Friday, December 01, 2023

Pursuing justice’: Texas sues Pfizer for overstating COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness

Texas Attorney-General Ken Paxton has accused Pfizer of misrepresenting the effectiveness of the company’s COVID-19 vaccine in a lawsuit filed in state court.

The pharmaceutical giant used misleading statistics to promote its vaccine and sought to “intimidate and silence” those who questioned the product’s efficacy, the lawsuit, filed on Thursday Austin-time, alleges.

Paxton is seeking more than $US10 million ($15 million) in civil fines and a court order barring Pfizer from speaking publicly about the efficacy of its vaccine.

“We are pursuing justice for the people of Texas, many of whom were coerced by tyrannical vaccine mandates to take a defective product sold by lies,” Paxton said in a statement.

The lawsuit follows a probe launched by Paxton’s office in May into three major drug companies related to claims they made about the effectiveness of their vaccines. Paxton has been a vocal opponent of COVID-19 safety mandates since the onset of the pandemic.

In the complaint filed in a Lubbock County state court, Paxton said it was misleading for Pfizer to claim its vaccine was 95 per cent effective because it offered a “relative risk reduction” for people to who took it.

Paxton said the claim was based on only two months of clinical trial data, and claimed the pandemic got worse even after people started taking Pfizer’s vaccine.

“Pfizer intentionally misrepresented the efficacy of its COVID-19 vaccine and censored persons who threatened to disseminate the truth in order to facilitate fast adoption of the product and expand its commercial opportunity,” the complaint said.

Paxton’s statement included the claim: “COVID-19 cases increased after widespread vaccine administration, and some areas saw a greater percentage of deaths from COVID-19 among the vaccinated population than the unvaccinated.”

“When the failure of its product became apparent, Pfizer then pivoted to silencing truth-teller


Study suggests pandemic lockdowns accelerated ‘significant’ memory and cognitive decline in seniors

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A new study conducted by the University of Exeter Medical School, led by Dr. Anne Corbett, has revealed that the lockdowns and societal restrictions imposed during the pandemic had a detrimental impact not only on the mental health of children and teens, but also on elderly individuals.

Using data collected from 3,142 people aged 50 years or over who were taking part in a long-term dementia study in Britain, it was observed that there was a significant worsening of executive function and working memory among the cohort (average age 67.5) in both the first and second year of lockdowns.

Despite restrictions being eased after this period, it appears that much damage had already been done.

The study revealed that reduced exercise and increased drinking were significantly associated with cognitive decline among the entire cohort. Notably, depression was a prominent factor of cognitive decline among those who contracted COVID-19.

Additionally, it was found that loneliness had especially detrimental effects on those with mild cognitive impairment.

“People aged 50 years and older in the UK had accelerated decline in executive function and working memory during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, during which the UK was subjected to three societal lockdowns for a total period of 6 months,” said the study, published in the Lancet journal Healthy Longevity.

The British Government, funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research, implemented restrictions on the number of times citizens could exercise outside during the pandemic, as well as closing gyms, golf courses, sports courts, swimming pools and indoor sports facilities.

“The scale of change is also of note, with all groups—the whole cohort and the individual subgroups—showing more than a 50% greater decline in working memory and executive function and many effect sizes reaching a clinically significant threshold of greater than 0·3,” said the researchers.

Governments across the West have implemented lockdown measures on and off throughout the pandemic, despite early indications that serious cognitive decline would be a consequence, especially for elderly individuals.

For example, Italian scientists noted in an October 2020 paper in Frontiers in Psychiatry that social disconnection – which is practically guaranteed by the closure of voluntary associations, churches, parishes, gyms and other meeting places for seniors – is a risk factor for dementia and likely to increase the risk of depression and anxiety amongst elderly people.

The researchers further highlighted that these factors mirror population-wide changes in health and lifestyle seen during and after lockdowns, prompting a pertinent question regarding the impact of the pandemic on cognitive health and risk across populations.

“Lockdown could affect disproportionately the mental health of old people, whom relatives contracted COVID-19, people who live alone and whose only social contacts take place outside home, and people who do not have close relatives or friends and rely on the support of voluntary services or social assistance,” said the paper.


Half-Dose of COVID-19 Booster Just as Effective as a Full Dose: Study

Reducing the dose of a Pfizer COVID-19 booster vaccine can elicit a comparable immune response in adults compared to a full dose with fewer side effects, new research has found.

Led by the Murdoch Institute and the National Centre for Communicable Diseases in Mongolia, the study involved 601 participants over 18 years old from Mongolia, and is the first to assess and compare widely used COVID-19 vaccines in low- and middle-income countries.

The study focused on adults who had previously received AstraZeneca or Sinopharm COVID-19 shots, finding that a half dose of the Pfizer booster produced a non-inferior immune response.

Murdoch Institute’s Professor Kim Mulholland said reduced doses would make booster programs more cost-effective.

“Fractional dosing may improve COVID-19 booster acceptability and uptake and reduce the per-dose cost of COVID-19 booster programs,” he said.

“Policymakers and immunisation advisory committees can draw upon this data to make flexible boosting schedules decisions.”

However, the study noted that half-dose boosting may be less effective in adults primed with the Russian COVID-19 vaccine, Sputnik V.

Fewer Side Effects for Half Doses

Participants receiving half doses reported fewer side effects compared to those receiving full doses, highlighting the potential benefits of this approach.

Among half-dose boosted participants, 60 percent reported local reactions including pain and tenderness, and 25 percent reported systemic reactions including fevers, vomiting, diarrhoea, and headaches.

On the other hand, 72 percent of full-dose boosted participants reported local reactions, and 32 percent reported system reactions.

The study will continue to follow up on participants at six and 12-month intervals to explore their immune response, such as waning rates and breakthrough infections.

FDA Vaccine Adviser: Most Don't Need Yet Another COVID-19 Booster

This comes amid recommendations from the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) vaccine adviser Dr. Paul Offit that most people did not need another COVID-19 booster.
In an article in a medical journal, he said that asking young, healthy people to get boosted with a variant-specific booster was pointless.

“I believe we should stop trying to prevent all symptomatic infections in healthy, young people by boosting them with vaccines containing mRNA from strains that might disappear a few months later,” Dr. Offit wrote in the paper.

Medical researcher and immunology specialist Kevin Bass echoed his sentiment saying people were likely to take a hard pass on the new COVID-19 booster shot unless it was mandated.

“Public opinion has swung so hard against the vaccines that I can’t imagine a scenario where a significant amount of people are going to sign up for another shot,” he told The Epoch Times in a recent interview. “If people have the choice, they are going to say no.”

Global Trial Investigating Reduced COVID-19 Boosters
The new research was published in the Lancet, and is part of an international clinical trial funded by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).

This trial, involving 3,300 healthy adults across Australia, Indonesia, and Mongolia, investigates the impact of administering a reduced dose of COVID-19 booster shots.

The efficacy, side effects, and acceptability of fractional doses explored will inform flexible booster strategies and address global vaccine supply challenges.

CEPI receives funding from the Australian government.




Thursday, November 30, 2023

No proof face masks ever worked against Covid, claims UKHSA

There is no solid proof masks ever slowed the spread of Covid, England's former deputy chief medical officer said today.

Professor Dame Jenny Harries, who now heads up the UK Health Security Agency, said the evidence that coverings reduced transmission is 'uncertain' because it is difficult to separate their effect from other Covid curbs.

She also told the UK's Covid inquiry that government advice on how to make a mask using two pieces of cloth was 'ineffective'.

Studies showed at least three were needed for even a small effect on the spread of viruses, Dame Jenny said.

Meanwhile, she warned advice for the public to wear masks during the pandemic may even have given people a 'false sense of security' that they could reduce their risk of becoming infected if they wore one while mixing with others.

Dame Jenny wrote in her witness statement that the evidence base for using face masks in the community 'was, and still is to some degree, uncertain'.

She noted that the evidence for mask wearing varied depending on what materials it was made from. For example, a 'one or two layer cloth covering' is 'not particularly effective', she said.

And if someone doesn't wear it properly – fully covering the mouth and nose – 'it won't work', Dame Jenny added.

The inquiry was shown guidance on how people can make their own face masks from the first wave of the pandemic.

In response to the proposals in May 2020, Dame Jenny wrote that advice to use one or two pieces of fabric was 'ineffective'.

She told the inquiry that the evidence at the time said at least three layers were needed 'to give a positive impact' but even this finding 'was not very strong', so the advice was not effective.

Dame Jenny also warned that encouraging people to wear face masks led to a 'false sense of security' that people could mix more closely without risk.

Asked about a Government document recommending the use of face masks in May 2020, Dame Jenny said: 'We've got all sorts of safety issues here as well.

'One of the problems in May was when there were a lot of discussions about coming out of lockdown and opening up the economy and various other things – and the two metre, one metre (social distancing guidance).

'I think this was landing just about the same time as the "one metre plus" issue.

'The problem we had there was that there appeared to be a view permeating through, and a real concern and risk, that it was being conceived that if you did one metre and you wore a face covering slung round your cheek, or whatever it might be, that was fine.

'So, there was a risk that in encouraging face (masks) people would stop doing the thing that was really important, which was distancing and all the other things.'

Asked by inquiry chair Baroness Heather Hallett whether this led to a risk of a 'false sense of security', Dame Jenny replied: 'Yes, a false sense of security.

'But it was actually also overlapping with what was economically-driven policy, I think, to try and remove some of the distancing rules.'

She said, at the time, she and Professor Sir Jonathan Van Tam, England's former deputy chief medical officer, were 'really trying to highlight what we thought about the two metre and one metre rule discussions'.

Dame Jenny added: 'What was being conceived was if you wear a face covering and reduce everything to a metre, the face covering will make up for the difference, and the answer was no, it won't, and it definitely won't if it's ever not evidence based.'

Dame Jenny also revealed that she wrote to cabinet secretary Simon Case in May 2020, when he was No10 permeant secretary, expressing concern that people may believe they 'could go back to normal' wearing face coverings made from t-shirts, when there was no evidence base around the measure.

She told the inquiry: 'The first question was, shouldn't you be encouraging this? There's no harm'. 'The issue for me at that time, and I think Professor Van Tam shared it, was we definitely shouldn't be supporting something which was not evidence-based if it was going to promote a risk compensation.

'Of course, face coverings, as I know you'll be aware, is a wholly polarised debate and it's quite difficult to maintain a central position, if I'd said: "don't do any of this", somebody would have challenged back and said: "Well, surely there's no harm".

'My main concern was it would have been conceived as a safer way of moving about just when we got through the first tragic wave of a pandemic.'

Asked if she did anything about the concern, she added: 'Yes, well on the one metre, two metre (social distancing suggestion).

'I think this is very much around the same time that the CMO (chief medical officer), CSA (chief science adviser) and the two deputy CMOs wrote to Simon Case, because it was around lifting all the different industries and businesses and sectors at the same time.

'The anxiety was that if people just thought they could get a bit of t-shirt, put it around the face and that would solve all the problems and we could go back to normal, that was not going to be a good public health intervention.


What's the latest on COVID antiviral drugs, and who is eligible?

Australia is experiencing a fresh wave of COVID, seeing increasing cases, more hospitalisations and a greater number of prescriptions for COVID antivirals dispensed over recent months.

In the early days of the pandemic, the only medicines available were those that treated the symptoms of the virus. These included steroids and analgesics such as paracetamol and ibuprofen to treat pain and fever.

We now have two drugs called Paxlovid and Lagevrio that treat the virus itself.

But are these drugs effective against current variants? And who is eligible to receive them? Here's what to know about COVID antivirals as we navigate this eighth COVID wave.

What antivirals are available?

Paxlovid is a combination of two different drug molecules, nirmatrelvir and ritonavir. The nirmatrelvir works by blocking an enzyme called a protease that the virus needs to replicate. The ritonavir is included in the medicine to protect the nirmatrelvir, stopping the body from breaking it down.

Molnupiravir, marketed as Lagevrio, works by forcing errors into the RNA of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID) as it replicates. As these errors build up, the virus becomes less effective.

This year in Australia, the XBB COVID strains have dominated, and acquired a couple of key mutations. When COVID mutates into new variants, it doesn't affect the ability of either Paxlovid or Lagevrio to work because the parts of the virus that change from the mutations aren't those targeted by these two drugs.

This is different to the monoclonal antibody-based medicines that were developed against specific strains of the virus. These drugs are not thought to be effective for any variant of the virus from omicron XBB.1.5 onwards, which includes the current wave. This is because these drugs recognise certain proteins expressed on the surface of SARS-CoV-2, which have changed over time.

What does the evidence say?
As Lagevrio and Paxlovid are relatively new medicines, we're still learning how well they work and which patients should use them.

The latest evidence suggests Paxlovid decreases the risk of hospitalisation if taken early by those at highest risk of severe disease.

Results from a previous trial suggested Lagevrio might reduce COVID deaths. But a more recent, larger trial indicated Lagevrio doesn't significantly reduce hospitalisations or deaths from the virus.

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As a new wave of COVID-19 hits Australia, why are so few aged care residents up-to-date with their COVID-19 vaccinations?

However, few people at highest risk from COVID were included in this trial. So it could offer some benefit for patients in this group.

In Australia, Lagevrio is not routinely recommended and Paxlovid is preferred. However, not all patients can take Paxlovid. For example, people with medical conditions such as severe kidney or liver impairment shouldn't take it because these issues can affect how well the body metabolises the medication, which increases the risk of side effects.

Paxlovid also can't be taken alongside some other medications such as those for certain heart conditions, mental health conditions and cancers. For high-risk patients in these cases, Lagevrio can be considered.

Some people who take COVID antivirals will experience side effects. Mostly these are not serious and will go away with time.

Both Paxlovid and Lagevrio can cause diarrhoea, nausea and dizziness. Paxlovid can also cause side effects including muscle aches and weakness, changes in taste, loss of appetite and abdominal pain. If you experience any of these, you should contact your doctor.

More serious side effects of both medicines are allergic reactions, such as shortness of breath, swelling of the face, lips or tongue and a severe rash, itching or hives. If you experience any of these, call 000 immediately or go straight to the nearest emergency department.

Be prepared

Most people will be able to manage COVID safely at home without needing antivirals. However, those at higher risk of severe COVID and therefore eligible for antivirals should seek them. This includes people aged 70 or older, people aged 50 or older or Aboriginal people aged 30 or older with one additional risk factor for severe illness, and people 18 or older who are immunocompromised.

A COVID infection now could spell trouble in three decades
Genes, environment and lifestyle are some of the risk factors for serious diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. This is why scientists believe COVID-19 infection should be added to the list.

If you are in any of these groups, it's important you plan ahead. Speak to your health-care team now so you know what to do if you get COVID symptoms.

If needed, this will ensure you can start treatment as soon as possible. It's important antivirals are started within five days of symptom onset.

If you're a high-risk patient and you test positive, contact your doctor straight away. If you are eligible for antivirals, your doctor will organise a prescription (either an electronic or paper script).

These medicines are available under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and subsidised for people with a Medicare card. The cost for each course is the standard PBS co-payment amount: $30 for general patients and $7.30 for people with a concession card.

So you can rest and reduce the risk of spreading the virus to others, ask your pharmacy to deliver the medication to your home, or ask someone to collect it for you.




Wednesday, November 29, 2023

New COVID Variant Spreading in US, Experts Explain Risks
Compared to Eris, BA.2.86 has a significantly lower growth efficiency, meaning that it is less capable of replicating itself in the human bodies.

The new BA.2.86 variant, unofficially known as Pirola is taking hold in the United States.

Between Oct. 28 to Nov. 25, its prevalence increased from 1 to around 9 percent in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The World Health Organization designated Pirola as a variant of interest on Nov. 21, yet it also found the public health risk posed by BA.2.86 to be “low at the global level (pdf).”
In an update published on Nov. 27, the CDC agreed with the WHO’s assessment “that the public health risk posed by this variant is low compared with other circulating variants, based on available limited evidence.”

Current Research Suggests Low Risk of Disease

Pirola is derived from BA.2, an earlier Omicron variant.
Other variants derived from BA.2 include XBB.1.5 which became the dominant strain in early 2023.

The current dominant variant is H.V.1, and it is derived from the variant EG.5, unofficially known as Eris, a previously dominant variant in the United States.

“At this time, BA.2.86 does not appear to be driving increases in infections or hospitalizations in the United States,” the CDC wrote.

Research outside of the United States similarly suggests that Pirola should not be more severe than current variants.

Researcher Yunlong Cao, who holds a doctorate in physical biochemistry from Harvard found that Pirola “exhibits lower cell infectivity” compared to XBB.1.5 and Eris.

A preprint study from Japan found that while Pirola may be more transmissible than Eris a previous dominant variant, it is less likely to cause disease.

Compared to Eris, Pirola has a significantly lower growth efficiency, meaning that it is less capable of replicating itself in the host, the authors wrote.

“This is not the second coming of omicron. If it were, it is safe to say we would know by now,” Bill Hanage, associate director and professor of epidemiology at Harvard wrote on X on Sep. 1 ,when the variant's prevalence was significantly lower.

Prior Infections Gives Immunity Against the New Variant

Compared to BA.2, its ancestral subvariant, Pirola has more than 30 mutations in its spike protein. The virus uses the spike protein to infect human cells.

The substantial number of mutations initially raised concerns among virologists, who feared this variant might partially evade earlier immunity from previous exposure, whether from natural infection or prior vaccination.

However, evidence is still lacking to predict if there will be more immune evasions as well as the severity of future Pirola cases.

Mr. Cao’s own research in mice who have been vaccinated or infected with XBB vaccines showed that the antibodies generated “cannot well recognize and neutralize BA.2.86,” he wrote in a thread posted on the social media platform, X.

However, Pirola had a low cell infectivity, which can affect the variant's transmission, he added.

In discussion of Mr. Cao’s findings, Mr. Hanage agreed that immune evasion is not a definite indication of more severe infection and transmission.

“Any hopeful virus has to have some immune evasion, because almost everyone has immunity,” he wrote.

The most recent research on Pirola's immune evasion abilities comes from a series of reports conducted by researchers at Columbia University.

The first study, published in Nature, tested Pirola, XBB1.5, and Eris spike proteins against antibodies produced from a breakthrough XBB infection.

These antibodies conferred robust neutralizing activity against Pirola. The authors also noted that Pirola's ability to evade immunity was no better than that of XBB1.5 and EG.5.

The same group of researchers then tested antibodies produced from the new XBB1.5 COVID vaccine against several variants, including XBB1.5, Eris, and JN.1, a derivative of Pirola. The findings were published in a preprint.

The authors found that, compared to all variants investigated, JN.1 was the most immune evasive against antibodies produced from the vaccine.

HV.1: The Current Dominant Variant

The current dominant subvariant is HV.1, a new variant derived from Eris. Eris is currently the most dominant globally and HV.1 succeeded Eris as the dominating variant in the U.S. on Oct. 28.

Like Pirola, the WHO has classified HV.1 as a variant with low public health risk. The variant accounted for about 31.5 percent of all cases in the United States as of Nov. 25.


Is It Possible that COVID-19 Boosters Trigger a Cancer Relapse?

COVID-19 boosters are used to activate the immune response by synthesizing antibodies against foreign pathogens, however, some adverse events have been associated with these boosters. In the aggregate via published case series alone, over two hundred cases of cancer or cancer relapse have been reported yesterday by TrialSite. Yet none of these cases can prove causation (the studies aren’t designed for that), and the incidence remain rare given over 230 million people are considered fully vaccinated in America alone. Regardless, several cases of cancer relapse have been reported after the administration of COVID-19 boosters, according to Angus Dalgleish, a professor of oncology at St.George’s University of London. During an interview, he raised his concerns about the COVID-19 boosters’ long-term consequences, perturbation of the immune system, and the development or relapse of aggressive cancers. TrialSite investigates the reports of cancer related to COVID-19 vaccination.

Dr. John Campbell, a retired British nurse and healthcare educator, interviewed Professor Dalgleish to discuss his insights into boosters, immunity, and cancer risk. The focus of Dalgleish’s extensive research is immunotherapies and cancer vaccines. In this interview, he described his observations on patients suffering from melanoma.

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that forms in the skin cells called melanocytes. These cells produce melanin which gives color to the skin. The exact cause of melanomas is still unclear, but it is widely accepted that exposure to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight is the reason for the rapid rise in melanoma cases worldwide. It is easy to treat it if it gets detected at an early stage.

Dalgleish’s observations on melanoma patients

Dalgleish observed cancer patients’ response to immunotherapies (use of the body’s own defense system to fight against diseases) and realized that vitamin D deficiency is associated with melanoma. Moreover, he added that improving the body’s vitamin D status can enhance immunotherapy outcomes.

Several studies support Dalgleish’s claim that vitamin D deficiency is associated with melanoma. A retrospective cohort study in 2022 found that vitamin D deficiency is responsible for worsening the overall survival of melanoma patients. Yet observational studies such as the latter cannot necessarily establish causation.

Additionally, an experimental study suggested that vitamin D deficiency is associated with thicker melanoma tumors, which can cause poor prognosis at the time of diagnosis.

Dalgleish also noted that melanoma patients often return with a cancer relapse even after 20 years. By observing their medical history, he noticed that these patients had experienced stress like divorce, bereavement, or bankruptcy, which caused immune suppression for a significant period. He also realized that there was another factor that increased the relapse rate – receiving a COVID-19 booster shot.

According to Prof. Dalgleish, these boosters are meant to enhance the immune response, but the relapse of cancer raises questions about their effect on immune response.

The mechanism behind the increased relapse

Dalgleish suggests the vaccines mostly deal with antibodies while laying more emphasis on the importance of innate immune response by activating T-cells. These cells effectively remove cancer cells and viral-infected cells. Also, these act during the time when the effective adaptive immune response (antibody production) is in the process of developing. T-cell activity reduces with age, particularly after age 55, which increases the incidence rate of cancer in elderly people.

The boosters do not cause the body to make IgG1 and IgG3, which are neutralizing antibodies, instead, they switch to IgG4 antibodies which are less effective in combating infection or disease. These IgG4 antibodies suppress the T-cell response which causes a suppression in the fast-acting innate immune response. This, according to the hypothesis, increases the chance of cancer relapse in people after getting COVID-19 boosters. But this would need to be fully investigated for any affirmative declarations, would it not?

Immune system perturbation linked to cancer

Dalgleish mentioned that there are many unnecessary antibodies formed inside the body following COVID-19 boosters. He called this “antibody-dependent enhancement.”

Antibody-dependent enhancement refers to a situation in which antibodies emerge during an immune response but do not prevent an infection. Instead, these antibodies actually help the virus penetrate the cells. Thus, Dalgleish claimed that boosters do not provide protection instead, they perturb the immune system and cause more aggressive forms of cancer. He gave an example case of lymphoma diagnosis in one of his colleagues after vaccination.

The London-based oncologist implies of the possibility of emerging cancers such as B-cell leukemia and renal cancers in the near future due to immune system perturbation induced by vaccines. Again this would need to be formally studied, as the observations of one physician or even a handful doesn’t equate to evidence.

Potential impacts of mRNA vaccines on the immune system

In the interview, Dalgleish also talked about mRNA vaccines. He expressed his frustration over the use of the SV40 promoter in mRNA vaccines and explained that it is an oncogenic promoter used for developing cancer in mice.

The oncologist suggests questions about the composition and potential risks of mRNA vaccines. He also extended his concern to the integration of DNA. TrialSite previously published an article analyzing these claims of DNA contamination in Pfizer and Moderna mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines. While numerous activists critical of the COVID-19 vaccines have pounced on “plasmidgate,” TrialSite has been clear that some of the studies are questionable—such as the German study where most of the vaccine vials were opened upon arrival at the third-party lab doing the testing.

Given the testimony of Professor Philip Buckhaults in front of the South Carolina Senate on the matter TrialSite has suggested formal, government, and industry investigations.

TrialSite’s founder Daniel O’Connor, an expert in Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulated clinical research process and technologies, was in touch with leadership at the regulatory agency who committed to passing along the information. But the TrialSite publisher told this writer, “The regulators don’t seem too concerned at all about the reports of DNA snippets in the vaccine samples.”

What about the Spike Protein?

There are claims that the spike protein, which was held responsible for vaccine injuries, remained at the injection site and did not integrate. The formal narrative has it that the spike protein flushes from the lymphatic system within a week or so but enough published material has emerged to refute that oversimplified claim.

Dalgleish challenges the premise powering claims for a lack of spike integration.

To examine these claims, autopsies need to be done but Dalgleish points to the difficulty of doing autopsies on patients who had died after vaccination. He said that it had been overruled despite obtaining relatives’ consent for post-mortems. This caused a lack of transparency.

Censorship and media influence also represent formidable issues because the government discouraged criticism of vaccines argues the oncologist. This hinders open discussions about vaccine safety and effectiveness.




Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Covid-19 cover-up exposed – at last


It’s astonishing to consider that Anthony Fauci stood on the White House podium in early 2020, beside the president of the United States, and resolutely told the world that Covid-19 was a natural virus.

Curiously, he failed to mention that his agency had funded coronavirus experiments in Wuhan so dangerous that they had been banned in the US by the Obama administration. Fauci knew, too, that eminent scientists privately harboured concerns Covid-19’s genetic sequence had unusual features inconsistent with evolutionary theory.

Yet he reassured the public that there was no reason to suspect a laboratory incident in Wuhan and, as he did so, Fauci cited as evidence a new scientific paper.

Far from being a conclusive, rigorous scientific study, it was, in fact, a piece of commentary that had been rejected from a prestigious medical journal.

This is not to blame Fauci for the pandemic, although his agency may have funded the research which created Covid-19.

The culpability truly lies in Wuhan where scientists were pushing the boundaries of acceptable experimentation on coronaviruses to make them more infectious and transmissible to humans.

For years the scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology had been playing God, and had grown increasingly bold and, as it turns out, shockingly careless, conducing their almost existential experiments in low-security laboratories.

But Fauci’s role in claiming the virus was natural, when he had no incontrovertible evidence to make such a claim, goes to the very heart of the cover-up over the origins of Covid-19. Instead of advancing the world’s understanding of what was unfolding, he was deliberately covering it up and, in doing so, ­creating confusion that crippled the world for years.

He also led desperate and diabolic anti-scientific efforts to shut down investigation into the origins of Covid-19; so anxious was he to divert attention from a lab leak and what would surely follow – accountability of him and his agency.

The early insistence of zoonosis from a such an esteemed and trusted figure saw the lab leak theory assigned to the conspiracy pile, censored by tech giants and ridiculed by the media.

Unravelling the web of cover-ups, conflicts of interest and false narratives surrounding the origins of Covid-19 has been a large part of my life over the past 3½ years.

I’ve written an investigative book, created a documentary and a podcast and written dozens and dozens of newspaper articles, features and television reports.

I’ve interviewed hundreds of scientists, government officials, investigators, intelligence agency insiders and whistleblowers from all over the world. They each share a common determination; to discover the truth of the origins of Covid-19.

Piecing together information from these individuals has helped to form a more complete picture of what we know about how the first pandemic in 100 years began.

As we near the fourth anniversary since Covid shook the world, there’s a new chapter in this investigation – a documentary airing on Tuesday night on Sky News called What Really Happened in Wuhan, the Next Chapter.

For the first time, Fauci’s boss, the former assistant secretary for preparedness and response, Dr Robert Kadlec, fronts the cameras to divulge their confidential conversations where they decided it would be best if they downplayed the possibility of a lab leak.

Ostensibly, this was to encourage co-operation from China, but Kadlec believes Fauci had reason to protect his own reputation and that of his institute which had funded research in Wuhan.

Haunted by the downstream effects of the decision they made to divert attention away from accusations of a lab leak, Kadlec says he still lies awake at night, reflecting on what they did.

So eager were scientists to shield China from any suggestion its scientific research had started the pandemic, and to protect their own research from being subject to new regulations, there was complicity among international scientists in downplaying or rejecting the lab leak theory.

As a result, there have been no moves to regulate or ban gain-of-function experiments on coronaviruses or other pathogens with pandemic potential globally.

Yet scientists from the four groups within the US intelligence community that engage in scientific analysis all concur that SARS-CoV-2 was most likely ­genetically engineered.

In our new documentary, Kadlec warns that another pandemic could easily eventuate because the lessons haven’t been learned from Covid-19.

For all the excessive government intervention during the pandemic, the most fundamental step of having a conversation about whether scientists should stop dangerous experiments on coronaviruses hasn’t taken place.

It’s also incomprehensible that an event that killed seven million globally would not be deemed significant enough for our world leaders to raise at a diplomatic level with China.

It’s bewildering that there has been no serious investigation into the origins of Covid-19.

It speaks to the lack of courage and political conviction of our world leaders that it’s been left to congressional subcommittees, journalists and internet sleuths to investigate the most consequential period of our lifetimes.

And so, this latest Sky News documentary on Tuesday night plays a role in moving the public debate on this topic forward, providing fresh information about the scientific research that may have started the outbreak in Wuhan, and airing more staggering claims of how public debate was silenced at the highest levels.


Government Deceit

John Stossel

“Experts” were confident that they knew what America should do about COVID-19. They were wrong about so much.

Officials pushed masks, including useless cloth ones. Dr. Anthony Fauci said, “Don’t wear masks”—then, “Do wear them.”

Some states closed playgrounds and banned motorboats and Jet Skis. Towns in New York banned using leaf-blowers. California pointlessly closed beaches and gave people citations for “watching the sunset.” The list goes on.

Sen. Rand Paul’s new book, “Deception,” argues that government experts didn’t just make mistakes; they were purposely deceitful. A few weeks ago, this column reported how Paul, R-Ky., was correct in accusing Fauci of funding virus research in Wuhan and lying about it.

In my new video, we cover other government deceit.

Paul says, “There’s been one set of truths in private and another set of truths for the people who aren’t smart enough to make their decisions.”

He points out that Fauci, in private, told fellow bureaucrats that masking is pointless. Fauci wrote in one email: “The typical mask you buy in the drug store is not really effective in keeping out virus, which is small enough to pass through the material.”

But in public, complains Paul, Fauci would sometimes wear multiple masks.

“Things that have no scientific basis in fact. … There’s two sets of information going out, one privately and one publicly.”

“Why?” I ask.

“They think that there could be hysteria. They’re in government. They need to do something. … So let’s get everybody occupied with wearing masks. … But in the end, the Cochrane analysis looked at 78 randomized studies and found that masks didn’t work at all.”

“N95 masks may work,” I say.

“The Cochrane analysis looked at the N95 and found they didn’t work very well,” Paul replies.

Another mistake: The virus is 500 times more likely to kill people ages 65 and up than kill kids. But our government told parents: Mask your children. Some states kept kids out of schools for two years.

Also, “When they approved the third vaccine for children,” says Paul, “the first committee was the [Food and Drug Administration] committee. … They came out with the advice: 65 and older. Nobody else. The [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] had another vaccine committee. … They said the same thing … [but] Rochelle Walensky, a political appointee of [President Joe] Biden, overrode both scientific committees and said the vaccine booster should be given to six months and up.”

“Why? What’s the motivation?” I ask. “Get more people frightened, and then they’ll take the vaccine and that will save America?”

Paul says, “I think most of them are not very smart and they just blindly think, ‘Take the damn vaccine, shut up and take it. It’s good for you.’”

Has he been vaccinated?

“God gave me my vaccine.” He tells me. “I was naturally inoculated. But members of my family, my wife, got vaccinated. We’re not against the advice.”

I clarify, “‘Naturally inoculated,’ meaning you got COVID?”

“I had COVID, so I have immunity,” he replies.

At the start of the pandemic, Sweden’s health officials did not shut down restaurants or other businesses. They also announced that they would not close schools for younger children.

For doing that, Sweden was repeatedly trashed by American government officials and the media. Time magazine called Sweden’s plan “a disaster.”

But the Swedish approach was right! Not only did Sweden escape the economic and social harm of lockdowns, but its COVID-19-related death rate was lower than that of most other countries.

“It turns out they did as well, or better, than most parts of Europe,” says Paul.

“Better,” I point out.

“They also didn’t mandate masks in schools [or] close the schools. Everything we did in this country was wrong.”

I push back. “On balance, vaccines were a good thing. They work for older people, people my age.” In fact, Republican anti-vax “messaging may have killed people!” Before the vaccine came out, an equal number of Republicans and Democrats died. But once the anti-vax messages spread, Republicans had a higher death rate.

Paul replies, “Vaccine hesitancy comes from people’s disbelief in government.”

He adds, “I think people learned from this … [learned] what to trust and what not to trust. People will be smarter the next time around.” ?




Monday, November 27, 2023

Interesting Swedish study

Lots of vaccinated people got Covid but vaccination did tend to protect them from long Covid

A large, population-based cohort study-- part of the project SCIFI-PEARL, a nationwide linked multi-register, observational study of the COVID-19 pandemic in Sweden—was organized to investigate the effectiveness of primary COVID-19 vaccination, defined as the first two doses plus the first booster dose (3 doses) within the recommended schedule targeting post-COVID condition (PCC) another term for long COVID. The study included all Swedish adults aged 18 years and up with COVID-19 first registered between December 27, 2020, and February 9, 2022, totaling 589,722 persons across the Scandinavian nation’s two largest regions. Capitalizing on a health system with rich data collection and management, the study team monitored the study participant data from one of the following data points whichever came first: COVID-19 infection until death, emigration, vaccination, reinfection, a PCC diagnosis—based on ICD-10 diagnosis code U09.9, or end of follow-up period which was November 30, 2022. In the study, persons receiving at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine prior to infection were deemed vaccinated. The study authors represented by corresponding author Maria Bygdell, a research fellow and Doctor of Medicine with the University of Gothenburg, and colleagues established a primary endpoint of PCC (long COVID) clinical diagnosis, while the team employed use of Cox regressions adjusted for age, sex, comorbidities (e.g. diabetes, cardiovascular, etc.), number of healthcare contacts during 2019 and other socioeconomic factors plus virus variant prevalent at time of infection for the study. While this observational study cannot prove causation, and the study has some glaring limitations (don’t factor in reinfection) the outcomes demonstrate a robust association between COVID-19 vaccination prior to infection and lower risk of PCC (long COVID) diagnosis.


Excess mortality and Covid vaccination: is there a correlation?

Since the introduction of Covid vaccines, the official narrative in Australia (and other parts of the world) is that these vaccines are safe, efficacious, and working well. However, this claim is considered to be untrue, as demonstrated by both the science and the statistics.

There is compelling evidence that the official narrative promoted by politicians and health bureaucracies, and enforced by politicised police forces, is misleading and even irresponsible in the light of the demonstrable side-effects of mRNA vaccines.

The Australian government effectively treated any reasonable concern about the safety of Covid vaccines as a form of domestic terrorism. From 2017 to 2022, the Department of Home Affairs petitioned social media sites to censor information about these matters no less than 13,646 times. This included suppressed Covid posts from doctors who disagreed with, or even questioned, official public health and vaccine information.

Especially egregious was the admonishment and de-registration of Australian medical doctors who attempted to provide vaccine exemptions or prescribe alternative medicine to alleviate or prevent Covid. ‘The conclusion taken from the collective authoritarian decisions is that medical choice is no longer a prerogative of the doctor-patient relationship in Australia,’ said Robert Clancy AM, a clinical immunologist and emeritus professor of medicine.

We now know that mRNA vaccines prevent neither infection nor transmission of the Covid virus. For example, a recent study by Cleveland clinic researchers concluded that people who received two or more doses of the vaccine were more likely to get infected with Covid. They found that, among 48,344 working-aged clinic employees, those not ‘up-to-date’ on vaccination had a lower risk of Covid than those ‘up-to-date’.

‘If a vaccine fails to stop disease transmission, then the idea that you need to vaccinate other people so that I’m protected is just false,’ said Dr Jayanta Bhattacharya, a professor of medicine and health research and policy at Stanford University.

To make it worse, a comprehensive comparative research analysis has found that Covid vaccines are directly associated with the disturbing rise in the mortality rate among countries of the Southern Hemisphere.

Denis Rancourt is a former professor of physics at the University of Ottawa. Maurine Baudin has a PhD in microbiology from the Université Paris Sud (Paris XI). Joseph Hickey is a data research scientist with a PhD in Physics. Jérémie Mercier is a chemist and health educator with a PhD in environmental research. Together these researchers have recently produced an empirical research paper entitled Covid vaccine-associated mortality in the Southern Hemisphere.

17 countries were studied by these researchers: Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Malaysia, New Zealand, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Suriname, Thailand, and Uruguay). Together these countries comprise 9.10 per cent of worldwide population and 10.3 per cent of worldwide Covid vaccinations (vaccination rate of 1.91 injections per persons, all ages) through virtually every vaccine type and manufacturer.

According to these researchers, ‘All-cause mortality by time is the most reliable date for detecting and epidemiologically characterising events causing death, and for gauging the population-level impact of any surge or collapse in deaths from any cause.’ In these 17 countries, they found no evidence of any beneficial effect of Covid vaccination on all-cause mortality, nor any proportional reduction in the mortality rate. On the contrary, the opposite is true.

In that research paper, the authors also showed that every country with sufficient mortality data (Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Malaysia, New Zealand, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand, and Uruguay) invariably exhibited an unprecedented and relatively sharp peak or surge in all-ages deaths during or after January-February 2022, which was synchronous with or immediately preceded by a rapid rollout of a Covid vaccine booster, dose 3 or 4, depending on the country.

Regarding the evidence provided in support of causality and toxicity, the authors of this research paper include examples where no detectable excess mortality occurred until the vaccines were rolled out, thus concluding that ‘it is well-established that Covid vaccine injections have caused and are likely to cause the deaths of individuals’. These researchers, in their own words:

‘…have found no evidence in [their] extensive research on ACM [All-deaths Cause Mortality] that Covid vaccines had any beneficial effect. If vaccines prevented transmission, infection or serious illness, then there should have been decreases in mortality following vaccine rollouts, not increases which were observed in every elderly group subject to rapid booster rollouts. And, mortality would not have increased solely when vaccines were rolled out, where no excess mortality occurred prior to vaccine rollouts, as we have documented in 9 countries across 3 continents.’

These researchers previously reported several instances in which anomalous peaks in all-cause mortality appear to be associated with rapid Covid vaccine-dose rollouts, as well as instances where the start of the vaccination campaign coincided with a new period of sustained elevated mortality. These are countries in which, for approximately one year after the WHO’s 11 March 2020 declaration of a pandemic, ‘there were no net extra deaths that could be attributed to a pandemic or to pandemic-response medical or government measures’.

Since the excess mortality in these countries occurred only after vaccine rollouts, the authors conclude that these vaccines certainly did not reduce serious illness (as claimed by manufacturers) enough to reduce any risk of death. On the contrary, according to them, there is strong evidence for a causal correlation between rapid first-doses and booster rollouts and immediate peaks in all-cause mortality, including peaks of mortality in seasonal cycles when peaks never occur. These findings appear to be conclusive and indicate that such vaccines lead to the deaths of individuals, which the researchers then remind us has already been demonstrated by:

Many detailed autopsy studies (reference provided)

Adverse effect monitoring (reference provided)

Studies of vaccine-induced pathologies (reference provided)

An established causal link to vaccine-induced pathology, by histopathology and immunohistochemical staining of skin biopsy specimens (reference provided)

Secondary analysis of serious adverse events reported in placebo-controlled, industry phase III randomised clinical trials (reference provided)

More than 1,250 peer-reviewed publications about Covid vaccine adverse effects (reference provided)

The known vaccine injury compensation programs of states worldwide, which include death resulting from the Covid vaccines (reference provided)

All 17 countries in their comparative research analysis had transition regimes of high all-cause mortality after the vaccines were deployed and administered. Accordingly, unprecedented peaks occurred precisely in January-February of 2022, which are synchronous with rapid booster-dose rollouts of Covid vaccination. The clearest example provided is the sharp all-cause mortality peak occurring in January-February 2022 in Australia, which is concomitant with the rapid rollout of dose 3 of the vaccine in the country.

Like Australia, countries such as Chile and Peru had a sharp all-cause death peak occurring over that same period, which is concomitant with the rapid rollout of Chile’s dose 4 and Peru’s dose 3 of the vaccine. In fact, the authors found the same phenomenon everywhere that data was available, thus making these findings rather conclusive. ‘There can be little doubt that the mass Covid vaccination campaigns caused the temporally associated excess mortality in the 17 countries of the present study, and in other countries studied to date.’ Accordingly, ‘There occurs an onset or increase of a large excess ACM on rolling out the Covid vaccines, in every country and state or province, studied to date, on virtually all continents, including for initial rollouts…’

Rancourt et al are therefore satisfied that the information available extensively demonstrates that Covid vaccines can cause death and that they did not save lives. On the contrary, these vaccines appear to be lethal toxic agents ‘with a high degree of certainty’. This leads the authors to state that adverse-effect monitoring, clinical trial reports, and death-certificate statistics have greatly underestimated the fatal toxicity of Covid vaccines.

These concerns are too serious to ignore. The suspicion that some people have been misled about the safety and efficacy of these vaccines has been further strengthened by the empirical data. The potential for severe injury by these vaccines is a matter that deserves more serious reflection. None were more instrumental in causing this tragedy than the Australian government and their loyal mouthpieces in the media. According to Professor Clancy,

‘The media has a concerning role in the propagation of misinformation, preferring to support an ideologic narrative, rather than to engage in responsible journalism. Misinformation driven by pharmaceutical companies to protect their vaccines, and strongly reinforced by academic, government and health authorities, leads to many unnecessary hospital admissions and deaths’.

So, the question is: Have the Australian governments and the mainstream media colluded in order to ensure an increase in Big Pharma’s corporate profits, which however, does not prioritise the protection of public health?

Be that as it may, it is increasingly difficult to hide the fact that people have died from these vaccines. The tragic consequences of mandatory vaccination are now all too visible in our society.

Above all, we are convinced that it is important to open up this type of conversation, lift the media suppression, and eliminate the muzzling and penalties imposed on those with alternate views or with a desire to promote further discussion. Then society will have to work out the issues of blame and penalties.




Sunday, November 26, 2023

Britain's Covid Inquiry has unmasked the flaws in trusting ‘the science’

There is something therapeutic and healing in watching Professor Chris Whitty give evidence to the independent public inquiry into the Covid pandemic – the sense of calm emanating from the man, his occasionally Panglossian self-satisfaction, his refusal to become anything more than barely ruffled even when his interlocuters gently venture forth the suggestion: ‘Overreaction?’ The impression one gets, or perhaps is supposed to get, is of a very clever, terribly rational man in a world full of thicko scumbags.

This lack of debate was exacerbated in the country at large by that curse of our age, political polarisation

I watch a little daytime TV at the moment as part of my rest and recuperation programme following that car crash I mentioned a couple of weeks ago. More usually it is one of the quiz shows, such as Tipping Point, where the contestants are from the very opposite end of the intellectual scale to Chris and can only enrage with their stupidity. No, Shenille – sadly, Tony Blair was not prime minister at the time of the Battle of Trafalgar. Listening to Whitty’s comforting emollience, I can almost feel my hitherto distraught muscles knitting back together, repairing themselves, filling with blood and blooming. He is like a very expensive balm.

What we learn from this inquiry – that the scientists are convinced we should have imposed lockdown earlier and harder, for example – is maybe less interesting than what one might read between the lines. Or, as those scientists would disdainfully put it, speculation. The first and most obvious thing is the withering contempt in which the scientists held the politicians, which must surely have made the management of the pandemic more problematic than it needed to be.

We can infer this from the testimony of the former chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, for example. With scarcely disguised scorn, Vallance suggested that science was not Boris Johnson’s ‘forte’ and that the then prime minister needed to have fairly simple graphs explained to him over and over again until he finally grasped the point. This contempt occasionally broke cover during that long, rather wonderful summer of 2020, not least over Rishi Sunak’s fairly ridiculous Eat Out to Help Out scheme, with newspapers reporting disquiet among the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) at one or other governmental misstep. In fairness to the scientists, they were dealing with a government which had chosen the intellectual titan Matt Hancock to be in charge of the country’s health, which he did with a kind of messianic idiocy.

The second is the make-up of that very committee, Sage – the people who for a year or so effectively became our unelected government. Its membership was rather closely confined and, during cross-examination, Whitty admitted that at first it was probably too narrow in its membership. According to him it later became much broader, but when asked more specifically about who might have been co-opted to give a differing view, he channelled Dr Pangloss again and suggested that in theory an infinite number of scientists might have been invited to provide their expertise, but that too many voices would have made consensus more difficult to achieve. Hmm – this is rather the problem, the nature of that consensus. Whitty admitted – indeed stated almost with pride – that no economists had been consulted, for example.

The issue here is that too great a proportion of the scientists had intellectual skin in the game. Science is perhaps mankind’s greatest achievement, but we sometimes forget that it is practised by humans, with all their frailties and inclinations. The point being that Sage may have been providing the government with advice with which all or most epidemiologists might concur – but without the corrective advice that might be provided by an economist or, for that matter, an oncologist. The advice was always about the immediate, and while Whitty insisted that he and his colleagues were at pains to alert ministers to the potential downsides of action taken to prevent the spread of the virus, we might infer that those downsides were flagged up with rather less avidity than would have been the case if the committee had heard from one or two dissenting voices from different scientific disciplines.

This lack of debate was exacerbated in the country at large by that curse of our age, political polarisation: many of those who might have raised a warning about the long-term effects of sequential lockdowns – the teachers, for example – were too often ideologically committed to what became the leftish view that no lockdown could possibly be sufficiently stringent and they should continue ad infinitum. We have seen more recently the effect this has had on schoolchildren.

Faced with this, one understands a little better the mindset which seems to have established itself in our politicians, including the mindset which led them to enjoy riotous parties when everybody else was confined to barracks. They were given advice which was far, far too narrow and, put simply, they didn’t entirely trust it. Vallance remarked that Johnson had particular difficulty understanding the consequences of government interventions (such as lockdowns) on the spread of the virus. My suspicion is the former PM was at heart deeply sceptical – for ideological as well as perfectly rational reasons – about these interventions and needed convincing that he was being told the
unvarnished truth.

In short, it was a government that had pledged to ‘follow the science’ but was always doubtful about its veracity. The final break came when Johnson refused to impose a lockdown during the Christmas of 2021, a decision which history suggests was unquestionably correct: the scientists at the time begged to differ and of course the Scots went their own way. The lesson to be learned, I reckon, is that it is no use following the science if the science comes from only one direction and there is no open debate about its efficacy or otherwise./>


Virology poses a far greater threat to the world than AI

Matt Ridley

Sam Altman, the recently fired (and rehired) chief executive of Open AI, was asked earlier this year by his fellow tech billionaire Patrick Collison what he thought of the risks of synthetic biology. ‘I would like to not have another synthetic pathogen cause a global pandemic. I think we can all agree that wasn’t a great experience,’ he replied. ‘Wasn’t that bad compared to what it could have been, but I’m surprised there has not been more global coordination and I think we should have more of that.’

He is right. There is almost no debate about regulating high-risk virology, whereas the world is in a moral panic about artificial intelligence. The recent global summit at Bletchley Park essentially focused on how to make us safe from Hal the malevolent computer. Altman has called for regulation to stop AI going rogue one day, telling Congress: ‘I think if this technology goes wrong, it can go quite wrong… we want to be vocal about that. We want to work with the government to prevent that from happening.’

Bad actors worldwide know how easy it would be to use virology to bring the world economy to its knees

In contrast to that still fairly remote risk, the threat the world faces from research on viruses is far more immediate. There is strong evidence that Covid probably started in a laboratory in Wuhan. To summarise: a bat sarbecovirus acutely tuned to infecting human beings but not bats, which contains a unique genetic feature of a kind frequently inserted by scientists, caused an outbreak in the one city in the world where scientists were conducting intensive research on bat sarbecoviruses. That research involved bringing the viruses from distant caves, recombining their genes and infecting them into human cells and humanised transgenic mice; three of the scientists got sick but no other animals in the city did.

Yet calls to regulate this frankly idiotic corner of virology – gain-of-function research on potential pandemic pathogens – are met with libertarian shrieks of outrage from scientists that even the new President of Argentina would be embarrassed by: leave us alone, we know what we are doing! Most of us were blissfully unaware that a small handful of virologists were being handed huge sums by the US and Chinese governments to see if they could find a virus capable of causing the next pandemic and bring it to a big city, then juice it up in a low–biosafety lab. Only governments, by the way, would fund that kind of work: no venture capitalist would touch it.

Yet now, compared with four years ago, the risk from such research is bigger, not smaller. Even if the recent pandemic did not begin in the Wuhan lab, the fact it could have done has alerted bad actors worldwide to how easy it would be to use virology to bring the world economy to its knees. From Pyongyang to Tehran to Moscow, ears have pricked up. The research proposal writes itself: ‘Dear Kim/Khamenei/Vladimir, if we don’t do this research our enemies will. Please can we hire some virologists and start sampling bats?’

It’s not just rogue regimes thinking this way. So are criminals. Last month, in Fresno, California, police arrested a Chinese national, who had changed his name multiple times, on charges of selling misbranded Covid-19 tests. That allegation is the tip of the iceberg. According to a report from a congressional committee, the man – part of a transnational criminal enterprise funded from China and on the run from a court ruling in Canada – was operating a large, chaotic, secret laboratory in which were found samples of viruses including Covid, HIV, hepatitis B and C, dengue and rubella, plus, according to a label on a freezer, ebola. Oh, and a thousand genetically engineered mice.

When the story first surfaced, after a council officer in the small town of Reedley in California spotted a garden hose leading into the warehouse, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention seemed remarkably uninterested. The CDC declined to test some of the samples before they were destroyed, so we do not know whether there was ebola in that freezer or not. The media moved to damp down ‘conspiracy theories’ that this was a Chinese government operation to start another pandemic. All those transgenic mice, the Associated Press told us, were ‘simply used to grow antibody cells to make test kits’. Right.

Even if he was just a rogue criminal with no connection to the Chinese government, it is alarming because, as the congressional committee put it, ‘a disturbing realisation is that no one knows whether there are other unknown biolabs in the US because there is no monitoring system in place [and] the US currently does not conduct oversight of privately funded research, including enhancement of potential pandemic pathogens’. There could be labs like this all over America, let alone Asia.

I find myself in a strange position here. I usually argue that regulation stifles innovation far more often than it encourages it, and that tying things like genetically modified crops up in impossible red tape has done great harm. Golden rice – genetically enhanced with vitamin A precursor – could have saved half a million lives a year in the 24 years since it was invented by the Swiss biotechnologist Ingo Potrykus, for example. But Greenpeace campaigned relentlessly against it, pushing governments to impose impossibly tight regulation, a stance that more than 150 Nobel Prize winners have condemned in strong words: ‘How many poor people in the world must die before we consider this a “crime against humanity”?’

Yet when a genuine risk is posed by one small part of virology, those of us calling for more regulation are somewhat lonely. Led by Bryce Nickels of Rutgers University, a group of scientists have founded an organisation called Biosafety Now but they are getting scant support from the scientific establishment. Greenpeace has, as far as I can tell, said nothing about that irresponsible research in Wuhan.


New Zealand Government to End All COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates

The incoming New Zealand government, under Prime Minister-elect Christopher Luxon, has brokered a historic deal with New Zealand First, led by Winston Peters, to terminate all COVID-19 vaccine mandates and establish an inquiry into the pandemic.

Although Employment New Zealand currently reports no government vaccine mandates at present, it acknowledges that some employers may still require vaccinations based on health and safety legislation.

During COVID-19, while Jacinda Ardern was prime minister, New Zealand introduced vaccine mandates for workers in certain settings and a vaccine pass for the public.

Chris Hipkins, who was a health minister during COVID-19, took over from Ms. Ardern as Prime Minister in January.

During the election campaign, he sparked a massive reaction online when he claimed "there was no compulsory vaccination."

In addition to ending vaccine mandates, an urgent and comprehensive independent COVID-19 inquiry will be conducted, featuring both local and international experts. The inquiry will look into how the COVID-19 pandemic was handled in New Zealand, including the use of multiple lockdowns and the efficiency of vaccine procurement.

Ahead of the election, Mr. Peters campaigned for possible vaccine compensation for those who lost their jobs or were proven injured by the vaccine.