaccines Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, as well as AstraZeneca — which is widely used in Europe and Australia — have all begun to study Omicron.

"[We] believe that fully vaccinated individuals will still have a high level of protection against severe disease caused by Omicron," said a spokesperson for BioNTech, which developed its shot with Pfizer.

"We anticipate that booster vaccination will further increase protection against severe disease and potentially provide protection against disease of any severity."

In the case of an "escape variant" — a dominant strain of the virus that evades the immunity given by vaccines or previous infections — BioNTech and Pfizer say they can adapt their mRNA vaccine within six weeks and start shipping doses within 100 days.

Similarly, Moderna is developing an Omicron-specific booster version of its mRNA vaccine that could be ready for clinical testing in 60 to 90 days.

"From the beginning, we have said that, as we seek to defeat the pandemic, it is imperative that we are proactive as the virus evolves," Moderna chief executive Stephane Bancel said in a statement.

The company is also studying two "multivalent" boosters, which are designed to target common mutations seen across multiple variants. Those results are expected in coming weeks.

As well, Johnson & Johnson is pursuing an Omicron-specific version of its one-shot vaccine that, it says, will be progressed as needed.

"We will not be complacent," the company's global head of research and development, Dr Mathai Mammen, said in a statement.

How soon could Omicron boosters be available?
If modified vaccines prove necessary, the White House believes it could make them widely available within a few months.

That includes the time needed to develop and manufacture the doses, as well as obtaining necessary federal approvals.

"We are planning in that scenario not only for supporting the manufacturers through that process if needed, but also for how would we rapidly get shots in arms," White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients told a recent briefing.

"And we know how to do that, given the experience we've had the last year, and that is lessons learned about how we deployed the federal pharmacy programs, set up mass-vaccination sites, go to community health centres and rural clinics."

Boosters, Delta and the long winter ahead

In the US, Delta remains the dominant strain of COVID-19 and is leading a surge of cases going into winter.

The main things people can do to protect themselves — regardless of variants — are to get vaccinated, and wear masks indoors and in public places, according to Dr Gounder.

In countries where the option is available, she also recommends bolstering immunity with booster shots, particularly for the elderly and immunocompromised.

"What we've seen with prior immune-evading variants, like the Beta variant, is you could overcome that relative immune evasion by giving a booster dose of the currently available vaccines," she said.

"With respect to how quickly [or] how often new variants emerge, that is — to some degree — in our control.

"As long as we allow the virus to spread from person to person, every time it spreads from one person to another, it replicates and it has the opportunity to mutate."


New research finds vaccine only partially effective against Omicron

New research from South Africa suggests the highly-mutated Omicron variant can partially dodge protection from two doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

Alex Sigal, a professor at the Africa Health Research Institute, detailed some results from initial experiments on Twitter, revealing there was "a very large drop" in neutralisation of the Omicron variant relative to an earlier Covid strain.

Neutralising antibodies are an indicator of the body's immune response.

There are grave concerns about how well existing vaccines will work against the Omicron strain, as its spike proteins differ dramatically to the original coronavirus variant.

Results better than expected

But the study did offer some hope, showing blood from people who had received two doses of the vaccine and had a prior infection were mostly able to neutralise the variant.

This means booster doses could be key to stopping infections.

"These results are better than I expected. The more antibodies you've got, the more chance you'll be protected from Omicron," Sigal said on Twitter.

According to an official manuscript, which has not yet been peer reviewed, the lab tested blood from 12 people who had been vaccinated with two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Blood from five out of six people who had been vaccinated as well as previously infected with Covid-19 still neutralised the Omicron variant.

However, the lab has not tested the variant against blood from people who had received a booster dose as they are not yet available in South Africa.

The lab observed a 41-fold decline in levels of neutralising antibodies against the Omicron variant.

Sigal added the data will likely be adjusted as more experiments are completed.

There is no indication at this stage whether the vaccine is less able to prevent severe illness or death.

Scientists also believe other kinds of cells such as B-cells and T-cells, which are stimulated by the vaccines, could offer protection.

The Omicron variant, first detected in southern Africa last month, has triggered global alarm amid fears of another surge in infections.

The World Health Organisation classified Omicron on November 26 as a "variant of concern", but said there was no evidence to support the need for new vaccines.

There is not significant data yet on how other vaccines from Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and other drugmakers hold up against the new variant.




Wednesday, December 08, 2021

Moderna or Novavax after AstraZeneca jab confers high Covid immunity, study finds

Combining different approaches to immunity does have intuitive appeal

The finding has important implications for lower-income countries that have not yet completed their primary vaccination campaigns, as it suggests you do not need access to mRNA vaccines – and therefore ultra-cold storage facilities – to trigger an extremely potent Covid-19 vaccine response.

The strongest T-cell response of all was generated by a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine followed by a dose of the Novavax vaccine – both of which can be stored in a standard refrigerator.

The University of Oxford-led Com-Cov study set out to establish whether mixing and matching Covid-19 vaccines during primary immunisation schedules could be detrimental or beneficial to the overall immune response to vaccination. Such flexibility could be crucial to ensuring the rapid deployment of these vaccines in low- and middle-income countries, where vaccine supply may be inconsistent.

“What we’re seeing is that there’s a great amount of flexibility in the primary immunisation schedule,” said Prof Matthew Snape at the University of Oxford, who led the research. “Just because you’ve received dose one of a particular vaccine, doesn’t mean you have to receive the same vaccine for dose two.”

The study also bolsters confidence that using the Moderna vaccine as a booster dose in people who have previously received the AstraZeneca jab should result in high levels of neutralising antibodies and T-cells.

It follows separate data published last week suggesting that both the Pfizer and Moderna jabs can dramatically strengthen the body’s immune defences.

The 1,070 British participants received a first dose of the AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccine, followed nine weeks later by a second dose of the same vaccine, or either the Moderna or Novavax jab.

Levels of neutralising antibodies were 17 times higher among those who received the AstraZeneca vaccine followed by the Moderna vaccine and four times higher among those who received AstraZenaca followed by Novavax, compared with those who received two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

For those who started with the Pfizer jab, receiving a second dose of the Moderna vaccines jab resulted in 1.3 times as many neutralising antibodies than with two doses of Pfizer; while receiving Novavax as the second jab resulted in 20% fewer antibodies.

The study, published in the Lancet, also revealed differences in T-cell responses after combinations of different types of vaccines.

Vaccines that are mRNA-based, such as the Pfizer and Moderna jab, deliver a small piece of genetic code known as messenger RNA to human cells, instructing them to manufacture the coronavirus spike protein themselves; viral vector vaccines such as the AstraZeneca jab do the same thing, but use a harmless virus to deliver these instructions; whereas protein-based vaccines, such as the Novavax jab, deliver pre-made fragments of the spike protein alongside an immune-stimulating adjuvant.

While two doses of either the AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccine resulted in similar numbers of T-cells, combining the AstraZeneca vaccine with a second dose of Moderna resulted in 3.5 times more T-cells. A second dose of Novavax resulted in 4.8 times more T-cells.

For the Pfizer jab, a second dose of Moderna resulted in 1.5 times more T-cells, while a second jab of Novavax resulted in fewer T-cells.

“It tells us that the RNA and the viral vector vaccines are doing something quite different when it comes to priming for the T-cell response,” said Snape.

Previous research on other viral vector vaccines, such as the Ebola vaccine, had suggested that a mix-and-match approach could lead to enhanced immune responses.

“What was a bit more surprising is that we didn’t see that so well with the RNA vaccines – especially when it comes to the T-cell response, said Snape. “RNA followed by a protein (Novavax) was slightly underwhelming when it came to the T-cell response.”

The study also examined the impact of these different vaccine combinations against the Delta and Beta variants. In all cases, there was a reduction in levels of neutralising antibodies, but there was very little drop-off in T-cell responses.

Both the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and the World Health Organization are currently considering whether to authorise the Novavax vaccine, and are expected to announce their decision within days or weeks. WHO authorisation would enable the vaccine to be delivered via the Covax initiative.

Dr Richard Hatchett, chief executive of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, said: “This is extremely encouraging and valuable data on the potential to mix-and-match Covid-19 vaccines in primary immunisation schedules.

Knowing that a second dose of a different Covid-19 vaccine can generate a robust immune response is advantageous in helping the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines through Covax, especially in populations still urgently waiting for their primary immunisation or in those partially vaccinated.”


A UK doctor who was banned from using social media after posting a viral video questioning vaccines and masks has won a court case against a medical tribunal

Only on a technicality, ufortunately

The High Court on Friday did not weigh in on any of Dr Samuel White’s claims, but rather found the General Medical Council’s Interim Orders Tribunal made an “error of law” when it imposed restrictions on the GP’s registration after he was accused of spreading Covid-19 misinformation.

Dr White, who was a partner at a practice in Hampshire, posted a seven-minute video to Instagram in June explaining why he had resigned from his job, saying he could no longer work “because of the lies” around the pandemic, which he said had been “so vast” he could no longer “stomach or tolerate” them.

He claimed doctors and nurses had “their hands tied behind their backs” preventing them from using “safe and proven treatments” such as hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin, which he said were a form of “early intervention” in the disease.

Dr White questioned the safety of the Covid-19 vaccines, stated that 99 per cent of people who contract the virus survive, and raised concerns about false positives associated with PCR tests.

“Masks do nothing, by the way, they do absolutely nothing,” he said towards the end of the video.

“They don’t help you, they don’t help anyone else. Take off the mask.”

Dr White appeared on conspiracy theory podcast SGT Report in August where he elaborated on his views.

He described the mRNA vaccines as “genetic manipulation” and claimed the vaccination campaign was “one of the most egregious, heinous crimes that we’ve seen in modern history, perhaps in all history, because it’s happened on such a global scale”.

Later that month, the tribunal ruled that Dr White’s actions “may pose a real risk to public safety”.

The IOT imposed conditions on Dr White restricting him from “posting or sharing his views on the Covid-19 pandemic and its associated aspects on any social media platforms and requiring previous posts to be removed”.

“Dr White’s alleged means of imparting information in his capacity as a registered doctor, by way of social media platforms, to a wide and possibly uninformed audience does not allow for individual circumstances and does not give the opportunity for a holistic consideration of Covid-19, its implications and possible treatments and potential for reducing risk to health in individual circumstances,” the tribunal said.

Dr White’s barrister, Francis Hoar, argued the restrictions placed on his client were a “severe imposition” on his freedom of expression protected by Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The matter was heard by the High Court last month.

In his ruling, Mr Justice Dove said the tribunal had failed to follow the procedures set out in the Human Rights Act 1998, which require that for any interim order General Medical Council must ask itself “whether or not the respondent would probably succeed at any subsequent tribunal hearing”.

“It is clear that the IOT did not direct themselves to the tests required,” he said.

“The decision of the IOT was clearly wrong and cannot stand … There was an error of law in the IOT’s decision based upon the nature of the conditions which they intended to impose and the impact which they had on Article 10. The decision was wrong from a purely procedural perspective.”

He stressed that it had not been “necessary for the court to express any opinion as to the merits of the opinions with which this case is concerned in order to achieve a resolution of the matter”.




Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Dying COVID-19 Patient Recovers After Court Orders Hospital to Administer Ivermectin

The elite hate Ivermectin because Trump recommended it. They've got the ethics of a flea

An elderly COVID-19 patient has recovered after a court order allowed him to be treated with ivermectin, despite objections from the hospital in which he was staying, according to the family’s attorney.

After an Illinois hospital insisted on administering expensive remdesivir to the patient and the treatment failed, his life was saved after a court ordered that an outside medical doctor be allowed to use the inexpensive ivermectin to treat him, over the hospital’s strenuous objections.

Ivermectin tablets have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat humans with intestinal strongyloidiasis and onchocerciasis, two conditions caused by parasitic worms. Some topical forms of ivermectin have been approved to treat external parasites such as head lice and for skin conditions such as rosacea. The drug is also approved for use on animals.

Remdesivir has been given emergency use authorization by the FDA for treating certain categories of human patients that have been hospitalized with COVID-19. But the use of ivermectin to treat humans suffering from COVID-19 has become controversial because the FDA hasn’t approved its so-called off-label use to treat the disease, which is caused by the CCP virus also known as SARS-CoV-2.

Critics have long accused the FDA of dragging its heels and being dangerously over-cautious and indifferent to human suffering in its approach to regulating pharmaceuticals, a criticism that led to then-President Donald Trump signing the Right to Try Act in May 2018. The law, according to the FDA, “is another way for patients who have been diagnosed with life-threatening diseases or conditions who have tried all approved treatment options and who are unable to participate in a clinical trial to access certain unapproved treatments.”

Medical doctors are free to prescribe ivermectin to treat COVID-19, even though the FDA claims that its off-label use could be harmful in some circumstances. Clinical human trials of the drug for use against COVID-19 are currently in progress, according to the agency.

The drug “most definitely” saved the elderly patient’s life “because his condition changed right immediately after he took ivermectin,” attorney for the family, Kirstin M. Erickson of Chicago-based Mauck and Baker, told The Epoch Times.

Sun Ng, 71, who was visiting the United States from Hong Kong to celebrate his granddaughter’s first birthday, became ill with COVID-19 and within days was close to death. He was hospitalized on Oct. 14 at Edward Hospital, in Naperville, Illinois, a part of the Edward-Elmhurst Health system. His condition worsened dramatically and he was intubated and placed on a ventilator a few days later.

Ng’s only child, Man Kwan Ng, who holds a doctoral degree in mechanical engineering, did her own research and decided that her father should take ivermectin, which some medical doctors believe is effective against COVID-19, despite the FDA’s guidance to the contrary.

But against the daughter’s wishes, the hospital refused to administer ivermectin and denied access to a physician willing to administer it.

The daughter went to court on her father’s behalf and on Nov. 1, Judge Paul M. Fullerton of the Circuit Court of DuPage County granted a temporary restraining order requiring the hospital to allow ivermectin to be given to the patient. The hospital refused to comply with the court order.

At a subsequent court hearing on Nov. 5, Fullerton said one physician who testified described Sun Ng as “basically on his death bed,” with a mere 10 to 15 percent chance of survival. Ivermectin can have minor side effects such as dizziness, itchy skin, and diarrhea at the dosage suggested for Ng, but the “risks of these side effects are so minimal that Mr. Ng’s current situation outweighs that risk by one-hundredfold,” Fullerton said.

The judge issued a preliminary injunction that day directing the hospital to “immediately allow … temporary emergency privileges” to Ng’s physician, Dr. Alan Bain, “solely to administer Ivermectin to this patient.”

The hospital resisted the order on Nov. 6 and 7, denying Bain access to his patient. The hospital claimed that it couldn’t let Bain in because he wasn’t vaccinated against COVID-19 and that its chief medical officer wasn’t available to “proctor” Bain administering ivermectin.

The daughter’s attorneys filed an emergency report with the court on Nov. 8 and Fullerton heard from both sides. The judge admonished the hospital and restated that it must allow Bain inside over a period of 15 days to do his job. When the hospital filed a motion to stay the order, Fullerton denied it, again directing the facility to comply.

The ivermectin appears to have worked, and Sun Ng has recovered from COVID-19. He was discharged by the hospital on Nov. 27. “My father’s recovery is amazing,” his daughter, Man Kwan Ng, said in a statement.

“My father is a tough man. He was working so hard to survive, and of course, with God’s holding hands. He weaned off oxygen about three days after moving out of the ICU. He started oral feeding before hospital discharge. He returned home without carrying a bottle of oxygen and a feeding tube installed to his stomach. He can now stand with a walker at the bedside and practice stepping. After being sedated for a month on a ventilator in ICU, his performance is beyond our expectations. Praise the Lord.”

Attorney Erickson said the “happy” end result here provides “hope for the nation.”

“We get calls from all over the place,” she told The Epoch Times. “People that want to sue hospitals after someone’s passed, they wanted to get the medicine and couldn’t. Obviously, that’s a different, difficult case because a medical malpractice case is very difficult.”

People just want to do what’s best for their family members and “find ivermectin themselves” and have it on hand “and use it when someone starts to develop symptoms,” Erickson said.

She said her legal team and client were “really thankful” that Ng recovered and “we salute” Judge Fullerton, Dr. Bain, and others, as well as the hospital for abiding by the court order in the end.


Gum laced with a plant-grown protein is found to reduce COVID-19 transmission by 95% after trapping and neutralizing the virus in the person's saliva

A team of scientists led by Penn State University infused gum with a plant-grown protein and found it 'traps' the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The protein, known as ACE2, prevents the virus from attaching to a host cell in the human body by interacting with SARS-CoV-2's receptor binding domain - this facilitates virus attachment to the receptor and fusion with cell membrane.

When saliva samples from coronavirus patients were exposed to the ACE2 gum, researchers observed 50 mg of the cinnamon-flavored gum reduced viral entry by 95 percent.

The research team is currently working toward obtaining permission to conduct a clinical trial to evaluate whether the approach is safe and effective when tested in people infected with SARS-CoV-2.

Henry Daniell at Penn State's School of Dental Medicine, who led the research, said in a statement: 'SARS-CoV-2 replicates in the salivary glands, and we know that when someone who is infected sneezes, coughs, or speaks some of that virus can be expelled and reach others.

'This gum offers an opportunity to neutralize the virus in the saliva, giving us a simple way to possibly cut down on a source of disease transmission.'

Coronavirus gains access to bodily cells by attaching itself to a protein called ACE2 and the new chewing gum was developed with a copy of that protein, allowing it to mimic bodily cells.

This tricks the virus into attaching to chewing gum chemicals, instead of the saliva, where it is neutralized and unable to be transmitted to someone else.

To test the gum, the team grew ACE2 in plants, paired with another compound that enables the protein to cross mucosal barriers and facilitates binding and incorporated the resulting plant material into cinnamon-flavored gum tablets.

Incubating samples obtained from nasopharyngeal swabs from COVID-positive patients with the gum, they showed that the ACE2 present could neutralize SARS-CoV-2 viruses.

The scientists observed that the gum largely prevented viral particles from entering cells, which was done by blocking the ACE2 receptor on the cells or binding directly to the spike protein.

And the results showed that levels of the viral RNA in the person's saliva were almost undetectable.

Though the research is still in the early stages of development, if the clinical trials prove the gum is safe and effective, it could be given to patients whose infection status is unknown or even for dental check-ups when masks must be removed, to reduce the likelihood of passing the virus to caregivers, according to the researchers.

'We are already using masks and other physical barriers to reduce the chance of transmission,' said Daniell. 'This gum could be used as an additional tool in that fight.'


Germany imposes COVID-19 restrictions on unvaccinated, proposes vaccine mandate

Ezra Levant tweets: "It's quite a change for Germany. For nearly a decade, they've let in millions of migrants from the Middle East and Africa with no screening, no documents, no restrictions. But their own citizens are now banned from the streets and hunted by police"

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says people who are not vaccinated will be barred from non-essential stores, and cultural and recreational venues.

The nation's parliament will also consider a general vaccine mandate as part of efforts to curb coronavirus infections as the number of new cases again tops 70,000 in 24 hours.

Speaking after a meeting with federal and state leaders, Ms Merkel said the measures were necessary in light of concerns German hospitals could be overloaded with people suffering COVID-19 infections, which were more likely to be serious in those who had not been vaccinated.

"The situation in our country is serious," Ms Merkel told reporters in Berlin, calling the measure an "act of national solidarity".

She said officials also agreed to require masks in schools, impose new limits on private meetings and aim for 30 million vaccinations by the end of the year — an effort that will be boosted by allowing dentists and pharmacists to administer the shots.

Ms Merkel herself backed the most contentious proposal of imposing a general vaccine mandate. She said parliament would debate the proposal with input from the country's national ethics committee.

If passed, it could take effect as early as February, Ms Merkel said, adding she would have voted in favour of the measure if she was still a member of parliament.




Monday, December 06, 2021

BOOK REVIEW: "A Plague Upon Our House: My Fight at the Trump White House to Stop COVID from Destroying America", by Scott W. Atlas (Bombardier Books, 328 pp., $28)

How could public officials vowing to “follow the science” on Covid-19 persist in promoting ineffective strategies with terrible consequences? In a memoir of his time on the White House Coronavirus Task Force, Scott W. Atlas provides an answer: because the nation’s governance was hijacked by three bureaucrats with scant interest in scientific research or debate—and no concern for the calamitous effects of their edicts.

Atlas’s book, A Plague Upon Our House, is an astonishing read, even for those who have been closely following this disaster. A veteran medical researcher and health-policy analyst at the Hoover Institution, Atlas, a radiologist, joined the Task Force six months into the pandemic, after he had published estimates that lockdowns could ultimately prove more deadly than Covid.

Atlas expected to spend his time at the White House discussing scientific data and debating the best strategies for protecting public health. Instead, he found that the Task Force included “zero public health policy experts and no experts with medical knowledge who also analyzed economic, social, and other broad public health impacts other than the infection itself.” Vice President Mike Pence chaired the Task Force, but Atlas says that Pence and the other members were regularly cowed into submission by three doctors who dominated from the start: Deborah Birx, the Task Force’s coordinator, along with Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control.

Atlas calls them “the troika” because of their strategy for presenting a united front, never disagreeing with one another during the meetings in the White House Situation Room. (Reporting later revealed that they had made a pact to resign in unison if any of them was fired.) These veterans of the federal bureaucracy had worked closely together during the AIDS epidemic, and their track record was hardly reassuring. Their long and costly quest to develop an AIDS vaccine ultimately failed, but they did manage to persuade the public that AIDS would spread widely beyond gay men and intravenous drug users. Redfield, with some help from Fauci, was the chief prophet of a “heterosexual breakout,” a threat that terrified Americans for more than a decade but never materialized.

The troika stoked more needless fears during the Covid pandemic, continually emphasizing worst-case scenarios—the computer models, for example, that wrongly forecast millions of American deaths in the summer of 2020. Surveys showed that most Americans, especially young people, vastly overestimated their risk of serious disease. Yet Fauci still wasn’t satisfied, as Atlas discovered when Fauci complained during one meeting that Americans didn’t take the virus seriously. “I challenged him to clarify his point,” Atlas writes, “because I couldn’t believe my ears. ‘So you think people aren’t frightened enough?’ He said, ‘Yes, they need to be more afraid.’ To me, this was another moment of Kafkaesque absurdity. . . . Instilling fear in the public is absolutely counter to what a leader in public health should do. To me, it is frankly immoral, although I kept that to myself.”

Fauci got the most media attention of the troika, but Atlas thinks that Birx did the most damage. As Pence’s chief subordinate on the Task Force, she shaped its agenda, participated in the regular “Covid huddle” with White House officials, and traveled the country, successfully pressuring state and local leaders to issue mask mandates and close businesses and schools. In one of Atlas’s first meetings with her, he asked her what she considered the strongest scientific evidence for the efficacy of masks against Covid. She cited a report published by the Centers for Disease Control about a hair salon in Missouri, where two stylists infected with Covid had worn masks that supposedly prevented the virus from infecting their customers.

“I knew the study well,” Atlas writes, “having already dissected it in detail with a few epidemiologists before I set foot in Washington. My colleagues had all laughed at it. It was poorly done, and the conclusions were not valid. It was an embarrassment that it had been published prominently on the CDC website.” Among the many limitations of this small study, critics had noted that, while none of the customers contacted by the researchers reported Covid symptoms, most of them were never tested for the virus, and many of the stylists’ customers were never contacted at all.

Atlas tells how he tried, “in as diplomatic a way as I could muster,” to discuss these limitations with Birx, but she bristled. He soon realized that she wasn’t even familiar with the basic aspects of the study she was using to justify mask mandates across the U.S. Nor did she or the rest of the troika show interest in the many far more rigorous studies with contrary findings. Though Redfield would later concede, after leaving the CDC, that there was a “paucity of data” to justify mask mandates, during the Task Force meetings the troika refused to debate any scientific research challenging their mask mandates and lockdowns, according to Atlas. “Unlike scientists with whom I had worked for decades,” he writes, “I never saw them voice any critical assessment, methodological or otherwise, of the pitfalls of any published studies.” Atlas says that they never brought scientific papers to the meetings and declined to respond to his presentations about the research.

“For what I anticipated would be a data-filled discussion about opening schools and the risk to children,” Atlas says, “I brought approximately fifteen different studies and a summary sheet of the research. For what I hoped would be a discussion about testing guidance, I brought and distributed articles and other documents about the role and pitfalls of PCR testing and concerns about cycle thresholds. Even though I handed out a number of these published studies to everyone at the table, no one ever mentioned them in the Situation Room. My guess was that no one in the Fauci-Redfield-Birx troika ever opened them.”

Instead, the troika of bureaucrats obsessed over Birx’s charts showing how many Covid tests had been administered and what percentage were positive. They proclaimed success for their strategies when infections started to wane in states like New York and Arizona—never mind that the downward trends began before the lockdowns and mask mandates were imposed. They ignored inconvenient data, like the chart that Atlas reproduces comparing the rates of Covid cases in states with and without mask mandates: the two curves remained virtually identical throughout the pandemic. “The doctors in the Task Force showed no study about mask efficacy or any other of their policies, and they never once mentioned the harms of the lockdowns that I witnessed,” Atlas says. “Their sole focus was stopping cases, even when their policies were already implemented and were failing to do so.”

Atlas’s book is obviously a one-sided account and at times lapses into self-righteousness. But his portrayal of the troika—a better term might be the three blind mice—rings true, both because of the details he provides and because it jibes with what he and they were saying (and not saying) publicly throughout the pandemic. It may seem incredible that the troika would violate a fundamental principle of public health by ignoring the devasting collateral damage of their policies, yet they never even pretended to conduct a cost-benefit analysis. “Perhaps the most remarkable insight in the Fauci email trove,” Atlas notes, referring to the thousands of emails from Fauci that were made public, is “the total lack of mention of harms from the lockdown throughout the pandemic.”

The troika also ignored dozens of studies showing the ineffectiveness of lockdowns, and the data showing that places that avoided lockdowns, like Florida and Sweden, did as well as or better than average in preventing Covid deaths. “I never fully understood why there was no admission, even internally by the Task Force, that the Birx-Fauci strategy did not work,” Atlas writes, concluding that it wasn’t simply because the media was eager to champion anyone who questioned President Donald Trump’s desire to reopen schools and businesses. “Disagreeing with Trump, especially in this election year, ensured near idolatry on cable TV and in the New York Times or Washington Post. But I never thought politics was the main driver of those on the Task Force. Perhaps it was an unstated fear that they were in way too deep to admit their errors.”

Mainstream media were the chief weapon the troika wielded against Atlas and scientists who opposed lockdowns and instead advocated a policy of “focused protection” that would concentrate testing and related resources on the elderly or other high-risk populations. (Atlas invited Birx to a meeting in the Oval Office with some of these eminent researchers, but she refused to attend.) Journalists caricatured their proposals as a callous “let it rip” strategy, portraying Atlas as an unqualified ideologue, unconcerned about the spread of the virus. Some of the false accusations in the press came from anonymous sources on the Task Force—presumably Fauci and Birx, Atlas writes, though Fauci denied it when Atlas confronted him. On the record, Fauci dismissed Atlas as an “outlier,” an assessment that journalists reinforced by repeatedly noting that he was “not an epidemiologist,” as if that were the only relevant qualification for determining overall public-health policies.

Fauci, Birx, and Redfield were not epidemiologists, either, but they were enshrined as “the science” because they provided what mainstream journalists craved: scare stories that boosted ratings and made Trump look bad. During his first meeting with Trump, Atlas writes, the president told him, “I’m sure you will teach me many things while you’re here. But there is only one thing you’ll learn from me. Only one. You will learn how vicious, how biased, how unfair the media is.” Atlas soon came to agree, as he endured personal smears and watched relentlessly alarmist coverage of the pandemic: “No opportunity to inflame the voters was going to be missed by what I now believe are the most despicable group of unprincipled liars one could ever imagine—the American media.”

Atlas says that Trump and senior White House aides told him privately that they disagreed with the troika’s policies, and some wanted to fire Birx because she was so stubborn and defensive. (Atlas tells how, after he contradicted her during a meeting in the Oval Office, she “threw a fit” and screamed at him, “Never do that again! And in the Oval!”) But the aides feared that firing any of the troika, or even disagreeing openly, would cause a media firestorm and doom Trump’s reelection. “We must not rock the boat” was their mantra, Atlas writes. “To which I would reply, ‘The boat is frigging capsized.’”

The politician who comes off best is Florida governor Ron DeSantis, who had, Atlas observes, “a far more detailed understanding of the pandemic than anyone I had encountered in the Task Force.” Trump comes off fairly well, too, in his conversations with Atlas, as he frets about the harms of the lockdowns and instinctively recognizes the futility of the troika’s strategies. But Atlas lays the ultimate blame for the lockdowns—“a crime against humanity”—on Trump himself, because he allowed Birx and her allies to remain in charge. “This president, widely known for his signature ‘You’re fired!’ declaration, was misled by his closest political intimates,” Atlas writes. “All for fear of what was inevitable anyway—skewering from an already hostile media.”

When he resigned from the Task Force in a telephone call to Trump, Atlas writes, the president told him, “You were right about everything, all along the way. And you know what? You were also right about something else. Fauci wasn’t the biggest problem of all of them. It really wasn’t him.” Trump meant that it was Birx, and Atlas couldn’t resist a parting shot at the aides who had been so afraid of her. Knowing that they were listening on the speakerphone in the Oval Office, Atlas said, “Well, Mr. President, I will say this. You have balls. I have balls. But the closest people around you—they didn’t. They had no balls. They let you down.” They let down the rest of the country, too.




Sunday, December 05, 2021

More vaccinated people are dying than unvaccinated people?

Some official British statistics say so. I first noted the problem a couple of weeks ago but could not see where the problem lay. I suspected a sampling problem but could not see where it was. The graph I saw at that time is below:

image from

I do now however understand it, courtesy of the post below. Let me see if I can put it in a clearer way.

If the vacine is only 90% effective, there SHOULD be many cases of vaccinated people getting ill. 10% is a lot of people. So the vaccinated who get ill are drawn from an unfortunate remnant of vaccinated people -- only 10% The vaccinated people who get the virus ARE NOT TYPICAL of vaccinated people. So comparing their numbers with unvaccinated people is not a valid comparison. The vaccinated people who get the virus are not a fair sample of all vaccinated people.

So that explains the large number of vaccinated people becoming ill. Why do so few unvaccinated people become ill? Initially because they a minority of the population but mainly because of who they are. They will almost always be people who feel their health is good and that it will beat the virus by itself. And people who feel in robust health will almost always actually be in robust health. And the small number who get the virus show that they ARE mostly in robust health and so few of them die.

So the two populations are very differently selected so are not comparable

The latest data published by the UK Health Security Agency shows that of 3,726 COVID-19 deaths over a three-week period to November 21, 2,903 were people fully vaccinated against the disease, compared to 708 unvaccinated people.

However, those figures do not mean that vaccinated people are at a higher risk of death from COVID-19.

The UK report also provides the rate of death per 100,000 people in each group.

That data reveals that the rate of death among unvaccinated people across the UK was higher for every age bracket when compared to those who were double-dosed.

According to Tony Blakely, an epidemiologist at the University of Melbourne, when it came to being infected with the Delta variant of coronavirus, fully vaccinated people were around 90 per cent less likely to die than those who weren't vaccinated.

"We can say mathematically if vaccination reduces your chance of death by, say, 90 per cent, then once more than 90 per cent of the population is vaccinated you would expect the [number of] deaths among the vaccinated and unvaccinated to be similar," Professor Blakely said in an email.

He noted that high rates of natural COVID-19 infection in the UK community added complexity.

"For example, if 90 per cent of the population are vaccinated and, of the remaining 10 per cent half of them (that is, 5 per cent of total population) have already had a natural infection, they will be better protected than the vaccinated," he explained.

"So, because an increasing fraction of the unvaccinated have had an infection in the past, this will tip more of the infections, hospitalisations and deaths to be among the vaccinated.

"But the bottom line remains — the unvaccinated have a much much higher chance of death on their first infection than do the vaccinated."

Additionally, in footnotes attached to its data, the UK agency notes that vaccinations were prioritised for individuals who were more vulnerable to catching COVID-19, while "individuals in risk groups may be more at risk of hospitalisation or death due to non-COVID-19 causes, and thus may be hospitalised or die with COVID-19 rather than because of COVID-19".


Omicron is being grown in labs and studied as scientists race to unlock the COVID-19 variant's mysteries

Every day for the last week, Thumbi Ndung'u and his team of researchers have spent hours inside a room with the world's most feared coronavirus variant.

To keep themselves from becoming infected, they pull on white plastic cover-alls and wear industrial respirators slung around their waists.

While the rest of the world braces for the possible spread of the new Omicron variant, Professor Ndung'u is doing something seemingly counterintuitive: He's growing it in a laboratory.

His team is among a vanguard of scientists across the world racing to examine the mysterious new variant under tightly controlled conditions to understand how it behaves.

Omicron, more a distant cousin than a direct descendant of the Delta variant, has strange and concerning features.

In the worst-case scenario, this evolution could mean a more transmissible version of COVID-19, with the ability to evade existing vaccines.

For Professor Ndung'u, a Kenya-born Harvard-educated virologist from the Africa Health Research Insitute in Durban, none of that is certain until he and his colleagues do their work.

"What we have been doing so far is speculate," he said.

"This is a very important next step."

The three big questions about Omicron

Although the variant has already driven governments the world over to slam borders shut and healthcare systems to bristle, there is still remarkably little known about Omicron.

What began with reports of a new variant first identified in Botswana and South Africa late last month has now grown to a smattering of cases in Europe, the US and Australia, where authorities remain on high alert.

There are three key questions about the variant that are yet to be answered: How transmissible it is, how effective current vaccines will be against it, and what severity of symptoms it might cause in those infected?

In the absence of much real-world data on how Omicron affects human populations, laboratory testing is needed to see just how dangerous it is.

But the world is in for an anxious wait. Results may still be some weeks away.

For Professor Ndung'u and his team, unlocking the secrets of the variant is what they do best.

"From a scientific point of view, it's exciting," he said.

Even so, some South African doctors who have treated patients infected by Omicron are adamant the variant is different to what they have encountered in previous waves, though there is not enough data yet to decide that.

Angelique Coetzee, a GP at a family practice in Pretoria, was among the first to raise the alarm over Omicron with South African authorities last month.

So far, Dr Coetzee estimates she has seen about 30 patients infected with Omicron come through her clinic.

Her experience with Omicron is anecdotal, but she does have cause for cautious optimism.

"The majority of patients that we are seeing have mild symptoms," she said

"Most of the adults will phone us [after they recover] and say they are so much better. This is not something that you would see with the Delta variant."

One mystery that will likely take more time to solve is where Omicron originated.

Although it was first detected in Botswana and South Africa, earlier cases have since been reported in other countries.

Some have speculated it could have mutated inside a person with an already weakened immune system because of an HIV infection.

The immunocompromised tend to have viral infections persist for longer, increasingly the likelihood of a mutation occurring.

It's possible that higher rates of HIV in southern Africa, coupled with low COVID-19 vaccination rates, could have created an environment where the new variant was more likely to mutate. But there is simply no evidence this has actually happened, according to Professor Ndung'u.

"At the moment, I think the scientific evidence for that is sketchy," he said.

"But it's certainly a very important issue because of the fact that we have high HIV infection rates in southern Africa."

The rise of a new variant has forced experts in wealthier countries, including the United States, to reconsider the need of booster shots where previously they had been wary to endorse them without further evidence.

Australian authorities say they won't speed up the booster program for most people, despite Omicron concerns.

In Israel, the first country to widely distribute booster shots to teenagers and adults, the population might enjoy much better immunity to Omicron, said Professor Nadav Davidovitch, a public health physician at Ben Gurion University.

"Israel has an excellent vaccination campaign, so in this sense we are better prepared," he said.

"Probably the vaccine won't be exactly covering the variant. But there will be some coverage for sure."