It is now a fundamental assumption amongst governments and health experts world wide that a new vaccine for COVID-19 is the only solution to the current pandemic crisis. Billions of dollars, backed by taxpayers money and through philanthropic donations are being channelled to pharmaceutical companies to fast track a new vaccine to the market
Why is so much money being spent on finding a new vaccine for an epidemic that at this point on April 30th has killed about 220,000 people, out of a population of over 7 billion. One and half million people die from TB, another communicable disease, each year. Many more die from diabetes, cancer and a multiple of other diseases. However, the current crisis, fuelled by a global media onslaught and the action of many governments has inflamed an existential fear of a pandemic into a stark reality. We have never seen anything like this before in the history of humanity. We are collectively terrified, to the point that around half the countries in the world are in some form of lockdown, there is no international travel to speak of, economies are paralysed, millions thrown out of work and, in poorer (and developed) countries, millions are in or on the edge of destitution. It is this same fear that is driving the extraordinary attention and money to the quest for a vaccine as the only viable solution to this crisis. In the USA alone, the new CARES act is going to cost the taxpayer 2 trillion dollars, a lot of which is going into drug and vaccine research. Compared to this, the massive bailout of the banks in the last financial crisis of 2008 pales into insignificance.
The race for the vaccine and the risks involved
Professor Ferguson in the UK and Dr Fauci in the USA have talked about an 18-month wait for a new vaccine, a remarkably short period of time as it normally takes years to create a new vaccine and ensure safety. Even more radical is the statement by Dr Sarah Gilbert of Oxford University, that a new vaccine could be ready by September. That is truly extraordinary, given that preliminary human studies have only just begun. Dr Paul Offit, a vaccine expert from the USA has warned that it could take many years, given his experience of creating the Rotavirus vaccine. Dr Fauci, Dr Ferguson and Bill Gates have said some forms of isolation and lockdown need to stay in place until the vaccine is produced. However, no vaccine for a corona virus has ever been produced. Can a safe and effective vaccine be produced in this time frame? Many experts involved in vaccine devlopment, doubt it. Nonetheless, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is in turn funding nine different corona virus projects and saying that it could be achieved in even less than 18 months.
Historically the use of flu vaccines has not been safe or effective. The most famous complication of a flu vaccine was in 1976, after a swine flu virus erupted at Fort Dix, New Jersey, in the USA. It led to the vaccination of over 45 million Americans. The proven side effects of the vaccine led to curtailment of the vaccine programme, and serious questioning of the government policy that promoted the rush for a vaccine without appropriate safety studies followed. In the end there was no ‘swine flu’ epidemic, but statistical studies confirmed a causal relationship between the vaccine and Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), an autoimmune nervous-system reaction characterized by unstable gait and loss of sensation and muscle control. During that year, the rate of GBS in Ohio was 13.3 per 1,000,000 in vaccine recipients, compared to 2.6 per 1,000,000 in nonrecipients. Doctors became reluctant to administer the vaccine, and public trust in the flu vaccine campaign was diminished. More recently, an increased risk for GBS occurred in patients during the six weeks following the administration of flu vaccine in the 1992–1993 and 1993–1994 flu seasons.
Flu vaccines have not been particularly effective over the years, as the strain of virus often differs from the strain in the vaccine. Given the unpredictability of matching each year’s flu vaccine to the actual strain of flu virus that later spreads among the human population, it is impossible in most years to guarantee its effectiveness. The US Centre for Disease Control’s report on the 1994–1995 flu season stated that 87 percent of influenza A virus samples and 76 percent of influenza B virus samples were not similar to that year’s vaccine. According to “Recommendations for Influenza Immunization of Children,” an American Association of Paediatrics (AAP) policy statement, “Protective efficacy against influenza illness confirmed by positive culture varies between 30 percent and 95 percent.”
An attempt was made to find a vaccine for the SARS virus, SARS-1, after the epidemic in 2003. However researchers encountered serious problems in animal studies, where the virus showed “enhanced respiratory disease in vaccinated animals after exposure to the live virus”. The WHO roadmap specifically states that, “Evaluating the potential for enhanced disease in humans is critical before [vaccines] can be assessed through larger-scale studies.” A hyper immune reaction also occurred in the RSV vaccine trials in the 1960s. In other words, the vaccinated animals or children in the trials produced a hyper immune reaction when exposed to natural viruses found in daily life. The SARS-1 vaccine was never made
Technology has evolved since the first SARS epidemic. Scientists are now working with gene-based vaccines that encode a viral protein from a pathogen (like COVID-19) in human DNA or mRNA. In an article published by the National Vaccine Information Centre, Barbara Loe Fisher explains that “DNA vaccines deliver pieces of DNA into human cells to stimulate the immune system to create antibodies specific to pathogenic proteins without causing disease. DNA vaccines require no culture or fermentation for production and no refrigeration after production because they are made in a lab using synthetic processes, and can be produced in large quantities for less money than traditional vaccines. Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines inject human cells with mRNA, usually within lipid nanoparticles, to stimulate cells in the body to become manufacturers of viral proteins. In March 2020, a virologist at Imperial College London told Chemistry World that one advantage of using mRNA technology to make vaccines for humans is that, “Rather than generating proteins in a manufacturing plant and purifying them, you are getting the muscle to do the job and make the protein itself.” Like DNA vaccines, mRNA vaccines can be produced in the lab using faster and less expensive process than traditional vaccines. RNA vaccines can be delivered with syringes, nasal spray or needle-free into the skin (patches). Although neither DNA or mRNA vaccines have been tested in large-scale clinical trials, an Apr. 3 article in Chemical and Engineering News highlights the breakneck speed at which COVID-19 vaccines “are moving new technologies from the computer and into the clinic at an unprecedented rate.” What should be separate pre-licensure phases for proving safety and effectiveness—preclinical animal models, clinical testing, and manufacturing—are now “happening all at once”.
The article then cites all the risks inherent in this process, including that the vaccine could continually stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies leading to chronic inflammation. It could lead to mutations through possible integration of plasmid DNA into the body’s host genome, with a triggering of autoimmune responses and activation of cancer forming genes. The fact is, no one knows what the long-term effects could be of this method of making vaccines. It could be a Russian roulette experiment with the human body.
An attempt was made to find a vaccine for Dengue Fever, a common viral condition spread by mosquitos in much of the tropical and sub-tropical world. It was being made by Sanofi over a 20-year period, costing 1.5 billion dollars. It was first used in the Philippines and caused the deaths of over 600 children, leading to the revocation of the license in the country. Even then, the Food and Drug Administration in the USA and 19 other countries gave a license for its use, but the widespread knowledge of its harm led Sanofi to revise its recommendations. The vaccine should only be given to people who are sero-negative to dengue viruses, as the vaccine can produce a strong reaction in people who have already been exposed to a dengue virus, or subsequently to other viruses after the vaccination. In other words, the vaccine made people more susceptible to other viruses, which has been described as “disease enhancement.” There are concerns this could occur with a COVID-19 vaccine.
Is this why Bill Gates has said that organizations, drug companies and governments need to ensure they have legal indemnity from any risks of vaccine harm? The current race is now between more than 70 different organizations and individuals, all competing to be the first to find a new vaccine, and the possibility of billions of dollars in profits.
Most importantly, do we really need a vaccine, and is it worth spending the billions of dollars necessary to create one and distribute it to everyone on the planet? Bill Gates, Anthony Fauci and others, have made it clear that some form of mandatory vaccine with a digital vaccine certificate is their preference, and until that is ready, to maintain varying forms of social control. This may not be acceptable for most democratic countries
The importance of natural immunity
A discussion about natural immunity needs to be considered in this situation. It is likely that millions of people have already been exposed to the virus with only mild or no symptoms, and from that exposure have developed some degree of immunity to it. That is how immunity works and historically, a natural immunity to a disease can confer a long-term immunity to the same or similar pathogen. The immune system of a human being is a highly developed biological mechanism, crucial in the survival of our species. Why should that be any different for the COVID-19 virus? Even if immunity to the constantly evolving corona viruses are not long-term or lifelong, it is at least likely to give some immunity if a similar virus appears again. Through natural adaptation the human species has been able to able to survive for thousands of years without vaccines. This is a core principle of evolutionary theory. Also, the immunity from a vaccine is not as effective as natural immunity, which is a much more complex process in the body. Natural immunity generally lasts longer, which is why having certain diseases gives lifelong immunity, whereas now even adults are being recommended to have booster doses of vaccines for childhood diseases as their immunity diminishes over time. An argument could be made that if a person is generally healthy and at low risk of serious complications, it is better to simply be exposed to a virus like COVID-19 and in the process, to develop immunity. When the virus moves through a population it’s lethality weakens in the process. It can be argued that it is more efficient, safer and more economic to allow that process than to create an artificial herd immunity by attempting to vaccinate the whole of the world’s population. Some experts involved in the COVID-19 vaccine development are saying there should be mandatory vaccines for all, with limits on free movement for those who do now comply. This is a highly debatable and risky strategy, not to mention its impact on basic liberties. Also, where is the guarantee the vaccine will be effective and won’t need to be renewed each year due to mutation of the virus? The financial costs are simply extraordinary and the ongoing cost to taxpayers is in the many billions of dollars.
Who is influencing the current vaccine strategy?
Both Bill Gates and Anthony Fauci have discouraged the idea of herd immunity, preferring the lockdown and vaccine strategy, as long as they can ensure governments will use legislative powers to mandate compulsory vaccines and also to give legal indemnity to drug companies and other organizations. Gates stated in an interview on CNBC news that before this new vaccine is released globally, “governments will need indemnification from the risks involved.” In an interview with Chris Anderson on “CBS This Morning” and released by TED Talks, Bill Gates stresses that all US states should be made to impose a lockdown and when asked when it would be possible to open them up again, said “….activities like mass gatherings, may be, in a certain sense more optional. And so until you’re widely vaccinated those [activities] may not come back at all”. In an Op-Ed of the Washington Post on March 31st, he stated lockdown should last “10 weeks or more.” “Eventually we will have some digital certificates to show who has recovered or been tested recently, or when we have a vaccine, who has received it.” and that this certificate would be needed, for example to travel. This is a non-elected private citizen who happens to front one of the biggest philanthropic donor organizations in the world. His influence is being increasingly criticized by people who feel that the vast donations he gives to organizations like the WHO, and the funding to organizations like the Global Vaccine Alliance (GAVI) and Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness (CEPI), should not give him undue influence, especially in such a pivotal time in world history.
GAVI stated that US$7.4 billion will be given as additional resources to protect the next generation with vaccines, with a focus on making them available to the most vulnerable, “for the world’s poorest countries thanks to Gavi’s market-shaping experience.” In the online journal “The Conversation”, on April 6th, the writer Jennifer Mabuka-Maroa, of the African Academy of Sciences made the case that so far, only South Africa has offered to do clinical trials of the COVID-19 vaccine and that it is important that more African countries sign up to be part of any vaccine research. The African Academy of Sciences is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Is there a conflict of interest here? Dr Anthony Fauci, the US government spokesperson for the COVID-19 crisis is on the board of the Bill and Melinda Gates Global Vaccine Action Plan and is very much part of the Gate’s Foundation vision for a COVID-19 vaccine.
Therefore, there are extremely powerful and influential people at the centre of the drive for vaccines to address this pandemic and any future ones. It should concern citizens everywhere that this pandemic crisis is being influenced in such a profound way.
A vaccine is only one option to this crisis. It is not the only solution, contrary to what is being said. The billions now being spent on drug and vaccine research could be much better spent. The pharmaceutical industry and other organizations are at the centre of attempting to dictate government policy about how to deal with the crisis. Even the claims that new technology will make the process of vaccine manufacture that much faster and more effective, should not be taken at face value. On April 20th, Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK government’s Chief Scientific Officer said a vaccine could still be years away and is a long shot, and yet Sarah Gilbert of Oxford University says they are confident it will be ready by September. Bill Gates wants us all in lockdown until a vaccine is available, and then to limit all movement unless proof of vaccine or negative testing is given. We are hearing from thousands of experts, most of whom are caught up in the mad race to find the first vaccine, with governments pouring the money in and ready to impose mandatory vaccine.
We may be moving very quickly down a slippery slope, where basic freedoms are at risk and tied to a vaccine, with a radical compromise of democratic accountability in many countries. The imposition of a vaccine solution for the entire world’s population, for a pandemic that has killed less people globally than malaria does in Africa in one year? This makes no sense.
(There’s a more in depth piece in out In Depth section.)