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A future mono vaccine may have a shot at defeating multiple sclerosis, a new study suggests

People who develop multiple sclerosis were often previously infected with EBV, the mononucleosis virus, according to new research. Particles of the mononucleosis virus (dark circles) inside a cell.CDC A study provides the strongest evidence to date suggesting the Epstein-Barr virus may lead to multiple sclerosis.  Scientists disagree about whether EBV definitively causes MS. Experts hope a vaccine may one day prevent some MS cases, but it may take decades. Scientists have found the strongest evidence to date that an infection from the Epstein-Barr virus could significantly increase the risk of developing multiple sclerosis, a degenerative disease, new research suggests."Our data strongly suggest EBV is the leading cause of MS," Dr. Kjetil Bjornevik, a research scientist at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and lead author of the study, which was published in the journal Science on Thursday, told STAT News.The findings offer hope that a vaccine or early treatment of the virus could one day help prevent multiple sclerosis, Alberto Ascherio, an author of the study and epidemiology professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, told Insider.But experts unaffiliated with the study say there's still uncertainty about whether the virus causes MS. The study suggests a much higher MS risk after infectionMultiple sclerosis, a progressive disease that affects the brain and spinal cord, is caused by inflammation that attacks myelin, the fatty tissue surrounding the nerves, according to the National Institutes of Health. In 2020, there were 2.8 million people living with multiple sclerosis worldwide.When myelin degrades, it's more difficult for the nerves to send messages to the brain, causing blurred vision, weak limbs, tingling sensations, unsteadiness, and fatigue, according to the Multiple Sclerosis International Federation. In advanced cases, patients can have muscle weakness in their arms and legs, making it difficult to walk or stand.To determine the link between an EBV infection and MS, scientists analyzed samples from the Department of Defense Serum Repository, a collection of more than 60 million blood samples taken from more than 10 million active and reserve duty members every few years.The scientists compared blood samples of 1,566 service members who didn't develop MS to samples from 801 service members who received an MS diagnosis during the course of the study. Of those individuals, 107 members of the control group and 35 members of the group that subsequently developed MS started off without an EBV infection.By the end of the study, 34 of the 35 people who developed MS had been infected with EBV at some point during the study. In these cases, the infection always preceded the diagnosis.In other words, all but one person in the study who developed MS had a previous EBV infection — and having that infection increased the likelihood of getting MS later in life by 32-fold in the study, the scientists found. Jury's still out on whether EBV definitively causes MS, some experts say  It's difficult to definitively prove that EBV, which is also the virus behind mononucleosis, causes MS.Although it's the most authoritative study to date, the way the study is designed means scientists can't know with absolute certainty that the virus causes the disease, Alan Thompson, dean of the Faculty of Brain Sciences from University College London and a peer reviewer on the new paper, told Insider.It's possible that the virus does cause the disease, Thompson added, scientists just aren't 100% sure."We do need to be a little cautious about getting too excited," Catherine Godbold, research communications manager for the MS Society, a charity in the UK, said of the study results.The gold standard would be to do a randomized controlled trial, but that's impractical as well as unethical, Godbold explained, because it would involve infecting half of study participants with EBV. The current study design is the next best thing, she added.While the study did not directly investigate how EBV could potentially cause multiple sclerosis, previous research may provide clues. Some research groups have suggested that the virus carried a molecule at its surface that looks like myelin, confusing immune system, which sees it as a foreign invader to attack, causing inflammation, according to STAT News. Different researchers theorize that immune cells, called B cells, may turn against the body when infected by EBV, STAT reported. Scientists disagree about whether the Epstein-Barr virus directly causes multiple sclerosis.iStock / Getty Images PlusA vaccine offers hope, but may take decadesWhile there's currently no treatment or vaccine against EBV, the pharmaceutical company Moderna is in the early stages of developing an EBV vaccine, using similar technology to current mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. Using existing technology may quicken the availability of EBV vaccines, by shortening the timeline from decades to years, Thompson said. Most people catch EBV during their lifetimes, usually during childhood, but the vast majority don't develop multiple sclerosis, so it's also important to figure out what other factors are at play. Genetics, vitamin D deficiency, and childhood obesity are all risk factors associated with multiple sclerosis.Aschiero is hopeful: "If you could prevent infection, we should be able to prevent the large majority of MS cases."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytJan 14th, 2022

Early evidence suggests Omicron infection could give people "superimmunity" against future coronavirus variants, but experts warn COVID-19 is still unpredictable

A combination of vaccination and natural infection seems to offer enhanced immunity across variants. A stock image of a man receiving a vaccination in his arm.Getty Images The combination of vaccination and immunity from natural infection produces strong protection, data suggest. Most data we have is from the time when Delta was dominant, but emerging evidence suggests the same could be true for Omicron. Exposure to Omicron and other variants may diversify the immune response to any strain of the virus. As people rack up boosters and breakthroughs, immunity has become a complicated buzzword in our coronavirus vocabulary."Breakthrough" infections surprised a small portion of the vaccinated population and showed us all that our protection is not necessarily variant-proof, although vaccines still work well for preventing severe outcomes.However, emerging evidence suggests there may be a silver lining for people who got COVID after vaccination: People who are fully vaccinated and have immunity from a prior COVID-19 infection seem to be very well protected against future infection.The researchers behind one recent study at Oregon Health and Science University, conducted during the Delta wave, described this double-duty protection "superimmunity" — a finding reinforced by recent CDC data suggesting people with both a vaccine and a prior infection were the least likely to contract COVID-19 with Delta.While data on Omicron is still trickling in, early research out of Austria (not yet peer-reviewed) suggests the same may be true for vaccinated people who got COVID in recent weeks.But a new type of immunity does not mean the end of COVID-19. It represents yet another fracture in this patchwork pandemic, with some people more protected than others. Another variant could emerge at any point. For public health experts, the worry remains that a COVID-19 infection is unpredictable. "You'd be crazy to try to get infected with this," Dr. Robert Murphy, of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, told CNN. "It's like playing with dynamite."Vaccination provides a foundation for 'superimmunity' if you're infected later onSuperimmunity doesn't work without the foundation of vaccination in place — a natural infection alone isn't going to deliver anything beyond normal immunity, potentially high medical bills, and the risks of severe sickness and long COVID.Vaccinated people who experienced breakthrough infections during the Delta wave produced antibodies at levels up to 1,000% more effective than those generated after a second Pfizer shot."Not only is the level of the antibodies high, but the ability to cross-neutralize different variants is remarkably high," Fikadu Tafesse, a co-author of the Oregon study, told Insider. By exposing your immune system to multiple variants of the same virus, you're essentially showing your body the many forms the coronavirus can take on."The vaccines were designed with the original strain, but when you get the breakthroughs, it could be Delta or now Omicron," Tafesse, an assistant professor of microbiology and immunology, added. "It gives you an additional level of complexity in terms of your antibody diversity."What a natural infections does to the immune systemWhile you were bedridden with fatigue and body aches, your T cells and B cells were hard at work. These immune warriors are responsible for attacking infected cells and making more antibodies, respectively. The overall result is a better-trained defense plan for the next time your body encounters the virus."The whole virus infection trains your immunity in a more complete way than the immunity we get from the vaccine, which is mostly spike protein," Tafesse told Insider.The vaccines use the spike protein — the virus' weapon for infiltrating our cells — as a shortcut to immunity. But with Omicron, we've learned that an immune response specific to a single protein won't always keep people from getting COVID-19.It'll take time to track Omicron-induced immunityThe researchers haven't yet gathered the data to understand how superimmunity holds up against Omicron, but Tafesse was optimistic."We think that individuals with breakthroughs will have high levels of protection, even from Omicron," he said, but he laughed at the prospect of trying to predict what comes next. "I mean, we say that now it's superimmunity, so what is the next one — super-duper immunity?"In a recent panel put on by the World Economic Forum, Dr. Anthony Fauci said the questions of whether Omicron would bring the pandemic to an end — or perhaps a slow fizzling out — are tough to answer given the virus' potential to mutate."I would hope that that's the case," Tafesse said when asked if COVID-19 would become endemic after Omicron. "But that would only be the case if we don't get another variant that eludes the immune response of the prior variant."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJan 22nd, 2022

Moderna (MRNA) Down as Pfizer Paxlovid EUA May Fuel Competition

Moderna's (MRNA) COVID-19 vaccine may face stiffer competition following the FDA's emergency approval of an oral COVID-19 pill, Pfizer's Paxlovid, which may result in lower sales. Shares of popular COVID-19 vaccine-maker, Moderna MRNA were down 6.3% on Wednesday, following the news of emergency use authorization (“EUA”) for Pfizer’s PFE promising oral COVID-19 pill, Paxlovid, in the United States.The FDA granted authorization to Pfizer’s Paxlovid for use to treat mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adult and pediatric patients (12 years and older and weighing at least 40 kg) at increased risk of hospitalizations or death. The EUA was granted based on data from a phase II/III study, which demonstrated that treatment with Paxlovid reduces the risk of hospitalization or death by 89% or 88% compared to placebo when administered within three or five days, respectively, of symptom onset.The availability of Paxlovid is not likely to remove dependence on vaccines to fight against COVID-19. However, it may hurt their importance going forward.Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, mRNA-1273, has helped the company skyrocket 139% so far this year against the industry’s decline of 19.5%. The performance of the company’s shares in 2022 will continue to depend on its vaccine’s performance amid rising competition.Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchPaxlovid’s PotentialPfizer stated that its oral COVID-19 pill inhibits a particular enzyme, SARS-CoV-2 main protease (Mpro), which is needed for the replication of the coronavirus. It is believed that the coronavirus is unlikely to mutate in such a way that will change its dependence on the same enzyme for replication. This suggests the potential of Paxlovid to be effective against current COVID-19 variants as well as any new variants that may appear in the future. In-vitro antiviral studies have shown consistent effectiveness of Paxlovid against all previous variants of concern including the Delta. A recent in-vitro study showed that Paxlovid potently inhibited the Mpro associated with rapidly spreading Omicron variant, suggesting the pill’s potential in maintaining robust antiviral activity against the variant.President Biden called Paxlovid a “promising new treatment option” that will lower rates of hospitalization and death in a statement issued after the FDA’s EUA.Impact on Vaccine-MakersThe authorization for at-home administration of Paxlovid has the potential to alter the treatment landscape for COVID-19 going forward. The drug can now be used in individuals after the onset of COVID-19 infection and can be used without any physician intervention.Unlike Paxlovid, any authorized COVID-19 vaccine in the United States — Moderna’s mRNA-1273, Pfizer and BioNTech’s BNTX Comirnaty, and J&J’s JNJ COVID-19 vaccine — needs to be administered in infected as well as uninfected individuals and that too following a visit to a hospital or any physician. Like Moderna, shares of BioNTech also declined on Wednesday by 4.3%. However, shares of pharma giant J&J, with diversified revenues sources, remained unaffected.Pfizer and BioNTech developed Comirnaty, an mRNA-based vaccine like mRNA-1273, under a collaboration agreement and share revenues from its sales. J&J’s COVID-19 vaccine is a single-shot, adenovirus-based vaccine.Moreover, there is a faction of people actively advocating against the use of vaccines due to several factors, including the unavailability of long-term safety data for any vaccines. With the availability of easy-to-use pill like Paxlovid, these individuals may prefer using the drug over a vaccine as it will be used only in infected people.Although COVID-19 vaccine and drugs work differently, investors of vaccine makers are concerned that the availability of Paxlovid may lead uninfected individuals to avoid a vaccine or booster dose, hurting their demand going forward. Moreover, another oral COVID-19 pill made by Merck is under review with the FDA for EUA. The availability of multiple oral COVID-19 pills will likely lead to more competition for vaccines.Moderna’s ProspectsModerna is currently dependent on its COVID-19 vaccine for a major portion of its revenues. Other sources of revenues — grant and collaboration revenues — generated less than 5% of total revenues in the first nine months of 2021.Moreover, its leading pipeline candidate — the Cytomegalovirus vaccine — entered a pivotal study in October 2021. A phase II/III study to evaluate the respiratory syncytial virus vaccine candidate is likely to start by year-end. However, these candidates are a few years away from commercialization, subject to the successful completion of late-stage studies.Although Moderna has supply agreements with different countries worth up to $20 billion for 2022, any setback to demand for its COVID-19 vaccine with an increasing supply of Paxlovid and similar pills will significantly hurt Moderna’s share price as it has no other commercialized product. Moreover, several new COVID-19 vaccines are expected to be authorized in 2022, which should increase competition for Moderna’s mRNA-1273.However, we note that Pfizer has announced that it expects to produce 120 million courses of Paxlovid treatment in 2022. With the rise in infections, 120 million courses are not likely to be enough, thanks to the Omicron outbreak in many countries. This should help vaccines remain the primary protection against COVID-19 infections.Pfizer’s Paxlovid is currently authorized in the United States and may get authorization in Europe shortly. However, a vast number of countries are not likely to get the drug soon. The countries without a COVID-19 pill will continue to use vaccines to protect citizens.Moderna is currently developing an Omicron-specific booster dose, which is likely to enter clinical study in early 2022. The company’s authorized booster dose has also elicited robust antibody levels against the Omicron variant in a pseudovirus test. These encouraging developments are likely to help Moderna to fight against the rising competition in the COVID-19 space. Moreover, the company needs to accelerate the development of its other pipeline candidates to remove its dependence on mRNA-1273 for revenues.We note that Moderna has significantly boosted its cash resources so far in 2021 following a surge in revenues from the sale of its COVID-19 vaccine. The company now has enough cash to continue the development of its pipeline candidates without any external funding for a few years. Any rise in competition for its COVID-19 vaccine is thus likely to hurt the near-term prospects of the company. The promising pipeline candidates continue to boost its long-term prospects.Moderna, Inc. Price Moderna, Inc. price | Moderna, Inc. QuoteZacks RankModerna currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here. Zacks’ Top Picks to Cash in on Artificial Intelligence This world-changing technology is projected to generate $100s of billions by 2025. From self-driving cars to consumer data analysis, people are relying on machines more than we ever have before. Now is the time to capitalize on the 4th Industrial Revolution. Zacks’ urgent special report reveals 6 AI picks investors need to know about today.See 6 Artificial Intelligence Stocks With Extreme Upside Potential>>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Johnson & Johnson (JNJ): Free Stock Analysis Report Pfizer Inc. (PFE): Free Stock Analysis Report Moderna, Inc. (MRNA): Free Stock Analysis Report BioNTech SE Sponsored ADR (BNTX): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksDec 23rd, 2021

Futures Jump In Volatile Session Dragged By Latest Twists In Omicron Saga

Futures Jump In Volatile Session Dragged By Latest Twists In Omicron Saga Much of the overnight session was a snooze fest with stocks drifting first higher then lower after surging on Tuesday, as the narrative meandered from "omicron fears ease" optimism to "vaccines won't work" pessimism, before futures took a sudden leg lower, dropping into the red just after 530am ET, following news that UK's Boris Johnson would introduce new restrictions in England to curb Omicron spread, sparking fears that Omicron is more dangerous that expected (and than futures reflected). However, this episode of pessimism proved short-lived because just an hour later, the WSJ confirmed that Omicron is really just a pitch for covid booster shots when it reported that even though the covid vaccine loses significant effectiveness against Omicron in an early study, this is miraculously reversed with a booster shot as three doses of the vaccine were able to neutralize the variant in an initial laboratory study, and the companies said two doses may still protect against severe disease. Futures quickly shot up on the news, spiking above the gamma "all clear" level of 4,700 in a move best summarized with the following chart. And so, after going nowhere, S&P futures climbed for a third day, last seen 12 points, or 0.3% higher, just around 4,700 after rising the most since March on Tuesday. Europe’s Stoxx 600 Index rose following the biggest jump in more than a year. In addition to the omicron soap opera, which as we noted yesterday turns out was just one staged covid booster shot advertisement (because Pfizer and Moderna can always do with a bigger yacth), sentiment was also lifted by Chinese authorities' reversal to "easing mode" and aggressive efforts to limit the fallout from property market woes which lifted risk assets in Asia even as key debt deadlines at China Evergrande Group and Kaisa Group Holdings Ltd. passed without any sign of payment. "Clearly in the very short term uncertainty has risen over the Omicron virus... but overall at this stage we do not believe it will derail the macro picture in the medium-term," said Jeremy Gatto, multi-asset portfolio manager at Unigestion. Treasury yields were little changed after rising across the curve Tuesday. The VIX spiked first on the FT news, then dropped back into the red, while the dollar was flat and crude rose after turning red. Besides macro, micro was also in play and here are some other notable premarket movers Apple (AAPL US) ticks 1% higher in premarket trading following a Nikkei report that the tech giant told suppliers to speed up iPhone output for Nov.-Jan, citing people it didn’t identify. Amazon.com (AMZN US) shares in focus after an Amazon Web Services outage is wreaking havoc on the e-commerce giant’s delivery operation Stitch Fix (SFIX US) tumbles 25% in U.S. premarket trading after a 2Q forecast miss that analysts called “surprising,” while customer additions also disappointed Pfizer (PFE US) shares drop 2% in U.S. premarket trading after an early study showed that the company’s vaccine provides less immunity to the omicron variant Dare Bioscience (DARE US) soars 41% in premarket trading after Xaciato gets FDA approval for treating bacterial vaginosis EPAM Systems (EPAM US) soars 8% in premarket after S&P Dow Jones Indices said co. will replace Kansas City Southern in the S&P 500 effective prior to the opening of trading on Dec. 14 Goodyear Tire & Rubber (GT US) upgraded to buy from hold and target boosted to Street-high $32 from $29 at Deutsche Bank with the company seen as a major beneficiary from the shift to electric vehicles. Shares up 4.3% in premarket trading NXP Semiconductor (NXPI US) shares slide 2.2% in U.S. premarket trading after the chipmaker got a new sell rating at UBS Dave & Buster’s (PLAY US) gained 3.5% postmarket after the dining and entertainment company reported EPS that beat the average analyst estimate and authorized a $100 million share buyback program "Every day that passes without a wave of severe cases driven by Omicron is offering more hope that this won't be the curveball to throw the recovery off course," wrote Deutsche Bank strategist Jim Reid in a note to clients. In Europe, the Stoxx Europe 600 Index initially drifted both higher and lower then bounced 0.3% on the favorable Pfizer and BioNTech news one day after posting its bigger surge in a year. European benchmark index earlier rose as much as 2%, dropped 2.1%. Health care sub-index leads gains, rising 1.2%, followed by travel stocks. The Stoxx 600 closed 2.5% higher on Tuesday, biggest gain since November 2020 Earlier in the session, Asia stocks also rose for a second day as concerns about the omicron variant and China’s economic slowdown eased. The MSCI AsiaPacific Index climbed as much as 0.9% after capping its biggest one-day gain in more than three months on Tuesday. Technology and health-care shares provided the biggest boosts. Benchmarks in New Zealand and India -- where the central bank held rates at a record low -- were among the day’s best performers. “The biggest point appealing to investors is that the Omicron variant doesn’t seem to be too fatal,” which is encouraging to those who had been going short to close out their positions, said Tomoichiro Kubota, a senior market analyst at Matsui Securities in Tokyo. “Worry that the Chinese economy will lose its growth momentum has subsided quite a bit.” Thus far, Omicron cases haven’t overwhelmed hospitals while vaccine developments indicate some promise in dealing with the variant. While vaccines like the one made by Pfizer and BioNTech SE may be less powerful against the new strain, protection can be fortified with boosters. The two-day rally in the Asian stock benchmark marks a sharp turnaround following weeks of declines since mid-November. Stocks in China also climbed for a second day. The nation’s central bank said Monday it will cut the amount of cash most banks must keep in reserve from Dec. 15, providing a liquidity boost and helping restore investor confidence In FX, news on the Omicron variant rippled through G-10 currencies after a report the Pfizer vaccine could neutralize the Omicron variant boosted risk appetite. The pound underperformed other Group-of-10 peers, extending declines after reports that the U.K. government is poised to introduce new Covid-19 restrictions.  A gauge of the dollar’s strength fluctuated as Treasuries pare gains and stocks rally after a report that said Pfizer and BioNTech claim three vaccine doses neutralize the omicron variant. EUR/USD rose 0.1% to 1.1277; USD/NOK falls as much as 0.8% to 8.9459, lowest since Nov. 25 Sterling fell against the euro and the dollar, as traders pare bets on the path of Bank of England rate hikes following reports that the U.K. could introduce fresh Covid-19 restrictions such as working from home and vaccine passports for large venues. Money markets pare rate hike bets, with just six basis points of interest rate hikes priced in for the BOE meeting next week. GBP/USD falls as much as 0.6% to 1.3163, testing the key level of 1.3165, the 38.2% Fibonacci retracement of gains since March 2020. EUR/GBP gains as much as 0.7% to 0.85695, the highest since Nov. 11. “The market will probably see this as more U.K. specific and therefore an issue for the pound at least in the short term,” said Stuart Bennett, FX strategist at Santander. In rates, Treasuries were mixed with markets reacting in a risk-on manner to the Dow Jones report that Pfizer and BioNTech claim three vaccine doses neutralize the omicron variant. Yields remain richer by less than 1bp across long-end of the curve while front-end trades cheaper on the day, flattening curve spreads. Session’s focal points include $36b 10-year note reopening at 1pm ET, following Tuesday’s strong 3-year note auction. Treasury 10-year yields around 1.475%, near flat on the day; gilts outperform slightly after Financial Times report that further Covid restrictions will be announced imminently to curb the variant’s spread. U.S. 2-year yields were cheaper by 1bp on the day, rose to new 2021 high following Pfizer vaccine report; 2s10s spread erased a flattening move In commodities, crude futures turned red, WTI falling 0.8%, popping back below $72. Spot gold holds Asia’s modest gains, adding $8 to trade near $1,792/oz. Looking at the day ahead, and Olaf Scholz is expected to become German Chancellor in a Bundestag vote today. From central banks, the Bank of Canada will be deciding on rates, and we’ll also hear from ECB President Lagarde, Vice President de Guindos and the ECB’s Schnabel. Finally, data releases include the JOLTS job openings from the US for October. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures up 0.2% to 4,693.75 STOXX Europe 600 little changed at 480.55 MXAP up 0.7% to 194.84 MXAPJ up 0.6% to 632.78 Nikkei up 1.4% to 28,860.62 Topix up 0.6% to 2,002.24 Hang Seng Index little changed at 23,996.87 Shanghai Composite up 1.2% to 3,637.57 Sensex up 1.8% to 58,654.25 Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 1.3% to 7,405.45 Kospi up 0.3% to 3,001.80 Brent Futures down 0.5% to $75.04/bbl Gold spot up 0.3% to $1,790.33 U.S. Dollar Index down 0.17% to 96.20 German 10Y yield little changed at -0.38% Euro up 0.2% to $1.1286 Brent Futures down 0.5% to $75.04/bbl Top Overnight News from Bloomberg The omicron variant of Covid-19 must inflict significant damage on the euro-area economy for European Central Bank Governing Council member Martins Kazaks to back additional stimulus “The current phase of higher inflation could last longer than expected only some months ago,” ECB vice president Luis de Guindos says at event The earliest studies on omicron are in and the glimpse they’re providing is cautiously optimistic: while vaccines like the one made by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE may be less powerful against the new variant, protection can be fortified with boosters U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to announce new Covid-19 restrictions in England, known as “Plan B,” to stop the spread of the Omicron variant, the Financial Times reported, citing three senior Whitehall officials familiar with the matter. French economic activity will continue to rise in December, despite another wave of the Covid-19 pandemic and fresh uncertainty over the omicron variant, according the Bank of France The Kingdom of Denmark will sell a sovereign green bond for the first time next month to help the Nordic nation meet one of the world’s most ambitious climate targets Tom Hayes, the former UBS Group AG and Citigroup Inc. trader who became the face of the sprawling Libor scandal, has lost his bid to appeal his U.K. criminal conviction Poland is poised for a hefty increase in interest rates after a spike in inflation to a two- decade high convinced central bankers that spiraling price growth isn’t transitory. Of 32 economists surveyed by Bloomberg, 20 expect a 50 basis-point hike to 1.75% today and 10 see the rate rising to 2%. The other two expect a 25 basis-point increase Australia is weighing plans for a central bank-issued digital currency alongside the regulation of the crypto market as it seeks to overhaul how the nation’s consumers and businesses pay for goods and services Bank of Japan Deputy Governor Masayoshi Amamiya dropped a strong hint that big firms are in less need of funding support, a comment that will likely fuel speculation the BOJ will scale back its pandemic buying of corporate bonds and commercial paper A detailed summary of global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asian equity markets traded positively as the region took impetus from the global risk momentum following the tech-led rally in the US, where Apple shares rose to a record high and amid increased optimism that Omicron could be less dangerous than prior variants. This was after early hospitalisation data from South Africa showed the new variant could result in less severe COVID and NIH's Fauci also suggested that Omicron was 'almost certainly' not more severe than Delta, although there were some slight headwinds in late Wall Street trade after a small study pointed to reduced vaccine efficacy against the new variant. The ASX 200 (+1.3%) was underpinned in which tech led the broad gains across sectors as it found inspiration from the outperformance of big tech stateside, and with energy bolstered by the recent rebound in underlying oil prices. The Nikkei 225 (+1.4%) conformed to the upbeat mood although further advances were capped after USD/JPY eased off the prior day’s highs and following a wider-than-expected contraction to the economy with the final annualised Q3 GDP at -3.6% vs exp. -3.1%. The Hang Seng (+0.1%) and Shanghai Comp. (+1.2%) were less decisive and initially lagged behind their peers as sentiment was mired by default concerns due to the failure by Evergrande to pay bondholders in the lapsed 30-day grace period on two USD-denominated bond payments and with Kaisa Group in a trading halt after missing the deadline for USD 400mln in offshore debt which didn’t bode well for its affiliates. Furthermore, China Aoyuan Property Group received over USD 650mln in repayment demands and warned it may not be able to meet debt obligations, while a subdued Hong Kong debut for Weibo shares which declined around 6% from the offer price added to the glum mood for Hong Kong’s blue-chip tech stocks, as did reports that China is to tighten rules for tech companies seeking foreign funding. Finally, 10yr JGBs languished after spillover selling from T-notes and due to the heightened global risk appetite, but with downside stemmed by support at the key psychological 152.00 level and amid the presence of the BoJ in the market today for over JPY 1.0tln of JGBs. Top Asian News China Clean Car Sales Spike as Consumers Embrace Electric Gold Edges Higher as Traders Weigh Vaccine Efficacy, Geopolitics Paint Maker Avia Avian Falls in Debut After $763 Million IPO Tokyo Prepares to Introduce Same-Sex Partnerships Next Year Equities in Europe shifted to a lower configuration after a mixed open (Euro Stoxx 50 -0.7%; Stoxx 600 -0.1%) as sentiment was dented by rumours of tightening COVID measures in the UK. Markets have been awaiting the next catalyst to latch onto for direction amidst a lack of fresh fundamentals. US equity futures have also been dented but to a lesser extent, with the YM (-0.1%) and ES (Unch) straddling behind the NQ (+0.2%) and RTY (+0.2%). Sources in recent trade suggested an 85% chance of the UK implementing COVID Plan B, according to Times' Dunn; reports indicate such restrictions could be implemented on Thursday, with the potential for an announcement today. In terms of the timings, the UK cabinet is penciled in for 15:45GMT and presser for 17:30GMT on Plan B, according to BBC's Goodall. Note, this will not be a formal lockdown but more so work-from-home guidance, vaccine passports for nightlife and numerical restrictions on indoor/outdoor gatherings. APAC closed in the green across the board following the tech-led rally in the US. The upside overnight was attributed to a continuation of market optimism after early hospitalisation data from South Africa showed the new variant could result in less severe COVID, albeit after a small study pointed to reduced vaccine efficacy against the new variant. Participants will be closely watching any updates from the vaccine-makers, with the BioNTech CEO stating the drugmaker has data coming Wednesday or Thursday related to the new COVID-19 variant, thus markets will be eyeing a potential update this week ahead of the Pfizer investor call next Friday. Back to European, the UK’s FTSE 100 (Unch) and the Swiss SMI (+0.8%) are largely buoyed by their defensive stocks, with sectors seeing a defensive formation, albeit to a slightly lesser extent vs the open. Healthcare retains its top spot closely followed by Food & Beverages, although Personal & Household Goods and Telecoms have moved down the ranks. On the flip side, Retail, Banks and Travel & Leisure trade at the bottom of the bunch, whilst Tech nursed some earlier losses after opening as the lagging sector. In terms of individual movers, Nestle (+1.8%) is bolstered after announcing a CHF 20bln share repurchase programme alongside a stake reduction in L'Oreal (+1.0%) to 20.1% from 23.3% - worth some EUR 9bln. L’Oreal has shrugged off the stake sale and conforms to the firm sectoral performance across the Personal & Household Goods. Meanwhile, chip names are under pressure after Nikkei sources reported that Apple (+0.8% pre-market) was forced to scale back the total output target for 2021, with iPhone and iPad assembly halted for several days due to supply chain constraints and restrictions on the use of power in China, multiple sources told Nikkei. STMicroelectronics (-1.7%) and Infineon (-5.0%) are among the losers, with the latter also weighed on by a broker downgrade at JPM. Top European News ECB’s Kazaks Sets High Bar for Omicron-Driven Extra Stimulus Biden Is Left Guessing Over Putin’s Ultimate Aim in Ukraine Byju’s Buys Austria’s GeoGebra to Bolster Online Math Courses Scholz Elected by Parliament to Take Charge as German Chancellor In FX, the Dollar index continues to hold above 96.000, but bounces have become less pronounced and the range so far today is distinctly narrower (96.285-130) in fitting with the generally restrained trade in pairings within the basket and beyond, bar a few exceptions. Price action suggests a relatively muted midweek session unless a major game-changer arrives and Wednesday’s agenda does not bode that well in terms of catalysts aside from JOLTS and the BoC policy meeting before the second leg of this week’s refunding in the form of Usd 36 bn 10 year notes. AUD/EUR - Notwithstanding the largely contained currency moves noted above, the Aussie is maintaining bullish momentum on specific factors including strength in iron ore prices and encouraging Chinese data plus PBoC easing that should have a positive knock-on effect for one of its main trading partners even though diplomatic relations between the two nations are increasingly strained. Aud/Usd has also cleared a couple of technical hurdles on the way up to circa 0.7143 and Aud/Nzd is firmer on the 1.0500 handle ahead of the RBA’s latest chart pack release and a speech by Governor Lowe. Elsewhere, the Euro has regained composure after its sub-1.1250 tumble on Tuesday vs the Buck and dip through 0.8500 against the Pound, but still faces psychological resistance at 1.1300 and the 21 DMA that comes in at 1.1317 today, while Eur/Gbp needs to breach the 100 DMA (0.8513) convincingly or close above to confirm a change in direction for the cross from a chart perspective. CHF/CAD/JPY/GBP/NZD - All sitting tight in relation to their US counterpart, with the Franc paring some declines between 0.9255-30 parameters and the Loonie straddling 1.2650 in the run up to the aforementioned BoC that is widely seen as a non-event given no new MPR or press conference, not to mention the actual changes in QE and rate guidance last time. Nevertheless, implied volatility is quite high via a 63 pip breakeven for Usd/Cad. Meanwhile, Sterling lost grip of the 1.3200 handle amidst swirling speculation about the UK reverting to plan B and more Tory MPs calling for PM Johnson to resign, the Yen is rotating around 113.50 eyeing broad risk sentiment and US Treasury yields in context of spreads to JGBs, and the Kiwi is lagging after touching 0.6800 awaiting independent impetus from NZ manufacturing sales for Q3. SCANDI/EM - The Nok extended its advantage/outperformance against the Sek as Brent rebounded towards Usd 76/brl in early trade and Riksbank’s Jansson retained reservations about flagging a repo rate hike at the end of the forecast horizon, while the Mxn and Rub also initially derived some support from oil with the latter also taking on board latest hawkish talk from the CBR. However, the Cny and Cnh are outpacing their rivals again with some assistance from a firmer PBoC midpoint fix to hit multi-year peaks vs the Usd and probe 6.3500 ahead of option expiry interest at 6.3000 and a Fib retracement at 6.2946, in stark contrast to the Try that is unwinding recent recovery gains with no help from the latest blast from Turkish President Erdogan - see 10.00GMT post in the Headline Feed for more. Conversely, the Czk has taken heed of CNB’s Holub underscoring tightening signals and expectations for the next rate convene and the Pln and Brl are anticipating hikes from the NBP and BCB. In commodities, crude futures have been hit on the prospect of imminent COVID-related measures in the UK, albeit the measures do not involve lockdowns. Brent and WTI front month futures slipped from European highs to breach APAC lows. The former dipped below USD 74.50/bbl from a USD 76.00/bbl European peak while its WTI counterpart tested USD 71.00/bbl from USD 72.50/bbl at best. Overnight the benchmarks traded on either side the USD 75/bbl mark and just under USD 72/bbl after the weekly Private Inventories printed a larger-than-expected draw (-3.6mln vs exp. -3.1mln), albeit the internals were less bullish. Yesterday also saw the release of the EIA STEO, cut its 2021 world oil demand growth forecast by an insignificant 10k BPD but raised the 2022 metric by 200k BPD – with the IEA and OPEC monthly reports poised to be released next week. On the vaccine front, a small preliminary study of 12 people showed a 40x reduction in neutralization capacity of the Pfizer vaccine against Omicron, but early hospitalisation data from South Africa showed the new variant could result in less severe COVID. BioNTech CEO said they have data coming in on Wednesday or Thursday related to the new Omicron variant. The geopolitical space is also worth keeping on the radar, with US President Biden yesterday warning Russian President Putin that gas exports via Nord Stream 2 will be targeted and more troops will be deployed if he orders an invasion of Ukraine. Further, reports suggested, an Indian army helicopter crashed in Tamil Nadu, with Chief of Defence staff reportedly on board, according to Sputnik. Note, Tamil Nadu is located towards the south of the country and away from conflict zones. Elsewhere spot gold was supported by the overnight pullback in the Dollar, but the recent risk aversion took the yellow metal above the 100 DMA around USD 1,790/oz, with nearby upside levels including the 200 DMA (1,792/oz) and the 50 DMA (1,794/oz). Copper prices meanwhile consolidated within a tight range, with LME copper holding onto a USD 9,500/t handle (just about). Dalian iron ore extended on gains in a continuation of the upside seen in recent trade. US Event Calendar 7am: Dec. MBA Mortgage Applications, prior -7.2% 10am: Oct. JOLTs Job Openings, est. 10.5m, prior 10.4m DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap A reminder that we are currently conducting our special 2022 survey. We ask about rates, equities, bond yields and the path of covid in 2022, amongst other things, and also return to a festive question we asked in 2019, namely your favourite ever Christmas songs. The link is here and it’ll be open until tomorrow. All help filling in very much appreciated. My optimism for life has been shattered this morning. Not from the markets or the virus but just as I woke this morning England cricketers finally surrendered and collapsed in a heap on the first day of the Ashes - one the oldest international rivalries in sport. It was all I could do not to turn round and go back to bed. However out of duty I’m soldering on. After the twins nativity play went without incident yesterday, this morning it’s Maisie’s turn. Given she’s in a wheelchair at the moment she can’t get on stage so they’ve given her a solo singing spot at the start. I’m going so I can bring a bucket for all my wife’s tears as she sings!! If I shed a tear I’ll pretend it’s because of the cricket. The global market rebound continued to gather strength yesterday as investors became increasingly optimistic that the Omicron variant wouldn’t prove as bad as initially feared. To be honest, it was more the absence of bad news rather than any concrete good news helping to drive sentiment. Late in the US session we did see some headlines suggesting that the Pfizer vaccine may provide some defence against Omicron but also that the new variant does evade some of the immunity produced by this vaccine. This report of the small study (12 people!!) from South Africa lacked substance but you could take positives and negatives from it. More information is clearly needed. For the markets though, every day that passes without a wave of severe cases driven by Omicron is offering more hope that this won’t be the curveball to throw the recovery off course. Indeed, to get a sense of the scale of the market rebound, both the S&P 500 and the STOXX 600 in Europe have now clocked in their strongest 2-day performances of 2021 so far, with the indices up by +3.27% and +3.76% respectively since the start of the week. Meanwhile, the VIX fell below 25 for the first time in a week. On the day, the S&P 500 (+2.07%) put in its strongest daily performance since March, whilst the STOXX 600 (+2.45%) saw its strongest daily performance since the news that the Pfizer vaccine was successful in trials back in November 2020. Once again the gains were incredibly broad-based, albeit with cyclical sectors leading the way. The Nasdaq (+3.03%) outperformed the S&P 500 for the first time in a week as tech shares led the rally. Small cap stocks also had a strong day, with the Russell 2000 up +2.28%, on the back of Omicron optimism. This recovery in risk assets was also seen in the bounceback in oil prices, with Brent crude (+3.23%) and WTI (+3.68%) now both up by more than $5.5/bbl since the start of the week, which puts them well on the way to ending a run of 6 consecutive weekly declines. For further evidence of this increased optimism, we can also look at the way that investors have been dialling back up their estimates of future rate hikes from the Fed, with yesterday seeing another push in this direction. Before the Omicron news hit, Fed fund futures were fully pricing in an initial hike by the June meeting, but by the close on the Monday after Thanksgiving they’d moved down those odds to just 61% in June, with an initial hike not fully priced until September. Fast forward just over a week however, and we’re now not only back to pricing in a June hike, but the odds of a May hike are standing at +78.8%, which is actually higher than the +66.1% chance priced before the Omicron news hit. A reminder that we’re just a week away now from the Fed’s next decision, where it’s hotly anticipated they could accelerate the pace at which they’ll taper their asset purchases. With investors bringing forward their bets on monetary tightening, front-end US Treasury yields were hitting post-pandemic highs yesterday, with the 2yr Treasury yield up +5.8bps to 0.69%, a level we haven’t seen since March 2020. Longer-dated yield increases weren’t as large, with the 10yr yield up +3.9bps to 1.47%, and the 5s30s curve flattened another -1.8bps to 54.4bps, just above the post-pandemic low of 53.7bps. Over in Europe there was similarly a rise in most countries’ bond yields, with those on 10yr bunds (+1.4bps), OATs (+1.0bps) and BTPs (+4.4bps) all moving higher, though incidentally, the 5s30s curve in Germany was also down -2.2bps to its own post-pandemic low of 50.0bps. One pretty big news story that markets have been relatively unperturbed by so far is the rising tensions between the US and Russia over Ukraine. Yesterday saw a video call between US President Biden and Russian President Putin. The US readout from the call did not offer much in the way of concrete details, but if you’re looking for any optimistic news, it said that both sides tasked their teams with following up. Setting the background for the call, there were reports immediately beforehand that the US was considering evacuating their citizens and posturing to stop Nord Stream 2 if Russia invaded Ukraine. The Ruble appreciated +0.42% against the dollar, and is now only slightly weaker versus the dollar on the week. Overnight in Asia stocks are trading mostly higher led by the Nikkei (+1.49%), CSI (+1.11%), Shanghai Composite (+0.86%) and the KOSPI (+0.78%) as markets respond positively to the Pfizer study mentioned at the top. The Hang Seng (-0.12%) is lagging though. In Japan, the final Q3 GDP contracted -3.6% quarter on quarter annualised against consensus expectations of -3.1% on lower consumer spending than initially estimated. In India, the RBI left the key policy rate unchanged for the ninth consecutive meeting today while underscoring increasing headwinds from the Omicron variant. Futures markets indicate a positive start in the US and Europe with S&P 500 (+0.41%) and DAX (+0.12%) futures trading in the green. Back on the pandemic, despite the relative benign news on Omicron, rising global case counts mean that the direction of travel is still towards tougher restrictions across a range of countries. In fact here in the UK, we saw the 7-day average of reported cases move above 48,000 for the first time since January. In terms of fresh restrictions, yesterday saw Canada announce that they’d be extending their vaccine mandate, which will now require employees in all federally regulated workplaces to be vaccinated, including road transportation, telecommunications and banking. In Sweden, the government is preparing a bill that would see Covid passes introduced for gyms and restaurants, while Poland put further measures in place, including remote schooling from December 20 until January 9, while vaccines would become mandatory for health workers, teachers and uniformed services from March 1. One move to ease restrictions came in Austria, where it was confirmed shops would be reopening on Monday, albeit only for those vaccinated, while restaurants and hotels would reopen the following week. If you see our daily charts you’ll see that cases in Austria have dropped sharply since the peaks a couple of weeks ago, albeit still high internationally. In DC, Congressional leaders apparently agreed to a deal that would ultimately lead to the debt ceiling being increased, after some procedural chicanery. Senate Majority Leader McConnell voiced support for the measure, which is a good sign for its ultimate prospects of passing, but it still needs at least 10 Republican votes in the Senate to pass. McConnell indicated the votes would be there when the Senate ultimately takes it up, which is reportedly set to happen this week. The House passed the measure last night. Yields on Treasury bills maturing in December fell following the headlines. Looking ahead, today will mark the end of an era in Germany, as Olaf Scholz is set to become Chancellor in a Bundestag vote later on, marking an end to Chancellor Merkel’s 16-year tenure. That vote will simply be a formality given the three parties of the incoming coalition (the centre-left SPD, the Greens and the liberal FDP) have a comfortable majority between them, and the new cabinet will feature 7 SPD ministers, 5 Green ministers, and 4 from the FDP. Among the positions will include Green co-leader Robert Habeck as Vice Chancellor, Green co-leader Annalena Baerbock as foreign minister, and FDP leader Christian Lindner as finance minister. Running through yesterday’s data, the US trade deficit narrowed to $67.1bn in October (vs. $66.8bn expected), marking its smallest level since April. Meanwhile in the Euro Area, the latest Q3 growth estimate was left unchanged at +2.2%, but both Q1 and Q2’s growth was revised up a tenth. Over in Germany, industrial production grew by a stronger-than-expected +2.8% in October (vs. +1.0% expected), with the previous month’s contraction also revised to show a smaller -0.5% decline. In addition, the expectations component of the December ZEW survey fell by less than expected to 29.9 (vs. 25.4 expected), but the current situation measure fell to a 6-month low of -7.4 (vs. 5.7 expected). To the day ahead now, and Olaf Scholz is expected to become German Chancellor in a Bundestag vote today. From central banks, the Bank of Canada will be deciding on rates, and we’ll also hear from ECB President Lagarde, Vice President de Guindos and the ECB’s Schnabel. Finally, data releases include the JOLTS job openings from the US for October. Tyler Durden Wed, 12/08/2021 - 07:58.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 8th, 2021

Pfizer"s top scientist Mikael Dolsten tells us the 2 factors that will determine if Omicron is a true threat and shares Pfizer"s worst-case-scenario plan

Pfizer's chief scientist Mikael Dolsten highlighted two elements that will determine how the Omicron variant shapes the future of the pandemic. Mikael Dolsten, Pfizer's chief scientific officer.Pfizer Omicron could require new vaccines if two factors are met, Pfizer's top scientist told Insider. The new variant would need to outcompete Delta globally and reduce protection from the current vaccine. Pfizer's Mikael Dolsten shared the plan to have an Omicron-specific shot ready by March 2022.  Mikael Dolsten, Pfizer's chief scientific officer, told Insider that the drugmaker is already preparing for the worst-case scenario that Omicron variant-specific shots will be needed. But to reach that point, Dolsten said he's watching how two yet-unknown elements play out in the next few weeks. The first unknown is how well the current vaccines hold up against Omicron. The answer won't be a binary yes or no but rather a sliding scale of protection. Experts generally do not anticipate that Omicron will completely evade all protection from the current shots. Previous research suggests many more mutations are needed to reach that point.But other variants of concern, including the Beta and Delta strains, have shown they can diminish vaccine protection. Omicron is potentially more concerning because it has far more mutations on the spike protein, which is the target of vaccines.Most experts expect Omicron to decrease levels of neutralizing antibodies, virus-fighting proteins that play a key role in our immune response. The question that laboratory testing will help answer is just how much of a decline this variant could cause.Dolsten said a tenfold decrease in antibodies would make him concerned that the current vaccine won't be sufficient and an Omicron-specific shot will be needed."If we exceed a tenfold drop in neutralization of Omicron, I think we are starting to enter the yellow to red zone when your immunity is likely lowered and there's limited time after your boost until waning," Dolsten said. Laboratory tests, which will likely come out over the next week or two, could also show the current vaccines holding up well enough against Omicron, Dolsten said. For the time being, the best protection a person can get is getting vaccinated or getting boosted with the current shots. "We remain cautiously optimistic that our current vaccine with the boost can provide meaningful protection," he said. It's too early to know whether Omicron will overtake Delta, Dolsten saysIf there is a major drop in protection, a second question will become consequential: Will Omicron overtake Delta around the world? The answer will also come in the following weeks. "We'll likely know in December," Dolsten said. If Omicron does become the world's dominant variant, new vaccines would need to be distributed everywhere. But if it dissipates or fails to outcompete the Delta variant, new vaccines probably wouldn't be widely needed.There's reason for measured optimism here. The Beta variant previously spooked scientists by showing the ability to significantly degrade the vaccine response. But despite that attribute, it never took off around the world. "It's still too early to understand whether Omicron has the same transmissible ability as Delta to become a pandemic strain, or if it will be similar to the Beta strain that started in South Africa but really became a local epidemic and more or less vanished," Dolsten said. Pfizer previously developed Beta- and Delta-specific shots but didn't need to use either of them. Beta fizzled out, and the current vaccines held up well enough against Delta. Those two factors will determine whether Pfizer is running another fire drill with an Omicron-specific booster shot or if this will be the time a new vaccine is actually necessary.With antiviral pills bridging the gap, Dolsten says a new shot could be ready by MarchIf the worst-case scenario of Omicron defeating the current vaccines does come to fruition, Dolsten said Pfizer will be ready. His goal is to be prepared to launch a new vaccination campaign by March 2022, if needed.Pfizer is far from alone, as many drug companies are prepping for Omicron. Several other vaccine developers, including Moderna, Novavax, and Johnson & Johnson, are working on new boosters tailored to Omicron.Pfizer's plan is to finalize its manufacturing process for the Omicron-specific shot by the end of February. Dolsten said he thinks the company might not have to run clinical trials to win an OK, instead just sharing manufacturing details with regulators on the strain shift. He said they would share their previous experience in developing and testing Beta- and Delta-specific shots. Dolsten said Pfizer could start commercial production in March, increasing its output each week up to 80 million doses per week. At the full-run rate, Pfizer can pump out 1 billion doses each quarter, Dolsten said.Before then, Dolsten said he thinks the company's experimental antiviral pill, Paxlovid, will have a major impact. A clinical study in unvaccinated people at high risk of severe disease showed the treatment reduced hospitalizations and deaths by 89%. US regulators are reviewing the drug, and within the next few months Paxlovid could win authorization and start being used to treat COVID-19 patients.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 30th, 2021

Babies are increasingly dying of syphilis in the US - but it"s 100% preventable

Babies with syphilis may have deformed bones, damaged brains, and struggle to hear, see, or breathe. A newborn baby rests at the Ana Betancourt de Mora Hospital in Camaguey, Cuba, on June 19, 2015. Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters The number of US babies born with syphilis quadrupled from 2015 to 2019. Babies with syphilis may have deformed bones, damaged brains, and struggle to hear, see, or breathe. Routine testing and penicillin shots for pregnant women could prevent these cases. This story was originally published by ProPublica, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom, in collaboration with NPR News. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox.When Mai Yang is looking for a patient, she travels light. She dresses deliberately - not too formal, so she won't be mistaken for a police officer; not too casual, so people will look past her tiny 4-foot-10 stature and youthful face and trust her with sensitive health information. Always, she wears closed-toed shoes, "just in case I need to run."Yang carries a stack of cards issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that show what happens when the Treponema pallidum bacteria invades a patient's body. There's a photo of an angry red sore on a penis. There's one of a tongue, marred by mucus-lined lesions. And there's one of a newborn baby, its belly, torso and thighs dotted in a rash, its mouth open, as if caught midcry.It was because of the prospect of one such baby that Yang found herself walking through a homeless encampment on a blazing July day in Huron, California, an hour's drive southwest of her office at the Fresno County Department of Public Health. She was looking for a pregnant woman named Angelica, whose visit to a community clinic had triggered a report to the health department's sexually transmitted disease program. Angelica had tested positive for syphilis. If she was not treated, her baby could end up like the one in the picture or worse - there was a 40% chance the baby would die.Yang knew, though, that if she helped Angelica get treated with three weekly shots of penicillin at least 30 days before she gave birth, it was likely that the infection would be wiped out and her baby would be born without any symptoms at all. Every case of congenital syphilis, when a baby is born with the disease, is avoidable. Each is considered a "sentinel event," a warning that the public health system is failing.The alarms are now clamoring. In the United States, more than 129,800 syphilis cases were recorded in 2019, double the case count of five years prior. In the same time period, cases of congenital syphilis quadrupled: 1,870 babies were born with the disease; 128 died. Case counts from 2020 are still being finalized, but the CDC has said that reported cases of congenital syphilis have already exceeded the prior year. Black, Hispanic, and Native American babies are disproportionately at risk.There was a time, not too long ago, when CDC officials thought they could eliminate the centuries-old scourge from the United States, for adults and babies. But the effort lost steam and cases soon crept up again. Syphilis is not an outlier. The United States goes through what former CDC director Tom Frieden calls "a deadly cycle of panic and neglect" in which emergencies propel officials to scramble and throw money at a problem - whether that's Ebola, Zika, or COVID-19. Then, as fear ebbs, so does the attention and motivation to finish the task.The last fraction of cases can be the hardest to solve, whether that's eradicating a bug or getting vaccines into arms, yet too often, that's exactly when political attention gets diverted to the next alarm. The result: The hardest to reach and most vulnerable populations are the ones left suffering, after everyone else looks away.Yang first received Angelica's lab report on June 17. The address listed was a P.O. box, and the phone number belonged to her sister, who said Angelica was living in Huron. That was a piece of luck: Huron is tiny; the city spans just 1.6 square miles. On her first visit, a worker at the Alamo Motel said she knew Angelica and directed Yang to a nearby homeless encampment. Angelica wasn't there, so Yang returned a second time, bringing one of the health department nurses who could serve as an interpreter.They made their way to the barren patch of land behind Huron Valley Foods, the local grocery store, where people took shelter in makeshift lean-tos composed of cardboard boxes, scrap wood, and scavenged furniture, draped with sheets that served as ceilings and curtains. Yang stopped outside one of the structures, calling a greeting."Hi, I'm from the health department, I'm looking for Angelica."The nurse echoed her in Spanish.Angelica emerged, squinting in the sunlight. Yang couldn't tell if she was visibly pregnant yet, as her body was obscured by an oversized shirt. The two women were about the same age: Yang 26 and Angelica 27. Yang led her away from the tent, so they could speak privately. Angelica seemed reticent, surprised by the sudden appearance of the two health officers. "You're not in trouble," Yang said, before revealing the results of her blood test.Angelica had never heard of syphilis."Have you been to prenatal care?"Angelica shook her head. The local clinic had referred her to an obstetrician in Hanford, a 30-minute drive away. She had no car. She also mentioned that she didn't intend to raise her baby; her two oldest children lived with her mother, and this one likely would, too.Yang pulled out the CDC cards, showing them to Angelica and asking if she had experienced any of the symptoms illustrated. No, Angelica said, her lips pursed with disgust."Right now you still feel healthy, but this bacteria is still in your body," Yang pressed. "You need to get the infection treated to prevent further health complications to yourself and your baby."The community clinic was just across the street. "Can we walk you over to the clinic and make sure you get seen so we can get this taken care of?"Angelica demurred. She said she hadn't showered for a week and wanted to wash up first. She said she'd go later.Yang tried once more to extract a promise: "What time do you think you'll go?""Today, for sure."The CDC tried and failed to eradicate syphilis - twiceSyphilis is called The Great Imitator: It can look like any number of diseases. In its first stage, the only evidence of infection is a painless sore at the bacteria's point of entry. Weeks later, as the bacteria multiplies, skin rashes bloom on the palms of the hands and bottoms of the feet. Other traits of this stage include fever, headaches, muscle aches, sore throat, and fatigue. These symptoms eventually disappear and the patient progresses into the latent phase, which betrays no external signs. But if left untreated, after a decade or more, syphilis will reemerge in up to 30% of patients, capable of wreaking horror on a wide range of organ systems. Marion Sims, president of the American Medical Association in 1876, called it a "terrible scourge, which begins with lamb-like mildness and ends with lion-like rage that ruthlessly destroys everything in its way."The corkscrew-shaped bacteria can infiltrate the nervous system at any stage of the infection. Yang is haunted by her memory of interviewing a young man whose dementia was so severe that he didn't know why he was in the hospital or how old he was. And regardless of symptoms or stage, the bacteria can penetrate the placenta to infect a fetus. Even in these cases the infection is unpredictable: Many babies are born with normal physical features, but others can have deformed bones or damaged brains, and they can struggle to hear, see, or breathe.From its earliest days, syphilis has been shrouded in stigma. The first recorded outbreak was in the late 15th century, when Charles VIII led the French army to invade Naples. Italian physicians described French soldiers covered with pustules, dying from a sexually transmitted disease. As the affliction spread, Italians called it the French Disease. The French blamed the Neopolitans. It was also called the German, Polish, or Spanish disease, depending on which neighbor one wanted to blame. Even its name bears the taint of divine judgement: It comes from a 16th-century poem that tells of a shepherd, Syphilus, who offended the god Apollo and was punished with a hideous disease.By 1937 in America, when former Surgeon General Thomas Parran wrote the book "Shadow on the Land," he estimated some 680,000 people were under treatment for syphilis; about 60,000 babies were being born annually with congenital syphilis. There was no cure, and the stigma was so strong that public-health officials feared even properly documenting cases.Thanks to Parran's ardent advocacy, Congress in 1938 passed the National Venereal Disease Control Act, which created grants for states to set up clinics and support testing and treatment. Other than a short-lived funding effort during World War I, this was the first coordinated federal push to respond to the disease.Around the same time, the Public Health Service launched an effort to record the natural history of syphilis. Situated in Tuskegee, Alabama, the infamous study recruited 600 black men. By the early 1940s, penicillin became widely available and was found to be a reliable cure, but the treatment was withheld from the study participants. Outrage over the ethical violations would cast a stain across syphilis research for decades to come and fuel generations of mistrust in the medical system among Black Americans that continues to this day. People attend a ceremony near Tuskegee, Alabama, on April 3, 2017, to commemorate the roughly 600 men who were subjects in the Tuskegee syphilis study. Jay Reeves/AP Photo With the introduction of penicillin, cases began to plummet. Twice, the CDC has announced efforts to wipe out the disease - once in the 1960s and again in 1999.In the latest effort, the CDC announced that the United States had "a unique opportunity to eliminate syphilis within its borders," thanks to historically low rates, with 80% of counties reporting zero cases. The concentration of cases in the South "identifies communities in which there is a fundamental failure of public health capacity," the agency noted, adding that elimination - which it defined as fewer than 1,000 cases a year - would "decrease one of our most glaring racial disparities in health."Two years after the campaign began, cases started climbing, first among gay men and, later, heterosexuals. Cases in women started accelerating in 2013, followed shortly by increasing numbers of babies born with syphilis. The reasons for failure are complex: People relaxed safer sex practices after the advent of potent HIV combination therapies, increased methamphetamine use drove riskier behavior, and an explosion of online dating made it hard to track and test sexual partners, according to Ina Park, medical director of the California Prevention Training Center at the University of California San Francisco.But federal and state public-health efforts were hamstrung from the get-go. In 1999, the CDC said it would need about $35 million to $39 million in new federal funds annually for at least five years to eliminate syphilis. The agency got less than half of what it asked for, according to Jo Valentine, former program coordinator of the CDC's Syphilis Elimination Effort. As cases rose, the CDC modified its goals in 2006 from 0.4 primary and secondary syphilis cases per 100,000 in population to 2.2 cases per 100,000. By 2013, as elimination seemed less and less viable, the CDC changed its focus to ending congenital syphilis only.Since then, funding has remained anemic. From 2015 to 2020, the CDC's budget for preventing sexually transmitted infections grew by 2.2%. Taking inflation into account, that's a 7.4% reduction in purchasing power. In the same period, cases of syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia - the three STDs that have federally funded control programs - increased by nearly 30%."We have a long history of nearly eradicating something, then changing our attention, and seeing a resurgence in numbers," David Harvey, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors, said. "We have more congenital syphilis cases today in America than we ever had pediatric AIDS at the height of the AIDS epidemic. It's heartbreaking."Adriane Casalotti, chief of government and public affairs at the National Association of County and City Health Officials, warns that the US should not be surprised to see case counts continue to climb."The bugs don't go away," she said. "They're just waiting for the next opportunity, when you're not paying attention."Syphilis has fewer poster children than HIV or cancerYang waited until the end of the day, then called the clinic to see if Angelica had gone for her shot. She had not. Yang would have to block off another half day to visit Huron again, but she had three dozen other cases to deal with.States in the South and West have seen the highest syphilis rates in recent years. In 2017, 64 babies in Fresno County were born with syphilis at a rate of 440 babies per 100,000 live births - about 19 times the national rate. While the county had managed to lower case counts in the two years that followed, the pandemic threatened to unravel that progress, forcing STD staffers to do COVID-19 contact tracing, pausing field visits to find infected people, and scaring patients from seeking care. Yang's colleague handled three cases of stillbirth in 2020; in each, the woman was never diagnosed with syphilis because she feared catching the coronavirus and skipped prenatal care.Yang, whose caseload peaked at 70 during a COVID-19 surge, knew she would not be able handle them all as thoroughly as she'd like to."When I was being mentored by another investigator, he said: 'You're not a superhero. You can't save everybody,'" she said.She prioritizes men who have sex with men, because there's a higher prevalence of syphilis in that population, and pregnant people, because of the horrific consequences for babies.The job of a disease intervention specialist isn't for everyone: It means meeting patients whenever and wherever they are available - in the mop closet of a bus station, in a quiet parking lot - to inform them about the disease, to extract names of sex partners, and to encourage treatment. Patients are often reluctant to talk. They can get belligerent, upset that "the government" has their personal information, or shattered at the thought that a partner is likely cheating on them. Salaries typically start in the low $40,000s.Jena Adams, Yang's supervisor, has eight investigators working on HIV and syphilis. In the middle of 2020, she lost two and replaced them only recently."It's been exhausting," Adams said.She has only one specialist who is trained to take blood samples in the field, crucial for guaranteeing that the partners of those who test positive for syphilis also get tested. Adams wants to get phlebotomy training for the rest of her staff, but it's $2,000 per person. The department also doesn't have anyone who can administer penicillin injections in the field; that would have been key when Yang met Angelica. For a while, a nurse who worked in the tuberculosis program would ride along to give penicillin shots on a volunteer basis. Then he, too, left the health department.Much of the resources in public health trickle down from the CDC, which distributes money to states, which then parcel it out to counties. The CDC gets its budget from Congress, which tells the agency, by line item, exactly how much money it can spend to fight a disease or virus, in an uncommonly specific manner not seen in many other agencies. The decisions are often politically driven and can be detached from actual health needs.When the House and Senate appropriations committees meet to decide how much the CDC will get for each line item, they are barraged by lobbyists for individual disease interests. Stephanie Arnold Pang, senior director of policy and government relations at the National Coalition of STD Directors, can pick out the groups by sight: breast cancer wears pink, Alzheimer's goes in purple, multiple sclerosis comes in orange, HIV in red. STD prevention advocates, like herself, don a green ribbon, but they're far outnumbered.And unlike diseases that might already be familiar to lawmakers, or have patient and family spokespeople who can tell their own powerful stories, syphilis doesn't have many willing poster children. Breast Cancer survivors hold up a check for the amount raised at The Congressional Womens Softball Game at Watkins Recreation Center in Capitol Hill on June 20, 2018. Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call "Congressmen don't wake up one day and say, 'Oh hey, there's congenital syphilis in my jurisdiction.' You have to raise awareness," Arnold Pang said. It can be hard jockeying for a meeting. "Some offices might say, 'I don't have time for you because we've just seen HIV.' ... Sometimes, it feels like you're talking into a void."The consequences of the political nature of public-health funding have become more obvious during the coronavirus pandemic. The 2014 Ebola epidemic was seen as a "global wakeup call" that the world wasn't prepared for a major pandemic, yet in 2018, the CDC scaled back its epidemic prevention work as money ran out."If you've got to choose between Alzheimer's research and stopping an outbreak that may not happen? Stopping an outbreak that might not happen doesn't do well," Frieden, the former CDC director, said. "The CDC needs to have more money and more flexible money. Otherwise, we're going to be in this situation long term."In May 2021, President Joe Biden's administration announced it would set aside $7.4 billion over the next five years to hire and train public health workers, including $1.1 billion for more disease intervention specialists like Yang. Public health officials are thrilled to have the chance to expand their workforce, but some worry the time horizon may be too short."We've seen this movie before, right?" Frieden said. "Everyone gets concerned when there's an outbreak, and when that outbreak stops, the headlines stop, and an economic downturn happens, the budget gets cut."Fresno's STD clinic was shuttered in 2010 amid the Great Recession. Many others have vanished since the passage of the Affordable Care Act.Health leaders thought "by magically beefing up the primary care system, that we would do a better job of catching STIs and treating them," Harvey, the executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors, said.That hasn't worked out; people want access to anonymous services, and primary care doctors often don't have STDs top of mind. The coalition is lobbying Congress for funding to support STD clinical services, proposing a three-year demonstration project funded at $600 million.It's one of Adams' dreams to see Fresno's STD clinic restored as it was."You could come in for an HIV test and get other STDs checked," she said. "And if a patient is positive, you can give a first injection on the spot."'I've seen people's families ripped apart and I've seen beautiful babies die'On August 12, Yang set out for Huron again, speeding past groves of almond trees and fields of grapes in the department's white Chevy Cruze. She brought along a colleague, Jorge Sevilla, who had recently transferred to the STD program from COVID-19 contact tracing. Yang was anxious to find Angelica again."She's probably in her second trimester now," she said.They found her outside of a pale yellow house a few blocks from the homeless encampment; the owner was letting her stay in a shed tucked in the corner of the dirt yard. This time, it was evident that she was pregnant. Yang noted that Angelica was wearing a wig; hair loss is a symptom of syphilis."Do you remember me?" Yang asked.Angelica nodded. She didn't seem surprised to see Yang again. (I came along, and Sevilla explained who I was and that I was writing about syphilis and the people affected by it. Angelica signed a release for me to report about her case, and she said she had no problem with me writing about her or even using her full name. ProPublica chose to only print her first name.)"How are you doing? How's the baby?""Bien.""So the last time we talked, we were going to have you go to United Healthcare Center to get treatment. Have you gone since?"Angelica shook her head."We brought some gift cards..." Sevilla started in Spanish. The department uses them as incentives for completing injections. But Angelica was already shaking her head. The nearest Walmart was the next town over.Yang turned to her partner. "Tell her: So the reason why we're coming out here again is because we really need her to go in for treatment. [...] We really are concerned for the baby's health especially since she's had the infection for quite a while."Angelica listened while Sevilla interpreted, her eyes on the ground. Then she looked up. "Orita?" she asked. Right now?"I'll walk with you," Yang offered. Angelica shook her head."She said she wants to shower first before she goes over there," Sevilla said.Yang made a face. "She said that to me last time." Yang offered to wait, but Angelica didn't want the health officers to linger by the house. She said she would meet them by the clinic in 15 minutes.Yang was reluctant to let her go but again had no other option. She and Sevilla drove to the clinic, then stood on the corner of the parking lot, staring down the road.Talk to the pediatricians, obstetricians, and families on the front lines of the congenital syphilis surge and it becomes clear why Yang and others are trying so desperately to prevent cases. J.B. Cantey, associate professor in pediatrics at UT Health San Antonio, remembers a baby girl born at 25 weeks gestation who weighed a pound and a half. Syphilis had spread through her bones and lungs. She spent five months in the neonatal intensive care unit, breathing through a ventilator, and was still eating through a tube when she was discharged.Then, there are the miscarriages, the stillbirths, and the inconsolable parents. Irene Stafford, an associate professor and maternal-fetal medicine specialist at UT Health in Houston, cannot forget a patient who came in at 36 weeks for a routine checkup, pregnant with her first child. Stafford realized that there was no heartbeat."She could see on my face that something was really wrong," Stafford recalled. She had to let the patient know that syphilis had killed her baby."She was hysterical, just bawling," Stafford said. "I've seen people's families ripped apart and I've seen beautiful babies die." Fewer than 10% of patients who experience a stillbirth are tested for syphilis, suggesting that cases are underdiagnosed.A Texas grandmother named Solidad Odunuga offers a glimpse into what the future could hold for Angelica's mother, who may wind up raising her baby.In February of last year, Odunuga got a call from the Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital in Houston. A nurse told her that her daughter was about to give birth and that child protective services had been called. Odunuga had lost contact with her daughter, who struggled with homelessness and substance abuse. She arrived in time to see her grandson delivered, premature at 30 weeks old, weighing 2.7 pounds. He tested positive for syphilis.When a child protective worker asked Odunuga to take custody of the infant, she felt a wave of dread."I was in denial," she recalled. "I did not plan to be a mom again." The baby's medical problems were daunting: "Global developmental delays [...] concerns for visual impairments [...] high risk of cerebral palsy," read a note from the doctor at the time.Still, Odunuga visited her grandson every day for three months, driving to the NICU from her job at the University of Houston. "I'd put him in my shirt to keep him warm and hold him there." She fell in love. She named him Emmanuel.Once Emmanuel was discharged, Odunuga realized she had no choice but to quit her job. While Medicaid covered the costs of Emmanuel's treatment, it was on her to care for him. From infancy, Emmanuel's life has been a whirlwind of constant therapy. Today, at 20 months old, Odunuga brings him to physical, occupational, speech, and developmental therapy, each a different appointment on a different day of the week.Emmanuel has thrived beyond what his doctors predicted, toddling so fast that Odunuga can't look away for a minute and beaming as he waves his favorite toy phone. Yet he still suffers from gagging issues, which means Odunuga can't feed him any solid foods. Liquid gets into his lungs when he aspirates; it has led to pneumonia three times. Emmanuel has a special stroller that helps keep his head in a position that won't aggravate his persistent reflux, but Odunuga said she still has to pull over on the side of the road sometimes when she hears him projectile vomiting from the backseat.The days are endless. Once she puts Emmanuel to bed, Odunuga starts planning the next day's appointments."I've had to cry alone, scream out alone," she said. "Sometimes I wake up and think, 'Is this real?' And then I hear him in the next room."There's no vaccine for syphilis A health worker tests a migrant from Haiti for HIV and syphilis to in Ciudad Acuna, Mexico, on September 25, 2021. Daniel Becerril/Reuters Putting aside the challenge of eliminating syphilis entirely, everyone agrees it's both doable and necessary to prevent newborn cases."There was a crisis in perinatal HIV almost 30 years ago and people stood up and said this is not OK - it's not acceptable for babies to be born in that condition. [...We] brought it down from 1,700 babies born each year with perinatal HIV to less than 40 per year today," Virginia Bowen, an epidemiologist at the CDC, said. "Now here we are with a slightly different condition. We can also stand up and say, 'This is not acceptable.'" Belarus, Bermuda, Cuba, Malaysia, Thailand, and Sri Lanka are among countries recognized by the World Health Organization for eliminating congenital syphilis.Success starts with filling gaps across the health care system.For almost a century, public health experts have advocated for testing pregnant patients more than once for syphilis in order to catch the infection. But policies nationwide still don't reflect this best practice. Six states have no prenatal screening requirement at all. Even in states that require three tests, public-health officials say that many physicians aren't aware of the requirements. Stafford, the maternal-fetal medicine specialist in Houston, says she's tired of hearing her own peers in medicine tell her, "Oh, syphilis is a problem?"It costs public health departments less than 25 cents a dose to buy penicillin, but for a private practice, it's more than $1,000, according to Park of the University of California San Francisco."There's no incentive for a private physician to stock a dose that could expire before it's used, so they often don't have it," she said. "So a woman comes in, they say, 'We'll send you to the emergency department or health department to get it,' then [the patients] don't show up."A vaccine would be invaluable for preventing spread among people at high risk for reinfection. But there is none. Scientists only recently figured out how to grow the bacteria in the lab, prompting grants from the National Institutes of Health to fund research into a vaccine. Justin Radolf, a researcher at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, said he hopes his team will have a vaccine candidate by the end of its five-year grant. But it'll likely take years more to find a manufacturer and run human trials.Public-health agencies also need to recognize that many of the hurdles to getting pregnant people treated involve access to care, economic stability, safe housing, and transportation. In Fresno, Adams has been working on ways her department can collaborate with mental health services. Recently, one of her disease intervention specialists managed to get a pregnant woman treated with penicillin shots and, at the patient's request, connected her with an addiction treatment center.Gaining a patient's cooperation means seeing them as complex humans instead of just a case to solve."There may be past traumas with the healthcare system," Cynthia Deverson, project manager of the Houston Fetal Infant Morbidity Review, said. "There's the fear of being discovered if she's doing something illegal to survive. [...] She may need to be in a certain place at a certain time so she can get something to eat, or maybe it's the only time of the day that's safe for her to sleep. They're not going to tell you that. Yes, they understand there's a problem, but it's not an immediate threat, maybe they don't feel bad yet, so obviously this is not urgent.""What helps to gain trust is consistency," she added. "Literally, it's seeing that [disease specialist] constantly, daily. [...] The woman can see that you're not going to harm her, you're saying, 'I'm here at this time if you need me.'"Yang stood outside the clinic, waiting for Angelica to show up, baking in the 90-degree heat. Her feelings ranged from irritation - Why didn't she just go? I'd have more energy for other cases - to an appreciation for the parts of Angelica's story that she didn't know - She's in survival mode. I need to be more patient.Fifteen minutes ticked by, then 20."OK," Yang announced. "We're going back."She asked Sevilla if he would be OK if they drove Angelica to the clinic; they technically weren't supposed to because of coronavirus precautions, but Yang wasn't sure she could convince Angelica to walk. Sevilla gave her the thumbs up.When they pulled up, they saw Angelica sitting in the backyard, chatting with a friend. She now wore a fresh T-shirt and had shoes on her feet. Angelica sat silently in the back seat as Yang drove to the clinic. A few minutes later, they pulled up to the parking lot.Finally, Yang thought. We got her here.The clinic was packed with people waiting for COVID-19 tests and vaccinations. A worker there had previously told Yang that a walk-in would be fine, but a receptionist now said they were too busy to treat Angelica. She would have to return.Yang felt a surge of frustration, sensing that her hard-fought opportunity was slipping away. She tried to talk to the nurse supervisor, but he wasn't available. She tried to leave the gift cards at the office to reward Angelica if she came, but the receptionist said she couldn't hold them. While Yang negotiated, Sevilla sat with Angelica in the car, waiting.Finally, Yang accepted this was yet another thing she couldn't control.She drove Angelica back to the yellow house. As they arrived, she tried once more to impress on her just how important it was to get treated, asking Sevilla to interpret. "We don't want it to get any more serious, because she can go blind, she could go deaf, she could lose her baby."Angelica already had the door halfway open."So on a scale from one to 10, how important is this to get treated?" Yang asked."Ten," Angelica said. Yang reminded her of the appointment that afternoon. Then Angelica stepped out and returned to the dusty yard.Yang lingered for a moment, watching Angelica go. Then she turned the car back onto the highway and set off toward Fresno, knowing, already, that she'd be back.Postscript: A reporter visited Huron twice more in the months that followed, including once independently to try to interview Angelica, but she wasn't in town. Yang has visited Huron twice more as well - six times in total thus far. In October, a couple of men at the yellow house said Angelica was still in town, still pregnant. Yang and Sevilla spent an hour driving around, talking to residents, hoping to catch Angelica. But she was nowhere to be found.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytNov 2nd, 2021

COVID-19: Moderna Gets Its Miracle

COVID-19: Moderna Gets Its Miracle Authored by Whitney Webb via Unlimited Hangout, COVID-19 erased the regulatory and trial-related hurdles that Moderna could never surmount before. Yet, how did Moderna know that COVID-19 would create those conditions months before anyone else, and why did they later claim that their vaccine being tested in NIH trials was different than their commercial candidate? In late 2019, the biopharmaceutical company Moderna was facing a series of challenges that not only threatened its ability to ever take a product to market, and thus turn a profit, but its very existence as a company. There were multiple warning signs that Moderna was essentially another Theranos-style fraud, with many of these signs growing in frequency and severity as the decade drew to a close. Part I of this three-part series explored the disastrous circumstances in which Moderna found itself at that time, with the company’s salvation hinging on the hope of a divine miracle, a “Hail Mary” save of sorts, as stated by one former Moderna employee.  While the COVID-19 crisis that emerged in the first part of 2020 can hardly be described as an act of benevolent divine intervention for most, it certainly can be seen that way from Moderna’s perspective. Key issues for the company, including seemingly insurmountable regulatory hurdles and its inability to advance beyond animal trials with its most promising—and profitable—products, were conveniently wiped away, and not a moment too soon. Since January 2020, the value of Moderna’s stock—which had embarked on a steady decline since its IPO—grew from $18.89 per share to its current value of $339.57 per share, thanks to the success of its COVID-19 vaccine. Yet, how exactly was Moderna’s “Hail Mary” moment realized, and what were the forces and events that ensured it would make it through the FDA’s emergency use authorization (EUA) process? In examining that question, it becomes quickly apparent that Moderna’s journey of saving grace involved much more than just cutting corners in animal and human trials and federal regulations. Indeed, if we are to believe Moderna executives, it involved supplying formulations for some trial studies that were not the same as their COVID-19 vaccine commercial candidate, despite the data resulting from the former being used to sell Moderna’s vaccine to the public and federal health authorities. Such data was also selectively released at times to align with preplanned stock trades by Moderna executives, turning many of Moderna’s highest-ranking employees into millionaires, and even billionaires, while the COVID-19 crisis meant economic calamity for most Americans.  Not only that, but—as Part II of this three-part series will show, Moderna and a handful of its collaborators at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) seemed to know that Moderna’s miracle had arrived—well before anyone else knew or could have known. Was it really a coincidental mix of “foresight” and “serendipity” that led Moderna and the NIH to plan to develop a COVID-19 vaccine days before the viral sequence was even published and months before a vaccine was even considered necessary for a still unknown disease? If so, why would Moderna—a company clearly on the brink—throw everything into and gamble the entire company on a vaccine project that had no demonstrated need at the time? The Serendipitous Origins of Moderna’s COVID-19 Vaccine When early January 2020 brought news of a novel coronavirus outbreak originating in Wuhan, China, Moderna’s CEO Stéphane Bancel immediately emailed Barney Graham, deputy director of the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health, and asked to be sent the genetic sequence for what would become known as SAR-CoV-2, allegedly because media reports on the outbreak “troubled” him. The date of that email varies according to different media reports, though most place it as having been sent on either January 6th or 7th. A few weeks before Bancel’s email to Graham, Moderna was quickly approaching the end of the line, their desperately needed “Hail Mary” still not having materialized. “We were freaked out about money,” Stephen Hoge would later remember of Moderna’s late 2019 circumstances. Not only were executives “cutting back on research and other expenditures” like never before, but – as STAT News would later report – “cash from investors had stopped pouring in and partnerships with some drug makers had been discontinued. In meetings at Moderna, Bancel emphasized the need to stretch every dollar and employees were told to reduce travel and other expenses, a frugality there were advised would last several years.” At the tail end of 2019, Graham was in a very different mood than Bancel, having emailed the leader of the coronavirus team at his NIH lab saying, “Get ready for 2020,” apparently viewing the news out of Wuhan in late 2019 as a harbinger of something significant. He went on, in the days before he was contacted by Bancel, to “run a drill he had been turning over in his mind for years” and called his long-time colleague Jason McLellan “to talk about the game plan” for getting a head start on producing a vaccine the world did not yet know it needed. When Bancel called Graham soon afterward and asked about this new virus, Graham responded that he didn’t know yet but that “they were ready if it turned out to be a coronavirus.” The Washington Post claimed that Graham’s apparent foreknowledge that a coronavirus vaccine would be needed before anyone officially knew what type of disease was circulating in Wuhan was a fortunate mix of “serendipity and foresight.”  Dr. Barney Graham and Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, VRC coronavirus vaccine lead, discuss COVID-19 research with U.S. legislators Sen. Chris Van Hollen, Sen. Benjamin Cardin and Rep. Jamie Raskin, March 6, 2020; Source: NIH A report in Boston magazine offers a slightly different account than that reported by the Washington Post. Per that article, Graham had told Bancel, “If [the virus] is a coronavirus, we know what to do and have proven mRNA is effective.” Per that report, this assertion of efficacy from Graham referred to Moderna’s early stage human-trial data published in September 2019 regarding its chikungunya vaccine candidate, which was funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), as well as its cytomegalovirus (CMV) vaccine candidate.  As mentioned in Part I of this series, the chikungunya vaccine study data released at that time included the participation of just four subjects, three of whom developed significant side effects that led Moderna to state that they would reformulate the vaccine in question and would pause trials on that vaccine candidate. In the case of the CMV vaccine candidate, the data was largely positive, but it was widely noted that the vaccine still needed to pass through larger and longer clinical trials before its efficacy was in fact “proven,” as Graham later claimed. In addition, Graham implied that this early stage trial of Moderna’s CMV vaccine candidate was somehow proof that an mRNA vaccine would be effective against coronaviruses, which makes little sense since CMV is not a coronavirus but instead hails from the family of viruses that includes chickenpox, herpes, and shingles.  Bancel apparently had reached out to Graham because Graham and his team at the NIH had been working in direct partnership with Moderna on vaccines since 2017, soon after Moderna had delayed its Crigler-Najjar and related therapies in favor of vaccines. According to Boston magazine, Moderna had been working closely with Graham specifically “on [Moderna’s] quest to bring a whole new class of vaccines to market” and Graham had personally visited Moderna’s facilities in November 2019. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the NIH’s infectious-disease division NIAID, has called his unit’s collaboration with Moderna, in the years prior to and also during the COVID-19 crisis, “most extraordinary.” The year 2017, besides being the year when Moderna made its pivot to vaccines (due to its inability to produce safe multidose therapies, see Part I), was also a big year for Graham. That year he and his lab filed a patent for the “2P mutation” technique whereby recombinant coronavirus spike proteins can be stabilized in a prefusion state and used as more effective immunogens. If a coronavirus vaccine were to be produced using this patent, Graham’s team would financially benefit, though federal law caps their annual royalties. Nonetheless, it would still yield a considerable sum for the named researchers, including Graham. However, due to the well-known difficulties with coronavirus vaccine development, including antibody dependent enhancement risk, it seemed that commercial use of Graham’s patent was a pipe dream. Yet, today, the 2P mutation patent, also known as the ’070 patent, is not just in use in Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, but also in the COVID-19 vaccines produced by Johnson & Johnson, Novavax, Pfizer/BioNTech, and CureVac. Experts at New York University School of Law have noted that the 2P mutation patent first filed in 2016 “sounds remarkably prescient” in light of the COVID crisis that emerged a few years later while later publications from the NIH (still pre-COVID) revealed that the NIH’s view on “the breadth and importance of the ’070 patent” as well as its potential commercial applications was also quite prescient, given that there was little justification at the time to hold such a view.  On January 10, three days after the reported initial conversation between Bancel and Graham on the novel coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China, Graham met with Hamilton Bennett, the program leader for Moderna’s vaccine portfolio. Graham asked Bennett “if Moderna would be interested in using the new [novel coronavirus] to test the company’s accelerated vaccine-making capabilities.” According to Boston, Graham then mused, “That way . . . if ever there came a day when a new virus emerged that threatened global public health, Moderna and the NIH could know how long it would take them to respond.”  Graham’s “musings” to Bennett are interesting considering his earlier statements made to others, such as “Get ready for 2020” and his team, in collaboration with Moderna, would be “ready if [the virus then circulating in Wuhan, China] turned out to be a coronavirus.” Is this merely “serendipity” and “foresight”, as the Washington Post suggested, or was it something else? It is worth noting that the above accounts are those that have been given by Bancel and Graham themselves, as the actual contents of these critical January 2020 emails have not been publicly released.  When the genetic sequence of SARS-CoV-2 was published on January 11, NIH scientists and Moderna researchers got to work determining which targeted genetic sequence would be used in their vaccine candidate. Later reports, however, claimed that this initial work toward a COVID-19 vaccine was merely intended to be a “demonstration project.”  Other odd features of the Moderna-NIH COVID-19 vaccine-development story emerged with Bancel’s account of the role the World Economic Forum played in shaping his “foresight” when it came to the development of a COVID-19 vaccine back in January 2020. On January 21, 2020, Bancel reportedly began to hear about “a far darker version of the future” at the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, where he spent time with “two [anonymous] prominent infectious-disease experts from Europe” who shared with him data from “their contacts on the ground in China, including Wuhan.” That data, per Bancel, showed a dire situation that left his mind “reeling” and led him to conclude, that very day, that “this isn’t going to be SARS. It’s going to be the 1918 flu pandemic.”  Stéphane Bancel speaks at the Breakthroughs in Cancer Care session at WEF annual meeting, January 24, 2020; Source: WEF This realization is allegedly what led Bancel to contact Moderna cofounder and chairman, as well as a WEF technology pioneer, Noubar Afeyan. Bancel reportedly interrupted Afeyan’s celebration of his daughter’s birthday to tell him “what he’d learned about the virus” and to suggest that “Moderna begin to build the vaccine—for real.” The next day, Moderna held an executive meeting, which Bancel attended remotely, and there was considerable internal debate about whether a vaccine for the novel coronavirus would be needed. To Bancel, the “sheer act of debating” pursuing a vaccine for the virus was “absurd” given that he was now convinced, after a single day at Davos, that “a global pandemic was about to descend like a biblical plague, and whatever distractions the vaccine caused internally at Moderna were irrelevant.” Bancel spent the rest of his time at the Davos annual meeting “building partnerships, generating excitement, and securing funding,” which led to the Moderna collaboration agreement with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations—a project largely funded by Bill Gates. (Bancel and Moderna’s cozy relationship with the WEF, dating back to 2013, was discussed in Part I as were the Forum’s efforts, beginning well before COVID-19, to promote mRNA-based therapies as essential to the remaking of the health-care sector in the age of the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution). At the 2020 annual meeting attended by Bancel and others it was noted that a major barrier to the widespread adoption of these and other related “health-care” technologies was “public distrust.” The panel where that issue was specifically discussed was entitled “When Humankind Overrides Evolution.”  As also noted in Part I of this series, a few months earlier, in October 2019, major players in what would become the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, particularly Rick Bright and Anthony Fauci, had discussed during a Milken Institute panel on vaccines how a “disruptive” event would be needed to push the public to accept “nontraditional” vaccines such as mRNA vaccines; to convince the public that flu-like illnesses are scarier than traditionally believed; and to remove existing bureaucratic safeguards in the vaccine development-and-approval processes.  That panel took place less than two weeks after the Event 201 simulation, jointly hosted by the World Economic Forum, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. Event 201 simulated “an outbreak of a novel zoonotic coronavirus” that was “modeled largely on SARS but . . . more transmissible in the community setting by people with mild symptoms.” The recommendations of the simulation panel were to considerably increase investment in new vaccine technologies and industrial approaches, favoring rapid vaccine development and manufacturing. As mentioned in Part I, the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security had also conducted the June 2001 Dark Winter simulation that briefly preceded and predicted major aspects of the 2001 anthrax attacks, and some of its participants had apparent foreknowledge of those attacks. Other Dark Winter participants later worked to sabotage the FBI investigation into those attacks after their origin was traced back to a US military source.  It is hard to imagine that Bancel, whose company had long been closely partnered with the World Economic Forum and the Gates Foundation, was unaware of the exercise and surprised by the closely analogous event that transpired within three months. Given the accounts given by Bancel, Graham, and others, it seems likely there is more to the story regarding the origins of Moderna’s early and “serendipitous” push to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. In addition, given that Moderna was in dire financial circumstances at the time, it seems odd that the company would gamble everything on a vaccine project that was opposed by the few investors that were still willing to fund Moderna in January/February 2020. Why would they divert their scant resources towards a project born only out of Barney Graham’s “musings” that Moderna could try to test the speed of its vaccine development capabilities and Bancel’s doomsday view that a “biblical plague” was imminent, especially when their investors opposed the idea? Moderna Gets to Bypass Its Long-Standing Issues with R & D Moderna produced the first batch of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate on February 7, one month after Bancel and Graham’s initial conversation. After a sterility test and other mandatory tests, the first batch of its vaccine candidate, called mRNA-1273, shipped to the NIH on February 24. For the first time in a long time, Moderna’s stock price surged. NIH researchers administered the first dose of the candidate into a human volunteer less than a month later, on March 16.  Controversially, in order to begin its human trial on March 16, regulatory agencies had to allow Moderna to bypass major aspects of traditional animal trials, which many experts and commentators noted was highly unusual but was now deemed necessary due to the urgency of the crisis. Instead of developing the vaccine in distinct sequential stages, as is the custom, Moderna “decided to do all of the steps [relating to animal trials] simultaneously.” In other words, confirming that the candidate is working before manufacturing an animal-grade vaccine, conducting animal trials, analyzing the animal-trial data, manufacturing a vaccine for use in human trials, and beginning human trials were all conducted simultaneously by Moderna. Thus, the design of human trials for the Moderna vaccine candidate was not informed by animal-trial data.  Lt. Javier Lopez Coronado and Hospitalman Francisco Velasco inspect a box of COVID-19 vaccine vials at the Naval Health Clinic in Corpus Christi, TX, December 2020; Source: Wikimedia This should have been a major red flag, given Moderna’s persistent difficulties in getting its products past animal trials. As noted in Part I, up until the COVID-19 crisis, most of Moderna’s experiments and products had only been tested in animals, with only a handful able to make it to human trials. In the case of the Crigler-Najjar therapy that it was forced to indefinitely delay, toxicity concerns related to the mRNA delivery system being used had emerged in the animal trials, which Moderna was now greenlighted to largely skip. Given that Moderna had subsequently been forced to abandon all multidose products because of poor results in animal trials, being allowed to skip this formerly insurmountable obstacle was likely seen as a boon to some at the company. It is also astounding that, given Moderna’s history with problematic animal trials, more scrutiny was not devoted to the regulatory decision to allow Moderna to essentially skip such trials.  Animal studies conducted on Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine did identify problems that should have informed human trials, but this did not happen because of the regulatory decision. For example, animal reproductive toxicity studies on the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine that are cited by the European Medicines Agency found that there was reduced fertility in rats that received the vaccine (e. g., overall pregnancy index of 84.1% in vaccinated rats versus 93.2% in the unvaccinated) as well as an increased proportion of aberrant bone development in their fetuses. That study has been criticized for failing to report on the accumulation of vaccine in the placenta as well as failing to investigate the effect of vaccine doses administered during key pregnancy milestones, such as embryonic organogenesis. In addition, the number of animals tested is unstated, making the statistical power of the study unknown. At the very least, the 9 percent drop in the fertility index among vaccinated rats should have prompted expanded animal trials to investigate concerns of reproductive toxicity before testing in humans.  Yet, Moderna declined to further investigate reproductive toxicity in animal trials and entirely excluded reproductive toxicity studies from its simultaneous human trials, as pregnant women were excluded from participation in the clinical trials of its vaccine. Despite this, pregnant women were labeled a priority group for receiving the vaccine after Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) was granted for the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines. Per the New England Journal of Medicine, this meant that “pregnant women and their clinicians were left to weigh the documented risks of Covid-19 infection against the unknown safety risks of vaccination in deciding whether to receive the vaccine.”  Moderna only began recruiting for an “observational pregnancy outcome study” of its COVID-19 vaccine in humans in mid-July 2021, and that study is projected to conclude in early 2024. Nevertheless, the Centers for Disease Control recommends the use of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine in “people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant in the future.” This recommendation is largely based on the CDC’s publication of preliminary data on mRNA COVID-19 vaccine safety in pregnant women in June 2021, which is based on passive reporting systems in use within the United States (i. e., VAERS and v-safe). Even in the limited scope of this study, 115 of the 827 women who had a completed pregnancy during the study lost the baby, 104 of which were spontaneous abortions before 20 weeks of gestation. Of these 827 pregnant women, only 127 had received a mRNA vaccine before the 3rd trimester. This appears to suggest an increased risk among those women who took the vaccine before the 3rd trimester, but the selective nature of the data makes it difficult to draw any definitive conclusions. Despite claims from the New England Journal of Medicine that the study’s data was “reassuring”, the study’s authors ultimately stated that their study, which mainly looked at women who began vaccination in the third trimester, was unable to draw “conclusions about spontaneous abortions, congenital anomalies, and other potential rare neonatal outcomes.” This is just one example of the problems caused by “cutting corners” with respect to Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine trials in humans and animals, including those conducted by the NIH. Meanwhile, throughout February, March and April, Bancel was “begging for money” as Moderna reportedly lacked “enough money to buy essential ingredients for the shots” and “needed hundreds of millions of dollars, perhaps even more than a billion dollars” to manufacture its vaccine, which had only recently begun trials. Bancel, whose tenure at Moderna had long been marked by his ability to charm investors, kept coming up empty-handed. Then, in mid-April 2020, Moderna’s long-time cooperation with the US government again paid off when Health and Human Services Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) awarded the company $483 million to “accelerate the development of its vaccine candidate for the novel coronavirus.” A year later, the amount invested in Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine by the US government had grown to about $6 billion dollars, just $1.5 billion short of the company’s entire value at the time of its pre-COVID IPO. BARDA, throughout 2020, was directly overseen by the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), led by the extremely corrupt Robert Kadlec, who had spent roughly the last two decades designing BARDA and helping shape legislation that concentrated many of the emergency powers of HHS under the Office of the ASPR. Conveniently, Kadlec occupied the powerful role of ASPR that he had spent years sculpting at the exact moment when the pandemic, which he had simulated the previous year via Crimson Contagion, took place. As mentioned in Part I, he was also a key participant in the June 2001 Dark Winter exercise. In his capacity as ASPR during 2020, Kadlec oversaw nearly all major aspects of the HHS COVID-19 response and had a key role in BARDA’s funding decisions during that period, as well as in the affairs of the NIH and the Food and Drug Administration as they related to COVID-19 medical countermeasures, including vaccines.  On May 1, 2020, Moderna announced a ten-year manufacturing agreement with the Lonza Group, a multinational chemical and biotech company based in Switzerland. Per the agreement, Lonza would build out vaccine production sites for Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, first in the US and Switzerland, before expanding to Lonza’s facilities in other countries. The scale of production discussed in the agreement was to produce 1 billion doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine annually. It was claimed that the ten-year agreement would also focus on other products, even though it was well known at the time that other Moderna products were “nowhere close to being ready for the market.” Moderna executives would later state that they were still scrambling for the cash to manufacture doses at the time the agreement with Lonza was made. The decision to forge a partnership to produce that quantity of doses annually suggests marvelous foresight on the part of Moderna and Lonza that the COVID-19 vaccine would become an annual or semiannual affair, given that current claims of waning immunity could not have been known back then because initial trials of the Moderna vaccine had begun less than two months earlier and there was still no published data on its efficacy or safety. However, as will be discussed Part III of this series, Moderna needs to sell “pandemic level” quantities of its COVID-19 vaccine every year in order to avoid a return of the existential crises it faced before COVID-19 (for more on those crises, see Part I). The implications of this, given Moderna’s previous inability to produce a safe product for multidosing and lack of evidence that past issues were addressed in the development of its COVID-19 vaccine, will also be discussed in Part III of this series.  It is also noteworthy that, like Moderna, Lonza as a company and its leaders are closely affiliated with the World Economic Forum. In addition, at the time the agreement was reached in May 2020, Moncef Slaoui, the former GlaxoSmithKline executive, served on the boards of both Moderna and Lonza. Slaoui withdrew from the boards of both companies two weeks after the agreement was reached to become the head of the US-led vaccination-development drive Operation Warp Speed. Moderna praised Slaoui’s appointment to head the vaccination project.  By mid-May, Moderna’s stock price—whose steady decline before COVID-19 was detailed in Part I —had tripled since late February 2020, all on high hopes for its COVID-19 vaccine. Since Moderna’s stock had begun to surge in February, media reports noted that “nearly every progress update—or media appearance by Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel—has been gobbled up by investors, who seem to have an insatiable appetite for the stock.” Bancel’s tried-and-tested method of keeping Moderna afloat on pure hype, though it was faltering before COVID-19, was again paying off for the company thanks to the global crisis and related panic.  Some critics did emerge, however, calling Moderna’s now $23 billion valuation “insane,” especially considering that the company had posted a net loss of $514 million the previous year and had yet to produce a safe or effective medicine since its founding a decade earlier. In January 2020, Moderna had been worth a mere $5 billion, $2 billion less than its valuation at its December 2018 IPO. If it hadn’t been for the onset of the COVID crisis and a fresh injection of hype, it seems that Moderna’s valuation would have continued to shrink. Yet, thankfully for Moderna, investors were valuing Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine even before the release of any clinical data. Market analysts at the time were forecasting Moderna’s 2022 revenue at about $1 billion, a figure based almost entirely on coronavirus vaccine sales, since all other Moderna products were years away from a market debut. Yet, even with this forecasted revenue, Moderna’s stock value in mid-May 2020 was trading at twenty-three times its projected sales, a phenomenon unique to Moderna among biotech stocks at the time. For comparison, the other highest multiples in biotech at the time were Vertex Pharmaceutical and Seattle Genetics, which were then trading at nine and twelve times their projected revenue, respectively. Now, with the implementation of booster shot policies around the world, revenue forecasts for Moderna now predict the company will make a staggering $35 billion in COVID-19 vaccine sales through next year. To read the rest of the report, click here. Tyler Durden Fri, 10/29/2021 - 12:15.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 29th, 2021

"Damn You To Hell, You Will Not Destroy America" - Here Is The "Spartacus COVID Letter" That"s Gone Viral

"Damn You To Hell, You Will Not Destroy America" - Here Is The 'Spartacus COVID Letter' That's Gone Viral Via The Automatic Earth blog, This is an anonymously posted document by someone who calls themselves Spartacus. Because it’s anonymous, I can’t contact them to ask for permission to publish. So I hesitated for a while, but it’s simply the best document I’ve seen on Covid, vaccines, etc. Whoever Spartacus is, they have a very elaborate knowledge in “the field”. If you want to know a lot more about the no. 1 issue in the world today, read it. And don’t worry if you don’t understand every single word, neither do I. But I learned a lot. The original PDF doc is here: Covid19 – The Spartacus Letter Hello, My name is Spartacus, and I’ve had enough. We have been forced to watch America and the Free World spin into inexorable decline due to a biowarfare attack. We, along with countless others, have been victimized and gaslit by propaganda and psychological warfare operations being conducted by an unelected, unaccountable Elite against the American people and our allies. Our mental and physical health have suffered immensely over the course of the past year and a half. We have felt the sting of isolation, lockdown, masking, quarantines, and other completely nonsensical acts of healthcare theater that have done absolutely nothing to protect the health or wellbeing of the public from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Now, we are watching the medical establishment inject literal poison into millions of our fellow Americans without so much as a fight. We have been told that we will be fired and denied our livelihoods if we refuse to vaccinate. This was the last straw. We have spent thousands of hours analyzing leaked footage from Wuhan, scientific papers from primary sources, as well as the paper trails left by the medical establishment. What we have discovered would shock anyone to their core. First, we will summarize our findings, and then, we will explain them in detail. References will be placed at the end. Summary: COVID-19 is a blood and blood vessel disease. SARS-CoV-2 infects the lining of human blood vessels, causing them to leak into the lungs. Current treatment protocols (e.g. invasive ventilation) are actively harmful to patients, accelerating oxidative stress and causing severe VILI (ventilator-induced lung injuries). The continued use of ventilators in the absence of any proven medical benefit constitutes mass murder. Existing countermeasures are inadequate to slow the spread of what is an aerosolized and potentially wastewater-borne virus, and constitute a form of medical theater. Various non-vaccine interventions have been suppressed by both the media and the medical establishment in favor of vaccines and expensive patented drugs. The authorities have denied the usefulness of natural immunity against COVID-19, despite the fact that natural immunity confers protection against all of the virus’s proteins, and not just one. Vaccines will do more harm than good. The antigen that these vaccines are based on, SARS-CoV- 2 Spike, is a toxic protein. SARS-CoV-2 may have ADE, or antibody-dependent enhancement; current antibodies may not neutralize future strains, but instead help them infect immune cells. Also, vaccinating during a pandemic with a leaky vaccine removes the evolutionary pressure for a virus to become less lethal. There is a vast and appalling criminal conspiracy that directly links both Anthony Fauci and Moderna to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. COVID-19 vaccine researchers are directly linked to scientists involved in brain-computer interface (“neural lace”) tech, one of whom was indicted for taking grant money from China. Independent researchers have discovered mysterious nanoparticles inside the vaccines that are not supposed to be present. The entire pandemic is being used as an excuse for a vast political and economic transformation of Western society that will enrich the already rich and turn the rest of us into serfs and untouchables. COVID-19 Pathophysiology and Treatments: COVID-19 is not a viral pneumonia. It is a viral vascular endotheliitis and attacks the lining of blood vessels, particularly the small pulmonary alveolar capillaries, leading to endothelial cell activation and sloughing, coagulopathy, sepsis, pulmonary edema, and ARDS-like symptoms. This is a disease of the blood and blood vessels. The circulatory system. Any pneumonia that it causes is secondary to that. In severe cases, this leads to sepsis, blood clots, and multiple organ failure, including hypoxic and inflammatory damage to various vital organs, such as the brain, heart, liver, pancreas, kidneys, and intestines. Some of the most common laboratory findings in COVID-19 are elevated D-dimer, elevated prothrombin time, elevated C-reactive protein, neutrophilia, lymphopenia, hypocalcemia, and hyperferritinemia, essentially matching a profile of coagulopathy and immune system hyperactivation/immune cell exhaustion. COVID-19 can present as almost anything, due to the wide tropism of SARS-CoV-2 for various tissues in the body’s vital organs. While its most common initial presentation is respiratory illness and flu-like symptoms, it can present as brain inflammation, gastrointestinal disease, or even heart attack or pulmonary embolism. COVID-19 is more severe in those with specific comorbidities, such as obesity, diabetes, and hypertension. This is because these conditions involve endothelial dysfunction, which renders the circulatory system more susceptible to infection and injury by this particular virus. The vast majority of COVID-19 cases are mild and do not cause significant disease. In known cases, there is something known as the 80/20 rule, where 80% of cases are mild and 20% are severe or critical. However, this ratio is only correct for known cases, not all infections. The number of actual infections is much, much higher. Consequently, the mortality and morbidity rate is lower. However, COVID-19 spreads very quickly, meaning that there are a significant number of severely-ill and critically-ill patients appearing in a short time frame. In those who have critical COVID-19-induced sepsis, hypoxia, coagulopathy, and ARDS, the most common treatments are intubation, injected corticosteroids, and blood thinners. This is not the correct treatment for COVID-19. In severe hypoxia, cellular metabolic shifts cause ATP to break down into hypoxanthine, which, upon the reintroduction of oxygen, causes xanthine oxidase to produce tons of highly damaging radicals that attack tissue. This is called ischemia-reperfusion injury, and it’s why the majority of people who go on a ventilator are dying. In the mitochondria, succinate buildup due to sepsis does the same exact thing; when oxygen is reintroduced, it makes superoxide radicals. Make no mistake, intubation will kill people who have COVID-19. The end-stage of COVID-19 is severe lipid peroxidation, where fats in the body start to “rust” due to damage by oxidative stress. This drives autoimmunity. Oxidized lipids appear as foreign objects to the immune system, which recognizes and forms antibodies against OSEs, or oxidation-specific epitopes. Also, oxidized lipids feed directly into pattern recognition receptors, triggering even more inflammation and summoning even more cells of the innate immune system that release even more destructive enzymes. This is similar to the pathophysiology of Lupus. COVID-19’s pathology is dominated by extreme oxidative stress and neutrophil respiratory burst, to the point where hemoglobin becomes incapable of carrying oxygen due to heme iron being stripped out of heme by hypochlorous acid. No amount of supplemental oxygen can oxygenate blood that chemically refuses to bind O2. The breakdown of the pathology is as follows: SARS-CoV-2 Spike binds to ACE2. Angiotensin Converting Enzyme 2 is an enzyme that is part of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, or RAAS. The RAAS is a hormone control system that moderates fluid volume in the body and in the bloodstream (i.e. osmolarity) by controlling salt retention and excretion. This protein, ACE2, is ubiquitous in every part of the body that interfaces with the circulatory system, particularly in vascular endothelial cells and pericytes, brain astrocytes, renal tubules and podocytes, pancreatic islet cells, bile duct and intestinal epithelial cells, and the seminiferous ducts of the testis, all of which SARS-CoV-2 can infect, not just the lungs. SARS-CoV-2 infects a cell as follows: SARS-CoV-2 Spike undergoes a conformational change where the S1 trimers flip up and extend, locking onto ACE2 bound to the surface of a cell. TMPRSS2, or transmembrane protease serine 2, comes along and cuts off the heads of the Spike, exposing the S2 stalk-shaped subunit inside. The remainder of the Spike undergoes a conformational change that causes it to unfold like an extension ladder, embedding itself in the cell membrane. Then, it folds back upon itself, pulling the viral membrane and the cell membrane together. The two membranes fuse, with the virus’s proteins migrating out onto the surface of the cell. The SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid enters the cell, disgorging its genetic material and beginning the viral replication process, hijacking the cell’s own structures to produce more virus. SARS-CoV-2 Spike proteins embedded in a cell can actually cause human cells to fuse together, forming syncytia/MGCs (multinuclear giant cells). They also have other pathogenic, harmful effects. SARS-CoV- 2’s viroporins, such as its Envelope protein, act as calcium ion channels, introducing calcium into infected cells. The virus suppresses the natural interferon response, resulting in delayed inflammation. SARS-CoV-2 N protein can also directly activate the NLRP3 inflammasome. Also, it suppresses the Nrf2 antioxidant pathway. The suppression of ACE2 by binding with Spike causes a buildup of bradykinin that would otherwise be broken down by ACE2. This constant calcium influx into the cells results in (or is accompanied by) noticeable hypocalcemia, or low blood calcium, especially in people with Vitamin D deficiencies and pre-existing endothelial dysfunction. Bradykinin upregulates cAMP, cGMP, COX, and Phospholipase C activity. This results in prostaglandin release and vastly increased intracellular calcium signaling, which promotes highly aggressive ROS release and ATP depletion. NADPH oxidase releases superoxide into the extracellular space. Superoxide radicals react with nitric oxide to form peroxynitrite. Peroxynitrite reacts with the tetrahydrobiopterin cofactor needed by endothelial nitric oxide synthase, destroying it and “uncoupling” the enzymes, causing nitric oxide synthase to synthesize more superoxide instead. This proceeds in a positive feedback loop until nitric oxide bioavailability in the circulatory system is depleted. Dissolved nitric oxide gas produced constantly by eNOS serves many important functions, but it is also antiviral against SARS-like coronaviruses, preventing the palmitoylation of the viral Spike protein and making it harder for it to bind to host receptors. The loss of NO allows the virus to begin replicating with impunity in the body. Those with endothelial dysfunction (i.e. hypertension, diabetes, obesity, old age, African-American race) have redox equilibrium issues to begin with, giving the virus an advantage. Due to the extreme cytokine release triggered by these processes, the body summons a great deal of neutrophils and monocyte-derived alveolar macrophages to the lungs. Cells of the innate immune system are the first-line defenders against pathogens. They work by engulfing invaders and trying to attack them with enzymes that produce powerful oxidants, like SOD and MPO. Superoxide dismutase takes superoxide and makes hydrogen peroxide, and myeloperoxidase takes hydrogen peroxide and chlorine ions and makes hypochlorous acid, which is many, many times more reactive than sodium hypochlorite bleach. Neutrophils have a nasty trick. They can also eject these enzymes into the extracellular space, where they will continuously spit out peroxide and bleach into the bloodstream. This is called neutrophil extracellular trap formation, or, when it becomes pathogenic and counterproductive, NETosis. In severe and critical COVID-19, there is actually rather severe NETosis. Hypochlorous acid building up in the bloodstream begins to bleach the iron out of heme and compete for O2 binding sites. Red blood cells lose the ability to transport oxygen, causing the sufferer to turn blue in the face. Unliganded iron, hydrogen peroxide, and superoxide in the bloodstream undergo the Haber- Weiss and Fenton reactions, producing extremely reactive hydroxyl radicals that violently strip electrons from surrounding fats and DNA, oxidizing them severely. This condition is not unknown to medical science. The actual name for all of this is acute sepsis. We know this is happening in COVID-19 because people who have died of the disease have noticeable ferroptosis signatures in their tissues, as well as various other oxidative stress markers such as nitrotyrosine, 4-HNE, and malondialdehyde. When you intubate someone with this condition, you are setting off a free radical bomb by supplying the cells with O2. It’s a catch-22, because we need oxygen to make Adenosine Triphosphate (that is, to live), but O2 is also the precursor of all these damaging radicals that lead to lipid peroxidation. The correct treatment for severe COVID-19 related sepsis is non-invasive ventilation, steroids, and antioxidant infusions. Most of the drugs repurposed for COVID-19 that show any benefit whatsoever in rescuing critically-ill COVID-19 patients are antioxidants. N-acetylcysteine, melatonin, fluvoxamine, budesonide, famotidine, cimetidine, and ranitidine are all antioxidants. Indomethacin prevents iron- driven oxidation of arachidonic acid to isoprostanes. There are powerful antioxidants such as apocynin that have not even been tested on COVID-19 patients yet which could defang neutrophils, prevent lipid peroxidation, restore endothelial health, and restore oxygenation to the tissues. Scientists who know anything about pulmonary neutrophilia, ARDS, and redox biology have known or surmised much of this since March 2020. In April 2020, Swiss scientists confirmed that COVID-19 was a vascular endotheliitis. By late 2020, experts had already concluded that COVID-19 causes a form of viral sepsis. They also know that sepsis can be effectively treated with antioxidants. None of this information is particularly new, and yet, for the most part, it has not been acted upon. Doctors continue to use damaging intubation techniques with high PEEP settings despite high lung compliance and poor oxygenation, killing an untold number of critically ill patients with medical malpractice. Because of the way they are constructed, Randomized Control Trials will never show any benefit for any antiviral against COVID-19. Not Remdesivir, not Kaletra, not HCQ, and not Ivermectin. The reason for this is simple; for the patients that they have recruited for these studies, such as Oxford’s ludicrous RECOVERY study, the intervention is too late to have any positive effect. The clinical course of COVID-19 is such that by the time most people seek medical attention for hypoxia, their viral load has already tapered off to almost nothing. If someone is about 10 days post-exposure and has already been symptomatic for five days, there is hardly any virus left in their bodies, only cellular damage and derangement that has initiated a hyperinflammatory response. It is from this group that the clinical trials for antivirals have recruited, pretty much exclusively. In these trials, they give antivirals to severely ill patients who have no virus in their bodies, only a delayed hyperinflammatory response, and then absurdly claim that antivirals have no utility in treating or preventing COVID-19. These clinical trials do not recruit people who are pre-symptomatic. They do not test pre-exposure or post-exposure prophylaxis. This is like using a defibrillator to shock only flatline, and then absurdly claiming that defibrillators have no medical utility whatsoever when the patients refuse to rise from the dead. The intervention is too late. These trials for antivirals show systematic, egregious selection bias. They are providing a treatment that is futile to the specific cohort they are enrolling. India went against the instructions of the WHO and mandated the prophylactic usage of Ivermectin. They have almost completely eradicated COVID-19. The Indian Bar Association of Mumbai has brought criminal charges against WHO Chief Scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan for recommending against the use of Ivermectin. Ivermectin is not “horse dewormer”. Yes, it is sold in veterinary paste form as a dewormer for animals. It has also been available in pill form for humans for decades, as an antiparasitic drug. The media have disingenuously claimed that because Ivermectin is an antiparasitic drug, it has no utility as an antivirus. This is incorrect. Ivermectin has utility as an antiviral. It blocks importin, preventing nuclear import, effectively inhibiting viral access to cell nuclei. Many drugs currently on the market have multiple modes of action. Ivermectin is one such drug. It is both antiparasitic and antiviral. In Bangladesh, Ivermectin costs $1.80 for an entire 5-day course. Remdesivir, which is toxic to the liver, costs $3,120 for a 5-day course of the drug. Billions of dollars of utterly useless Remdesivir were sold to our governments on the taxpayer’s dime, and it ended up being totally useless for treating hyperinflammatory COVID-19. The media has hardly even covered this at all. The opposition to the use of generic Ivermectin is not based in science. It is purely financially and politically-motivated. An effective non-vaccine intervention would jeopardize the rushed FDA approval of patented vaccines and medicines for which the pharmaceutical industry stands to rake in billions upon billions of dollars in sales on an ongoing basis. The majority of the public are scientifically illiterate and cannot grasp what any of this even means, thanks to a pathetic educational system that has miseducated them. You would be lucky to find 1 in 100 people who have even the faintest clue what any of this actually means. COVID-19 Transmission: COVID-19 is airborne. The WHO carried water for China by claiming that the virus was only droplet- borne. Our own CDC absurdly claimed that it was mostly transmitted by fomite-to-face contact, which, given its rapid spread from Wuhan to the rest of the world, would have been physically impossible. The ridiculous belief in fomite-to-face being a primary mode of transmission led to the use of surface disinfection protocols that wasted time, energy, productivity, and disinfectant. The 6-foot guidelines are absolutely useless. The minimum safe distance to protect oneself from an aerosolized virus is to be 15+ feet away from an infected person, no closer. Realistically, no public transit is safe. Surgical masks do not protect you from aerosols. The virus is too small and the filter media has too large of gaps to filter it out. They may catch respiratory droplets and keep the virus from being expelled by someone who is sick, but they do not filter a cloud of infectious aerosols if someone were to walk into said cloud. The minimum level of protection against this virus is quite literally a P100 respirator, a PAPR/CAPR, or a 40mm NATO CBRN respirator, ideally paired with a full-body tyvek or tychem suit, gloves, and booties, with all the holes and gaps taped. Live SARS-CoV-2 may potentially be detected in sewage outflows, and there may be oral-fecal transmission. During the SARS outbreak in 2003, in the Amoy Gardens incident, hundreds of people were infected by aerosolized fecal matter rising from floor drains in their apartments. COVID-19 Vaccine Dangers: The vaccines for COVID-19 are not sterilizing and do not prevent infection or transmission. They are “leaky” vaccines. This means they remove the evolutionary pressure on the virus to become less lethal. It also means that the vaccinated are perfect carriers. In other words, those who are vaccinated are a threat to the unvaccinated, not the other way around. All of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in use have undergone minimal testing, with highly accelerated clinical trials. Though they appear to limit severe illness, the long-term safety profile of these vaccines remains unknown. Some of these so-called “vaccines” utilize an untested new technology that has never been used in vaccines before. Traditional vaccines use weakened or killed virus to stimulate an immune response. The Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines do not. They are purported to consist of an intramuscular shot containing a suspension of lipid nanoparticles filled with messenger RNA. The way they generate an immune response is by fusing with cells in a vaccine recipient’s shoulder, undergoing endocytosis, releasing their mRNA cargo into those cells, and then utilizing the ribosomes in those cells to synthesize modified SARS-CoV-2 Spike proteins in-situ. These modified Spike proteins then migrate to the surface of the cell, where they are anchored in place by a transmembrane domain. The adaptive immune system detects the non-human viral protein being expressed by these cells, and then forms antibodies against that protein. This is purported to confer protection against the virus, by training the adaptive immune system to recognize and produce antibodies against the Spike on the actual virus. The J&J and AstraZeneca vaccines do something similar, but use an adenovirus vector for genetic material delivery instead of a lipid nanoparticle. These vaccines were produced or validated with the aid of fetal cell lines HEK-293 and PER.C6, which people with certain religious convictions may object strongly to. SARS-CoV-2 Spike is a highly pathogenic protein on its own. It is impossible to overstate the danger presented by introducing this protein into the human body. It is claimed by vaccine manufacturers that the vaccine remains in cells in the shoulder, and that SARS- CoV-2 Spike produced and expressed by these cells from the vaccine’s genetic material is harmless and inert, thanks to the insertion of prolines in the Spike sequence to stabilize it in the prefusion conformation, preventing the Spike from becoming active and fusing with other cells. However, a pharmacokinetic study from Japan showed that the lipid nanoparticles and mRNA from the Pfizer vaccine did not stay in the shoulder, and in fact bioaccumulated in many different organs, including the reproductive organs and adrenal glands, meaning that modified Spike is being expressed quite literally all over the place. These lipid nanoparticles may trigger anaphylaxis in an unlucky few, but far more concerning is the unregulated expression of Spike in various somatic cell lines far from the injection site and the unknown consequences of that. Messenger RNA is normally consumed right after it is produced in the body, being translated into a protein by a ribosome. COVID-19 vaccine mRNA is produced outside the body, long before a ribosome translates it. In the meantime, it could accumulate damage if inadequately preserved. When a ribosome attempts to translate a damaged strand of mRNA, it can become stalled. When this happens, the ribosome becomes useless for translating proteins because it now has a piece of mRNA stuck in it, like a lace card in an old punch card reader. The whole thing has to be cleaned up and new ribosomes synthesized to replace it. In cells with low ribosome turnover, like nerve cells, this can lead to reduced protein synthesis, cytopathic effects, and neuropathies. Certain proteins, including SARS-CoV-2 Spike, have proteolytic cleavage sites that are basically like little dotted lines that say “cut here”, which attract a living organism’s own proteases (essentially, molecular scissors) to cut them. There is a possibility that S1 may be proteolytically cleaved from S2, causing active S1 to float away into the bloodstream while leaving the S2 “stalk” embedded in the membrane of the cell that expressed the protein. SARS-CoV-2 Spike has a Superantigenic region (SAg), which may promote extreme inflammation. Anti-Spike antibodies were found in one study to function as autoantibodies and attack the body’s own cells. Those who have been immunized with COVID-19 vaccines have developed blood clots, myocarditis, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, Bell’s Palsy, and multiple sclerosis flares, indicating that the vaccine promotes autoimmune reactions against healthy tissue. SARS-CoV-2 Spike does not only bind to ACE2. It was suspected to have regions that bind to basigin, integrins, neuropilin-1, and bacterial lipopolysaccharides as well. SARS-CoV-2 Spike, on its own, can potentially bind any of these things and act as a ligand for them, triggering unspecified and likely highly inflammatory cellular activity. SARS-CoV-2 Spike contains an unusual PRRA insert that forms a furin cleavage site. Furin is a ubiquitous human protease, making this an ideal property for the Spike to have, giving it a high degree of cell tropism. No wild-type SARS-like coronaviruses related to SARS-CoV-2 possess this feature, making it highly suspicious, and perhaps a sign of human tampering. SARS-CoV-2 Spike has a prion-like domain that enhances its infectiousness. The Spike S1 RBD may bind to heparin-binding proteins and promote amyloid aggregation. In humans, this could lead to Parkinson’s, Lewy Body Dementia, premature Alzheimer’s, or various other neurodegenerative diseases. This is very concerning because SARS-CoV-2 S1 is capable of injuring and penetrating the blood-brain barrier and entering the brain. It is also capable of increasing the permeability of the blood-brain barrier to other molecules. SARS-CoV-2, like other betacoronaviruses, may have Dengue-like ADE, or antibody-dependent enhancement of disease. For those who aren’t aware, some viruses, including betacoronaviruses, have a feature called ADE. There is also something called Original Antigenic Sin, which is the observation that the body prefers to produce antibodies based on previously-encountered strains of a virus over newly- encountered ones. In ADE, antibodies from a previous infection become non-neutralizing due to mutations in the virus’s proteins. These non-neutralizing antibodies then act as trojan horses, allowing live, active virus to be pulled into macrophages through their Fc receptor pathways, allowing the virus to infect immune cells that it would not have been able to infect before. This has been known to happen with Dengue Fever; when someone gets sick with Dengue, recovers, and then contracts a different strain, they can get very, very ill. If someone is vaccinated with mRNA based on the Spike from the initial Wuhan strain of SARS-CoV-2, and then they become infected with a future, mutated strain of the virus, they may become severely ill. In other words, it is possible for vaccines to sensitize someone to disease. There is a precedent for this in recent history. Sanofi’s Dengvaxia vaccine for Dengue failed because it caused immune sensitization in people whose immune systems were Dengue-naive. In mice immunized against SARS-CoV and challenged with the virus, a close relative of SARS-CoV-2, they developed immune sensitization, Th2 immunopathology, and eosinophil infiltration in their lungs. We have been told that SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccines cannot be integrated into the human genome, because messenger RNA cannot be turned back into DNA. This is false. There are elements in human cells called LINE-1 retrotransposons, which can indeed integrate mRNA into a human genome by endogenous reverse transcription. Because the mRNA used in the vaccines is stabilized, it hangs around in cells longer, increasing the chances for this to happen. If the gene for SARS-CoV-2 Spike is integrated into a portion of the genome that is not silent and actually expresses a protein, it is possible that people who take this vaccine may continuously express SARS-CoV-2 Spike from their somatic cells for the rest of their lives. By inoculating people with a vaccine that causes their bodies to produce Spike in-situ, they are being inoculated with a pathogenic protein. A toxin that may cause long-term inflammation, heart problems, and a raised risk of cancers. In the long-term, it may also potentially lead to premature neurodegenerative disease. Absolutely nobody should be compelled to take this vaccine under any circumstances, and in actual fact, the vaccination campaign must be stopped immediately. COVID-19 Criminal Conspiracy: The vaccine and the virus were made by the same people. In 2014, there was a moratorium on SARS gain-of-function research that lasted until 2017. This research was not halted. Instead, it was outsourced, with the federal grants being laundered through NGOs. Ralph Baric is a virologist and SARS expert at UNC Chapel Hill in North Carolina. This is who Anthony Fauci was referring to when he insisted, before Congress, that if any gain-of-function research was being conducted, it was being conducted in North Carolina. This was a lie. Anthony Fauci lied before Congress. A felony. Ralph Baric and Shi Zhengli are colleagues and have co-written papers together. Ralph Baric mentored Shi Zhengli in his gain-of-function manipulation techniques, particularly serial passage, which results in a virus that appears as if it originated naturally. In other words, deniable bioweapons. Serial passage in humanized hACE2 mice may have produced something like SARS-CoV-2. The funding for the gain-of-function research being conducted at the Wuhan Institute of Virology came from Peter Daszak. Peter Daszak runs an NGO called EcoHealth Alliance. EcoHealth Alliance received millions of dollars in grant money from the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (that is, Anthony Fauci), the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (part of the US Department of Defense), and the United States Agency for International Development. NIH/NIAID contributed a few million dollars, and DTRA and USAID each contributed tens of millions of dollars towards this research. Altogether, it was over a hundred million dollars. EcoHealth Alliance subcontracted these grants to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a lab in China with a very questionable safety record and poorly trained staff, so that they could conduct gain-of-function research, not in their fancy P4 lab, but in a level-2 lab where technicians wore nothing more sophisticated than perhaps a hairnet, latex gloves, and a surgical mask, instead of the bubble suits used when working with dangerous viruses. Chinese scientists in Wuhan reported being routinely bitten and urinated on by laboratory animals. Why anyone would outsource this dangerous and delicate work to the People’s Republic of China, a country infamous for industrial accidents and massive explosions that have claimed hundreds of lives, is completely beyond me, unless the aim was to start a pandemic on purpose. In November of 2019, three technicians at the Wuhan Institute of Virology developed symptoms consistent with a flu-like illness. Anthony Fauci, Peter Daszak, and Ralph Baric knew at once what had happened, because back channels exist between this laboratory and our scientists and officials. December 12th, 2019, Ralph Baric signed a Material Transfer Agreement (essentially, an NDA) to receive Coronavirus mRNA vaccine-related materials co-owned by Moderna and NIH. It wasn’t until a whole month later, on January 11th, 2020, that China allegedly sent us the sequence to what would become known as SARS-CoV-2. Moderna claims, rather absurdly, that they developed a working vaccine from this sequence in under 48 hours. Stephane Bancel, the current CEO of Moderna, was formerly the CEO of bioMerieux, a French multinational corporation specializing in medical diagnostic tech, founded by one Alain Merieux. Alain Merieux was one of the individuals who was instrumental in the construction of the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s P4 lab. The sequence given as the closest relative to SARS-CoV-2, RaTG13, is not a real virus. It is a forgery. It was made by entering a gene sequence by hand into a database, to create a cover story for the existence of SARS-CoV-2, which is very likely a gain-of-function chimera produced at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and was either leaked by accident or intentionally released. The animal reservoir of SARS-CoV-2 has never been found. This is not a conspiracy “theory”. It is an actual criminal conspiracy, in which people connected to the development of Moderna’s mRNA-1273 are directly connected to the Wuhan Institute of Virology and their gain-of-function research by very few degrees of separation, if any. The paper trail is well- established. The lab-leak theory has been suppressed because pulling that thread leads one to inevitably conclude that there is enough circumstantial evidence to link Moderna, the NIH, the WIV, and both the vaccine and the virus’s creation together. In a sane country, this would have immediately led to the world’s biggest RICO and mass murder case. Anthony Fauci, Peter Daszak, Ralph Baric, Shi Zhengli, and Stephane Bancel, and their accomplices, would have been indicted and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Instead, billions of our tax dollars were awarded to the perpetrators. The FBI raided Allure Medical in Shelby Township north of Detroit for billing insurance for “fraudulent COVID-19 cures”. The treatment they were using? Intravenous Vitamin C. An antioxidant. Which, as described above, is an entirely valid treatment for COVID-19-induced sepsis, and indeed, is now part of the MATH+ protocol advanced by Dr. Paul E. Marik. The FDA banned ranitidine (Zantac) due to supposed NDMA (N-nitrosodimethylamine) contamination. Ranitidine is not only an H2 blocker used as antacid, but also has a powerful antioxidant effect, scavenging hydroxyl radicals. This gives it utility in treating COVID-19. The FDA also attempted to take N-acetylcysteine, a harmless amino acid supplement and antioxidant, off the shelves, compelling Amazon to remove it from their online storefront. This leaves us with a chilling question: did the FDA knowingly suppress antioxidants useful for treating COVID-19 sepsis as part of a criminal conspiracy against the American public? The establishment is cooperating with, and facilitating, the worst criminals in human history, and are actively suppressing non-vaccine treatments and therapies in order to compel us to inject these criminals’ products into our bodies. This is absolutely unacceptable. COVID-19 Vaccine Development and Links to Transhumanism: This section deals with some more speculative aspects of the pandemic and the medical and scientific establishment’s reaction to it, as well as the disturbing links between scientists involved in vaccine research and scientists whose work involved merging nanotechnology with living cells. On June 9th, 2020, Charles Lieber, a Harvard nanotechnology researcher with decades of experience, was indicted by the DOJ for fraud. Charles Lieber received millions of dollars in grant money from the US Department of Defense, specifically the military think tanks DARPA, AFOSR, and ONR, as well as NIH and MITRE. His specialty is the use of silicon nanowires in lieu of patch clamp electrodes to monitor and modulate intracellular activity, something he has been working on at Harvard for the past twenty years. He was claimed to have been working on silicon nanowire batteries in China, but none of his colleagues can recall him ever having worked on battery technology in his life; all of his research deals with bionanotechnology, or the blending of nanotech with living cells. The indictment was over his collaboration with the Wuhan University of Technology. He had double- dipped, against the terms of his DOD grants, and taken money from the PRC’s Thousand Talents plan, a program which the Chinese government uses to bribe Western scientists into sharing proprietary R&D information that can be exploited by the PLA for strategic advantage. Charles Lieber’s own papers describe the use of silicon nanowires for brain-computer interfaces, or “neural lace” technology. His papers describe how neurons can endocytose whole silicon nanowires or parts of them, monitoring and even modulating neuronal activity. Charles Lieber was a colleague of Robert Langer. Together, along with Daniel S. Kohane, they worked on a paper describing artificial tissue scaffolds that could be implanted in a human heart to monitor its activity remotely. Robert Langer, an MIT alumnus and expert in nanotech drug delivery, is one of the co-founders of Moderna. His net worth is now $5.1 billion USD thanks to Moderna’s mRNA-1273 vaccine sales. Both Charles Lieber and Robert Langer’s bibliographies describe, essentially, techniques for human enhancement, i.e. transhumanism. Klaus Schwab, the founder of the World Economic Forum and the architect behind the so-called “Great Reset”, has long spoken of the “blending of biology and machinery” in his books. Since these revelations, it has come to the attention of independent researchers that the COVID-19 vaccines may contain reduced graphene oxide nanoparticles. Japanese researchers have also found unexplained contaminants in COVID-19 vaccines. Graphene oxide is an anxiolytic. It has been shown to reduce the anxiety of laboratory mice when injected into their brains. Indeed, given SARS-CoV-2 Spike’s propensity to compromise the blood-brain barrier and increase its permeability, it is the perfect protein for preparing brain tissue for extravasation of nanoparticles from the bloodstream and into the brain. Graphene is also highly conductive and, in some circumstances, paramagnetic. In 2013, under the Obama administration, DARPA launched the BRAIN Initiative; BRAIN is an acronym for Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies®. This program involves the development of brain-computer interface technologies for the military, particularly non-invasive, injectable systems that cause minimal damage to brain tissue when removed. Supposedly, this technology would be used for healing wounded soldiers with traumatic brain injuries, the direct brain control of prosthetic limbs, and even new abilities such as controlling drones with one’s mind. Various methods have been proposed for achieving this, including optogenetics, magnetogenetics, ultrasound, implanted electrodes, and transcranial electromagnetic stimulation. In all instances, the goal is to obtain read or read-write capability over neurons, either by stimulating and probing them, or by rendering them especially sensitive to stimulation and probing. However, the notion of the widespread use of BCI technology, such as Elon Musk’s Neuralink device, raises many concerns over privacy and personal autonomy. Reading from neurons is problematic enough on its own. Wireless brain-computer interfaces may interact with current or future wireless GSM infrastructure, creating neurological data security concerns. A hacker or other malicious actor may compromise such networks to obtain people’s brain data, and then exploit it for nefarious purposes. However, a device capable of writing to human neurons, not just reading from them, presents another, even more serious set of ethical concerns. A BCI that is capable of altering the contents of one’s mind for innocuous purposes, such as projecting a heads-up display onto their brain’s visual center or sending audio into one’s auditory cortex, would also theoretically be capable of altering mood and personality, or perhaps even subjugating someone’s very will, rendering them utterly obedient to authority. This technology would be a tyrant’s wet dream. Imagine soldiers who would shoot their own countrymen without hesitation, or helpless serfs who are satisfied to live in literal dog kennels. BCIs could be used to unscrupulously alter perceptions of basic things such as emotions and values, changing people’s thresholds of satiety, happiness, anger, disgust, and so forth. This is not inconsequential. Someone’s entire regime of behaviors could be altered by a BCI, including such things as suppressing their appetite or desire for virtually anything on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Anything is possible when you have direct access to someone’s brain and its contents. Someone who is obese could be made to feel disgust at the sight of food. Someone who is involuntarily celibate could have their libido disabled so they don’t even desire sex to begin with. Someone who is racist could be forced to feel delight over cohabiting with people of other races. Someone who is violent could be forced to be meek and submissive. These things might sound good to you if you are a tyrant, but to normal people, the idea of personal autonomy being overridden to such a degree is appalling. For the wealthy, neural laces would be an unequaled boon, giving them the opportunity to enhance their intelligence with neuroprosthetics (i.e. an “exocortex”), and to deliver irresistible commands directly into the minds of their BCI-augmented servants, even physically or sexually abusive commands that they would normally refuse. If the vaccine is a method to surreptitiously introduce an injectable BCI into millions of people without their knowledge or consent, then what we are witnessing is the rise of a tyrannical regime unlike anything ever seen before on the face of this planet, one that fully intends to strip every man, woman, and child of our free will. Our flaws are what make us human. A utopia arrived at by removing people’s free will is not a utopia at all. It is a monomaniacal nightmare. Furthermore, the people who rule over us are Dark Triad types who cannot be trusted with such power. Imagine being beaten and sexually assaulted by a wealthy and powerful psychopath and being forced to smile and laugh over it because your neural lace gives you no choice but to obey your master. The Elites are forging ahead with this technology without giving people any room to question the social or ethical ramifications, or to establish regulatory frameworks that ensure that our personal agency and autonomy will not be overridden by these devices. They do this because they secretly dream of a future where they can treat you worse than an animal and you cannot even fight back. If this evil plan is allowed to continue, it will spell the end of humanity as we know it. Conclusions: The current pandemic was produced and perpetuated by the establishment, through the use of a virus engineered in a PLA-connected Chinese biowarfare laboratory, with the aid of American taxpayer dollars and French expertise. This research was conducted under the absolutely ridiculous euphemism of “gain-of-function” research, which is supposedly carried out in order to determine which viruses have the highest potential for zoonotic spillover and preemptively vaccinate or guard against them. Gain-of-function/gain-of-threat research, a.k.a. “Dual-Use Research of Concern”, or DURC, is bioweapon research by another, friendlier-sounding name, simply to avoid the taboo of calling it what it actually is. It has always been bioweapon research. The people who are conducting this research fully understand that they are taking wild pathogens that are not infectious in humans and making them more infectious, often taking grants from military think tanks encouraging them to do so. These virologists conducting this type of research are enemies of their fellow man, like pyromaniac firefighters. GOF research has never protected anyone from any pandemic. In fact, it has now started one, meaning its utility for preventing pandemics is actually negative. It should have been banned globally, and the lunatics performing it should have been put in straitjackets long ago. Either through a leak or an intentional release from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a deadly SARS strain is now endemic across the globe, after the WHO and CDC and public officials first downplayed the risks, and then intentionally incited a panic and lockdowns that jeopardized people’s health and their livelihoods. This was then used by the utterly depraved and psychopathic aristocratic class who rule over us as an excuse to coerce people into accepting an injected poison which may be a depopulation agent, a mind control/pacification agent in the form of injectable “smart dust”, or both in one. They believe they can get away with this by weaponizing the social stigma of vaccine refusal. They are incorrect. Their motives are clear and obvious to anyone who has been paying attention. These megalomaniacs have raided the pension funds of the free world. Wall Street is insolvent and has had an ongoing liquidity crisis since the end of 2019. The aim now is to exert total, full-spectrum physical, mental, and financial control over humanity before we realize just how badly we’ve been extorted by these maniacs. The pandemic and its response served multiple purposes for the Elite: Concealing a depression brought on by the usurious plunder of our economies conducted by rentier-capitalists and absentee owners who produce absolutely nothing of any value to society whatsoever. Instead of us having a very predictable Occupy Wall Street Part II, the Elites and their stooges got to stand up on television and paint themselves as wise and all-powerful saviors instead of the marauding cabal of despicable land pirates that they are. Destroying small businesses and eroding the middle class. Transferring trillions of dollars of wealth from the American public and into the pockets of billionaires and special interests. Engaging in insider trading, buying stock in biotech companies and shorting brick-and-mortar businesses and travel companies, with the aim of collapsing face-to-face commerce and tourism and replacing it with e-commerce and servitization. Creating a casus belli for war with China, encouraging us to attack them, wasting American lives and treasure and driving us to the brink of nuclear armageddon. Establishing technological and biosecurity frameworks for population control and technocratic- socialist “smart cities” where everyone’s movements are despotically tracked, all in anticipation of widespread automation, joblessness, and food shortages, by using the false guise of a vaccine to compel cooperation. Any one of these things would constitute a vicious rape of Western society. Taken together, they beggar belief; they are a complete inversion of our most treasured values. What is the purpose of all of this? One can only speculate as to the perpetrators’ motives, however, we have some theories. The Elites are trying to pull up the ladder, erase upward mobility for large segments of the population, cull political opponents and other “undesirables”, and put the remainder of humanity on a tight leash, rationing our access to certain goods and services that they have deemed “high-impact”, such as automobile use, tourism, meat consumption, and so on. Naturally, they will continue to have their own luxuries, as part of a strict caste system akin to feudalism. Why are they doing this? Simple. The Elites are Neo-Malthusians and believe that we are overpopulated and that resource depletion will collapse civilization in a matter of a few short decades. They are not necessarily incorrect in this belief. We are overpopulated, and we are consuming too many resources. However, orchestrating such a gruesome and murderous power grab in response to a looming crisis demonstrates that they have nothing but the utmost contempt for their fellow man. To those who are participating in this disgusting farce without any understanding of what they are doing, we have one word for you. Stop. You are causing irreparable harm to your country and to your fellow citizens. To those who may be reading this warning and have full knowledge and understanding of what they are doing and how it will unjustly harm millions of innocent people, we have a few more words. Damn you to hell. You will not destroy America and the Free World, and you will not have your New World Order. We will make certain of that. *  *  * This PDF document contains 14 pages, followed by another 17 pages of references. For those, please visit the original PDF file at Covid19 – The Spartacus Letter. *  *  * We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, you are now not just a reader, but an integral part of the process that builds this site. Thank you for your support. Support the Automatic Earth in virustime. Donate with Paypal, Bitcoin and Patreon. Tyler Durden Mon, 09/27/2021 - 00:00.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytSep 27th, 2021

Moderna begins Phase 1 study of its Epstein-Barr virus vaccine candidate

Shares of Moderna Inc. were down 0.5% in premarket trading on Wednesday after the company said it began dosing participants in a Phase 1 clinical trial evaluating the company's experimental Epstein-Barr virus vaccine. The virus causes mononucleosis, also called mono, and is associated with a higher risk of multiple sclerosis and some lymphoproliferative disorders. The study is expected to troll 270 healthy adults between the ages of 18 and 30 years old. Moderna's stock is down 8.2% so far this year, while the S&P 500 is up 0.5%.Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news......»»

Category: topSource: marketwatchJan 5th, 2022

Why Don"t People "Trust The Science?" Because Scientists Are Often Caught Lying

Why Don't People "Trust The Science?" Because Scientists Are Often Caught Lying Authored by Brandon Smith via Alt-Market.us, There has been an unfortunate shift in Western educational practices in the past few decades away from what we used to call “critical thinking.” In fact, critical thinking was once a fundamental staple of US colleges and now it seems as though the concept doesn’t exist anymore; at least not in the way it used to. Instead, another brand of learning has arisen which promotes “right thinking”; a form of indoctrination which encourages and rewards a particular response from students that falls in line with ideology and not necessarily in line with reality. It’s not that schools directly enforce a collectivist or corporatist ideology (sometimes they do), it’s more that they filter out alternative viewpoints as well as facts and evidence they do not like until all that is left is a single path and a single conclusion to any given problem. They teach students how to NOT think by presenting thought experiments and then controlling the acceptable outcomes. For example, a common and manipulative thought experiment used in schools is to ask students to write an “analysis” on why people do not trust science or scientists these days. The trick is that the question is always presented with a built-in conclusion – That scientists should be trusted, and some people are refusing to listen, so let’s figure out why these people are so stupid. I have seen this experiment numerous times, always presented in the same way. Not once have I ever seen a college professor or public school teacher ask students: “Should scientists today be trusted?” Not once. This is NOT analysis, this is controlled hypothesis. If you already have a conclusion in mind before you enter into a thought experiment, then you will naturally try to adjust the outcome of the experiment to fit your preconceived notions. Schools today present this foolishness as a form of thinking game when it is actually propaganda. Students are being taught to think inside the box, not outside the box. This is not science, it is anti-science. Educational programming like this is now a mainstay while actual science has taken a backseat. Millions of kids are exiting public schools and universities with no understanding of actual scientific method or science in general. Ask them what the equations for Density or Acceleration are, and they’ll have no clue what your are talking about. Ask them about issues surrounding vaccination or “climate change”, and they will regurgitate a litany of pre-programmed responses as to why the science cannot be questioned in any way. In the alternative media we often refer to this as being “trapped in the Matrix,” and it’s hard to think of a better analogy. People have been rewarded for so long for accepting the mainstream narrative and blindly dismissing any other information that when they are presented with reality they either laugh at it arrogantly or recoil in horror. The Matrix is so much more comfortable and safe, and look at all the good grades you get when you say the right things and avoid the hard questions and agree with the teacher. Given the sad state of science in the West these days surrounding the response to covid as well as the insane and unscientific push for forced vaccinations, I thought it would be interesting to try out this thought exercise, but from an angle that is never allowed in today’s schools: Why don’t people trust the science and scientists anymore? This is simple: Because many scientists have been caught lying and misrepresenting their data to fit the conclusions they want rather than the facts at hand. Science is often politicized to serve an agenda. This is not conspiracy theory, this is provable fact. That’s not to say that all science is to be mistrusted. The point is, no science should be blindly accepted without independent examination of ALL the available facts. This is the whole point of science, after all. Yes, there are idiotic conspiracy theories out there when it comes to scientific analysis, but there are a number of scams in the world of science as well. The usual false claim is that the average person is ignorant and that they don’t have the capacity to understand scientific data. I do find it interesting that this is the general message of the trust-science thought experiment. It fits right in line with the mainstream and government narrative that THEIR scientists, the scientists they pay for and that corporations pay for, are implicitly correct and should not be questioned. They are the high priests of the modern era, delving into great magics that we dirty peasants cannot possibly grasp. It is not for us to question “the science”, it our job to simply embrace it like a religion and bow down in reverence. Most people have the capacity to sift through scientific data as long as it’s transparent. When the facts are obscured or spun or omitted this causes confusion, and of course only the establishment scientists can untangle the mess because they are the ones that created it. Let’s look at a couple of examples directly related to human health… GMO Crops And The Corporate Money Train The propaganda surrounding Genetically Modified Organisms is relentless and pervasive, with the overall thrust being that they are perfectly safe and that anyone who says otherwise is a tinfoil hat crackpot. And certainly, there a hundreds if not thousands of studies which readily confirm this conclusion. So, case closed, right? Not quite. Here is where critical thinking is so useful and where reality escapes the indoctrinated – Who paid for these studies, and do they have a vested interest in censoring negative data on GMOs? Well, in the vast majority of cases GMO studies are funded by two sources – GMO industry giants like Monsanto, Dupont and Syngenta, or, government agencies like the FDA and EPA. Very few studies are truly independent, and this is the problem. Both the government and corporations like Monsanto have a vested interest in preventing any critical studies from being released on GMO’s. Monsanto has been caught on numerous occasions hiding the dangerous health effects of its products, from Agent Orange to the RGBH growth hormone used in dairy cows. They have been caught compiling illegal dossiers on their critics. The industry has been caught multiple times paying off academics and scientists to produce studies on GMOs with a positive spin and even to attack other scientists that are involved in experiments that are critical of GMOs. Research shows that at least half of all GMO studies are funded by the GMO industry, while the majority of the other half are funded by governments. There has also long been a revolving door between GMO industry insiders and the FDA and EPA; officials often work for Monsanto and then get jobs with the government, then go back to Monsanto again. The back scratching is so egregious that the government even created special legal protections for GMO companies like Monsanto under what is now known as the Monsanto Protection Act (Section 735 of Agricultural Appropriations Bill HR 993) under the Obama Administration in 2013. This essentially makes GMO companies immune to litigation over GMOs, and the same protections have been renewed in different bills ever since. Beyond the revolving door, the government has approved many GMO products with little to no critical data to confirm their safety. Not only that, but in most cases the government has sovereign immunity from litigation, even if they’ve been negligent. Meaning, if any of these products is proven to cause long term health damage the government cannot be sued for approving them unless there are special circumstances. If they could be held liable, you would be damn sure the FDA would be running every conceivable test imaginable to confirm GMOs are definitively safe without any bias attached, but this is not the case. Instead, the government actively propagandizes for GMO companies and uses hired hatchet men to derail any public criticism. I, for one, would love to know for sure if GMOs are harmful to the human body in the long term, and there is certainly science to suggest that this might be the case. There have been many situations in which specific GMO foods were removed from the market in foreign countries because of potentially harmful side effects. Endogenous toxins of plants with modified metabolites are a concern, along with “plant incorporated protectants” (plants designed to produce toxins which act as pesticides). There is data that tells us to be wary, but nothing conclusive. Why? Because billions of dollars are being invested by corporations into research designed to “debunk” any notion of side effects. If the same amount of funding was put into independent studies with no bias, then we might hear a different story about the risks of GMOs. All the money is in dismissing the risks of GMOs; there’s almost no money in studying them honestly. The science appears to be rigged to a particular outcome or narrative, and that is lying. Science is supposed to remain as objective as possible, but how can it be objective when it is being paid for by people with an agenda? The temptation to sell out is extreme. Covid Vaccines And The Death Of Science I bring up the example of GMO’s because I think it is representative of how science can be controlled to produce only one message while excluding all other analysis. We don’t really know for sure how dangerous GMOs are because the majority of data is dictated by the people that profit from them and by their friends in government. The lack of knowing is upheld as proof of safety – But this is not scientific. Science and medicine would demand that we err on the side of caution until we know for sure. The same dynamic exists in the world of covid vaccines. Big Pharma has a vested interest in ensuring NO negative information is released about the mRNA vaccines because there is a perpetual river of money to be made as long as the vax remains approved for emergency use by the FDA. It may be important to note that the FDA has said it will take at least 55 YEARS to release all the data it has on the Pfizer covid vaccines, which suggests again that there is a beneficial collusion between the government and corporate behemoths. In the meantime, anyone that questions the efficacy or safety of the vax is immediately set upon by attack dogs in the media, most of them paid with advertising dollars from Big Pharma. These attacks are not limited to the alternative media; the establishment has also gone after any scientist or doctor with questions about vaccine safety. There are clear and openly admitted ideological agendas surrounding covid science which have nothing to do with public health safety and everything to do with political control. When you have the head of the World Economic Forum applauding the covid pandemic as a perfect “opportunity” to push forward global socialist centralization and erase the last vestiges of free markets and individual liberty, any rational person would have to question if the covid science is also being rigged to support special interests. Luckily, the covid issue is so massive that it is impossible for them to control every study. Instead, the establishment ignores the studies and data they don’t like. The virus is being hyped as a threat to the majority of the public and as a rationale for 100% vaccination rates, by force if needed. Yet, the median Infection Fatality Rate of covid is only 0.27%. This means that on average 99.7% of the population at any given time has nothing to fear from the virus. This is confirmed by dozens of independent medical studies, but when was the last time you heard that number discussed by mainstream government scientists like Anthony Fauci? I’ve never heard them talk about it. But how is it scientific to ignore data just because it doesn’t fit your political aims? Again, deliberate omission of data is a form of lying. What about the multiple studies indicating that natural immunity is far superior in protection to the mRNA vaccines? What about the fact that the countries with the highest vaccination rates also have the highest rates of infections and their hospitalizations have actually increased? What about the fact that the states and countries with the harshest lockdown and mask mandates also have the highest infection rates? What about the fact that the average vaccine is tested for 10-15 years before being approved for human use, while the covid mRNA vaccines were put into production within months? That is to say, there is NO long term data to prove the safety of the covid vax. These are easily observable scientific facts, but we never hear about them from corporate scientists or government scientists like Fauci. Instead, Fauci argues that criticism of his policies is an attack on him, and attacking him is the same as “attacking science.” In other words, Fauci believes HE IS the science. And doesn’t that just illustrate how far science has fallen in the new millennium. Real scientists like Kary Mullis, the inventor of the PCR test, call Fauci a fraud, but they are ignored while Fauci is worshiped. I can’t even get into climate change “science” here, I would have to write an entire separate article about the fallacies perpetrated by global warming academics (did you know that global temperatures have only increased by 1 degree Celsius in the past century? Yep, just 1 degree according to the NOAA’s own data, yet, institutions like the NOAA continue to claim the end of the world is nigh because of global warming). The stringent bottleneck on science today reminds me of the Catholic church under Pope Innocent III when church authorities forbade common people from owning or reading a bible in their own language. These laws remained in effect well into the 13th and 14th centuries. Instead, the peasants were to go to church and have the texts read to them by specific clergy. Often the bible readings were done in Latin (bibles were only allowed to be written in Latin) which most people did not speak, and interpreted however the church wished. It was only the invention of the printing press in the 1400s that changed the power dynamic and allowed bibles to be widely distributed and information to spread without church oversight. Much like the creation of the internet allows the public to access mountains of scientific data and methodologies at their fingertips. The free flow of information is an anathema according to the establishment; they argue that only they have the right to process information for public consumption. Cultism requires excessive control of data and the complete restriction of outside interpretations. As information becomes openly available the public is then able to learn the whole truth, not just approved establishment narratives. Science is quickly becoming a political religion rather than a bastion of critical thought. Conflicting data is ignored as “non-science” or even censored as “dangerous.” Government and corporate paid studies are treated as sacrosanct. Is it any wonder that so many people now distrust the science? Any reasonable person would have questions and suspicions. Those who do not have been indoctrinated into a cult they don’t even know they are a part of. *  *  * If you would like to support the work that Alt-Market does while also receiving content on advanced tactics for defeating the globalist agenda, subscribe to our exclusive newsletter The Wild Bunch Dispatch.  Learn more about it HERE. Tyler Durden Sun, 12/19/2021 - 17:25.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 19th, 2021

Casedemic: The Hideous Scandal Of The Irredeemably Flawed PCR Test

Casedemic: The Hideous Scandal Of The Irredeemably Flawed PCR Test Authored by Ian McNulty via The Brownstone Institute, Investigating the cause of a disease is like investigating the cause of a crime. Just as the detection of a suspect’s DNA at a crime scene doesn’t prove they committed the crime, so the detection of the DNA of a virus in a patient doesn’t prove it caused the disease. Consider the case of Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) for example. It can cause serious diseases like arthritis, multiple sclerosis and cancer. A Japanese study in 2003 found that 43% of patients suffering from Chronic Active Epstein-Barr Virus (CAEBV) died within 5 months to 12 years of infection. Yet EBV is one of the most common viruses in humans and has been detected in 95% of the adult population. Most of those infected are either asymptomatic or show symptoms of glandular fever, which can have similar symptoms to ‘long Covid.’ If an advertising agency attempted to create demand for an EBV treatment with daily TV and radio ads representing positive EBV tests as ‘EBV Cases’ and deaths within 28 days as ‘EBV Deaths,’ they’d be prosecuted for fraud by false representation so quickly their feet wouldn’t touch the ground. How Viruses Are Detected Before the invention of PCR, the gold standard for detecting viruses was to grow them in a culture of living cells and count damaged cells using a microscope. The disadvantage of cell cultures is they need highly skilled technicians and can take weeks to complete. The advantage is they only count living viruses that multiply and damage cells. Dead virus fragments that do neither are automatically discounted. The invention of PCR in 1983 was a game changer. Instead of waiting for viruses to grow naturally, PCR rapidly multiplies tiny amounts of viral DNA exponentially in a series of heating and cooling cycles that can be automated and completed in less than an hour. PCR revolutionised molecular biology but its most notable application was in genetic fingerprinting, where its ability to magnify even the smallest traces of DNA became a major weapon in the fight against crime. But, like a powerful magnifying glass or zoom lens, if it’s powerful enough to find a needle in a haystack it’s powerful enough to make mountains out of molehills. Even the inventor of PCR, Kary Mullis, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1993, vehemently opposed using PCR to diagnose diseases: “PCR is a process that’s used to make a whole lot of something out of something. It allows you to take a very miniscule amount of anything and make it measurable and then talk about it like it’s important.“ PCR has certainly allowed public health authorities and the media around the world to talk about a new variant of Coronavirus like it’s important, but how important is it really? The Dose Makes The Poison Anything can be deadly in high enough doses, even oxygen and water. Since the time of Paracelsus in the 16th century, science has known there are no such things as poisons, only poisonous concentrations: “All things are poison, and nothing is without poison; the dosage alone makes the poison.” (Paracelsus, dritte defensio, 1538.) This basic principle is expressed in the adage “dosis sola facit venenum“ – the dose alone makes the poison – and is the basis for all Public Health Standards which specify Maximum Permissible Doses (MPDs) for all known health hazards, from chemicals and radiation to bacteria, viruses and even noise. Public Health Standards, Science and Law Toxicology and Law are both highly specialised subjects with their own highly specialised language. Depending on the jurisdiction, Maximum Permissible Doses (MPDs) are also known as Health Based Exposure Limits (HBELs), Maximum Exposure Levels (MELs) and Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs). But, no matter how complicated and confusing the language, the basic principles are simple. If the dose alone makes the poison then it’s the dose that’s the biggest concern, not the poison. And if Public Health Standards in a liberal democracy are regulated by the rule of law then the law needs to be simple enough for a jury of reasonably intelligent lay people to understand. Although the harm caused by any toxin increases with the dose, the level of harm depends not only on the toxin, but the susceptibility of the individual and the way the toxin is delivered. Maximum Permissible Doses have to strike a balance between the benefit of increasing safety and the cost of doing it. There are many Political, Economic and Social factors to consider besides the Technology (PEST). Take the case of noise for example. The smallest whisper may be irritating and harmful to some people, while the loudest music may be nourishing and healthy for others. If the Maximum Permissible Dose was set at a level to protect the most sensitive from any risk of harm, life would be impossible for everyone else. Maximum Permissible Doses have to balance the costs and benefits of restricting exposure to the level of No Observable Effect (NOEL) at one end of the scale, and the level that would kill 50% of the population at the other (LD50). Bacteria and viruses are different from other toxins, but the principle is the same. Because they multiply and increase their dose with time, maximum permissible doses need to be based on the minimum dose likely to start an infection known as the Minimum Infective Dose (MID). Take the case of listeria monocytogenes for example. It’s the bacteria that causes listeriosis, a serious disease that can result in meningitis, sepsis and encephalitis. The case fatality rate is around 20%, making it ten times more deadly than Covid-19. Yet listeria is widespread in the environment and can be detected in raw meat and vegetables as well as many ready-to-eat foods, including cooked meat and seafood, dairy products, pre-prepared sandwiches and salads.  The minimum dose in food likely to cause an outbreak of listeriosis is around 1,000 live bacteria per gram. Allowing a suitable margin of safety, EU and US food standards set the maximum permissible dose of listeria in ready-to-eat products at 10% of the minimum infective dose , or 100 live bacteria per gram. If Maximum Permissible Doses were based solely on the detection of a bacteria or virus rather than the dose, the food industry would cease to exist. Protection of the Vulnerable The general rule of thumb for setting maximum permissible doses used to be 10% of the MID for bacteria and viruses, and 10% of the LD50 for other toxins, but this has come under increasing criticism in recent years: first with radiation, then Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS), then smoke in general, then viruses. The idea that there is no safe dose of some toxins began to surface in the 1950s, when radioactive fallout from atom bomb tests and radiation from medical X-rays were linked with the the dramatic post-war rise in cancers and birth defects. Although this was rejected by the science at the time, it wasn’t entirely unfounded. There are many reasons why radiation may be different from other pollutants. Chemicals like carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen are recycled naturally by the environment, but there is no such thing as a Radiation Cycle. Radioactivity only disappears gradually with time, no matter how many times it’s recycled. Some radioactive substances remain dangerous for periods longer than human history. All life forms are powered by chemical processes, none by nuclear energy. The last natural nuclear reactor on earth burned out more than 1.5 billion years ago. The nearest one now is isolated from life on earth by 93 million miles of vacuum.  As evidence mounted to show there was no safe dose of radiation, maximum permissible doses were lowered drastically, but limited doses were still allowed. If public health standards were based purely on the detection of radiation rather than the dose, the Nuclear Industry would cease to exist. The susceptibility of any individual to any health risk depends on many factors. Most people can eat sesame seeds and survive bee stings without calling an ambulance, for others they can be fatal. In the US bees and wasps kill an average of more than 60 people each year, and food allergies cause an average of 30,000 hospitalisations and 150 deaths. If public health standards were based solely on the detection of a toxin rather than the dose, all bees would be exterminated and all food production closed down. Food allergies set the legal precedent. Where minuscule traces of something might be harmful for some people, the law demands that products carry a clear warning to allow the vulnerable to protect their own health. It doesn’t demand everyone else pay the price, no matter what the cost, by lowering maximum permissible doses to the point of no observable effect. Minimum Infectious Doses (MIDs) have already been established for many of the major respiratory and enteric viruses including strains of coronavirus. Even though SARS-CoV-2 is a new variant of coronavirus, the MID has already been estimated at around 100 particles. Whilst further work is needed, nevertheless it could serve as a working standard to measure Covid-19 infections against. Are PCR Numbers Scientific? As the philosopher of science, Karl Popper, observed: “non-reproducible single occurrences are of no significance to science.” To be reproducible, the results of one test should compare within a small margin of error with the results of other tests. To make this possible all measuring instruments are calibrated against international standards. If they aren’t, their measurements may appear to be significant, but they have no significance in science. PCR tests magnify the number of target DNA particles in a swab exponentially until they become visible. Like a powerful zoom lens, the greater the magnification needed to see something, the smaller it actually is. The magnification in PCR is measured by the number of cycles needed to make the DNA visible. Known as the Cycle Threshold (Ct) or Quantification Cycle (Cq) number, the higher the number of cycles the lower the amount of DNA in the sample. To convert Cq numbers into doses they have to be calibrated against the Cq numbers of standard doses. If they aren’t they can easily be blown out of proportion and appear more significant than they actually are. Take an advertisement for a car for example. With the right light, the right angle and the right magnification, a scale model can look like the real thing. We can only gauge the true size of things if we have something to measure them against. Just like a coin standing next to a toy car proves it’s not a real one, and a shoe next to a molehill shows it’s not a mountain, the Cq of a standard dose next to the Cq of a sample shows how big the dose really is. So it’s alarming to discover that there are no international standards for PCR tests and even more alarming to discover that results can vary up to a million fold, not just from country to country, but from test to test. Even though this is well-documented in the scientific literature it appears that the media, public health authorities and government regulators either haven’t noticed or don’t care: “It should be noted that currently there is no standard measure of viral load in clinical samples.” “An evaluation of eight clinically relevant viral targets in 23 different laboratories resulted in Cq ranges of more than 20, indicative of an apparently million-fold difference in viral load in the same sample.” “The evident lack of certified standards or even validated controls to allow for a correlation between RT-qPCR data and clinical meaning requires urgent attention from national standards and metrology organisations, preferably as a world-wide coordinated effort.” “Certainly the label “gold standard” is ill-advised, as not only are there numerous different assays, protocols, reagents, instruments and result analysis methods in use, but there are currently no certified quantification standards, RNA extraction and inhibition controls, or standardised reporting procedures.” Even the CDC itself admits PCR test results aren’t reproducible: “Because the nucleic acid target (the pathogen of interest), platform and format differ, Ct values from different RT-PCR tests cannot be compared.” For this reason PCR tests are licenced under emergency regulations for the detection of the type or ‘quality’ of a virus, not for the dose or ‘quantity’ of it. “As of August 5, 2021, all diagnostic RT-PCR tests that had received a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for SARS-CoV-2 testing were qualitative tests.” “The Ct value is interpreted as positive or negative but cannot be used to determine how much virus is present in an individual patient specimen.” Just because we can detect the ‘genetic fingerprint’ of a virus doesn’t prove it’s the cause of a disease: “Detection of viral RNA may not indicate the presence of infectious virus or that 2019-nCoV is the causative agent for clinical symptoms.” So, while there’s little doubt that using PCR to identify the genetic fingerprint of a Covid-19 virus is the gold standard in molecular science, there’s equally no doubt that using it as the gold standard to quantify Covid-19 ‘cases’ and ‘deaths’ is “ill-advised.” The idea that PCR may have been used to make a mountain out of a molehill by blowing a relatively ordinary disease outbreak out of all proportion is so shocking it’s literally unthinkable. But it wouldn’t be the first time it has happened. The Epidemic That Wasn’t In spring 2006 staff at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire began showing symptoms of respiratory infection with high fever and nonstop coughing that left them gasping for breath and lasted for weeks. Using the latest PCR techniques, Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s laboratories found 142 cases of pertussis or whooping cough, which causes pneumonia in vulnerable adults and can be deadly for infants. Medical procedures were cancelled, hospital beds were taken out of commission. Nearly 1,000 health care workers were furloughed, 1,445 were treated with antibiotics and 4,524 were vaccinated against whooping cough. Eight months later, when the state health department had completed the standard culture tests, not one single case of whooping cough could be confirmed. It seems Dartmouth-Hitchcock had suffered an outbreak of ordinary respiratory diseases no more serious than the common cold! The following January the New York Times ran the story under the headline “Faith in Quick Test Leads to Epidemic That Wasn’t.” “Pseudo-epidemics happen all the time,” said Dr. Trish Perl, past president of the Society of Epidemiologists of America. “It’s a problem; we know it’s a problem. My guess is that what happened at Dartmouth is going to become more common.” “PCR tests are quick and extremely sensitive, but their very sensitivity makes false positives likely” reported the New York Times, “and when hundreds or thousands of people are tested, as occurred at Dartmouth, false positives can make it seem like there is an epidemic.” “To say the episode was disruptive was an understatement,” said Dr. Elizabeth Talbot, deputy epidemiologist for the New Hampshire Department of Health, “I had a feeling at the time that this gave us a shadow of a hint of what it might be like during a pandemic flu epidemic.” Dr. Cathy A. Petti, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Utah, said the story had one clear lesson. “The big message is that every lab is vulnerable to having false positives. No single test result is absolute and that is even more important with a test result based on PCR.” The Swine Flu Panic of 2009 In the spring of 2009 a 5-year old boy living near an intensive pig farm in Mexico went down with an unknown disease that caused a high fever, sore throat and whole body ache. Several weeks later a lab in Canada tested a nasal swab from the boy and discovered a variant of the flu virus similar to the H1N1 Avian flu virus which they labelled H1N1/09, soon to be known as ‘Swine Flu.’ On 28 April 2009 a biotech company in Colorado announced they had developed the MChip, a version of the FluChip, which enabled PCR tests to distinguish the Swine Flu H1N1/09 virus from other flu types. “Since the FluChip assay can be conducted within a single day,” said InDevR’s leading developer and CEO, Prof Kathy Rowlen, “it could be employed in State Public Health Laboratories to greatly enhance influenza surveillance and our ability to track the virus.” Up until this point the top of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Pandemic Preparedness homepage had carried the statement: “An influenza pandemic occurs when a new influenza virus appears against which the human population has no immunity, resulting in several simultaneous epidemics worldwide with enormous numbers of deaths and illness.” Less than a week after the MChip announcement, the WHO removed the phrase “enormous numbers of deaths and illness,” to require only that “a new influenza virus appears against which the human population has no immunity” before a flu outbreak to be called a ‘pandemic.’ No sooner had the laboratories started PCR testing with MChip than they were finding H1N1/09 everywhere. By the beginning of June almost three-quarters of all influenza cases tested positive for Swine Flu. Mainstream news reported the rise in cases on a daily basis, comparing it with the H1N1 Avian Flu pandemic in 1918 which killed more than 50 million people. What they neglected to mention is that, although they have similar names, Avian Flu H1N1 is very different and much more deadly than Swine Flu H1N1/09 . Even though there had been less than 500 deaths up to this point compared to more than 20,000 deaths in a severe flu epidemic people flocked to health centres demanding to be tested, producing even more positive ‘cases,’  In mid-May senior representatives of all the major pharmaceutical companies met with WHO Director-General, Margaret Chan, and UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, to discuss delivery of swine flu vaccines. Many contracts had already been signed. Germany had a contract with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to buy 50 million doses at a cost of half a billion Euros which came into effect automatically the moment a pandemic was declared. The UK bought 132 million doses – two for every person in the country. On 11 June 2009 WHO Director-General Margaret Chan, announced: “On the basis of expert assessments of the evidence, the scientific criteria for an influenza pandemic have been met. The world is now at the start of the 2009 influenza pandemic.” On 16 July the Guardian reported that swine flu was spreading fast across much of the UK with 55,000 new cases the previous week in England alone. The UK’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Sir Liam Donaldson, warned that in the worst case scenario 30% of the population could be infected and 65,000 killed. On 20 July a study in The Lancet co-authored by WHO and UK government adviser, Neil Ferguson, recommended closing schools and churches to slow the epidemic, limit stress on the NHS and “give more time for vaccine production.” On the same day WHO Director-General, Margaret Chan announced that “vaccine makers could produce 4.9 billion pandemic flu shots per year in the best-case scenario.” Four days later an official Obama administration spokesman warned that “as many as several hundred thousand could die if a vaccine campaign and other measures aren’t successful.” The warnings had the desired effect. That week UK consultation rates for influenza-like illnesses (ILIs) were at their highest since the last severe flu epidemic in 1999/2000, even though death rates were at a 15-year low. On 29 September 2009 the Pandemrix vaccine from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) was rushed through European Medicines Agency approval, swiftly followed by Baxter’s Celvapan the following week. On 19 November the WHO announced that 65 million doses of vaccine had been administered worldwide. As the year drew to a close it became increasingly obvious that swine flu was not all it was made out to be. The previous winter (2008/2009) the Office for National Statistics (ONS) had reported 36,700 excess deaths in England and Wales, the highest since the last severe flu outbreak of 1999/2000. Even though the winter of 2009 had been the coldest for 30 years, excess deaths were 30% lower than the previous winter. Whatever swine flu was, it wasn’t as deadly as other flu variants. On 26 January the following year, Wolfgang Wodarg, a German doctor and member of parliament, told the European Council in Strasbourg that the major global pharmaceutical corporations had organised a “campaign of panic” to sell vaccines, putting pressure on the WHO to declare what he called a “false pandemic” in “one of the greatest medicine scandals of the century.” “Millions of people worldwide were vaccinated for no good reason,” said Wodarg, boosting pharmaceutical company profits by more than $18 billion. Annual sales of Tamiflu alone had jumped 435 percent, to €2.2 billion. By April 2010, it was apparent that most of the vaccines were not needed. The US government had bought 229 million doses of which only 91 million doses were used. Of the surplus, some of it was stored in bulk, some of it was sent to developing countries and 71 million doses were destroyed. On 12 March 2010 SPIEGEL International published what it called “Reconstruction of a Mass Hysteria” that ended with a question: “These organizations have gambled away precious confidence. When the next pandemic arrives, who will believe their assessments?” But it didn’t take long to find an answer. In December the Independent published a story with the headline “Swine flu, the killer virus that actually saved lives.” The latest ONS report on excess winter deaths had shown that instead of the extra 65,000 swine flu deaths predicted by the UK’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Sir Liam Donaldson, deaths in the winter of 2009 were actually 30% lower than the previous year. Instead of the low death rate proving that swine flu had been a fake pandemic, confidence in the organisations that had “gambled away precious confidence” was quickly restored by portraying swine flu as something that “actually saved lives” by driving out the common flu. PCR and Law Portraying something as something it isn’t is deception. Doing it for profit is fraud. Doing it by first gaining the trust of the victims is a confidence trick or a con.  In England, Wales and Northern Ireland fraud is covered by the Fraud Act 2006 and is divided into three classes – ‘fraud by false representation,’ ‘fraud by failing to disclose information’ and ‘fraud by abuse of position.’ A representation is false if the person making it knows it may be untrue or misleading. If they do it for amusement, it’s a trick or a hoax. If they do it to make a gain, or expose others to a risk of loss, it’s ‘fraud by false representation.’ If someone has a duty to disclose information and they don’t do it, it might be negligence or simple incompetence. If they do it to make a gain, or expose others to a risk of loss, it’s ‘fraud by failing to disclose information.’ If they occupy a position where they are expected not to act against the interests of others, and do it to make a gain or expose others to a risk of loss, it’s ‘fraud by abuse of position.’ In Dartmouth Hitchcock’s case there’s no doubt that using PCR to identify a common respiratory infection as whooping cough was ‘false representation,’ but it was an honest mistake, made with the best of intentions. If any gain was intended it was to protect others from risk of loss, not to expose them to it. There was no failure to disclose information and nobody abused their position. In the case of swine flu things aren’t so clear. By 2009 there were already plenty of warnings from Dartmouth Hitchcock and many other similar incidents that using PCR to detect the genetic fingerprint of a bacteria or virus may be misleading. Worse still, the potential of PCR to magnify things out of all proportion creates opportunities for all those who would gain by making mountains out of molehills and global pandemics out of relatively ordinary seasonal epidemics. The average journalist, lawyer, member of parliament or member of the public may be forgiven for not knowing about the dangers of PCR, but public health experts had no excuse. It may be argued that their job is to protect the public by erring on the side of caution. It may equally be argued that the massive amounts of money spent by global pharmaceutical corporations on marketing, public relations and lobbying creates enormous conflicts of interest, increasing the potential for suppression of information and abuse of position across all professions, from politics and journalism to education and public health. The defence is full disclosure of all information, particularly on the potential of PCR to identify the wrong culprit in an infection and blow it out of all proportion. The fact this was never done is suspicious. If there were any prosecutions for fraud they weren’t widely publicised, and if there were any questions raised or lessons to be learned about the role of PCR in creating the 2009 Swine Flu panic they were quickly forgotten. The First Rough Draft of History The first rough attempt to represent things in the outside world is journalism. But no representation can be 100% true. ‘Representation’ is literally a re-presentation of something that symbolises or ‘stands in for’ something else. Nothing can fully capture every aspect of a thing except the thing itself. So judging whether a representation is true or false depends on your point of view. It’s a matter of opinion, open to debate in other words. In a free and functioning democracy the first line of defence against false representation is a free and independent press. Where one news organisation may represent something as one thing, a competing organisation may represent it as something completely different. Competing representations are tried in the court of public opinion and evolve by a process of survival of the fittest. Whilst this may be true in theory, in practice it isn’t. Advertising proves people choose the most attractive representations, not the truest. News organisations are funded by financiers who put their own interests first, not the public’s. Whether the intention is to deliberately defraud the public or simply to sell newspapers by creating controversy, the potential for false representations is enormous. Trial By Media Despite the CDC’s own admission that PCR tests “may not indicate the presence of infectious virus,” its use to do exactly that in the case of Covid was accepted without question. Worse still, the measures taken against calling PCR into question have become progressively more draconian and underhanded since the very beginning. The mould was set with the announcement of the first UK death on Saturday 29 February 2020. Every newspaper in Britain carried the same front page story: “EMERGENCY laws to tackle coronavirus are being rushed in after the outbreak claimed its first British life yesterday,” screamed The Daily Mail. The first British victim contracted the virus on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan, not Britain, but it didn’t matter. With less than 20 cases in the UK and one ‘British’ death in Japan, the media had already decided it justified rushing in emergency laws. How did they know how dangerous it was? How were they able to predict the future? Had they forgotten the lessons of the 2009 Swine Flu panic? After almost 2 weeks of newspaper, TV and radio fearmongering, Prime Minister Boris Johnson made it official at the Downing Street press conference on Thursday 12 March 2020 when he said: “We’ve all got to be clear. This is the worst public health crisis for a generation. Some people compare it to seasonal flu, alas that is not right. Owing to the lack of immunity this disease is more dangerous and it’s going to spread further.” None of that statement stood up to scrutiny, but none of the hand-picked journalists in the room had the right knowledge to ask the right questions. After 20 minutes blinding the press and public with science, Johnson opened the floor to questions. The first question, from the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg, set the mould by accepting the Prime Minister’s statement without question:  “This is, as you say, the worst public health crisis for a generation.” Any journalist who remembered the 2009 Swine Flu panic, might have asked how the PM knew, after just 10 deaths, that it was the worst public health crisis in a generation? He didn’t say it may be or could be but definitely ‘is.’ Did he have a crystal ball? Or was he following the same Imperial College modelling that had predicted 136,000 deaths from mad cow disease in 2002, 200 million deaths from bird flu in 2005 and 65,000 deaths from swine flu in 2009, all of which had proved completely wrong? As the BBC’s chief political correspondent Kuenssberg wouldn’t be expected to know any more about science, medicine, or PCR than any other member of the general public. So why did the BBC send their chief political correspondent to a press conference on public health and not their chief science or health correspondent? And why did the PM choose her to ask the first question? But the BBC wasn’t alone. Six other correspondents from leading news outlets asked questions that day; all were chief political correspondents, none were science or health correspondents. So none of the journalists allowed to ask questions had the necessary knowledge to subject the PM and his Chief Scientific and Medical Officers to any degree of real scrutiny  With the rise in the number of coronavirus ‘cases’ and ‘deaths’ reported on a daily basis and the Prime Minister’s solemn warning that “many more families, are going to lose loved ones before their time” filling the headlines the following morning, questioning what the numbers actually meant became more and more impossible. If the press and the public had forgotten the 2009 Swine flu panic, and those who helped calm it down had dropped their guard, those whose intention was to make a gain had learned their lesson. Subject the Corona Crisis of 2020 to close scrutiny and it begins to look more like a carefully orchestrated advertising campaign for vaccine manufacturers than a genuine pandemic. But that scrutiny has been made impossible for all kinds of reasons. ‘Follow the money’ was once the epitome of investigative journalism, popularised in the movie of the Watergate scandal, ‘All The President’s Men’ which followed the money all the way to the top. Now following the money is called ‘Conspiracy Theory’ and is a sackable offence in journalism, if not yet in other professions. The idea that there may be real conspiracies to make false representations with the intention of making a gain or exposing others to a risk of loss has now been driven so far beyond the pale it’s literally unthinkable.  If PCR has been tried by media in the court of public opinion, the case for the prosecution was demonised and dismissed at the outset and prohibited by emergency legislation soon after. The Last Best Hope The last line of defence against false representation in both science and the media is the law. It’s no coincidence that Science and Law use similar methods and similar language. The foundations of the Scientific Method were laid by the Head of the Judiciary, the Lord Chancellor of England Sir Francis Bacon, in the Novum Organum, published exactly 400 years ago last year. Both are based on ‘laws,’ both rely on hard physical evidence or ‘facts,’ both explain the facts in terms of ‘theories,’ both test conflicting facts and theories in ‘trials’ and both reach verdicts through juries of peers. In science the peers are selected by the editorial boards of scientific publications. In law they’re selected by judges. In both law and science trials revolve around ‘empirical’ evidence or ‘facts’ – hard physical evidence that can be verified through the act of experiencing with our five senses of sight, sound, touch, smell and taste. But facts by themselves are not enough. They only ‘make sense’ when they are selected and organised into some kind of theory, narrative or story through which they can be interpreted and explained. But there’s more than one way to skin a cat, more than one way to interpret the facts and more than one side to every story. To reach a verdict on which one is true, theories have to be weighed against each other rationally to judge the ratios of how closely each interpretation fits the facts. Trial By Law The ability of PCR to detect the genetic fingerprint of a virus is proven beyond reasonable doubt, but its ability to give a true representation of either the cause, severity or prevalence of a disease hasn’t. To say the jury is still out would be an understatement. The jury has yet to be convened and the case yet to be heard. Testing coronavirus particles in a swab is no different to testing apples in a bag. A bag of billiard balls rinsed in apple juice would test positive for apple DNA. Finding apple DNA in a bag doesn’t prove it contains real apples. If the dose makes the poison then it’s the quantity we need to test for, not just its genetic fingerprint. Grocers test the amount of apples in bags by weighing them on scales calibrated against standard weights. If the scales are properly calibrated the bag should weigh the same on any other set of scales. If it doesn’t, local trading standards officers test the grocer’s scales against standard weights and measures. If the scales fail the test the grocer can be prohibited from trading. If it turns out the grocer deliberately left the scales uncalibrated to make a gain they can be prosecuted for ‘false representation’ under section 2 of the Fraud Act 2006. Testing the quantity of viral DNA in a swab, not the quantity of live viruses, is like counting billiard balls rinsed in apple juice as real apples. Worse still, in the absence of standards to calibrate PCR tests against results, tests can show a “million-fold difference in viral load in the same sample.” If a grocer’s scales showed a million-fold difference in the load of apples in the same bag they’d be closed down in an instant. If it can be shown that the grocer knew the weight displayed on the scales may have been untrue or misleading, and they did it to make a gain or expose customers to a loss, it would be an open-and-shut case, done and dusted in minutes. If the law applies to the measurement of the quantity of apples in bags, why not to the measurement of coronavirus in clinical swabs? By the CDC’s own admission, in its instructions for use of PCR tests: Detection of viral RNA may not indicate the presence of infectious virus or that 2019-nCoV is the causative agent for clinical symptoms. From that statement alone it’s clear that PCR tests may give a false representation that is untrue or misleading. If those using PCR tests to represent the number of Covid cases and deaths know it may be misleading and do it to ‘make a gain,’ either monetary or just to advance their own careers, it’s ‘fraud by false representation.’ If they have a duty to disclose information and they don’t do it it’s ‘fraud by failing to disclose information.’ And if they occupy positions where they’re expected not to act against the interests of the public but do it anyway it’s ‘fraud by abuse of position.’ If the law won’t prosecute those in authority for fraud, how else can they be discouraged from doing it? As Dr. Trish Perl said after the Dartmouth Hitchcock incident, “Pseudo-epidemics happen all the time. It’s a problem; we know it’s a problem. My guess is that what happened at Dartmouth is going to become more common.”The potential of PCR to cause problems will only get worse until its validity to diagnose the cause and measure the prevalence of a disease is tested in law. The last word on PCR belongs to its inventor, Kary Mullis: “The measurement for this is not exact at all. It’s not as good as our measurement for things like apples.” Tyler Durden Mon, 12/06/2021 - 23:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 7th, 2021

Omicron Fears Fuel Rally in Vaccine Stocks: Will It Continue?

Another variant of the coronavirus, Omicron, is up on the WHO-identified list. Several mutations of this variant spark fears of high resistance to the COVID-19 vaccines. The World Health Organization (WHO) added another name to its list of coronavirus variants, which is called Omicron (B.1.1.529). It was first reported in South Africa earlier this month. The variant is found to have several mutations in the spike-protein that is targeted by vaccines for providing immunity against the COVID-19 infection.Some of the mutations in the Omicron variant were previously seen in the Delta variant that are believed to increase transmissibility. Some mutations were previously reported in Beta and Delta variant that is likely to help avoid natural and vaccine-induced immunity.With the combined features of previous variants, the Omicron mutant is raising concerns of high transmissibility and lower vaccine potency. The potential high risks of this latest variant prompted WHO to add it to its “Variant of Concern” list on Nov 26, two days after putting it under the list titled “Variant Under Monitoring”.The spread of the Omicron variant will likely decelerate the economic revival as several countries already started imposing travel bans. Although the restrictions currently cover only those countries that reported Omicron infection cases, including South Africa, a rapid spread can otherwise engulf major countries. Moreover, COVID-19 infection cases have risen significantly in the United States and Europe over the past few weeks. Therefore, this new variant will likely add fuel to the fire.Stocks RiseThe rising concerns of supply-chain disruptions following the potential constraints triggered a decline in broad market indices, including S&P500, on Nov 26. However, stocks of vaccine makers like Pfizer PFE, BioNTech BNTX, Moderna MRNA and Novavax NVAX diverged from the downtrend and saw a significant upside on the same day, possibly aided by an anticipated increase in demand for vaccines and their boosters.Shares of Pfizer and its COVID-19 vaccine partner BioNTech were up 6.1% and 14.2% each last Friday. Stocks of Moderna and Novavax gained 20.6% and 9% on Nov 26. We expect the upside momentum in these stocks to continue over the next few weeks and in 2022, probably as these companies already announced their strategies to combat the new variant under discussion.Pfizer & BioNTechPer Pfizer, its partner BioNTech is expecting to gather additional data on the Omicron variant over the next two weeks. The collected data will help PFE determine its path forward in fighting the new variant. BioNTech will assess whether its vaccine Comirnaty needs to be reworked, based on this extra update. Both Pfizer and BioNTech expect to be able to ship the redesigned Comirnaty, if needed, to provide protection against the Omicron variant in approximately 100 days, per a Reuters article.ModernaModerna announced a three-pronged strategy to provide protection against the Omicron variant. Firstly, it is developing a 100-microgram booster dose compared to its authorized booster dose of 50-microgram of its COVID-19 vaccine, mRNA-1273. MRNA stated that the higher dose of its booster dose led to the highest neutralizing titers against the prior SARS-CoV-2 strains in an ongoing study conducted by the National Institutes of Health in the United States. Secondly, MRNA has been developing multi-valent booster candidates, designed to anticipate mutations observed in the Omicron variant, over the past few months. MRNA is working to rapidly complete the studies. Thirdly, MRNA is also planning to develop an Omicron-specific booster candidate.NovavaxApart from the two approved/authorized mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines, Novavax’s nanoparticle protein-based COVID-19 vaccine, NVX-CoV2373, also holds strong prospects to gain from the prevalent pandemic and an anticipated spurt in infection cases amid Omicorn fears. Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine received its first authorization in the Philippines and Indonesia earlier this month. NVAX also submitted a regulatory application seeking approval for the vaccine in Europe earlier this month. Regulatory filings for the authorization of NVX-CoV2373 were also submitted in multiple markets, including Australia, Canada, the EU, India, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Per a Reuters article, Novavax already started developing a modified version of its COVID-19 vaccine to provide protection against the Omicron variant. NVAX expects the initial work for redesigning the vaccine to take a few weeks.ConclusionSuccessful development of Omicron-specific COVID-19 vaccine or booster dose is likely to generate strong sales from COVID-19 vaccines. While Pfizer is expected to generate revenues of approximately $36 billion from the sale of Comirnaty in 2021, Moderna is likely to record $15-$18 billion from the sales of its COVID-19 vaccine. A potential rapid spread of the Omicron variant, as feared, will likely provide a similar opportunity next year for the vaccine-makers.Per a Bloomberg article, more than 7.91 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered across 184 countries as of Nov 29. The article stated that it will take at least three months to immunize 75% of the total world population, with at least one dose of any COVID-19 vaccine. This suggests that there will be significant demand for the vaccine doses. Moreover, these many people may also need a booster dose in another six months of the initial vaccine regimen, thereby creating a second opportunity of reaping dollars worth several billions for the vaccine makers.Pfizer, BioNTech, Moderna and Novavax currently carry a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) each. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here. Investor Alert: Legal Marijuana Looking for big gains? Now is the time to get in on a young industry primed to skyrocket from $13.5 billion in 2021 to an expected $70.6 billion by 2028. After a clean sweep of 6 election referendums in 5 states, pot is now legal in 36 states plus D.C. Federal legalization is expected soon and that could kick start an even greater bonanza for investors. Zacks Investment Research has recently closed pot stocks that have shot up as high as +147.0% You’re invited to immediately check out Zacks’ Marijuana Moneymakers: An Investor’s Guide. It features a timely Watch List of pot stocks and ETFs with exceptional growth potential.Today, Download Marijuana Moneymakers FREE >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Pfizer Inc. (PFE): Free Stock Analysis Report Moderna, Inc. (MRNA): Free Stock Analysis Report Novavax, Inc. (NVAX): Free Stock Analysis Report BioNTech SE Sponsored ADR (BNTX): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here......»»

Category: topSource: zacksNov 29th, 2021

BTFDers Unleashed: Futures, Yields, Oil Jump As Omicron Panic Eases

BTFDers Unleashed: Futures, Yields, Oil Jump As Omicron Panic Eases As expected over the weekend, and as we first noted shortly after electronic markets reopened for trading on Sunday, S&P futures have maintained their overnight gains and have rebounded 0.7% while Nasdaq contracts jumped as much as 1.3% after risk sentiment stabilized following Friday’s carnage and as investors settled in for a few weeks of uncertainty on whether the Omicron variant would derail economic recoveries and the tightening plans of some central banks. Japan led declines in the Asian equity session (which was catching down to Friday's US losses) after the government shut borders to visitors. The region’s reopening stocks such as restaurants, department stores, train operators and travel shares also suffered some losses.  Oil prices bounced $3 a barrel to recoup some of Friday's rout, while the safe haven yen, Swiss franc and 10Y Treasury took a breather after its run higher. Moderna shares jumped as much as 12% in pre-market trading after Chief Medical Officer Paul Burton said he suspects the new omicron coronavirus variant may elude current vaccines, and if so, a reformulated shot could be available early in the new year. Which he would obviously say as his company makes money from making vaccines, even if they are not very efficient. Here are some of the other notable premarket movers today: BioNTech (BNTX US) advanced 5% after it said it’s starting with the first steps of developing a new adapted vaccine, according to statement sent by text. Merck & Co. (MRK US) declined 1.6% after it was downgraded to neutral from buy at Citi, which also opens a negative catalyst watch, with “high probability” the drugmaker will abandon development of its HIV treatment. A selection of small biotechs rise again in U.S. premarket trading amid discussion of the companies in StockTwits and after these names outperformed during Friday’s market rout. Palatin Tech (PTN US) +37%, Biofrontera (BFRI US) +22%, 180 Life Sciences (ATNF US) +19%. Bonds gave back some of their gains, with Treasury futures were down 11 ticks. Like other safe havens, the market had rallied sharply as investors priced in the risk of a slower start to rate hikes from the U.S. Federal Reserve, and less tightening by some other central banks. Needless to say, Omicron is all anyone can talk about: on one hand, authorities have already orchestrated a lot of global panic: Britain called an urgent meeting of G7 health ministers on Monday to discuss developments on the virus, even though the South African doctor who discovered the strain and treated cases said symptoms of Omicron were so far mild. The new variant of concern was found as far afield as Canada and Australia as more countries such as Japan imposed travel restriction to try to seal themselves off. Summarizing the fearmongering dynamic observed, overnight South African health experts - including those who discovered the Omicron variant, said it appears to cause mild symptoms, while the Chinese lapdog organization, WHO, said the variant’s risk is “extremely high”. Investors are trying to work out if the omicron flareup will a relatively brief scare that markets rebound from, or a bigger blow to the global economic recovery. Much remains unanswered about the new strain: South African scientists suggested it’s presenting with mild symptoms so far, though it appears to be more transmissible, but the World Health Organization warned it could fuel future surges of Covid-19 with severe consequences. "There is a lot we don't know about Omicron, but markets have been forced to reassess the global growth outlook until we know more," said Rodrigo Catril, a market strategist at NAB. "Pfizer expects to know within two weeks if Omicron is resistant to its current vaccine, others suggest it may take several weeks. Until then markets are likely to remain jittery." "Despite the irresistible pull of buying-the-dip on tenuous early information on omicron, we are just one negative omicron headline away from going back to where we started,” Jeffrey Halley, a senior market analyst at Oanda, wrote in a note. “Expect plenty of headline-driven whipsaw price action this week.” The emergence of the omicron strain is also complicating monetary policy. Traders have already pushed back the expected timing of a first 25-basis-point rate hike by the Federal Reserve to July from June. Fed Bank of Atlanta President Raphael Bostic played down economic risks from a new variant, saying he’s open to a quicker paring of asset purchases to curb inflation. Fed Chair Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen speak before Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday. “We know that central banks can quickly switch to dovish if they need to,” Mahjabeen Zaman, Citigroup senior investment specialist, said on Bloomberg Television. “The liquidity playbook that we have in play right now will continue to support the market.” European stocks rallied their worst drop in more than a year on Friday, with travel and energy stocks leading the advance. The Stoxx 600 rose 0.9% while FTSE 100 futures gain more than 1%, aided by a report that Reliance may bid for BT Group which jumped as much as 9.5% following a report that India’s Reliance Industries may offer to buy U.K. phone company, though it pared the gain after Reliance denied it’s considering a bid. European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde put a brave face on the latest virus scare, saying the euro zone was better equipped to face the economic impact of a new wave of COVID-19 infections or the Omicron variant Japanese shares lead Asian indexes lower after Premier Kishida announces entry ban of all new foreign visitors. Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng Index closed down 0.9% at the lowest level since October 2020, led by Galaxy Entertainment and Meituan. The index followed regional peers lower amid worries about the new Covid variant Omicron. Amid the big movers, Galaxy Entertainment was down 5.4% after police arrested Macau’s junket king, while Meituan falls 7.1% after reporting earnings. In FX, currency markets are stabilizing as the week kicks off yet investors are betting on the possibility of further volatility. The South African rand climbed against the greenback though most emerging-market peers declined along with developing-nation stocks. Turkey’s lira slumped more than 2% after a report at the weekend that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ordered a probe into foreign currency trades. The Swiss franc, euro and yen retreat while loonie and Aussie top G-10 leaderboard after WTI crude futures rally more than 4%. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index hovered after Friday’s drop, and the greenback traded mixed against its Group-of-10 peers; commodity currencies led gains. The euro slipped back below $1.13 and Bunds sold off, yet outperformed Treasuries. The pound was steady against the dollar and rallied against the euro. Australian sovereign bonds pared an opening jump as Treasuries trimmed Friday’s spike amid continuing uncertainty over the fallout from the omicron variant. The Aussie rallied with oil and iron ore. The yen erased an earlier decline as a government announcement on planned border closures starting Tuesday spurred a drop in local equities. The rand strengthens as South African health experts call omicron variant “mild.” In rates, Treasuries were cheaper by 4bp-7bp across the curve in belly-led losses, reversing a portion of Friday’s sharp safe-haven rally as potential economic impact of omicron coronavirus strain continues to be assessed. The Treasury curve bear- steepened and the benchmark 10-year Treasury yield jumped as much as 7 basis points to 1.54%; that unwound some of Friday’s 16 basis-point plunge -- the steepest since March 2020.  Focal points include month-end on Tuesday, November jobs report Friday, and Fed Chair Powell is scheduled to speak Monday afternoon. Treasuries broadly steady since yields gapped higher when Asia session began, leaving 10-year around 1.54%, cheaper by almost 7bp on the day; front-end outperformance steepens 2s10s by ~3bp. Long-end may draw support from potential for month-end buying; Bloomberg Treasury index rebalancing was projected to extend duration by 0.11yr as of Nov. 22 In commodities, oil prices bounced after suffering their largest one-day drop since April 2020 on Friday. "The move all but guarantees the OPEC+ alliance will suspend its scheduled increase for January at its meeting on 2 December," wrote analyst at ANZ in a note. "Such headwinds are the reason it's been only gradually raising output in recent months, despite demand rebounding strongly." Brent rebounded 3.9% to $75.57 a barrel, while U.S. crude rose 4.5% to $71.24. Gold has so far found little in the way of safe haven demand, leaving it stuck at $1,791 an ounce . SGX iron ore rises almost 8% to recoup Friday’s losses. Bitcoin rallied after falling below $54,000 on Friday. Looking at today's calendar, we get October pending home sales, and November Dallas Fed manufacturing activity. We also get a bunch of Fed speakers including Williams, Powell making remarks at the New York Fed innovation event, Fed’s Hassan moderating a panel and Fed’s Bowman discussing central bank and indigenous economies. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures up 0.6% to 4,625.00 MXAP down 0.9% to 191.79 MXAPJ down 0.4% to 625.06 Nikkei down 1.6% to 28,283.92 Topix down 1.8% to 1,948.48 Hang Seng Index down 0.9% to 23,852.24 Shanghai Composite little changed at 3,562.70 Sensex up 0.4% to 57,307.46 Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.5% to 7,239.82 Kospi down 0.9% to 2,909.32 STOXX Europe 600 up 0.7% to 467.47 German 10Y yield little changed at -0.31% Euro down 0.3% to $1.1283 Brent Futures up 3.8% to $75.49/bbl Gold spot up 0.3% to $1,797.11 U.S. Dollar Index up 0.13% to 96.22 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg The omicron variant of Covid-19, first identified in South Africa, has been detected in locations from Australia to the U.K. and Canada, showing the difficulties of curtailing new strains While health experts in South Africa, where omicron was first detected, said it appeared to cause only mild symptoms, the Geneva-based WHO assessed the variant’s risk as “extremely high” and called on member states to test widely. Understanding the new strain will take several days or weeks, the agency said All travelers arriving in the U.K. starting at 4 a.m. on Nov. 30 must take a PCR coronavirus test on or before the second day of their stay and isolate until they receive a negative result. Face coverings will again be mandatory in shops and other indoor settings and on public transport. Booster shots may also be approved for more age groups within days, according to Health Secretary Sajid Javid The economic effects of the successive waves of the Covid pandemic have been less and less damaging, Bank of France Governor Francois Villeroy de Galhau says Italian bonds advance for a third day, as investors shrug off new coronavirus developments over the weekend and stock futures advance, while bunds are little changed ahead of German inflation numbers and a raft of ECB speakers including President Christine Lagarde A European Commission sentiment index fell to 117.5 in November from 118.6 the previous month, data released Monday showed Spanish inflation accelerated to the fastest in nearly three decades in November on rising food prices, underscoring the lingering consequences of supply-chain bottlenecks across Europe. Consumer prices jumped 5.6% Energy prices in Europe surged on Monday after weather forecasts showed colder temperatures for the next two weeks that will lift demand for heating ECB Executive Board member Isabel Schnabel took to the airwaves to reassure her fellow Germans that inflation will slow again, hours before data set to show the fastest pace of price increases since the early 1990s Russia’s ambassador to Washington said more than 50 diplomats and their family members will have to leave the U.S. by mid-2022, in the latest sign of tensions between the former Cold War enemies China sent the biggest sortie of warplanes toward Taiwan in more than seven weeks after a U.S. lawmaker defied a Chinese demand that she abandon a trip to the island A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asia-Pac stocks traded cautiously and US equity futures rebounded from Friday’s hefty selling (S&P 500 -2.3%) as all focus remained on the Omicron variant after several countries announced restrictions and their first cases of the new variant, although markets took solace from reports that all cases so far from South Africa have been mild. Furthermore, NIH Director Collins was optimistic that current vaccines are likely to protect against the Omicron variant but also noted it was too early to know the answers, while Goldman Sachs doesn’t think the new variant is a sufficient reason to adjust its portfolio citing comments from South Africa’s NICD that the mutation is unlikely to be more malicious and existing vaccines will most likely remain effective at preventing hospitalizations and deaths. ASX 200 (-0.5%) is subdued after Australia registered its first cases of the Omicron variant which involved two people that arrived in Sydney from southern Africa and with the government reviewing its border reopening plans. Nikkei 225 (-1.6%) whipsawed whereby it initially slumped at the open due to the virus fears and currency-related headwinds but then recouped its losses and briefly returned flat as the mood gradually improved, before succumbing to a bout of late selling, and with mixed Retail Sales data adding to the indecision. Hang Seng (-1.0%) and Shanghai Comp. (Unch) weakened with Meituan the worst performer in Hong Kong after posting a quarterly loss and with casino names pressured by a crackdown in which police detained Suncity Group CEO and others after admitting to accusations including illegal cross border gambling. However, the losses in the mainland were cushioned after firm Industrial Profits data over the weekend and with local press noting expectations for China to adopt a more proactive macro policy next year. Finally, 10yr JGBs shrugged off the pullback seen in T-note and Bund futures, with price action kept afloat amid the cautious mood in stocks and the BoJ’s presence in the market for over JPY 900bln of JGBs mostly concentrated in 3yr-10yr maturities. Top Asian News Hong Kong Stocks Slide to 13-Month Low on Fresh Virus Woes Li Auto Loss Narrows as EV Maker Rides Out Supply-Chain Snarls Singapore Adds to Its Gold Pile for the First Time in Decades China Growth Stocks Look Like Havens as Markets Confront Omicron Bourses in Europe are experiencing a mild broad-based rebound (Euro Stoxx 50 +1.0%; Stoxx 600 +0.9%) following Friday's hefty COVID-induced losses. Desks over the weekend have been framing Friday's losses as somewhat overstretched in holiday-thinned liquidity, given how little is known about the Omicron variant itself. The strain will likely remain the market theme as scientists and policymakers factor in this new variant, whilst data from this point forth – including Friday's US labour market report - will likely be passed off as somewhat stale, and headline risk will likely be abundant. Thus far, symptoms from Omicron are seemingly milder than some of its predecessors, although governments and central banks will likely continue to express caution in this period of uncertainty. Back to price action, the momentum of the rebound has lost steam; US equity futures have also been drifting lower since the European cash open – with the RTY (+0.9%) was the laggard in early European trade vs the ES (+0.8%), NQ (+1.0%) and YM (+0.7%). European cash bourses have also been waning off best levels but remain in positive territory. Sectors are mostly in the green, but the breadth of the market has narrowed since the cash open. Travel & Leisure retains the top spot in what seems to be more a reversal of Friday's exaggerated underperformance as opposed to a fundamentally driven rebound – with more nations announcing travel restrictions to stem the spread of the variant. Oil & Gas has also trimmed some of Friday's losses as oil prices see a modest rebound relative to Friday's slump. On the other end of the spectrum, Healthcare sees mild losses as COVID-related names take a mild breather, although Moderna (+9.1% pre-market) gains ahead of the US open after its Chief Medical Officer suggested a new vaccine for the variant could be ready early next year. Meanwhile, Autos & Parts reside as the current laggard amid several bearish updates, including a Y/Y drop in German car exports - due to the chip shortage and supply bottlenecks – factors which the Daimler Truck CEO suggested will lead to billions of Euros in losses. Furthermore, auto supbt.aplier provider Faurecia (-5.9%) trades at the foot of the Stoxx 600 after slashing guidance – again a function of the chip shortage. In terms of Monday M&A, BT (+4.7%) shares opened higher by almost 10% following source reports in Indian press suggesting Reliance Industries is gearing up for a takeover approach of BT – reports that were subsequently rebuffed. Top European News U.K. Mortgage Approvals Fall to 67,199 in Oct. Vs. Est. 70,000 Johnson Matthey Rises on Report of Battery Talks With Tata Gazprom Reports Record Third-Quarter Profit Amid Gas Surge Omicron’s Spread Fuels Search for Answers as WHO Sounds Warning In FX, the Buck has bounced from Friday’s pullback lows on a mixture of short covering, consolidation and a somewhat more hopeful prognosis of SA’s new coronavirus strand compared to very early perceptions prompted by reports that the latest mutation would be even worse than the Delta variant. In DXY terms, a base above 96.000 is forming within a 93.366-144 band amidst a rebound in US Treasury yields and re-steepening along the curve following comments from Fed’s Bostic indicating a willingness to back faster QE tapering. Ahead, pending home sales and Dallas Fed business manufacturing along with more Fed rhetoric from Williams and chair Powell on the eve of month end. AUD/CAD/NZD - No surprise to see the high beta and risk sensitive currencies take advantage of the somewhat calmer conditions plus a recovery in crude and other commodities that were decimated by the prospect of depressed demand due to the aforementioned Omicron outbreak. The Aussie is back over 0.7150 vs its US counterpart, the Loonie has pared back losses from sub-1.2750 with assistance from WTI’s recovery to top Usd 72/brl vs a Usd 67.40 trough on November 26 and the Kiwi is hovering above 0.6800 even though RBNZ chief economist Ha has warned that a pause in OCR tightening could occur if the fresh COVID-19 wave proves to be a ‘game-changer’. JPY/EUR - The major laggards as sentiment stabilses, with the Yen midway between 112.99-113.88 parameters and hardly helped by mixed Japanese retail sales data, while the Euro has retreated below 1.1300 where 1.7 bn option expiry interest resides and a key Fib level just under the round number irrespective of strong German state inflation reports and encouraging pan Eurozone sentiment indicators, as more nations batten down the hatches to stem the spread of SA’s virus that has shown up in parts of the bloc. GBP/CHF - Both narrowly divergent vs the Dollar, as Cable retains 1.3300+ status against the backdrop of retreating Gilt and Short Sterling futures even though UK consumer credit, mortgage lending and approvals are rather conflicting, while the Franc pivots 0.9250 and meanders from 1.0426 to 1.0453 against the Euro after the latest weekly update on Swiss bank sight deposits showing no sign of official intervention. However, Usd/Chf may veer towards 1.1 bn option expiries at the 0.9275 strike if risk appetite continues to improve ahead of KoF on Tuesday and monthly reserves data. SCANDI/EM - Although Brent has bounced to the benefit of the Nok, Sek outperformance has ensued in wake of an upgrade to final Swedish Q3 GDP, while the Cnh and Cny are deriving support via a rise in Chinese industrial profits on a y/y basis and the Zar is breathing a sigh of relief on the aforementioned ‘better’ virus updates/assessments from SA on balance. Conversely, the Try is back under pressure post-a deterioration in Turkish economic sentiment vs smaller trade deficit as investors look forward to CPI at the end of the week. Meanwhile, Turkish President Erdogan provides no reprieve for the Lira as he once again defending his unorthodox view that higher interest rates lead to higher inflation. In commodities, WTI and Brent front-month futures consolidate following an overnight rebound – with WTI Jan back on a USD 71/bbl handle and Brent Feb just under USD 75/bbl – albeit still some way off from Friday's best levels which saw the former's high above USD 78/bbl and the latter's best north of USD 81/bbl. The week is packed with risks to the oil complex, including the resumption of Iranian nuclear talks (slated at 13:00GMT/08:00EST today) and the OPEC+ monthly confab. In terms of the former, little is expected in terms of progress unless the US agrees to adhere to Tehran's demand – which at this point seems unlikely. Tehran continues to seek the removal of US sanctions alongside assurances that the US will not withdraw from the deal. "The assertion that the US must 'change its approach if it wants progress' sets a challenging tone", Citi's analysts said, and the bank also expects parties to demand full access to Iranian nuclear facilities for verification of compliance. Further, the IAEA Chief met with Iranian officials last week; although concrete progress was sparse, the overall tone of the meeting was one of progress. "We remain of the opinion that additional Iranian supplies are unlikely to reach the market before the second half of 2022 at the earliest," Citi said. Meanwhile, reports suggested the US and allies have been debating a "Plan B" if talks were to collapse. NBC News – citing European diplomats, former US officials and experts – suggested that options included: 1) a skinny nuclear deal, 2) ramp up sanctions, 3) Launching operations to sabotage Iranian nuclear advances, 4) Military strikes, 5) persuading China to halt Iranian oil imports, albeit Iran and China recently signed a 25yr deal. Over to OPEC+, a rescheduling (in light of the Omicron variant) sees the OPEC and JTC meeting now on the 1st December, followed by the JMMC and OPEC+ on the 2nd. Sources on Friday suggested that members are leaning towards a pause in the planned monthly output, although Russian Deputy PM Novak hit the wires today and suggested there is no need for urgent measures in the oil market. Markets will likely be tested, and expectations massaged with several sources heading into the meeting later this week. Elsewhere, spot gold trades sideways just under the USD 1,800/oz and above a cluster of DMAs, including the 50 (1,790.60/oz), 200 (1,791.30/oz) and 100 (1,792.80/oz) awaiting the next catalyst. Over to base metals, LME copper recoups some of Friday's lost ground, with traders also citing the underlying demand emanating from the EV revolution. US Event Calendar 10am: Oct. Pending Home Sales YoY, prior -7.2% 10am: Oct. Pending Home Sales (MoM), est. 0.8%, prior -2.3% 10:30am: Nov. Dallas Fed Manf. Activity, est. 17.0, prior 14.6 Central Bank speakers: 3pm: Fed’s Williams gives opening remarks at NY Innovation Center 3:05pm: Powell Makes Opening Remarks at New York Fed Innovation Event 3:15pm: Fed’s Hassan moderates panel introducing NY Innovation Center 5:05pm: Fed’s Bowman Discusses Central bank and Indigenous Economies DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap Last night Henry in my team put out a Q&A looking at what we know about Omicron (link here) as many risk assets put in their worst performance of the year on Friday after it exploded into view. The main reason for the widespread concern is the incredibly high number of mutations, with 32 on the spike protein specifically, which is the part of the virus that allows it to enter human cells. That’s much more than we’ve seen for previous variants, and raises the prospect it could be a more transmissible version of the virus, although scientists are still assessing this. South Africa is clearly where it has been discovered (not necessarily originated from) and where it has been spreading most. The fact that’s it’s become the dominant strain there in just two weeks hints at its higher level of contagiousness. However the read through to elsewhere is tough as the country has only fully vaccinated 24% of its population, relative to at least 68% in most of the larger developed countries bar the US which languishes at 58%. It could still prove less deadly (as virus variants over time mostly are) but if it is more contagious that could offset this and it could still cause similar healthcare issues, especially if vaccines are less protective. On the other hand the South African doctor who first alerted authorities to the unusual symptoms that have now been found to have been caused by Omicron, was on numerous media platforms over the weekend suggesting that the patients she has seen with it were exhausted but generally had mild symptoms. However she also said her patients were from a healthy cohort so we can’t relax too much on this. However as South African cases rise we will get a lot of clues from hospitalisation data even if only 6% of the country is over 65s. My personal view is that we’ll get a lot of information quite quickly around how bad this variant is. The reports over the weekend that numerous cases of Omicron have already been discovered around the world, suggests it’s probably more widespread than people think already. So we will likely soon learn whether these patients present with more severe illness and we’ll also learn of their vaccination status before any official study is out. The only caveat would be that until elderly patients have been exposed in enough scale we won’t be able to rule out the more negative scenarios. Before all that the level of restrictions have been significantly ramped up over the weekend in many countries. Henry discusses this in his note but one very significant one is that ALL travellers coming into (or back to) the UK will have to self isolate until they get a negative PCR test. This sort of thing will dramatically reduce travel, especially short business trips. Overnight Japan have effectively banned ALL foreign visitors. I appreciate its dangerous to be positive on covid at the moment but you only have to look at the UK for signs that boosters are doing a great job. Cases in the elderly population continue to collapse as the roll out progresses well and overall deaths have dropped nearly 20% over the last week to 121 (7-day average) - a tenth of where they were at the peak even though cases have recently been 80-90% of their peak levels. If Europe are just lagging the UK on boosters rather than anything more structural, most countries should be able to control the current wave all things being equal. However Omicron could make things less equal but it would be a huge surprise if vaccines made no impact. Stocks in Asia are trading cautiously but remember that the US and Europe sold off more aggressively after Asia closed on Friday. So the lack of major damage is insightful. The Nikkei (-0.02%), Shanghai Composite (-0.14%), CSI (-0.22%), KOSPI (-0.47%) and Hang Seng (-0.68%) are only slightly lower. Treasury yields, oil, and equity futures are all rising in Asia. US treasury yields are up 4-6bps across the curve, Oil is c.+4.5% higher, while the ZAR is +1.31%. Equity futures are trading higher with the S&P 500 (+0.71%) and DAX (+0.84%) futures in the green. In terms of looking ahead, we may be heading into December this week but there’s still an incredibly eventful period ahead on the market calendar even outside of Omicron. We have payrolls on Friday which could still have a big impact on what the Fed do at their important December 15 FOMC and especially on whether they accelerate the taper. Wednesday (Manufacturing) and Friday (Services) see the latest global PMIs which will as ever be closely watched even if people will suggest that the latest virus surge and now Omicron variant may make it backward looking. Elsewhere in the Euro Area, we’ll get the flash CPI estimate for November tomorrow (France and Italy on the same day with Germany today), and we’ll hear from Fed Chair Powell as he testifies (with Mrs Yellen) before congressional committees tomorrow and Wednesday. There’s lots of other Fed speakers this week (ahead of their blackout from this coming weekend) and last week there was a definite shift towards a faster taper bias, even amongst the doves on the committee with Daly being the most important potential convert. Fed speakers this week might though have to balance the emergence of the new variant with the obvious point that without it the Fed is a fair bit behind the curve. Importantly but lurking in the background, Friday is also the US funding deadline before another government shutdown. History would suggest a tense last minute deal but it’s tough to predict. Recapping last week now and the emergence of the new variant reshaped the whole week even if ahead of this, continued case growth across Europe prompted renewed lockdown measures and travel bans across the continent. Risk sentiment clearly plummeted on Friday. The S&P 500 fell -2.27%, the biggest drop since October 2020, while the Stoxx 600 fell -3.67%, the biggest one-day decline since the original Covid-induced risk off in March 2020. The S&P 500 was -2.20% lower last week, while the Stoxx 600 was down -4.53% on the week. 10yr treasury, bund, and gilt yields declined -16.1bps, -8.7bps, and -14.5bps, undoing the inflation and policy response-driven selloff from earlier in the week. The drop in 10yr treasury and gilt yields were the biggest one-day declines since the original Covid-driven rally in March 2020, while the drop in bund yields was the largest since April 2020. 10yr treasury, bund, and gilt yields ended the week -7.3bps lower, +0.7bps higher, and -5.4bps lower, respectively. Measures of inflation compensation declined due to the anticipated hit to global demand, with 10yr breakevens in the US and Germany -6.8bps and -8.8bps lower Friday, along with Brent and WTI futures declining -11.55% and -13.06%, respectively. Investors pushed back the anticipated timing of rate hikes. As it stands, the first full Fed hike is just about priced for July, and 2 hikes are priced for 2022. This follows a hawkish tone from even the most dovish FOMC members and the November FOMC minutes last week. The prevailing sentiment was the FOMC was preparing to accelerate their asset purchase taper at the December meeting to enable inflation-fighting rate hikes earlier in 2022. Understanding the impact of the new variant will be crucial for interpreting the Fed’s reaction function, though. The impact may not be so obvious; while a new variant would certainly hurt global demand and portend more policy accommodation, it will also likely prompt more virus-avoiding behaviour in the labour market, preventing workers from returning to pre-Covid levels. Whether the Fed decides to accommodate these sidelined workers for longer, or to re-think what constitutes full employment in a Covid world should inform your view on whether they accelerate tapering in December. It feels like a lifetime ago but last week also saw President Biden nominate Chair Powell to head the Fed for another term, and for Governor Brainard to serve as Vice Chair. The announcement led to a selloff in rates as the more dovish Brainard did not land the head job. In Germany, the center-left SPD, Greens, and liberal FDP agreed to a full coalition deal. The traffic-light coalition agreed to restore the debt break in 2023, after being suspended during the pandemic, and to raise the minimum wage to €12 per hour. The SPD’s Olaf Scholz will assume the Chancellorship. The US, China, India, Japan, South Korea, and UK announced releases of strategic petroleum reserves. Oil prices were higher following the announcement, in part because releases were smaller than anticipated but, as mentioned, prices dropped precipitously on Friday on the global demand impact of the new Covid variant. The ECB released the minutes of the October Governing Council meeting, where officials stressed the need to maintain optionality in their policy setting. They acknowledged growing upside risks to inflation but stressed the importance of not overreacting in setting policy as they see how inflation scenarios might unfold. Tyler Durden Mon, 11/29/2021 - 08:01.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytNov 29th, 2021

Biotech Stock Roundup: Drug Approvals for BMRN, Updates From BIIB, BMY, MRNA & More

Drug approvals for BioMarin (BMRN) and regulatory updates from Biogen (BIIB), among others, have been the biotech sector's few key highlights during the past week. While updates on coronavirus treatments continue to be in the spotlight, the biotech sector has been in focus over the past week with drug approvals, label expansion of existing drugs and other regular pipeline updates.Recap of the Week’s Most Important Stories:Biogen’s AD drug Gets Negative Trend Vote:  Biogen BIIB and its Japan-based partner Eisai announced that they obtained a negative trend vote on the marketing authorization application for their Alzheimer’s disease drug aducanumab from the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (“CHMP”) of the European Medicines Agency (“EMA”).  The negative trend vote follows an oral explanation by Biogen at a meeting held earlier this month. The CHMP is expected to adopt a formal opinion next month, and it will most likely stand by the negative vote. Biogen continues to engage with the EMA and CHMP for the same.  Aducanumab is marketed as Aduhlem for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease in the United States.Biogen currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.Regulatory and Pipeline Updates From Bristol Myers:  Bristol Myers Squibb BMY recently announced the European Commission (“EC”) has approved a label expansion of Zeposia (ozanimod) for the treatment of adults with moderately to severely active ulcerative colitis (UC) who have had an inadequate response, lost response, or were intolerant to either conventional therapy or a biologic agent.  Zeposia is already approved in this region for the treatment of adult patients with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) with active disease.Bristol Myers also announced that the FDA has extended the review of the new drug application (NDA) for cardiovascular candidate mavacamten. Mavacamten is being evaluated for the treatment of patients with symptomatic obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (oHCM), the most common inherited heart disease.  The regulatory body was initially slated to give a decision on Jan 28, 2022.  However, it notified Bristol Myers that the target action date has been extended to Apr 28, 2022.The agency requires additional time to review information pertaining to updates to the proposed Risk Evaluation Mitigation Strategy (REMS). While the delay in a tentative approval was disappointing, on a positive note, the FDA did not ask for additional data from Bristol Myers.BioMarin's Drug Approval: Shares of BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc. BMRN gained after the company won FDA approval for Voxzogo for achondroplasia, the most common form of dwarfism. The FDA granted accelerated approval to Voxzogo injection to increase linear growth in pediatric patients with achondroplasia five years of age and older with open epiphyses (growth plates).  This indication is approved under accelerated approval based on an improvement in annualized growth velocity. BioMarin plans to use the ongoing open-label extension studies compared to available natural history to fulfill the post-marketing requirement of continued approval.Voxzogo, a C-type natriuretic peptide (CNP) analog, represents a new class of therapy, which acts as a positive regulator of the signaling pathway downstream of FGFR3 to promote endochondral bone growth. The approval is a significant boost to BioMarin’s prospects.Moderna Gets FDA Authorization for Booster Dose:  Moderna, Inc. MRNA announced that the FDA has extended the emergency use authorization of a booster dose of its mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine at the 50 µg dose level to all adults aged 18 and older.  The booster dose can be given to all individuals 18 years and older who have completed a primary vaccination with any other authorized or approved COVID-19 vaccine. The booster shot is to be administered at least six months after completing any primary series COVID-19 vaccination.Last month, the FDA authorized for emergency use a booster dose of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine at the 50 µg dose level for people aged 65 and older as well as adults aged 18 to 64 who are at high risk of severe COVID-19, and people aged 18 to 64 with frequent institutional or occupational exposure to SARS-CoV-2.Updates from Gilead: Gilead Sciences, Inc. GILD recently announced that the EC has granted marketing authorization to its breast cancer drug Trodelvy (sacituzumab govitecan). The drug, a first-in-class Trop-2-directed antibody-drug conjugate, has been approved as a monotherapy indicated for treating adult patients with unresectable or metastatic triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) who have received two or more prior systemic therapies, at least one of them for advanced disease. The marketing authorization for Gilead’s Trodelvy was based on results of the phase III ASCENT study, which showed that Trodelvy significantly improved overall survival versus physician’s choice of chemotherapy in this indication.Gilead has also submitted a BLA to the FDA for bulevirtide for injection (2 mg), a potential first-in-class antiviral medicine for the treatment of chronic hepatitis delta virus (HDV) infection in adults with compensated liver disease.PerformanceMedical - Biomedical and Genetics Industry 5YR % Return Medical - Biomedical and Genetics Industry 5YR % ReturnThe Nasdaq Biotechnology Index has lost 0.96% in the past five trading sessions. Among the biotech giants, Moderna has gained 17.97% during the period. Over the past six months, shares of Moderna have soared 68.35%. (See the last biotech stock roundup here: Biotech Stock Roundup: REGN Gets EC Nod for Cocktail, BIIB’s Drug Approval & More). Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchWhat's Next in Biotech?Stay tuned for more pipeline and regulatory updates.  Zacks’ Top Picks to Cash in on Artificial Intelligence This world-changing technology is projected to generate $100s of billions by 2025. From self-driving cars to consumer data analysis, people are relying on machines more than we ever have before. Now is the time to capitalize on the 4th Industrial Revolution. Zacks’ urgent special report reveals 6 AI picks investors need to know about today.See 6 Artificial Intelligence Stocks With Extreme Upside Potential>>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Biogen Inc. (BIIB): Free Stock Analysis Report Bristol Myers Squibb Company (BMY): Free Stock Analysis Report BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc. (BMRN): Free Stock Analysis Report Gilead Sciences, Inc. (GILD): Free Stock Analysis Report Moderna, Inc. (MRNA): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksNov 24th, 2021

How Ryan Kaji Became the Most Popular 10-Year-Old in the World

In human years, Ryan Kaji is 10. In YouTube views, he’s 48,597,844,873. If, in our digital age, a person’s life can be measured by their online footprint, Ryan’s is the size of a brachiosaur’s, which, as a lot of Ryan’s fans know, is gargantuan. Another way of putting it is that even if every one… In human years, Ryan Kaji is 10. In YouTube views, he’s 48,597,844,873. If, in our digital age, a person’s life can be measured by their online footprint, Ryan’s is the size of a brachiosaur’s, which, as a lot of Ryan’s fans know, is gargantuan. Another way of putting it is that even if every one of Ryan’s YouTube views were just 30 seconds, he has been watched 4,500 times longer than he has been alive. There’s a sacred text that talks about an era of peace and harmony, where lions lie down with lambs. The kicker is that a child is in charge of it all. Except for the part about peace and harmony, we are in an age where a child does indeed rule a significant subsection of the Internet. Ryan has been the highest paid YouTube star for three years straight, partly because he has nine channels on the platform. His revenue last year, according to Forbes, was about $30 million. Most of that was from his far-flung merchandise empire: he (or his parents) has lent his name to 1,600 licensed products in 30 countries, including Skechers, pajamas, Roblox, bedding, watches, sporting goods, water bottles, furniture, toothpaste and, of course, toys. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] As well as a legion of YouTube videos, Ryan has shows on Nick Jr. (the Emmy-nominated Ryan’s Mystery Playdate) and Amazon Kids+ (Super Spy Ryan) and his own streaming channel. His animated superhero alter ego, Red Titan, will appear for the second time as a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon. “Ryan is bar none the crown prince of YouTube,” says Quynh Mai, founder of Moving Image & Content, a creative agency for digital content. (She does not represent him.) Yuki Iwamura—Sputnik/APThe Red Titan balloon will float in its second parade this Thanksgiving   How did we get to a place where a person can be the linchpin of a media empire before he has armpit hair? And of all the exuberant folks on YouTube, why has this kid raked in the most cash? Part of the answer is that this is no ordinary child, but another part is that Ryan’s rise speaks volumes about the way entertainment, business, technology and family life have changed in the past decade. Ryan’s prominence, and the existence of the genre of human known as “kidfluencer,” is a source of consternation to many parents, authorities and child-development experts. Four of the 10 U.S. YouTube channels with the most subscribers are geared toward young children. Legislation has recently been introduced in the Senate that may curtail the activities of Ryan and his fellow YouTube toycoons. But his ascent has also shown how profoundly childhood has been and is being reshaped, and that it may be too late to put the jack back in the box. One thing that everyone agrees on is that much of Ryan’s fame was a result of timing. He was about 3½ in 2015 when he asked his mom Loann Guan—the family changed its name to Kaji to preserve some anonymity as they got famous—if he could be on YouTube like other kids. Loann, 37, was a science teacher on spring break looking for kid-friendly activities. She and her husband Shion, 34, had watched YouTube in college and had a grasp of the format and how the algorithm worked. Read More: Meet TIME’s First-Ever Kid of the Year At the same time, technological changes were making online video more accessible to kids. “It was like a perfect storm when Ryan came in,” says Mai. Laptop prices had dropped enough that people were moving away from tablets. The YouTube Kids app had launched. “Parents gave their iPads to their children as entertainment devices, and that made it so easy for kids to navigate the Internet,” she says. Feeling stretched in terms of childcare, lots of parents needed to keep their kids occupied. “When young children see lots of colors and sounds and movement on a screen, it’s almost like a mobile above the crib,” says Dr. Jenny Radesky, a developmental behavioral pediatrician at the University of Michigan. “They calm down. They focus. Studies have shown that it often leads to less body movement.” The period after 2015 also marked a growth phase for the so-called creator economy. With the advance of digital ad technology, advertisers realized they could get more traction from microtargeting followers of a regular person—an influencer—than from a celebrity. Among the most popular figures when the Kajis began were the unboxers, people who filmed themselves opening shoes or makeup, or kids opening toys. So that’s what Loann and Ryan did. Ironically, Ryan had not really liked playing with toys as a baby, except one: a remote-control car, which, his dad says, he could more or less operate by the age of 6 months. This meant every relative gave him toy cars. When the unboxing trend spun off into the Giant Egg trend, Loann hid those cars in a papier-mâché egg she’d made. The resulting video, “GIANT Lightning McQueen Egg Surprise with 100+ Disney Cars Toys,” shot Ryan’s ToysReview, as the channel was then called, into the stratosphere. “That one video became his most popular video on our channel for the next two years,” says Shion. It currently has more than a billion views. At first, strange comments below the video alarmed them. “It was all gibberish,” says Shion. Then he saw Ryan typing random letters beneath videos and realized other kids were doing that too. Some of them may not have spoken English. “We noticed a huge percentage of the viewership coming from Asia,” says Shion. Ryan’s channel had launched just as YouTube was spreading to Asia, and videos like Ryan’s filled a void that TV had overlooked. Shion was born in Japan, and Loann in Vietnam. “For a lot of minorities,” says Mai, “YouTube was the place where you saw people like you.” Read More: I Raised Two CEOs and a Doctor. These Are My Secrets to Parenting Successful Children Ryan’s ToysReview quickly became one of YouTube’s most popular channels. By 2016, both parents had quit their jobs to make videos full time. Shion is a Cornell-educated structural engineer, which may be why he sensed the danger of having Ryan, just 5, carry the bulk of the show. He beefed up the production team to avoid burnout and had animators create characters based on Ryan’s personality for more content. Shion and Loann also appear in the videos and play with toys and games on their own channel. There may be a place in which one small family can produce so much intellectual property and be left in peace, but that place is not the USA, circa 2017. Ryan caught the eye of Chris Williams, who as a former Disney and Maker Studios executive had watched media habits change in real time. “I saw linear television’s ratings fall off a cliff,” he says. “I saw kids and family audiences flocking to YouTube.” His experience at Disney had also taught him about the power of building a franchise. “There are stars, characters and intellectual property on YouTube that have bigger audiences than the entire Disney Channel network. Why are we not thinking about them in the same way?” In 2017, he started Pocketwatch to do licensing deals with YouTube stars, and the Kajis, who had formed their own production company, Sunlight Entertainment, were among its first partners. Read More: How Dr. Becky Became the Millennial Parenting Whisperer The move came just in time. Merchandisers were not the only ones who noticed how much content was directed at the very young. Parents, child-development experts, media watchdogs and eventually legislators did too, and many didn’t love what they saw. There were videos of adults playing with toys in inappropriate ways. Some of the families on YouTube fell apart. Others seemed to be treating children badly to draw clicks. Advertisers pulled back. YouTube removed comments sections from and kept ads off some videos. It wasn’t enough. In 2019, YouTube and its parent company Google paid $170 million to settle allegations by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the New York State attorney general that it collected data about minors and violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. By 2020, YouTube required creators to specify whether their videos were for kids and stopped feeding personalized ads to those that were. Many kid-centric channels lost the bulk of their revenue. But thanks to the merch deals, the Kajis sailed on. Williams says the franchise is his company’s biggest earner. The reforms may have lessened the problem of advertising to children, but they did nothing to change the thorny fact that watching endless hours of a child opening toys is of dubious—at best—educational or social-development value. There’s not much definitive research on what that kind of media diet does to a developing brain, but the small amount out there is dismaying. In a study out of the University of Colorado, Boulder, 78% of parents reported their kids watched unboxing videos on a regular basis, with almost 17% estimating it at between three and nine hours per week. “The more time a child spends watching unboxing videos,” says Harsha Gangadharbatla, an associate professor of advertising, who presented the paper at a journalism conference in 2019, “the more likely they are to ask for things and throw tantrums if the parents weren’t purchasing those things.” Studies have shown that children form para-social relationships with the media figures they encounter. “They’re dealing with a developing brain that is figuring out the world,” says Dr. Michael Rich, a pediatrician and the director of the Boston Children’s Hospital’s Digital Wellness Lab. “And if one of the very powerful inputs into that developing brain is ‘Look at how happy Ryan is with his toy!’ of course they’re going to say, ‘I want that.’” Read More: I Was Constantly Arguing With My Child. Then I Learned the “TEAM” Method of Calmer Parenting Just before YouTube and Google paid the fine, the nonprofit Truth in Advertising (TINA) filed a complaint with the FTC against the Kajis—who then changed the name of their channel from Ryan’s ToyReview to Ryan’s World. The group had found that Ryan played with toys that would appeal to kids 5 years of age or younger in 90% of the channel’s 200 most popular videos. TINA claimed the sponsored videos were not clearly enough delineated. “Sometimes, they weren’t adequately disclosing such that an adult would know, and other times, it’s just the fact that this vulnerable population of toddlers cannot differentiate between organic content and ads,” says Bonnie Patten, TINA’s executive director. (The FTC does not talk about pending investigations.) Richard Drew—APRyan’s family made merchandising deals early and often, with 1,600 products to date Williams says the Kaji family has been unfairly singled out because they offer the biggest target. He points out that they have shifted to more educational content, with science experiments and travel videos. At the same time, he is open to greater research and regulation. “I worry about the effects of all of it. Not just what we see on YouTube and other platforms, but movies and TV,” he says. “Nobody wants to do the work around researching this stuff. They just want to make proclamations: ‘Hey, it’s different from what I grew up on. It must be bad.’” The Kajis maintain that they “follow the guidelines” for labeling their content, but, says Loann, “if I could do it over, I would try to incorporate more of the educational component right from the get-go.” A legal team screens their videos, but they do not have a child-development expert on staff. One solution would be to take down the old unboxing videos and stop putting up new ones. After all, Sunlight Entertainment releases 25 new videos a week across its channels. But surveys show that in the U.S., “the No. 1 thing for our channel is that they still want Ryan playing with toys,” says Shion. In August, however, YouTube announced that it would remove “overly commercial content” from the YouTube Kids app and mark sponsored videos more clearly. And on Sept. 30, as Congress began to take a closer look at social media companies, Democratic Senators Edward Markey of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut reintroduced the KIDS Act, which would force sites like YouTube to stop recommending unboxing videos for kids. YouTube declined to answer specific questions from TIME, but pointed to a raft of policies, developed with child-development experts, intended to keep young viewers safe. Nevertheless, Pandora has already completed her unboxing. Ryan’s branded toys are everywhere. And he’s not alone. There’s a new crop of stars coming, on Tik Tok, Instagram and YouTube. Vlad, 8, and Niki, 6, Russian-born brothers who live in Florida, released their first toy figures in June. Nastya, 7, also a Russian-born Floridian, launches her dolls Nov. 15. Kidfluencers no longer have to hawk toys; they can just become them. Any discerning viewer who watches Ryan’s videos notices within a minute that they don’t offer much in the way of entertainment. The production is amateurish. There’s no narrative arc. This is intentional. The Kajis are not artists; they’re parents. They started making videos, they say, because their kid wanted to and was good at it. “We don’t really do multiple takes,” says Loann. “What I get from him, that’s what I’m going to use.” The DIY nature of the videos also mimics, they hope, what it’s like to go on a playdate. “We don’t want the viewers to watch our videos one after the other,” says Shion. “What we ideally want is kids to watch our video and then that inspires them to have an idea for what they want to do and they put down their iPad.” At the onset of the pandemic, they put up several videos of Ryan doing homework, so kids could feel like they were studying with a friend. Brendan George Ko for TIMERyan-themed products generated about $250 million in retail sales in 2020, according to Pocketwatch It’s difficult to ascertain if kids do indeed go play after watching the videos. The fact that some Ryan’s World videos are hours long suggests that a certain amount of sedentariness is allowed, if not encouraged. Many parents loathe them; they overwhelmingly garner one-star reviews on sites like Common Sense Media. It was Ryan’s World that caused Mike Lutringer, in Houston, to swear off YouTube Kids forever. When his second daughter was born and he and his wife needed to attend to her, he’d put on an educational Ryan video for his older child. “But very rapidly it’ll transition over to marketing and sales and reviews,” he says. “You can see how they’ve designed it to really capture the attention of the child.” Dylana Carlson, in Galesburg, Ill., on the other hand, says that during the pandemic, her two children would watch Ryan or another kidfluencer and then try to play the way they did. Occasionally they’d ask for a playdate with their Internet friend. “I think that they assume that they can just go meet these kids,” she says. “I have thought about this stuff, like, Is that depressing? Or is that weird? But corporations pay to have a dress-up Spider-Man come to the grocery store. How is this different?” Quynh Mai, the marketer, thinks this is one of the secrets of Ryan’s success. “These kids, I think, are really lonely,” she says. “Ryan provides the emotional connection.” As online friends go, Ryan is a Hallmark-level cherub. He appears to have a bottomless vat of enthusiasm for any toy/room/situation he encounters. In interviews, he is cheerful and eager, with an age-appropriate inability to be self-reflective. He loves school, especially math! He swims, plays soccer, does tae kwon do, but gymnastics is his favorite! He hates when he can’t find his lunch box! If he could have any superpower, it would be super speed! When he grows up, he wants to be a “game developer or a comedian who is a YouTuber who makes funny videos!” During the pandemic, Loann homeschooled the kids, and when the Kajis tested Ryan to see if he had fallen behind, they found he was several grades ahead. One of the reasons they moved to Hawaii this year is for a more academically challenging school than his public school in Houston. The other, interestingly, is that they felt the kids were spending too much time on screens. In Hawaii, they take more walks, which Ryan at first found exhausting. He’s also learning piano and Japanese, but he’s not crazy about either. Bea Oyster for TIMEThe Kaji family—Loann, Emma, Shion, Ryan and Kate—moved to Hawaii during the pandemic, partly to get the kids off their screens There are two ways to look at the Kaji parents. One is that they have dragooned their offspring into living out their lives on camera to get rich. The other, the one they present, is that they stumbled into a world where their child became a star and they tried to keep up. Ryan’s onscreen ability, they say, is as big a surprise to them as to anyone. He often takes a video in a new direction during shooting, telling the editors what effects to add as he goes. “On or off camera he is the exact same way,” says Shion. “He genuinely connects with his viewers.” Lest anyone think that’s pure parental boasting, Loann says Ryan’s 5-year-old twin sisters also love making videos, but “it’s not as natural to them.” (Yes, they already have their own line of toys.) The journey hasn’t always been a thrill ride. In 2003, Loann spent a month in jail for shoplifting, and after Ryan got famous, her arrest record became public knowledge. The family did exactly one in-person event with Ryan, in Bentonville, Ark. Thousands of families turned out, and the resulting melee shook them up. They reject the accusation that Ryan is their workhorse. Loann cites an incident on the set of Playdate when Ryan hurt his ankle. The production adjusted the scenes he’d shoot so he could sit and, after a break, kept filming. Loann agreed with the decision, but adds that “if that happens at home, we would not be filming for the next week or two.” The Kajis also say that while the family will go to L.A. for a spell to shoot his shows, Ryan’s YouTube videos take just a few hours a week. He belongs to local sports clubs and goes to school like other kids. Read More: ‘What Do People Want Me to Do? Wear Black Every Day?’: How Child Star JoJo Siwa Built Her Sparkly Empire What most worries Shion are families who try to emulate the Kajis’ success more recklessly. Ryan is the public face of kidfluencers, so any YouTube parent who is less than exemplary might reflect badly on him. Pocketwatch and YouTube issue manuals on how to be both parent and programmer, and Shion hints that he’s trying to start a working group of YouTube families to set industry standards. He won’t go into details, but says he would like more input from YouTube, especially on how families manage their finances, their kids’ time and fame. After all, the platform is taking a healthy cut of the money, and the minors who have made their name on it have few legal protections. The Kajis say a portion of the revenue from the family business goes into trust accounts they’ve established for their children, and they have put all of Ryan’s TV earnings into another trust. There are children on YouTube now with more subscribers than Ryan. His parents seem somewhat relieved. “I don’t want YouTube to be his future career,” says Loann. “We really want him to do something else. We’re continuing right now because he’s enjoying doing it.” The question remains: having found the perfect platform for their child, can they persuade him to leave it? —With reporting by Simmone Shah and Nik Popli.....»»

Category: topSource: timeNov 12th, 2021

Amazon Drone Delivery Was Supposed to Start By 2018. Here’s What Happened Instead

Amazon’s squadron of delivery drones was supposed to be in full flight by now. And the fall of 2021 would have been an opportune time to have little automated flying machines delivering packages to customers—what with all the trouble human workers are causing around the country with strikes and labor shortages. Amazon announced an experimental… Amazon’s squadron of delivery drones was supposed to be in full flight by now. And the fall of 2021 would have been an opportune time to have little automated flying machines delivering packages to customers—what with all the trouble human workers are causing around the country with strikes and labor shortages. Amazon announced an experimental drone delivery service with great fanfare as part of a 60 Minutes feature in 2013. Amazon’s promise was quite remarkable: Your packages—containing anything from toothpaste to a new smartphone—would arrive right at your doorstep (or on your lawn) by way of a drone that lands, drops your parcel and flies away. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s then-CEO, said in the televised segment that it would likely take “four to five years” to turn the “R&D project” into a reality. Nearly eight years later, the world’s leading online retailer is struggling to make progress with its Prime Air program. So, what happened? “Prime Air is committed to making our goal of delivering packages by drones a reality,” Amazon said in a statement to TIME. “We are pioneering new ground and it will continue to take time to create the right technology and infrastructure to safely deliver packages to customers.” Since the program got underway, Amazon has revealed a few delivery-drone designs, and in August of 2020 it received the Federal Aviation Administration’s permission to begin conducting drone operations. The company told TIME that it continues to collaborate closely with the FAA and other regulatory bodies around the world. It is running tests of the delivery program and has logged thousands of flight hours. Even so, Prime Air has suffered numerous setbacks, including rounds of layoffs, unexpected surges in workload, and a work environment fueled by unrealistic expectations, former staffers told Wired earlier this year. Projects that take longer than expected to get off the ground are hardly unusual at big companies, and Amazon is no different. Over the years, the company has had mixed success releasing products like smartphones and in-home grocery scanners. It recently discontinued Amazon Echo Look, an Alexa-enabled device that scanned a user’s outfit and offered questionable fashion advice. Even in 2021, the idea of drone delivery still sounds somewhat fantastical, but widespread use of these small aircraft could have an enormous impact. Drones have potential to be even more efficient and environmentally friendly than a modern electric delivery van. The Biden administration has expressed interest in developing the field of drone delivery and logistics, and for uses like infrastructure inspection. The initiative has plenty of challenges, however, including the need for more warehouses and concerns about airspace safety with a potential sky full of whizzing drones. Still, as Amazon struggles, other companies are racing to be the first to offer widespread service. Where delivery drones have worked Google parent company Alphabet is forging ahead with its own version of the futuristic delivery service. In Logan, Australia, suburban drone deliveries are taking off, thanks to Alphabet subsidiary Wing. The delivery drone company, previously part of Google’s “moonshot” initiatives, reached a pivotal milestone, announcing in August that it made its hundred thousandth delivery. The drones have moved over 10,000 cups of coffee, 1,000 loaves of bread and 1,200 roasted chickens (known as hot chooks in Australia). Wing says it hasn’t faced a single delivery issue during its flights in Logan, and has run thousands of internal flight and delivery tests at the same time. Wing CEO James Ryan Burgess thinks opportunity lies in a decentralized delivery system scattered throughout a region, citing Logan as an example of a city wherein the company can operate smaller groups of drones in multiple areas. “You can imagine a future where there are delivery drone aircraft scattered throughout a city in the most appropriate places,” says Burgess. “Those aircraft can serve the community whenever somebody has a need to receive a package or send a package.” Wing Since Wing’s drones can wirelessly charge from their landing pad when they return from a delivery, the infrastructure requirements are minimal. “Our best estimate at this state at Wing is that there will be a mix of central and distributed delivery technologies in the drone space,” says Burgess. “That way, they can serve and integrate with merchants of various scales in the best way possible.” Wing, which grew its operations in Australia this year, is looking to expand from its single U.S. location in Christianburg, Va., and Finland “in the coming months.” Wing’s drone deliveries are automated, but monitored by pilots who function more as air traffic controllers than anything else. Routes are determined based on factors like distance, weather conditions and airspace regulations, and deliveries are dropped in front of homes using a winch, with no human interaction required. More efficient and ecological—to a point When it comes to making deliveries efficient and environmentally friendly, faster seems to be better. The less time a drone spends in the air is a primary determinant of its energy consumption according to Carnegie Melon University Professor Costa Samaras. A 2018 study coauthored by him discovered that, over certain distances, drone delivery is more efficient than ground-based delivery, especially if drones are traveling at higher speeds. Samaras notes that drone deliveries won’t phase out more traditional methods of transporting goods, but will instead complement them while being more environmentally friendly. “There are other areas where an electric cargo bike is for sure going to be better, and there are areas where maybe a bigger electric truck would be best,” he says. “You don’t necessarily want your computer monitor being delivered by drone.” But speedy drone delivery in cities might be less eco-friendly when carrying heavier items, and they could also be more of a noisy nuisance than delivery via electric vehicle. “Do we want hundreds or thousands of drones over all of our cities?” says Samaras. “That’s a much deeper and more important question.” Still, the environmental concerns loom. A company like Amazon might create drone delivery facilities to make good on faster guaranteed delivery times, but that would also mean more facilities to operate and maintain, and more of an environmental impact. Indeed, the promise of drone delivery means everyone can order everything and have it arrive almost instantly. But in urban environments, people ordering a cup of coffee or breakfast bagel first thing in the morning might not be a feasible option, and could lead to increased pollution. It also means that providers would need more space dedicated to shipping and maintaining drones, which means more warehouses. You could have a single warehouse and fly drones until their batteries die, says Samaras, but that defeats the efficient nature of drone usage. For more efficient flights, companies will need multiple warehouses storing identical products to deliver to neighborhoods. “If you needed a new phone, for example, you’d have to have a phone in a warehouse in the Bronx, you’d need a phone in a warehouse in Brooklyn, in Staten Island, and now you’ve got three warehouses,” says Samaras. “Now you have to heat, light and power those warehouses, and that amount of energy degrades the benefits from that [drone delivery].” Currently, Samaras says drones for delivery use in rural areas paired with delivery trucks are an ideal application of the technology, considering the environmental cost of driving something like a multi-ton delivery truck to every house in a rural community. Drones are already being used by hospitals in far-flung regions to deliver medical supplies like blood, and by the U.S. Army to move military equipment like ammunition. Few studies have looked at the ecological effects of drones flying over neighborhoods, and the effect on wildlife is still being researched, though videos (shot via drone) have shown that animals don’t take kindly to the buzzing aerial copters. A European Environment Agency report on drones and sustainability points out the growing tension between drones and animals, especially birds. “Bird species… were found to be more sensitive to disturbances relating to the presence of drones,” said the report. “Evidence is growing of bird-drone interaction, such as two eagles mistaking a drone for food in Austria.” Meeting ‘uncharted’ demand Decentralized drone delivery could also lead to less congestion, according to University of Texas operations management professor Milind Dawande, which is more obvious vital now than ever as the global supply chain stalls in shipping bottlenecks at ports. But Dawande coauthored a study last year that showed how using drones to decrease delivery times could lead to an increase in demand. “No one has captured this demand until now,” says Dawande. “You have never heard that your order is going to come to your door in 15 minutes. So it’s all an unchartered territory actually.” Dawande thinks it could lead to companies competing over zones of control, with customers prioritizing speedier deliveries from retailers able to deliver to them faster based on their proximity to a drone distribution center. You might have two competing big box stores near you, but if one can guarantee you a 15-minute delivery rather than a one-hour window, you’re more likely to choose the closer one. That speedy delivery could increase the number of orders. It makes what would’ve been a car ride, evening delivery, or next-day delivery into a purchase that will show up before your first cup of coffee gets cold. “The guy who can reach the customer fastest is the king,” says Dawande. “Therefore, if I have a warehouse here, within 10 miles, I am king. If you have a warehouse there and we don’t, then you are the king. So there will be bubbles, and they will monopolize that region and share the market in the rest of the region.” So what’s holding up the great drone delivery experiment? Both Dawande and Wing CEO Burgess cite the FAA as a hurdle when it comes to bringing more drone delivery services to regions in the United States. “The bottleneck is the regulatory framework,” says Dawande, who suggests drone delivery companies will have to adhere to guidelines and regulations from multiple agencies in the U.S. “There are federal laws, there are going to be state laws, there are going to be city laws… Of course, technology is improving every day, but the regulatory framework, how quickly it reaches maturity, will certainly determine how widespread and how fast [drone delivery] will be adopted.” Companies like Amazon and Wing have received the FAA’s existing Part 135 certification, which allows them to participate in delivery via drone services with a limited number of pilots and drones. Still, according to the FAA, companies must obtain airspace authorizations from local governments before they begin sending drones carrying packages through the air. Those authorizations have the potential to get complicated. Each state has its own rules for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)—Arkansas, Georgia, and Kentucky, for example, prohibit flight paths over certain properties like prisons or railroads. Some states have prohibited delivery of certain items (like medical marijuana) as well. Still, Dawande believes drone deliveries will be inevitable thanks to slowly easing regulations, citing the FAA’s recently simplified remote ID laws for drones, which would’ve required drones broadcast a unique identification signal (which won’t go into effect until 2023), as well as increasing pilot privacy and dismissing the requirement that personal information be logged in a government database. The FAA is also making it easier for pilots to renew their drone pilot licenses by waiving testing fees. If the commercial UAV market, valued at over $22 billion this year, is any indication, you can expect that 30-minute toothpaste delivery sooner rather than later......»»

Category: topSource: timeNov 2nd, 2021

Whatever Happened to Amazon’s Drone Delivery Service?

Amazon’s squadron of delivery drones was supposed to be in full flight by now. And the fall of 2021 would have been an opportune time to have little automated flying machines delivering packages to customers—what with all the trouble human workers are causing around the country with strikes and labor shortages. Amazon announced an experimental… Amazon’s squadron of delivery drones was supposed to be in full flight by now. And the fall of 2021 would have been an opportune time to have little automated flying machines delivering packages to customers—what with all the trouble human workers are causing around the country with strikes and labor shortages. Amazon announced an experimental drone delivery service with great fanfare as part of a 60 Minutes feature in 2013. Amazon’s promise was quite remarkable: Your packages—containing anything from toothpaste to a new smartphone—would arrive right at your doorstep (or on your lawn) by way of a drone that lands, drops your parcel and flies away. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s then-CEO, said in the televised segment that it would likely take “four to five years” to turn the “R&D project” into a reality. Nearly eight years later, the world’s leading online retailer is struggling to make progress with its Prime Air program. So, what happened? “Prime Air is committed to making our goal of delivering packages by drones a reality,” Amazon said in a statement to TIME. “We are pioneering new ground and it will continue to take time to create the right technology and infrastructure to safely deliver packages to customers.” Since the program got underway, Amazon has revealed a few delivery-drone designs, and in August of 2020 it received the Federal Aviation Administration’s permission to begin conducting drone operations. The company told TIME that it continues to collaborate closely with the FAA and other regulatory bodies around the world. It is running tests of the delivery program and has logged thousands of flight hours. Even so, Prime Air has suffered numerous setbacks, including rounds of layoffs, unexpected surges in workload, and a work environment fueled by unrealistic expectations, former staffers told Wired earlier this year. Projects that take longer than expected to get off the ground are hardly unusual at big companies, and Amazon is no different. Over the years, the company has had mixed success releasing products like smartphones and in-home grocery scanners. It recently discontinued Amazon Echo Look, an Alexa-enabled device that scanned a user’s outfit and offered questionable fashion advice. Even in 2021, the idea of drone delivery still sounds somewhat fantastical, but widespread use of these small aircraft could have an enormous impact. Drones have potential to be even more efficient and environmentally friendly than a modern electric delivery van. The Biden administration has expressed interest in developing the field of drone delivery and logistics, and for uses like infrastructure inspection. The initiative has plenty of challenges, however, including the need for more warehouses and concerns about airspace safety with a potential sky full of whizzing drones. Still, as Amazon struggles, other companies are racing to be the first to offer widespread service. Where delivery drones have worked Google parent company Alphabet is forging ahead with its own version of the futuristic delivery service. In Logan, Australia, suburban drone deliveries are taking off, thanks to Alphabet subsidiary Wing. The delivery drone company, previously part of Google’s “moonshot” initiatives, reached a pivotal milestone, announcing in August that it made its hundred thousandth delivery. The drones have moved over 10,000 cups of coffee, 1,000 loaves of bread and 1,200 roasted chickens (known as hot chooks in Australia). Wing says it hasn’t faced a single delivery issue during its flights in Logan, and has run thousands of internal flight and delivery tests at the same time. Wing CEO James Ryan Burgess thinks opportunity lies in a decentralized delivery system scattered throughout a region, citing Logan as an example of a city wherein the company can operate smaller groups of drones in multiple areas. “You can imagine a future where there are delivery drone aircraft scattered throughout a city in the most appropriate places,” says Burgess. “Those aircraft can serve the community whenever somebody has a need to receive a package or send a package.” Wing Since Wing’s drones can wirelessly charge from their landing pad when they return from a delivery, the infrastructure requirements are minimal. “Our best estimate at this state at Wing is that there will be a mix of central and distributed delivery technologies in the drone space,” says Burgess. “That way, they can serve and integrate with merchants of various scales in the best way possible.” Wing, which grew its operations in Australia this year, is looking to expand from its single U.S. location in Christianburg, Va., and Finland “in the coming months.” Wing’s drone deliveries are automated, but monitored by pilots who function more as air traffic controllers than anything else. Routes are determined based on factors like distance, weather conditions and airspace regulations, and deliveries are dropped in front of homes using a winch, with no human interaction required. More efficient and ecological—to a point When it comes to making deliveries efficient and environmentally friendly, faster seems to be better. The less time a drone spends in the air is a primary determinant of its energy consumption according to Carnegie Melon University Professor Costa Samaras. A 2018 study coauthored by him discovered that, over certain distances, drone delivery is more efficient than ground-based delivery, especially if drones are traveling at higher speeds. Samaras notes that drone deliveries won’t phase out more traditional methods of transporting goods, but will instead complement them while being more environmentally friendly. “There are other areas where an electric cargo bike is for sure going to be better, and there are areas where maybe a bigger electric truck would be best,” he says. “You don’t necessarily want your computer monitor being delivered by drone.” But speedy drone delivery in cities might be less eco-friendly when carrying heavier items, and they could also be more of a noisy nuisance than delivery via electric vehicle. “Do we want hundreds or thousands of drones over all of our cities?” says Samaras. “That’s a much deeper and more important question.” Still, the environmental concerns loom. A company like Amazon might create drone delivery facilities to make good on faster guaranteed delivery times, but that would also mean more facilities to operate and maintain, and more of an environmental impact. Indeed, the promise of drone delivery means everyone can order everything and have it arrive almost instantly. But in urban environments, people ordering a cup of coffee or breakfast bagel first thing in the morning might not be a feasible option, and could lead to increased pollution. It also means that providers would need more space dedicated to shipping and maintaining drones, which means more warehouses. You could have a single warehouse and fly drones until their batteries die, says Samaras, but that defeats the efficient nature of drone usage. For more efficient flights, companies will need multiple warehouses storing identical products to deliver to neighborhoods. “If you needed a new phone, for example, you’d have to have a phone in a warehouse in the Bronx, you’d need a phone in a warehouse in Brooklyn, in Staten Island, and now you’ve got three warehouses,” says Samaras. “Now you have to heat, light and power those warehouses, and that amount of energy degrades the benefits from that [drone delivery].” Currently, Samaras says drones for delivery use in rural areas paired with delivery trucks are an ideal application of the technology, considering the environmental cost of driving something like a multi-ton delivery truck to every house in a rural community. Drones are already being used by hospitals in far-flung regions to deliver medical supplies like blood, and by the U.S. Army to move military equipment like ammunition. Few studies have looked at the ecological effects of drones flying over neighborhoods, and the effect on wildlife is still being researched, though videos (shot via drone) have shown that animals don’t take kindly to the buzzing aerial copters. A European Environment Agency report on drones and sustainability points out the growing tension between drones and animals, especially birds. “Bird species… were found to be more sensitive to disturbances relating to the presence of drones,” said the report. “Evidence is growing of bird-drone interaction, such as two eagles mistaking a drone for food in Austria.” Meeting ‘uncharted’ demand Decentralized drone delivery could also lead to less congestion, according to University of Texas operations management professor Milind Dawande, which is more obvious vital now than ever as the global supply chain stalls in shipping bottlenecks at ports. But Dawande coauthored a study last year that showed how using drones to decrease delivery times could lead to an increase in demand. “No one has captured this demand until now,” says Dawande. “You have never heard that your order is going to come to your door in 15 minutes. So it’s all an unchartered territory actually.” Dawande thinks it could lead to companies competing over zones of control, with customers prioritizing speedier deliveries from retailers able to deliver to them faster based on their proximity to a drone distribution center. You might have two competing big box stores near you, but if one can guarantee you a 15-minute delivery rather than a one-hour window, you’re more likely to choose the closer one. That speedy delivery could increase the number of orders. It makes what would’ve been a car ride, evening delivery, or next-day delivery into a purchase that will show up before your first cup of coffee gets cold. “The guy who can reach the customer fastest is the king,” says Dawande. “Therefore, if I have a warehouse here, within 10 miles, I am king. If you have a warehouse there and we don’t, then you are the king. So there will be bubbles, and they will monopolize that region and share the market in the rest of the region.” So what’s holding up the great drone delivery experiment? Both Dawande and Wing CEO Burgess cite the FAA as a hurdle when it comes to bringing more drone delivery services to regions in the United States. “The bottleneck is the regulatory framework,” says Dawande, who suggests drone delivery companies will have to adhere to guidelines and regulations from multiple agencies in the U.S. “There are federal laws, there are going to be state laws, there are going to be city laws… Of course, technology is improving every day, but the regulatory framework, how quickly it reaches maturity, will certainly determine how widespread and how fast [drone delivery] will be adopted.” Companies like Amazon and Wing have received the FAA’s existing Part 135 certification, which allows them to participate in delivery via drone services with a limited number of pilots and drones. Still, according to the FAA, companies must obtain airspace authorizations from local governments before they begin sending drones carrying packages through the air. Those authorizations have the potential to get complicated. Each state has its own rules for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)—Arkansas, Georgia, and Kentucky, for example, prohibit flight paths over certain properties like prisons or railroads. Some states have prohibited delivery of certain items (like medical marijuana) as well. Still, Dawande believes drone deliveries will be inevitable thanks to slowly easing regulations, citing the FAA’s recently simplified remote ID laws for drones, which would’ve required drones broadcast a unique identification signal (which won’t go into effect until 2023), as well as increasing pilot privacy and dismissing the requirement that personal information be logged in a government database. The FAA is also making it easier for pilots to renew their drone pilot licenses by waiving testing fees. If the commercial UAV market, valued at over $22 billion this year, is any indication, you can expect that 30-minute toothpaste delivery sooner rather than later......»»

Category: topSource: timeNov 2nd, 2021

Green Energy: A Bubble In Unrealistic Expectations

Green Energy: A Bubble In Unrealistic Expectations Authored by David Hay via Everegreen Gavekal blog, “You see what is happening in Europe. There is hysteria and some confusion in the markets. Why?…Some people are speculating on climate change issues, some people are underestimating some things, some are starting to cut back on investments in the extractive industries. There needs to be a smooth transition.” - Vladimir Putin (someone with whom this author rarely agrees) “By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of its citizens.” – John Maynard Keynes (an interesting observation for all the modern day Keynesians to consider given their support of current inflationary US policies, including energy-related) Introduction This week’s EVA provides another sneak preview into David Hay’s book-in-process, “Bubble 3.0” discussing what he thinks is the crucial topic of “greenflation.”  This is a term he coined referring to the rising price for metals and minerals that are essential for solar and wind power, electric cars, and other renewable technologies. It also centers on the reality that as global policymakers have turned against the fossil fuel industry, energy producers are for the first time in history not responding to dramatically higher prices by increasing production.  Consequently, there is a difficult tradeoff that arises as the world pushes harder to combat climate change, driving up energy costs to painful levels, especially for lower income individuals.  What we are currently seeing in Europe is a vivid example of this dilemma.  While it may be the case that governments welcome higher oil and natural gas prices to discourage their use, energy consumers are likely to have a much different reaction. Summary BlackRock’s CEO recently admitted that, despite what many are opining, the green energy transition is nearly certain to be inflationary. Even though it’s early in the year, energy prices are already experiencing unprecedented spikes in Europe and Asia, but most Americans are unaware of the severity. To that point, many British residents being faced with the fact that they may need to ration heat and could be faced with the chilling reality that lives could be lost if this winter is as cold as forecasters are predicting. Because of the huge increase in energy prices, inflation in the eurozone recently hit a 13-year high, heavily driven by natural gas prices on the Continent that are the equivalent of $200 oil. It used to be that the cure for extreme prices was extreme prices, but these days I’m not so sure.  Oil and gas producers are very wary of making long-term investments to develop new resources given the hostility to their industry and shareholder pressure to minimize outlays. I expect global supply to peak sometime next year and a major supply deficit looks inevitable as global demand returns to normal. In Norway, almost 2/3 of all new vehicle sales are of the electric variety (EVs) – a huge increase in just over a decade. Meanwhile, in the US, it’s only about 2%. Still, given Norway’s penchant for the plug-in auto, the demand for oil has not declined. China, despite being the largest market by far for electric vehicles, is still projected to consume an enormous and rising amount of oil in the future. About 70% of China’s electricity is generated by coal, which has major environmental ramifications in regards to electric vehicles. Because of enormous energy demand in China this year, coal prices have experienced a massive boom. Its usage was up 15% in the first half of this year, and the Chinese government has instructed power providers to obtain all baseload energy sources, regardless of cost.  The massive migration to electric vehicles – and the fact that they use six times the amount of critical minerals as their gasoline-powered counterparts –means demand for these precious resources is expected to skyrocket. This extreme need for rare minerals, combined with rapid demand growth, is a recipe for a major spike in prices. Massively expanding the US electrical grid has several daunting challenges– chief among them the fact that the American public is extremely reluctant to have new transmission lines installed in their area. The state of California continues to blaze the trail for green energy in terms of both scope and speed. How the rest of the country responds to their aggressive take on renewables remains to be seen. It appears we are entering a very odd reality: governments are expending resources they do not have on weakly concentrated energy. And the result may be very detrimental for today’s modern economy. If the trend in energy continues, what looks nearly certain to be the Third Energy crisis of the last half-century may linger for years.  Green energy: A bubble in unrealistic expectations? As I have written in past EVAs, it amazes me how little of the intense inflation debate in 2021 centered on the inflationary implications of the Green Energy transition.  Perhaps it is because there is a built-in assumption that using more renewables should lower energy costs since the sun and the wind provide “free power”.  However, we will soon see that’s not the case, at least not anytime soon; in fact, it’s my contention that it will likely be the opposite for years to come and I’ve got some powerful company.  Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, a very pro-ESG* organization, is one of the few members of Wall Street’s elite who admitted this in the summer of 2021.  The story, however, received minimal press coverage and was quickly forgotten (though, obviously, not be me!).  This EVA will outline myriad reasons why I think Mr. Fink was telling it like it is…despite the political heat that could bring down upon him.  First, though, I will avoid any discussion of whether humanity is the leading cause of global warming.  For purposes of this analysis, let’s make the high-odds assumption that for now a high-speed green energy transition will continue to occur.  (For those who would like a well-researched and clearly articulated overview of the climate debate, I highly recommend the book “Unsettled”; it’s by a former top energy expert and scientist from the Obama administration, Dr. Steven Koonin.) The reason I italicized “for now” is that in my view it’s extremely probable that voters in many Western countries are going to become highly retaliatory toward energy policies that are already creating extreme hardship.  Even though it’s only early autumn as I write these words, energy prices are experiencing unprecedented increases in Europe.  Because it’s “over there”, most Americans are only vaguely aware of the severity of the situation.  But the facts are shocking…  Presently, natural gas is going for $29 per million British Thermal Units (BTUs) in Europe, a quadruple compared to the same time in 2020, versus “just” $5 in the US, which is a mere doubling.  As a consequence, wholesale energy cost in Great Britain rose an unheard of 60% even before summer ended.  Reportedly, nine UK energy companies are on the brink of failure at this time due to their inability to fully pass on the enormous cost increases.  As a result, the British government is reportedly on the verge of nationalizing some of these entities—supposedly, temporarily—to prevent them from collapsing.  (CNBC reported on Wednesday that UK natural gas prices are now up 800% this year; in the US, nat gas rose 20% on Tuesday alone, before giving back a bit more than half of that the next day.) Serious food shortages are expected after exorbitant natural gas costs forced most of England’s commercial production of CO2 to shut down.  (CO2 is used both for stunning animals prior to slaughter and also in food packaging.)  Additionally, ballistic natural gas prices have forced the closure of two big US fertilizer plants due to a potential shortfall of ammonium nitrate of which “nat gas” is a key feedstock.  *ESG stands for Environmental, Social, Governance; in 2021, Blackrock’s assets under management approximated $9 ½ trillion, about one-third of the total US federal debt. With the winter of 2021 approaching, British households are being told they may need to ration heat.  There are even growing concerns about the widespread loss of life if this winter turns out to be a cold one, as 2020 was in Europe.  Weather forecasters are indicating that’s a distinct possibility.   In Spain, consumers are paying 40% more for electricity compared to the prior year.  The Spanish government has begun resorting to price controls to soften the impact of these rapidly escalating costs. (The history of price controls is that they often exacerbate shortages.) Naturally, spiking power prices hit the poorest hardest, which is typical of inflation whether it is of the energy variety or of generalized price increases.  Due to these massive energy price increases, eurozone inflation recently hit a 13-year high, heavily driven by natural gas prices that are the equivalent of $200 per barrel oil.  This is consistent with what I warned about in several EVAs earlier this year and I think there is much more of this looming in the years to come. In Asia, which also had a brutally cold winter in 2020 – 2021, there are severe energy shortages being disclosed, as well.  China has instructed its power providers to secure all the coal they can in preparation for a repeat of frigid conditions and acute deficits even before winter arrives.  The government has also instructed its energy distributors to acquire all the liquified natural gas (LNG) they can, regardless of cost.  LNG recently hit $35 per million British Thermal Units in Asia, up sevenfold in the past year.  China is also rationing power to its heavy industries, further exacerbating the worldwide shortages of almost everything, with notable inflationary implications. In India, where burning coal provides about 70% of electricity generation (as it does in China), utilities are being urged to import coal even though that country has the world’s fourth largest coal reserves.  Several Indian power plants are close to exhausting their coal supplies as power usage rips higher. Normally, I’d say that the cure for such extreme prices, was extreme prices—to slightly paraphrase the old axiom.  But these days, I’m not so sure; in fact, I’m downright dubious.  After all, the enormously influential International Energy Agency has recommended no new fossil fuel development after 2021—“no new”, as in zero.  It’s because of pressure such as this that, even though US natural gas prices have done a Virgin Galactic to $5 this year, the natural gas drilling rig count has stayed flat.  The last time prices were this high there were three times as many working rigs.  It is the same story with oil production.  Most Americans don’t seem to realize it but the US has provided 90% of the planet’s petroleum output growth over the past decade.  In other words, without America’s extraordinary shale oil production boom—which raised total oil output from around 5 million barrels per day in 2008 to 13 million barrels per day in 2019—the world long ago would have had an acute shortage.  (Excluding the Covid-wracked year of 2020, oil demand grows every year—strictly as a function of the developing world, including China, by the way.) Unquestionably, US oil companies could substantially increase output, particularly in the Permian Basin, arguably (but not much) the most prolific oil-producing region in the world.  However, with the Fed being pressured by Congress to punish banks that lend to any fossil fuel operator, and the overall extreme hostility toward domestic energy producers, why would they?  There is also tremendous pressure from Wall Street on these companies to be ESG compliant.  This means reducing their carbon footprint.  That’s tough to do while expanding their volume of oil and gas.  Further, investors, whether on Wall Street or on London’s equivalent, Lombard Street, or in pretty much any Western financial center, are against US energy companies increasing production.  They would much rather see them buy back stock and pay out lush dividends.  The companies are embracing that message.  One leading oil and gas company CEO publicly mused to the effect that buying back his own shares at the prevailing extremely depressed valuations was a much better use of capital than drilling for oil—even at $75 a barrel. As reported by Morgan Stanley, in the summer of 2021, an US institutional broker conceded that of his 400 clients, only one would consider investing in an energy company!  Consequently, the fact that the industry is so detested means that its shares are stunningly undervalued.  How stunningly?  A myriad of US oil and gas producers are trading at free cash flow* yields of 10% to 15% and, in some cases, as high as 25%. In Europe, where the same pressures apply, one of its biggest energy companies is generating a 16% free cash flow yield.  Moreover, that is based up an estimate of $60 per barrel oil, not the prevailing price of $80 on the Continent. *Free cash flow is the excess of gross cash flow over and above the capital spending needed to sustain a business.  Many market professionals consider it more meaningful than earnings.  Therefore, due to the intense antipathy toward Western energy producers they aren’t very inclined to explore for new resources.  Another much overlooked fact about the ultra-critical US shale industry that, as noted, has been nearly the only source of worldwide output growth for the past 13 years, is its rapid decline nature.  Most oil wells see their production taper off at just 4% or 5% per year.  But with shale, that decline rate is 80% after only two years.  (Because of the collapse in exploration activities in 2020 due to Covid, there are far fewer new wells coming on-line; thus, the production base is made up of older wells with slower decline rates but it is still a much steeper cliff than with traditional wells.)  As a result, the US, the world’s most important swing producer, has to come up with about 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) of new output just to stay even.  (This was formerly about a 3 million bpd number due to both the factor mentioned above and the 2 million bpd drop in total US oil production, from 13 million bpd to around 11 million bpd since 2019).  Please recall that total US oil production in 2008 was only around 5 million bpd.  Thus, 1.5 million barrels per day is a lot of oil and requires considerable drilling and exploration activities.  Again, this is merely to stay steady-state, much less grow.  The foregoing is why I wrote on multiple occasions in EVAs during 2020, when the futures price for oil went below zero*, that crude would have a spectacular price recovery later that year and, especially, in 2021.  In my view, to go out on my familiar creaky limb, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!  With supply extremely challenged for the above reasons and demand marching back, I believe 2022 could see $100 crude, possibly even higher.  *Physical oil, or real vs paper traded, bottomed in the upper teens when the futures contract for delivery in April, 2020, went deeply negative.  Mike Rothman of Cornerstone Analytics has one of the best oil price forecasting records on Wall Street.  Like me, he was vehemently bullish on oil after the Covid crash in the spring of 2020 (admittedly, his well-reasoned optimism was a key factor in my up-beat outlook).  Here’s what he wrote late this summer:  “Our forecast for ’22 looks to see global oil production capacity exhausted late in the year and our balance suggests OPEC (and OPEC + participants) will face pressures to completely remove any quotas.”  My expectation is that global supply will likely max out sometime next year, barring a powerful negative growth shock (like a Covid variant even more vaccine resistant than Delta).  A significant supply deficit looks inevitable as global demand recovers and exceeds its pre-Covid level.  This is a view also shared by Goldman Sachs and Raymond James, among others; hence, my forecast of triple-digit prices next year.  Raymond James pointed out that in June the oil market was undersupplied by 2.5 mill bpd.  Meanwhile, global petroleum demand was rapidly rising with expectations of nearly pre-Covid consumption by year-end.  Mike Rothman ran this chart in a webcast on 9/10/2021 revealing how far below the seven-year average oil inventories had fallen.  This supply deficit is very likely to become more acute as the calendar flips to 2022. In fact, despite oil prices pushing toward $80, total US crude output now projected to actually decline this year.  This is an unprecedented development.  However, as the very pro-renewables Financial Times (the UK’s equivalent of the Wall Street Journal) explained in an August 11th, 2021, article:  “Energy companies are in a bind.  The old solution would be to invest more in raising gas production.  But with most developed countries adopting plans to be ‘net zero’ on carbon emissions by 2050 or earlier, the appetite for throwing billions at long-term gas projects is diminished.” The author, David Sheppard, went on to opine: “In the oil industry there are those who think a period of plus $100-a-barrel oil is on the horizon, as companies scale back investments in future supplies, while demand is expected to keep rising for most of this decade at a minimum.”  (Emphasis mine)  To which I say, precisely!  Thus, if he’s right about rising demand, as I believe he is, there is quite a collision looming between that reality and the high probability of long-term constrained supplies.  One of the most relevant and fascinating Wall Street research reports I read as I was researching the topic of what I have been referring to as “Greenflation” is from Morgan Stanley.  Its title asked the provocative question:  “With 64% of New Cars Now Electric, Why is Norway Still Using so Much Oil?”  While almost two-thirds of Norway’s new vehicle sales are EVs, a remarkable market share gain in just over a decade, the number in the US is an ultra-modest 2%.   Yet, per the Morgan Stanley piece, despite this extraordinary push into EVs, oil consumption in Norway has been stubbornly stable.  Coincidentally, that’s been the experience of the overall developed world over the past 10 years, as well; petroleum consumption has largely flatlined.  Where demand hasn’t gone horizontal is in the developing world which includes China.  As you can see from the following Cornerstone Analytics chart, China’s oil demand has vaulted by about 6 million barrels per day (bpd) since 2010 while its domestic crude output has, if anything, slightly contracted. Another coincidence is that this 6 million bpd surge in China’s appetite for oil, almost exactly matched the increase in US oil production.  Once again, think where oil prices would be today without America’s shale oil boom. This is unlikely to change over the next decade.  By 2031, there are an estimated one billion Asian consumers moving up into the middle class.  History is clear that more income means more energy consumption.  Unquestionably, renewables will provide much of that power but oil and natural gas are just as unquestionably going to play a critical role.  Underscoring that point, despite the exponential growth of renewables over the last 10 years, every fossil fuel category has seen increased usage.  Thus, even if China gets up to Norway’s 64% EV market share of new car sales over the next decade, its oil usage is likely to continue to swell.  Please be aware that China has become the world’s largest market for EVs—by far.  Despite that, the above chart vividly displays an immense increase in oil demand.  Here’s a similar factoid that I ran in our December 4th EVA, “Totally Toxic”, in which I made a strong bullish case for energy stocks (the main energy ETF is up 35% from then, by the way):  “(There was) a study by the UN and the US government based on the Model for the Assessment of Greenhouse Gasses Induced Climate Change (MAGICC).  The model predicted that ‘the complete elimination of all fossil fuels in the US immediately would only restrict any increase in world temperature by less than one tenth of one degree Celsius by 2050, and by less than one fifth of one degree Celsius by 2100.’  Say again?  If the world’s biggest carbon emitter on a per capita basis causes minimal improvement by going cold turkey on fossil fuels, are we making the right moves by allocating tens of trillions of dollars that we don’t have toward the currently in-vogue green energy solutions?” China's voracious power appetite increase has been true with all of its energy sources.  On the environmentally-friendly front, that includes renewables; on the environmentally-unfriendly side, it also includes coal.  In 2020, China added three times more coal-based power generation than all other countries combined.  This was the equivalent of an additional coal planet each week.  Globally, there was a reduction last year of 17 gigawatts in coal-fired power output; in China, the increase was 29.8 gigawatts, far more than offsetting the rest of the world’s progress in reducing the dirtiest energy source.  (A gigawatt can power a city with a population of roughly 700,000.) Overall, 70% of China’s electricity is coal-generated. This has significant environmental implications as far as electric vehicles (EVs) are concerned.  Because EVs are charged off a grid that is primarily coal- powered, carbon emissions actually rise as the number of such vehicles proliferate. As you can see in the following charts from Reuters’ energy expert John Kemp, Asia’s coal-fired generation has risen drastically in the last 20 years, even as it has receded in the rest of the world.  (The flattening recently is almost certainly due to Covid, with a sharp upward resumption nearly a given.) The worst part is that burning coal not only emits CO2—which is not a pollutant and is essential for life—it also releases vast quantities of nitrous oxide (N20), especially on the scale of coal usage seen in Asia today. N20 is unquestionably a pollutant and a greenhouse gas that is hundreds of times more potent than CO2.  (An interesting footnote is that over the last 550 million years, there have been very few times when the CO2 level has been as low, or lower, than it is today.)  Some scientists believe that one reason for the shrinkage of Arctic sea ice in recent decades is due to the prevailing winds blowing black carbon soot over from Asia.  This is a separate issue from N20 which is a colorless gas.  As the black soot covers the snow and ice fields in Northern Canada, they become more absorbent of the sun’s radiation, thus causing increased melting.  (Source:  “Weathering Climate Change” by Hugh Ross) Due to exploding energy needs in China this year, coal prices have experienced an unprecedented surge.  Despite this stunning rise, Chinese authorities have instructed its power providers to obtain coal, and other baseload energy sources, such as liquified natural gas (LNG), regardless of cost.  Notwithstanding how pricey coal has become, its usage in China was up 15% in the first half of this year vs the first half of 2019 (which was obviously not Covid impacted). Despite the polluting impact of heavy coal utilization, China is unlikely to turn away from it due to its high energy density (unlike renewables), its low cost (usually) and its abundance within its own borders (though its demand is so great that it still needs to import vast amounts).  Regarding oil, as we saw in last week’s final image, it is currently importing roughly 11 million barrels per day (bpd) to satisfy its 15 million bpd consumption (about 15% of total global demand).  In other words, crude imports amount to almost three-quarter of its needs.  At $80 oil, this totals $880 million per day or approximately $320 billion per year.  Imagine what China’s trade surplus would look like without its oil import bill! Ironically, given the current hostility between the world’s superpowers, China has an affinity for US oil because of its light and easy-to-refine nature.  China’s refineries tend to be low-grade and unable to efficiently process heavier grades of crude, unlike the US refining complex which is highly sophisticated and prefers heavy oil such as from Canada and Venezuela—back when the latter actually produced oil. Thus, China favors EVs because they can be de facto coal-powered, lessening its dangerous reliance on imported oil.  It also likes them due to the fact it controls 80% of the lithium ion battery supply and 60% of the planet’s rare earth minerals, both of which are essential to power EVs.     However, even for China, mining enough lithium, cobalt, nickel, copper, aluminum and the other essential minerals/metals to meet the ambitious goals of largely electrifying new vehicle volumes is going to be extremely daunting.  This is in addition to mass construction of wind farms and enormously expanded solar panel manufacturing. As one of the planet’s leading energy authorities Daniel Yergin writes: “With the move to electric cars, demand for critical minerals will skyrocket (lithium up 4300%, cobalt and nickel up 2500%), with an electric vehicle using 6 times more minerals than a conventional car and a wind turbine using 9 times more minerals than a gas-fueled power plant.  The resources needed for the ‘mineral-intensive energy system’ of the future are also highly concentrated in relatively few countries. Whereas the top 3 oil producers in the world are responsible for about 30 percent of total liquids production, the top 3 lithium producers control more than 80% of supply. China controls 60% of rare earths output needed for wind towers; the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 70% of the cobalt required for EV batteries.” As many have noted, the environmental impact of immensely ramping up the mining of these materials is undoubtedly going to be severe.  Michael Shellenberger, a life-long environmental activist, has been particularly vociferous in his condemnation of the dominant view that only renewables can solve the global energy needs.  He’s especially critical of how his fellow environmentalists resorted to repetitive deception, in his view, to undercut nuclear power in past decades.  By leaving nuke energy out of the solution set, he foresees a disastrous impact on the planet due to the massive scale (he’d opine, impossibly massive) of resource mining that needs to occur.  (His book, “Apocalypse Never”, is also one I highly recommend; like Dr. Koonin, he hails from the left end of the political spectrum.) Putting aside the environmental ravages of developing rare earth minerals, when you have such high and rapidly rising demand colliding with limited supply, prices are likely to go vertical.  This will be another inflationary “forcing”, a favorite term of climate scientists, caused by the Great Green Energy Transition. Moreover, EVs are very semiconductor intensive.  With semis already in seriously short supply, this is going to make a gnarly situation even gnarlier.  It’s logical to expect that there will be recurring shortages of chips over the next decade for this reason alone (not to mention the acute need for semis as the “internet of things” moves into primetime).  In several of the newsletters I’ve written in recent years, I’ve pointed out the present vulnerability of the US electric grid.  Yet, it will be essential not just to keep it from breaking down under its current load; it must be drastically enhanced, a Herculean task. For one thing, it is excruciatingly hard to install new power lines. As J.P. Morgan’s Michael Cembalest has written: “Grid expansion can be a hornet’s nest of cost, complexity and NIMBYism*, particularly in the US.”  The grid’s frailty, even under today’s demands (i.e., much less than what lies ahead as millions of EVs plug into it) is particularly obvious in California.  However, severe winter weather in 2021 exposed the grid weakness even in energy-rich Texas, which also has a generally welcoming attitude toward infrastructure upgrading and expansion. Yet it’s the Golden State, home to 40 million Americans and the fifth largest economy in the world, if it was its own country (which it occasionally acts like it wants to be), that is leading the charge to EVs and seeking to eliminate internal combustion engines (ICEs) as quickly as possible.  Even now, blackouts and brownouts are becoming increasingly common.  Seemingly convinced it must be a role model for the planet, it’s trying desperately to reduce its emissions, which are less than 1%, of the global total, at the expense of rendering its energy system more similar to a developing country.  In addition to very high electricity costs per kilowatt hour (its mild climate helps offset those), it also has gasoline prices that are 77% above the national average.  *NIMBY stands for Not In My Back Yard. While California has been a magnet for millions seeking a better life for 150 years, the cost of living is turning the tide the other way.  Unreliable and increasingly expensive energy is likely to intensify that trend.  Combined with home prices that are more than double the US median–$800,000!–California is no longer the land of milk and honey, unless, to slightly paraphrase Woody Guthrie about LA, even back in the 1940s, you’ve got a whole lot of scratch.  More and more people, seem to be scratching California off their list of livable venues.  Voters in the reliably blue state of California may become extremely restive, particularly as they look to Asia and see new coal plants being built at a fever pitch.  The data will become clear that as America keeps decarbonizing–as it has done for 30 years mostly due to the displacement of coal by gas in the US electrical system—Asia will continue to go the other way.  (By the way, electricity represents the largest share of CO2 emission at roughly 25%.)  California has always seemed to lead social trends in this country, as it is doing again with its green energy transition.  The objective is noble though, extremely ambitious, especially the timeline.  As it brings its power paradigm to the rest of America, especially its frail grid, it will be interesting to see how voters react in other states as the cost of power leaps higher and its dependability heads lower.  It’s reasonable to speculate we may be on the verge of witnessing the Californication of the US energy system.  Lest you think I’m being hyperbolic, please be aware the IEA (International Energy Agency) has estimated it will cost the planet $5 trillion per year to achieve Net Zero emissions.  This is compared to global GDP of roughly $85 trillion. According to BloombergNEF, the price tag over 30 years, could be as high as $173 trillion.  Frankly, based on the history of gigantic cost overruns on most government-sponsored major infrastructure projects, I’m inclined to take the over—way over—on these estimates. Moreover, energy consulting firm T2 and Associates, has guesstimated electrifying just the US to the extent necessary to eliminate the direct consumption of fuel (i.e., gasoline, natural gas, coal, etc.) would cost between $18 trillion and $29 trillion.  Again, taking into account how these ambitious efforts have played out in the past, I suspect $29 trillion is light.  Regardless, even $18 trillion is a stunner, despite the reality we have all gotten numb to numbers with trillions attached to them.  For perspective, the total, already terrifying, level of US federal debt is $28 trillion. Regardless, as noted last week, the probabilities of the Great Green Energy Transition happening are extremely high.  Relatedly, I believe the likelihood of the Great Greenflation is right up there with them.  As Gavekal’s Didier Darcet wrote in mid-August:  ““Nowadays, and this is a great first in history, governments will commit considerable financial resources they do not have in the extraction of very weakly concentrated energy.” ( i.e., less efficient)  “The bet is very risky, and if it fails, what next?  The modern economy would not withstand expensive energy, or worse, lack of energy.”  While I agree this an historical first, it’s definitely not great (with apologies for all the “greats”).  This is particularly not great for keeping inflation subdued, as well as for attempting to break out of the growth quagmire the Western world has been in for the last two decades.  What we are seeing in Europe right now is an extremely cautionary case study in just how disastrous the war on fossil fuels can be (shortly we will see who or what has been a behind-the-scenes participant in this conflict). Essentially, I believe, as I’ve written in past EVAs, we are entering the third energy crisis of the last 50 years.  If I’m right, it will be characterized by recurring bouts of triple-digit oil prices in the years to come.  Along with Richard Nixon taking the US off the gold standard in 1971, the high inflation of the 1970s was caused by the first two energy crises (the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo and the 1979 Iranian Revolution).  If I’m correct about this being the third, it’s coming at a most inopportune time with the US in hyper-MMT* mode. Frankly, I believe many in the corridors of power would like to see oil trade into the $100s, and natural gas into the teens, as it will help catalyze the shift to renewable energy.  But consumers are likely to have a much different reaction—potentially, a violently different reaction, as I noted last week.  The experience of the Yellow Vest protests in France (referring to the color of the vest protestors wore), are instructive in this regard.  France is a generally left-leaning country.  Despite that, a proposed fuel surtax in November 2018 to fund a renewable energy transition triggered such widespread civil unrest that French president Emmanuel Macron rescinded it the following month. *MMT stands for Modern Monetary Theory.  It holds that a government, like the US, which issues debt in its own currency can spend without concern about budgetary constraints.  If there are not enough buyers of its bonds at acceptable interest rates, that nation’s central bank (the Fed, in our case) simply acquires them with money it creates from its digital printing press.  This is what is happening today in the US.  Many economists consider this highly inflationary. The sharp and politically uncomfortable rise in US gas pump prices this summer caused the Biden administration to plead with OPEC to lift its volume quotas.  The ironic implication of that exhortation was glaringly obvious, as was the inefficiency and pollution consequences of shipping oil thousands of miles across the Atlantic.  (Oil tankers are a significant source of emissions.)  This is as opposed to utilizing domestic oil output, as well as crude from Canada (which is actually generally better suited to the US refining complex).  Beyond the pollution aspect, imported oil obviously worsens America’s massive trade deficit (which would be far more massive without the six million barrels per day of domestic oil volumes that the shale revolution has provided) and costs our nation high-paying jobs. Further, one of my other big fears is that the West is engaging in unilateral energy disarmament.  Russia and China are likely the major beneficiaries of this dangerous scenario.  Per my earlier comment about a stealth combatant in the war on fossil fuels, it may surprise you that a past NATO Secretary General* has accused Russian intelligence of avidly supporting the anti-fracking movements in Western Europe.  Russian TV has railed against fracking for years, even comparing it to pedophilia (certainly, a most bizarre analogy!).  The success of the anti-fracking movement on the Continent has essentially prevented a European version of America’s shale miracles (the UK has the potential to be a major shale gas producer).  Consequently, the European Union’s domestic natural gas production has been in a rapid decline phase for years.  Banning fracking has, of course, made Europe heavily reliant on Russian gas shipments with more than 40% of its supplies coming from Russia. This is in graphic contrast to the shale output boom in the US that has not only made us natural gas self-sufficient but also an export powerhouse of liquified natural gas (LNG).  In 2011, the Nord Stream system of pipelines running under the Baltic Sea from northern Russia began delivering gas west from northern Russia to the German coastal city of Greifswald.  For years, the Russians sought to build a parallel system with the inventive name of Nord Stream 2.  The US government opposed its approval on security grounds but the Biden administration has dropped its opposition.  It now appears Nord Stream 2 will happen, leaving Europe even more exposed to Russian coercion.  Is it possible the Russian government and the Chinese Communist Party have been secretly and aggressively supporting the anti-fossil fuel movements in America?  In my mind, it seems not only possible but probable.  In fact, I believe it is naïve not to come that conclusion.  After all, wouldn’t it be in both of their geopolitical interests to see the US once again caught in a cycle of debilitating inflation, ensnared by the twin traps of MMT and the third energy crisis? *Per former NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasumssen:  Russia has “engaged actively with so-called non-governmental organizations—environmental organizations working against shale gas—to maintain Europe’s dependence on imported Russian gas”. Along these lines, I was shocked to listen to a recent podcast by the New Yorker magazine on the topic of “intelligent sabotage”.  This segment was an interview between the magazine’s David Remnick and a Swedish professor, Adreas Malm.  Mr. Malm is the author of a new book with the literally explosive title “How To Blow Up A Pipeline”.   Just as it sounds, he advocates detonating pipelines to inhibit fossil fuel distribution.  Mr. Remnick was clearly sympathetic to his guest but he did ask him about the impact on the poor of driving energy prices up drastically which would be the obvious ramification if his sabotage recommendations were widely followed.  Mr. Malm’s reaction was a verbal shrug of the shoulders and words to the effect that this was the price to pay to save the planet. Frankly, I am appalled that the venerable New Yorker would provide a platform for such a radical and unlawful suggestion.  In an era when people are de-platformed for often innocuous comments, it’s incredible to me this was posted and has not been pulled down.  In my mind, this reflects just how tolerant the media is of attacks on the fossil fuel industry, regardless of the deleterious impact on consumers and the global economy. Surely, there is a far better way of coping with the harmful aspects of fossil fuel-based energy than this scorched earth (literally, in the case of Mr. Malm) approach, which includes efforts to block new pipelines, shut existing ones, and severely restrict US energy production.  In America’s case, the result will be forcing us to unnecessarily and increasingly rely on overseas imports.  (For example, per the Wall Street Journal, drilling permits on federal land have crashed to 171 in August from 671 in April.  Further, the contentious $3.5 trillion “infrastructure” plan would raise royalties and fees high enough on US energy producers that it would render them globally uncompetitive.) Such actions would only aggravate what is already a severe energy shock, one that may be worse than the 1970s twin energy crises.  America has it easy compared to Europe, though, given current US policy trends, we might be in their same heavily listing energy boat soon. Solutions include fast-tracking small modular nuclear plants; encouraging the further switch from burning coal to natural gas (a trend that is, unfortunately, going the other way now, as noted above); utilizing and enhancing carbon and methane capture at the point of emission (including improving tail pipe effluent-reduction technology); enhancing pipeline integrity to inhibit methane leaks; among many other mitigation techniques that recognize the reality the global economy will be reliant on fossil fuels for many years, if not decades, to come.  If the climate change movement fails to recognize the essential nature of fossil fuels, it will almost certainly trigger a backlash that will undermine the positive change it is trying to bring about.  This is similar to what it did via its relentless assault on nuclear power which produced a frenzy of coal plant construction in the 1980s and 1990s.  On this point, it’s interesting to see how quickly Europe is re-embracing coal power to alleviate the energy poverty and rationing occurring over there right now - even before winter sets in.  When the choice is between supporting climate change initiatives on one hand and being able to heat your home and provide for your family on the other, is there really any doubt about which option the majority of voters will select? Tyler Durden Tue, 10/26/2021 - 19:30.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytOct 26th, 2021

A Message To Fauci: You Are In No Position To Dictate The "Greater Good"

A Message To Fauci: You Are In No Position To Dictate The "Greater Good" Authored by Brandon Smith via Alt-Market.us, How does a fraud like Anthony Fauci find himself in the highest paid position in US bureaucracy? Well, Fauci’s career is a rather shocking testament to the reality of our government and our era – The more corrupt you are the more favors and promotions you will receive. Fauci is well known as a shameless opportunist among many within the medical research community. For example, the creator of the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Test, Kary Mullis, had nothing but disdain for Fauci. Mullis was an interesting figure who valued scientific honesty above all else. He often warned that his PCR test could be exploited to inflate infection numbers by identifying remnants of a virus in person’s body without distinguishing whether or not they are actually “infected” (sick). Sadly, his test is no be used in this exact manner today to exaggerate infection rates of the covid-19 virus. In interviews Mullis has referred to Anthony Fauci as a “liar”, arguing that he is a bureaucrat that “doesn’t know anything about anything”. Mullis noted that people like Fauci have an agenda that is outside of the public good, and that they have no problem misrepresenting the science to the populace to achieve their goals. It should also be noted that YouTube has made it their mission to consistently erase any traces of the Mullis interviews mentioning Fauci from their website. It is also not surprising that Fauci’s rampant fear mongering over AIDS in the 1980’s has gone mostly unmentioned by the mainstream media. His claim that 1 in 5 heterosexual Americans would be dead from AIDS by 1990 has been summarily memory-holed and the guy is treated like a scientific genius by the journalistic community in 2021. If there is any justice in this world then Fauci should really go down in history as one of the primary initiators of the Covid pandemic, being that he was the head of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that funded Gain of Function research on corona-viruses at the Wuhan Lab in China. This is the same research that Fauci blatantly lied about to congress on multiple occasions. And, the Wuhan lab is the same lab that evidence suggests was the ground zero source of the Covid-19 outbreak. It is important to note that it was Fauci and the NIH that LIFTED the ban on gain of function research on deadly viruses in 2017, and it was well known around this time that the Level 4 Wuhan lab in China was not secure. If anyone is responsible for global covid deaths, it is Fauci, the Chinese government and anyone else involved in that gain of function research which is primarily used to WEAPONIZE viruses under the guise of creating “therapeutics.” Gain of function research was originally banned under the Biological Weapons Convention which went into effect in 1975, unless it was being used for therapeutics. Now ALL gain of function research that is revealed publicly is labeled as therapeutics even if it is actually designed to produce biological weapons. This is sometimes referred to as “dual use research.” The prevailing narrative continues to be that even if the virus came from the Wuhan lab then it was surely an accident. I continue to believe according to the available evidence that Covid-19 was deliberately released in order to create a global crisis which could then be exploited by the establishment to introduce extreme controls over the populace to the point of medical totalitarianism. But of course, there is no smoking gun to prove this, only common sense. If we take the notorious Event 201 into account things get a little weird. Event 201 was a war game held by the World Economic Forum and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Its claimed purpose was to simulate the effects of a deadly coronavirus pandemic “spread by animals” to humans and to develop the policies governments and their corporate partners should employ to deal with it. Interestingly, this simulation was held in October of 2019, only two months before the REAL THING happened. Nearly every policy suggested by the participants of Event 201 has now been adopted by most governments, including the social media censorship campaign against anyone that questions the origins of the virus and the safety of the experimental mRNA vaccines. Anthony Fauci and friends…. WEF founder Klaus Schwab was quick to announce at the start of the pandemic that Covid-19 was the “perfect opportunity” to launch the “Great Reset”, which is a globalist plan to completely erase free market systems and replace them with a highly centralized socialist framework. The WEF envisions a world in which carbon related power is banned, all financial transactions become digital and are monitored and controlled by central authorities, and they have even suggested that one day people will “own nothing and be happy”. This is a reference to the so-called “shared economy” of the future, where the concept of personal property is abolished and all people will live in communal housing collectives where necessities are rationed or rented out to them by the government. Something must have went wrong with covid, however, because the Event 201 death estimates for such a virus were around 65 million within the first year of the outbreak. This of course never happened with Covid-19. So, the resistance to the mandates has been high, or much higher apparently than the globalists expected. They have been forced to engage in an endless fear campaign for the past 18 months over a virus with a mere 0.26% median death rate. It is a virus that well over 99.7% of all people will survive and it has an extremely low chance of long term effects on those who do actually end up hospitalized. In the majority of states the hospitalization rates are between 10-35 people for every 100,000 people infected. These numbers come from the CDC and the medical establishment at large, yet they are ignored by propagandists like Fauci, just as Fauci has continued to ignore natural immunity as a factor in covid mandates. It might seem bizarre to almost any scientist, doctor and virologist not paid by the government, but Fauci has argued that natural immunity should be ignored when compared to vaccination. Multiple studies from around the world now show that natural immunity is up to 27 times more effective at preventing covid infection than the vaccines, but those with natural immunity are considered a threat to others under the new mandates unless they are also vaxxed. This simply makes no sense from a scientific perspective until you realize that the mandates are not about science, they are about authoritarianism. Fauci is the US front man for a campaign of medical tyranny being imposed in every nation; this is why he does not care about natural immunity. The idea of it is inconvenient to his narrative, so he pretends it is inconsequential. It is perhaps ironic that Fauci himself is becoming inconsequential as he is slowly fading away from the media limelight. I have noticed that ever since the NIH gain of function information was released to the public Fauci has been in the media less prominently. A documentary produced by National Geographic and soon to be distributed by Disney+ portrays the conman as a misunderstood savior and is sure to be a trash fire. That said, it does represent a clear last-ditched effort to save the man’s false reputation. There is a good reason for all of this. Fauci’s distaste for personal freedom has been well documented and is making him extremely unpopular. He even recently argued on CNN in favor of vaccine mandates using this perverse position: “There comes a time when you do have to give up what you consider your individual right of making your own decision for the greater good of society.” Fauci and his globalist ilk can be distilled down to this single mantra: Do as you are told for the greater good. But who gets to determine what the “greater good” is? Isn’t it disturbing that it’s always the same elitists that end up in that position? I know that leftists in particular love the idea of the vaccine mandates and worship Fauci, and they say we skeptics should “listen to the science”, but Fauci is not a scientist, he’s a door-to-door salesman, and as I’ve noted above the REAL science does not support the arguments for forced vaccinations or lockdowns. Hell, I keep asking the same questions on the mandates in these articles and not a single leftists or pro-vax proponent has come up with a valid or logical response, but out of morbid curiosity I would love to see Fauci give his answers: 1) Covid has a median death rate of only 0.26%, so why should we take ANY risk on an experimental mRNA vaccine with no long term testing to prove its safety? 2) Why not give support to the 0.26% of people actually at risk from dying due to covid instead of spending billions of dollars on Big Pharma producing a rushed vaccine that you plan to force on the 99.7% of people who are not at risk? 3) In majority vaccinated countries like Israel, over 60% of covid hospitalizations are fully vaccinated people. The exponential rise of fully vaccinated patients in multiple nations suggests that the vaccines do not work. Why should we take a vaccine that has been proven not to be effective? 4) If you believe the vaccines actually do work despite all evidence to the contrary, then why should vaccinated people fear anything from unvaccinated people? How are we a threat to them? 5) If the vaccines don’t work, then doesn’t this mean the mandates are pointless and the people that are most safe are the people with natural immunity? Shouldn’t we be applauding the naturally immune and encouraging treatment instead of useless vaccination? 6) Since the vaccines actually don’t work according to the data, isn’t it time to stop blindly dismissing treatments like Ivermectin and focus on trials and studies that research these alternatives? Why the vitriolic propaganda campaign to label Ivermectin nothing more than “horse paste” when it is actually a long used Nobel Prize winning treatment for human ailments? Is it because the experimental covid vaccines would lose their emergency authorization status under the FDA if effective treatments exist? 7) Why are government funded scientists so keen on defending Big Pharma to the point of ignoring all data that contradicts their claims? Are you just embarrassed of being wrong, or are you corrupt? 8) Who decided you are qualified to determine what constitutes the “greater good?” Globalists and errand boys like Fauci will never be able to answer these questions without twisting the narrative. They will say “What about the 700,000 dead in the US?” to play on the idea that the freedom minded lack empathy for their fellow man. Of course, around 40% of those deaths are patients from nursing homes with preexisting conditions, so we have no idea if they died from covid or from their previous ailments. Also, millions of people die every year from a plethora of communicable diseases including the flu and pneumonia, and we never tried to lock down the entire country and crush people’s civil rights because of this. If we maintained a running tally of flu and pneumonia deaths year after year as we are doing with covid, then the ever increasing number of bodies would seem just as forbidding. Society cannot function when it is preoccupied with death. Yes, around 0.26% of people die from covid, but life goes on for everyone else. Our freedoms are more important than your irrational fears. Our freedoms are more important than globalist agendas for centralization. Our freedoms ARE the greater good. Without them our society dies, and as our society dies millions more people will die from the inevitable collapse and tyranny that will follow; far more than will ever die from covid. This is why nothing Fauci says has any relevance to us. He is so transparent in his corruption that he might as well be invisible. We will continue to ignore his declarations and admonitions and we will continue to fight back against the vaccine passports and restrictions. When all is said and done, if Fauci, Biden and other globalist puppets try to use force to impose their agenda upon us then there will come a day very soon when they will be held accountable for their crimes against humanity, and then they will wish they were invisible. *  *  * If you would like to support the work that Alt-Market does while also receiving content on advanced tactics for defeating the globalist agenda, subscribe to our exclusive newsletter The Wild Bunch Dispatch.  Learn more about it HERE. Tyler Durden Fri, 10/08/2021 - 23:40.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytOct 8th, 2021

Coronavirus links: flu season

A coronavirus-focused linkfest is still a weekly feature here at Abnormal Returns. Please stay safe and find a vaccination site near you.... BoostersThe full FDA has approved a Pfizer ($PFE)-BioNTech ($BTNX) booster for those over 65 and at high risk of Covid. (cnbc.com)The final CDC decision on boosters will likely include high risk workers. (npr.org)The messaging around boosters has been 'chaotic.' (statnews.com)The definition of fully vaccinated is now going to change. (theatlantic.com)A second J&J ($JNJ) dose further increases protection. (statnews.com)VaccinesPfizer ($PFE)-BioNTech ($BTNX) has filed for an EUA for children 5-11 years old. (statnews.com)Why the Moderna ($MRNA) vaccine is coming out on top. (nytimes.com)Allergic reactions to mRNA vaccinations have been minimal. (sciencedaily.com)A new vaccine is being tested to cover multiple Covid strains in one shot. (businessinsider.com)VaccinationsWe are all likely to get Covid at some point. What matters is if you are vaccinated. (theatlantic.com)Why outreach is needed to reach the remaining unvaccinated population. (washingtonpost.com)Vaccinated individuals with Covid do not spread the virus as the same as the unvaccinated. (theatlantic.com)Why pregnant women should get vaccinated. (washingtonpost.com)The immunocompromised are still struggling in the new world. (wsj.com)ChildrenJust because a vaccine is approved for children doesn't mean parents will get them vaccinated. (theatlantic.com)How doctors can speak with parents reluctant to vaccinate their children. (washingtonpost.com)More testing would allow schools to make better decisions around mitigation. (statnews.com)Schools in a number of states are using weekly testing to stay open. (npr.org)GlobalGlobal vaccinations are ramping up. (marginalrevolution.com)The U.S. is donating another 500 million doses of the Pfizer ($PFE) vaccine overseas. (ft.com)Australia has been unique its willingness to impose Covid restrictions on its populace. (nytimes.com)Combating future pandemics will require more global cooperation. (axios.com)StatesWhy so many Republican governors are coming out against mandates. (washingtonpost.com)West Virginia got off to good start with vaccinations but now lags and Delta cases have surged. (wsj.com)PolicyWhy the U.S. is normalizing its travel restrictions. (theatlantic.com)Post-election the Trump administration largely ignored the accelerating pandemic. (washingtonpost.com)How intelligence agencies can help identify the next pandemic. (wsj.com)TestingWhy rapid Covid tests are more expensive in the U.S. than elsewhere. (wsj.com)CDC made a big error not pushing Covid testing out wide. (reason.com)When you should do an at-home Covid test. (wsj.com)InfluenzaWe should isolate when we have influenza as well. (newscientist.com)What to expect from Covid as the weather cools and people stay inside more. (statnews.com)Other non-Covid viruses are making a comeback. (bbc.com)Antibody treatmentsEli Lilly ($LLY) is trying to catch up to Regneron ($REGN) in the antibody space. (ibj.com)A study shows Remdesivir is effective in keeping high risk Covid patients out of the hospital. (bloomberg.com)TreatmentCovid is delaying care across the country. (nytimes.com)How vaccine mandates could exacerbate the nursing shortage. (npr.org)The story of a Montana hospital that has run out of beds. (khn.org)The cost of Covid care is no longer being waived by insurers. (washingtonpost.com)DataCovid-19 is set to become the most deadly outbreak in recent American history, poised to surpass the estimated U.S. fatalities from the 1918 influenza pandemic. (cnbc.com)The Delta wave is hitting age groups in the U.S. differently, i.e. more middle-aged cases. (bloomberg.com)We're still learning about what drives Covid surges. (vox.com)Weird stuff happens at scale in a pandemic. (theatlantic.com)PodcastsMarc Andreessen, Vineeta Agarwala and Vijay Pande talk with Dr. Scott Gottlieb -- author of the upcoming new book, "Uncontrolled Spread: Why COVID-19 Crushed Us, and How We Can Defeat the Next Pandemic." (a16z.simplecast.com)Dr. Sanjay Gupta talks with former F.D.A. Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb. (omny.fm)Dr. Bapu Jena talks with former FDA director Scott Gottlieb. (freakonomics.com)Earlier on Abnormal ReturnsCoronavirus links: sick societies. (abnormalreturns.com)There's only one way through the pandemic tunnel. (abnormalreturns.com)Why we are eventually going to need digital health passes, i.e. vaccine passports. (abnormalreturns.com)The 'Swiss cheese model' and the importance of avoiding single points of failure in pandemic and life. (abnormalreturns.com)On the challenge of holding two competing thoughts on the pandemic in your head a the same time. (abnormalreturns.com)Mixed mediaSteven Taylor, an Australian psychologist published what would turn out to be a remarkably prophetic book "The Psychology of Pandemics" in 2019. (theguardian.com)How ivermectin came to be a 'miracle cure' for the anti-vax crowd. (npr.org)Nobody is going to ring a bell when the pandemic is over. (vox.com).....»»

Category: blogSource: abnormalreturnsSep 25th, 2021

"Immunity As A Service" - The Snake-Oil Salesmen & The COVID-Zero Con

"Immunity As A Service" - The Snake-Oil Salesmen & The COVID-Zero Con Authored by Julius Ruechel via Julius Ruechel.com, The Snake-Oil Salesmen and the COVID-Zero Con: A Classic Bait-And-Switch for a Lifetime of Booster Shots (Immunity as a Service) If a plumber with a lifetime of experience were to tell you that water runs uphill, you would know he is lying and that the lie is not accidental. It is a lie with a purpose. If you can also demonstrate that the plumber knows in advance that the product he is promoting with that lie is snake oil, you have evidence for a deliberate con. And once you understand what's really inside that bottle of snake oil, you will begin to understand the purpose of the con. One of the most common reasons given for mass COVID vaccinations is the idea that if we reach herd immunity through vaccination, we can starve the virus out of existence and get our lives back. It's the COVID-Zero strategy or some variant of it. By now it is abundantly clear from the epidemiological data that the vaccinated are able to both catch and spread the disease. Clearly vaccination isn't going to make this virus disappear. Only a mind that has lost its grasp on reality can fail to see how ridiculous all this has become.  But a tour through pre-COVID science demonstrates that, from day one, long before you and I had even heard of this virus, it was 100% inevitable and 100% predictable that these vaccines would never be capable of eradicating this coronavirus and would never lead to any kind of lasting herd immunity. Even worse, lockdowns and mass vaccination have created a dangerous set of circumstances that interferes with our immune system's ability to protect us against other respiratory viruses. They also risk driving the evolution of this virus towards mutations that are more dangerous to both the vaccinated and the unvaccinated alike. Lockdowns, mass vaccinations, and mass booster shots were never capable of delivering on any of the promises that were made to the public.  And yet, vaccination has been successfully used to control measles and even to eradicate smallpox. So, why not COVID? Immunity is immunity, and a virus is a virus is a virus, right? Wrong! Reality is far more complicated... and more interesting. This Deep Dive exposes why, from day one, the promise of COVID-Zero can only ever have been a deliberately dishonest shell game designed to prey on a lack of public understanding of how our immune systems work and on how most respiratory viruses differ from other viruses that we routinely vaccinate against. We have been sold a fantasy designed to rope us into a pharmaceutical dependency as a deceitful trade-off for access to our lives. Variant by variant. For as long as the public is willing to go along for the ride.  Exposing this story does not require incriminating emails or whistleblower testimony. The story tells itself by diving into the long-established science that every single virologist, immunologist, evolutionary biologist, vaccine developer, and public health official had access to long before COVID began. As is so often the case, the devil is hidden in the details. As this story unfolds it will become clear that the one-two punch of lockdowns and the promise of vaccines as an exit strategy began as a cynical marketing ploy to coerce us into a never-ending regimen of annual booster shots intentionally designed to replace the natural "antivirus security updates" against respiratory viruses that come from hugs and handshakes and from children laughing together at school. We are being played for fools.  This is not to say that there aren't plenty of other opportunists taking advantage of this crisis to pursue other agendas and to tip society into a full-blown police state. One thing quickly morphs into another. But this essay demonstrates that never-ending boosters were the initial motive for this global social-engineering shell game ― the subscription-based business model, adapted for the pharmaceutical industry. "Immunity as a service".  So, let's dive into the fascinating world of immune systems, viruses, and vaccines, layer by layer, to dispel the myths and false expectations that have been created by deceitful public health officials, pharmaceutical lobbyists, and media manipulators. What emerges as the lies are peeled apart is both surprising and more than a little alarming. “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” - Sherlock Homes”  - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Table of Contents:     Viral Reservoirs: The Fantasy of Eradication     SARS: The Exception to the Rule?     Fast Mutations: The Fantasy of Control through Herd Immunity     Blind Faith in Central Planning: The Fantasy of Timely Doses     Spiked: The Fantasy of Preventing Infection     Antibodies, B-Cells, and T-Cells: Why Immunity to Respiratory Viruses Fades So Quickly     Manufacturing Dangerous Variants: Virus Mutations Under Lockdown Conditions — Lessons from the 1918 Spanish Flu     Leaky Vaccines, Antibody-Dependent Enhancement, and the Marek Effect     Anti-Virus Security Updates: Cross-Reactive Immunity Through Repeated Exposure     The Not-So-Novel Novel Virus: The Diamond Princess Cruise Ship Outbreak Proved We Have Cross-Reactive Immunity     Mother Knows Best: Vitamin D, Playing in Puddles, and Sweaters     The Paradox: Why COVID-Zero Makes People More Vulnerable to Other Viruses     Introducing Immunity as a Service - A Subscription-Based Business Model for the Pharmaceutical Industry (It was always about the money!)     The Path Forward: Neutralizing the Threat and Bullet-Proofing Society to Prevent This Ever Happening Again. *  *  * Viral Reservoirs: The Fantasy of Eradication Eradication of a killer virus sounds like a noble goal. In some cases it is, such as in the case of the smallpox virus. By 1980 we stopped vaccinating against smallpox because, thanks to widespread immunization, we starved the virus of available hosts for so long that it died out. No-one will need to risk their life on the side effects of a smallpox vaccination ever again because the virus is gone. It is a public health success story. Polio will hopefully be next ― we're getting close.  But smallpox is one of only two viruses (along with rinderpest) that have been eradicated thanks to vaccination. Very few diseases meet the necessary criteria. Eradication is hard and only appropriate for very specific families of viruses. Smallpox made sense for eradication because it was a uniquely human virus ― there was no animal reservoir. By contrast, most respiratory viruses including SARS-CoV-2 (a.k.a. COVID) come from animal reservoirs: swine, birds, bats, etc. As long as there are bats in caves, birds in ponds, pigs in mud baths, and deer living in forests, respiratory viruses are only controllable through individual immunity, but it is not possible to eradicate them. There will always be a near-identical cousin brewing in the wings. Even the current strain of COVID is already cheerfully jumping onwards across species boundaries. According to both National Geographic and Nature magazine, 40% of wild deer tested positive for COVID antibodies in a study conducted in Michigan, Illinois, New York, and Pennsylvania. It has also been documented in wild mink and has already made the species jump to other captive animals including dogs, cats, otters, leopards, tigers, and gorillas. A lot of viruses are not fussy. They happily adapt to new opportunities. Specialists, like smallpox, eventually go extinct. Generalists, like most respiratory viruses, never run out of hosts to keep the infection cycle going, forever. As long as we share this planet with other animals, it is extremely deceitful to give anyone the impression that we can pursue any scorched earth policy that can put this genie back in the bottle. With an outbreak on this global scale, it was clear that we were always going to have to live with this virus. There are over 200 other endemic respiratory viruses that cause colds and flus, many of which circulate freely between humans and other animals. Now there are 201. They will be with us forever, whether we like it or not. SARS: The Exception to the Rule? This all sounds well and good, but the original SARS virus did disappear, with public health measures like contact tracing and strict quarantine measures taking the credit. However, SARS was the exception to the rule. When it made the species jump to humans, it was so poorly adapted to its new human hosts that it had terrible difficulty spreading. This very poor level of adaptation gave SARS a rather unique combination of properties: SARS was extremely difficult to catch (it was never very contagious) SARS made people extremely sick. SARS did not have pre-symptomatic spread. These three conditions made the SARS outbreak easy to control through contact tracing and through the quarantine of symptomatic individuals. SARS therefore never reached the point where it circulated widely among asymptomatic community members.  By contrast, by January/February of 2020 it was clear from experiences in China, Italy, and the outbreak on the Diamond Princess cruise ship (more on that story later) that the unique combination of conditions that made SARS controllable were not going to be the case with COVID. COVID was quite contagious (its rapid spread showed that COVID was already well adapted to spreading easily among its new human hosts), most people would have mild or no symptoms from COVID (making containment impossible), and that it was spreading by aerosols produced by both symptomatic and pre-symptomatic people (making contact tracing a joke). In other words, it was clear by January/February 2020 that this pandemic would follow the normal rules of a readily transmissible respiratory epidemic, which cannot be reined in the way SARS was. Thus, by January/February of 2020, giving the public the impression that the SARS experience could be replicated for COVID was a deliberate lie - this genie was never going back inside the bottle. Fast Mutations: The Fantasy of Control through Herd Immunity Once a reasonably contagious respiratory virus begins circulating widely in a community, herd immunity can never be maintained for very long. RNA respiratory viruses (such as influenza viruses, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), rhinoviruses, and coronaviruses) all mutate extremely fast compared to viruses like smallpox, measles, or polio. Understanding the difference between something like measles and a virus like COVID is key to understanding the con that is being perpetrated by our health institutions. Bear with me here, I promise not to get too technical. All viruses survive by creating copies of themselves. And there are always a lot of "imperfect copies" — mutations — produced by the copying process itself. Among RNA respiratory viruses these mutations stack up so quickly that there is rapid genetic drift, which continually produces new strains. Variants are normal. Variants are expected. Variants make it virtually impossible to build the impenetrable wall of long-lasting herd immunity required to starve these respiratory viruses out of existence. That's one of several reasons why flu vaccines don't provide long-lasting immunity and have to be repeated annually ― our immune system constantly needs to be updated to keep pace with the inevitable evolution of countless unnamed "variants."  This never-ending conveyor belt of mutations means that everyone's immunity to COVID was always only going to be temporary and only offer partial cross-reactive protection against future re-infections. Thus, from day one, COVID vaccination was always doomed to the same fate as the flu vaccine ― a lifelong regimen of annual booster shots to try to keep pace with "variants" for those unwilling to expose themselves to the risk of a natural infection. And the hope that by the time the vaccines (and their booster shots) roll off the production line, they won't already be out of date when confronted by the current generation of virus mutations.  Genetic drift caused by mutations is much slower in viruses like measles, polio, or smallpox, which is why herd immunity can be used to control these other viruses (or even eradicate them as in the case of smallpox or polio). The reason the common respiratory viruses have such rapid genetic drift compared to these other viruses has much less to do with how many errors are produced during the copying process and much more to do with how many of those "imperfect" copies are actually able to survive and produce more copies.  A simple virus with an uncomplicated attack strategy for taking over host cells can tolerate a lot more mutations than a complex virus with a complicated attack strategy. Complexity and specialization put limits on how many of those imperfect copies have a chance at becoming successful mutations. Simple machinery doesn't break down as easily if there is an imperfection in the mechanical parts. Complicated high-tech machinery will simply not work if there are even minor flaws in precision parts. For example, before a virus can hijack the DNA of a host cell to begin making copies of itself, the virus needs to unlock the cell wall to gain entry. Cellular walls are made of proteins and are coated by sugars; viruses need to find a way to create a doorway through that protein wall. A virus like influenza uses a very simple strategy to get inside ― it locks onto one of the sugars on the outside of the cell wall in order to piggyback a ride as the sugar is absorbed into the cell (cells use sugar as their energy source). It's such a simple strategy that it allows the influenza virus to go through lots of mutations without losing its ability to gain entry to the cell. Influenza's simplicity makes it very adaptable and allows many different types of mutations to thrive as long as they all use the same piggyback entry strategy to get inside host cells. By contrast, something like the measles virus uses a highly specialized and very complicated strategy to gain entry to a host cell. It relies on very specialized surface proteins to break open a doorway into the host cell. It's a very rigid and complex system that doesn't leave a lot of room for errors in the copying process. Even minor mutations to the measles virus will cause changes to its surface proteins, leaving it unable to gain access to a host cell to make more copies of itself. Thus, even if there are lots of mutations, those mutations are almost all evolutionary dead ends, thus preventing genetic drift. That's one of several reasons why both a natural infection and vaccination against measles creates lifetime immunity ― immunity lasts because new variations don't change much over time.  Most RNA respiratory viruses have a high rate of genetic drift because they all rely on relatively simple attack strategies to gain entry to host cells. This allows mutations to stack up quickly without becoming evolutionary dead ends because they avoid the evolutionary trap of complexity.  Coronaviruses use a different strategy than influenza to gain access to host cells. They have proteins on the virus surface (the infamous S-spike protein, the same one that is mimicked by the vaccine injection), which latches onto a receptor on the cell surface (the ACE2 receptor) ― a kind of key to unlock the door. This attack strategy is a little bit more complicated than the system used by influenza, which is probably why genetic drift in coronaviruses is slightly slower than in influenza, but it is still a much much simpler and much less specialized system than the one used by measles. Coronaviruses, like other respiratory viruses, are therefore constantly producing a never-ending conveyor belt of "variants" that make long-lasting herd immunity impossible. Variants are normal. The alarm raised by our public health authorities about "variants" and the feigned compassion of pharmaceutical companies as they rush to develop fresh boosters capable of fighting variants is a charade, much like expressing surprise about the sun rising in the East. Once you got immunity to smallpox, measles, or polio, you had full protection for a few decades and were protected against severe illness or death for the rest of your life. But for fast-mutating respiratory viruses, including coronaviruses, within a few months they are sufficiently different that your previously acquired immunity will only ever offer partial protection against your next exposure. The fast rate of mutation ensures that you never catch the exact same cold or flu twice, just their closely related constantly evolving cousins. What keeps you from feeling the full brunt of each new infection is cross-reactive immunity, which is another part of the story of how you are being conned, which I will come back to shortly.  Blind Faith in Central Planning: The Fantasy of Timely Doses But let's pretend for a moment that a miraculous vaccine could be developed that could give us all 100% sterilizing immunity today. The length of time it takes to manufacture and ship 8 billion doses (and then make vaccination appointments for 8 billion people) ensures that by the time the last person gets their last dose, the never-ending conveyor belt of mutations will have already rendered the vaccine partially ineffective. True sterilizing immunity simply won't ever happen with coronaviruses. The logistics of rolling out vaccines to 8 billion people meant that none of our vaccine makers or public health authorities ever could have genuinely believed that vaccines would create lasting herd immunity against COVID. So, for a multitude of reasons, it was a deliberate lie to give the public the impression that if enough people take the vaccine, it would create lasting herd immunity. It was 100% certain, from day one, that by the time the last dose is administered, the rapid evolution of the virus would ensure that it would already be time to start thinking about booster shots. Exactly like the flu shot. Exactly the opposite of a measles vaccine. Vaccines against respiratory viruses can never provide anything more than a temporary cross-reactive immunity "update" ― they are merely a synthetic replacement for your annual natural exposure to the smorgasbord of cold and flu viruses. Immunity as a service, imposed on society by trickery. The only question was always, how long between booster shots? Weeks, months, years?  Feeling conned yet? Spiked: The Fantasy of Preventing Infection The current crop of COVID vaccines was never designed to provide sterilizing immunity - that's not how they work. They are merely a tool designed to teach the immune system to attack the S-spike protein, thereby priming the immune system to reduce the severity of infection in preparation for your inevitable future encounter with the real virus. They were never capable of preventing infection, nor of preventing spread. They were merely designed to reduce your chance of being hospitalized or dying if you are infected. As former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who is on Pfizer’s board, said: "the original premise behind these vaccines were [sic] that they would substantially reduce the risk of death and severe disease and hospitalization. And that was the data that came out of the initial clinical trials.” Every first-year medical student knows that you cannot get herd immunity from a vaccine that does not stop infection.  In other words, by their design, these vaccines can neither stop you from catching an infection nor stop you from transmitting the infection to someone else. They were never capable of creating herd immunity. They were designed to protect individuals against severe outcomes if they choose to take them - a tool to provide temporary focused protection for the vulnerable, just like the flu vaccine. Pushing for mass vaccination was a con from day one. And the idea of using vaccine passports to separate the vaccinated from the unvaccinated was also a con from day one. The only impact these vaccine passports have on the pandemic is as a coercive tool to get you to roll up your sleeve. Nothing more. Antibodies, B-Cells, and T-Cells: Why Immunity to Respiratory Viruses Fades So Quickly There are multiple interconnected parts to why immunity to COVID, or any other respiratory virus, is always only temporary. Not only is the virus constantly mutating but immunity itself fades over time, not unlike the way our brains start forgetting how to do complicated math problems unless they keep practicing. This is true for both immunity acquired through natural infection and immunity acquired through vaccination. Our immune systems have a kind of immunological memory ― basically, how long does your immune system remember how to launch an attack against a specific kind of threat. That memory fades over time. For some vaccines, like diphtheria and tetanus, that immunological memory fades very slowly. The measles vaccine protects for life. But for others, like the flu vaccine, that immunological memory fades very quickly. On average, the flu vaccine is only about 40% effective to begin with. And it begins to fade almost immediately after vaccination. By about 150 days (5 months), it reaches zero. Fading immunity after flu shot (Science, April 18th, 2019) The solution to this strange phenomenon lies in the different types of immune system responses that are triggered by a vaccine (or by exposure to the real thing through a natural infection). This has big implications for coronavirus vaccines, but I'll get to that in a moment. First a little background information... A good analogy is to think of our immune system like a medieval army. The first layer of protection began with generalists - guys armed with clubs that would take a swing at everything - they were good for keeping robbers and brigands at bay and for conducting small skirmishes. But if the attack was bigger, then these generalists were quickly overwhelmed, serving as arrow fodder to blunt the attack on the more specialized troops coming up behind them. Spearmen, swordsmen, archers, cavalry, catapult operators, siege tower engineers, and so on. Each additional layer of defense has a more expensive kit and takes ever greater amounts of time to train (an English longbowman took years to build up the necessary skill and strength to become effective). The more specialized a troop is, the more you want to hold them back from the fight unless it's absolutely necessary because they are expensive to train, expensive to deploy, and make a bigger mess when they fight that needs to be cleaned up afterwards. Always keep your powder dry. Send in the arrow fodder first and slowly ramp up your efforts from there. Our immune system relies on a similar kind of layered system of defense. In addition to various non-specific rapid response layers that take out the brigands, like natural killer cells, macrophages, mast cells, and so on, we also have many adaptive (specialized) layers of antibodies (i.e. IgA, IgG, IgM immunoglobulin) and various types of highly specialized white blood cells, like B-cells and T-cells. Some antibodies are released by regular B-cells. Others are released by blood plasma. Then there are memory B-cells, which are capable of remembering previous threats and creating new antibodies long after the original antibodies fade away. And there are various types of T-cells (again with various degrees of immunological memory), like natural killer T-cells, killer T-cells, and helper T-cells, all of which play various roles in detecting and neutralizing invaders. In short, the greater the threat, the more troops are called into the fight. This is clearly a gross oversimplification of all the different interconnected parts of our immune system, but the point is that a mild infection doesn't trigger as many layers whereas a severe infection enlists the help of deeper layers, which are slower to respond but are much more specialized in their attack capabilities. And if those deeper adaptive layers get involved, they are capable of retaining a memory of the threat in order to be able to mount a quicker attack if a repeat attack is recognized in the future. That's why someone who was infected by the dangerous Spanish Flu in 1918 might still have measurable T-cell immunity a century later but the mild bout of winter flu you had a couple of years ago might not have triggered T-cell immunity, even though both may have been caused by versions of the same H1N1 influenza virus. As a rule of thumb, the broader the immune response, the longer immunological memory will last. Antibodies fade in a matter of months, whereas B-cell and T-cell immunity can last a lifetime. Another rule of thumb is that a higher viral load puts more strain on your immune defenses, thus overwhelming the rapid response layers and forcing the immune system to enlist the deeper adaptive layers. That's why nursing homes and hospitals are more dangerous places for vulnerable people than backyard barbeques. That's why feedlot cattle are more vulnerable to viral diseases than cattle on pasture. Viral load matters a lot to how easily the generalist layers are overwhelmed and how much effort your immune system has to make to neutralize a threat. Where the infection happens in the body also matters. For example, an infection in the upper respiratory tract triggers much less involvement from your adaptive immune system than when it reaches your lungs. Part of this is because your upper respiratory tract is already heavily preloaded with large numbers of generalist immunological cells that are designed to attack germs as they enter, which is why most colds and flus never make it deeper into the lungs. The guys with the clubs are capable of handling most of the threats that try to make through the gate. Most of the specialized troops hold back unless they are needed. Catching a dangerous disease like measles produces lifetime immunity because an infection triggers all the deep layers that will retain a memory of how to fight off future encounters with the virus. So does the measles vaccine. Catching a cold or mild flu generally does not.  From an evolutionary point of view, this actually makes a lot of sense. Why waste valuable resources developing long-lasting immunity (i.e. training archers and building catapults) to defend against a virus that did not put you in mortal danger. A far better evolutionary strategy is to evolve a narrower generalist immune response to mild infections (i.e. most cold and flu viruses), which fades quickly once the threat is conquered, but invest in deep long-term broad-based immunity to dangerous infections, which lasts a very long time in case that threat is ever spotted on the horizon again. Considering the huge number of threats our immune systems face, this strategy avoids the trap of spreading immunological memory too thin. Our immunological memory resources are not limitless - long-term survival requires prioritizing our immunological resources. The take-home lesson is that vaccines will, at best, only last as long as immunity acquired through natural infection and will often fade much faster because the vaccine is often only able to trigger a partial immune response compared to the actual infection. So, if the disease itself doesn't produce a broad-based immune response leading to long-lasting immunity, neither will the vaccine. And in most cases, immunity acquired through vaccination will begin to fade much sooner than immunity acquired through a natural infection. Every vaccine maker and public health official knows this despite bizarrely claiming that the COVID vaccines (based on re-creating the S-protein spike instead of using a whole virus) would somehow become the exception to the rule. That was a lie, and they knew it from day one. That should set your alarm bells ringing at full throttle. So, with this little bit of background knowledge under our belts, let's look at what our public health officials and vaccine makers would have known in advance about coronaviruses and coronavirus vaccines when they told us back in the early Spring of 2020 that COVID vaccines were the path back to normality. From a 2003 study [my emphasis]: "Until SARS appeared, human coronaviruses were known as the cause of 15–30% of colds... Colds are generally mild, self-limited infections, and significant increases in neutralizing antibody titer are found in nasal secretions and serum after infection. Nevertheless, some unlucky individuals can be reinfected with the same coronavirus soon after recovery and get symptoms again." In other words, the coronaviruses involved in colds (there were four human coronaviruses before SARS, MERS, and COVID) all trigger such a weak immune response that they do not lead to any long-lasting immunity whatsoever. And why would they if, for most of us, the threat is so minimal that the generalists are perfectly capable of neutralizing the attack. We also know that immunity against coronaviruses is not durable in other animals either. As any farmer knows well, cycles of reinfection with coronaviruses are the rule rather than the exception among their livestock (for example, coronaviruses are a common cause of pneumonia and various types of diarrheal diseases like scours, shipping fever, and winter dysentery in cattle). Annual farm vaccination schedules are therefore designed accordingly. The lack of long-term immunity to coronaviruses is well documented in veterinary research among cattle, poultry, deer, water buffalo, etc. Furthermore, although animal coronavirus vaccines have been on the market for many years, it is well known that "none are completely efficacious in animals". So, like the fading flu vaccine profile I showed you earlier, none of the animal coronavirus vaccines are capable of providing sterilizing immunity (none were capable of stopping 100% of infections, without which you can never achieve herd immunity) and the partial immunity they offered is well known to fade rather quickly. What about immunity to COVID's close cousin, the deadly SARS coronavirus, which had an 11% case fatality rate during the 2003 outbreak? From a 2007 study: "SARS-specific antibodies were maintained for an average of 2 years... SARS patients might be susceptible to reinfection >3 years after initial exposure."  (Bear in mind that, as with all diseases, re-infection does not mean you are necessarily going to get full-blown SARS; fading immunity after a natural infection tends to offer at least some level of partial protection against severe outcomes for a considerable amount of time after you can already be reinfected and spread it to others - more on that later.) And what about MERS, the deadliest coronavirus to date, which made the jump from camels in 2012 and had a fatality rate of around 35%? It triggered the broadest immune response (due to its severity) and also appears to trigger the longest lasting immunity as a result (> 6yrs) Thus, to pretend that there was any chance that herd immunity to COVID would be anything but short-lived was dishonest at best. For most people, immunity was always going to fade quickly. Just like what happens after most other respiratory virus infections. By February 2020, the epidemiological data showed clearly that for most people COVID was a mild coronavirus (nowhere near as severe than SARS or MERS), so it was virtually a certainty that even the immunity from a natural infection would fade within months, not years. It was also a certainty that vaccination was therefore, at best, only ever going to provide partial protection and that this protection would be temporary, lasting on the order of months. This is a case of false and misleading advertising if there ever was one. If I can allow my farming roots to shine through for a moment, I'd like to explain the implications of what was known about animal coronaviruses vaccines. Baby calves are often vaccinated against bovine coronaviral diarrhea shortly after birth if they are born in the spring mud and slush season, but not if they are born in midsummer on lush pastures where the risk of infection is lower. Likewise, bovine coronavirus vaccines are used to protect cattle before they face stressful conditions during shipping, in a feedlot, or in winter feed pens. Animal coronavirus vaccines are thus used as tools to provide a temporary boost in immunity, in very specific conditions, and only for very specific vulnerable categories of animals. After everything I've laid out so far in this text, the targeted use of bovine coronavirus vaccines should surprise no-one. Pretending that our human coronavirus vaccines would be different was nonsense.  The only rational reason why the WHO and public health officials would withhold all that contextual information from the public as they rolled out lockdowns and held forth vaccines as an exit strategy was to whip the public into irrational fear in order to be able to make a dishonest case for mass vaccination when they should have, at most, been focused on providing focused vaccination of the most vulnerable only. That deception was the Trojan Horse to introduce endless mass booster shots as immunity inevitably fades and as new variants replace old ones.  Now, as all the inevitable limitations and problems with these vaccines become apparent (i.e. fading of vaccine-induced immunity, vaccines proving to only be partially effective, the rise of new variants, and the vaccinated population demonstrably catching and spreading the virus ― a.k.a. the leaky vaccine phenomenon), the surprise that our health authorities are showing simply isn't credible. As I have shown you, all this was 100% to be expected. They intentionally weaponized fear and false expectations to unleash a fraudulent bait-and-switch racket of global proportions. Immunity on demand, forever. Manufacturing Dangerous Variants: Virus Mutations Under Lockdown Conditions — Lessons from the 1918 Spanish Flu At this point you may be wondering, if there is no lasting immunity from infection or vaccination, then are public health officials right to roll out booster shots to protect us from severe outcomes even if their dishonest methods to get us to accept them were unethical? Do we need a lifetime regimen of booster shots to keep us safe from a beast to which we cannot develop durable long-term immunity? The short answer is no.  Contrary to what you might think, the rapid evolution of RNA respiratory viruses actually has several important benefits for us as their involuntary hosts, which protects us without the benefit of broad lifelong immunity. One of those benefits has to do with the natural evolution of the virus towards less dangerous variants. The other is the cross-reactive immunity that comes from frequent re-exposure to closely related "cousins". I'm going to peel apart both of these topics in order to show you the remarkable system that nature designed to keep us safe... and to show you how the policies being forced on us by our public health authorities are knowingly interfering with this system. They are creating a dangerous situation that increases our risk to other respiratory viruses (not just to COVID) and may even push the COVID virus to evolve to become more dangerous to both the unvaccinated and the vaccinated. There are growing signs that this nightmare scenario has already begun.  “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem."  - President Ronald Reagan in 1981. Let's start with the evolutionary pressures that normally drive viruses towards becoming less dangerous over time. A virus depends on its host to spread it. A lively host is more useful than a bedridden or dead one because a lively host can spread the virus further and will still be around to catch future mutations. Viruses risk becoming evolutionary dead ends if they kill or immobilize their hosts. Plagues came, killed, and then were starved out of existence because their surviving hosts had all acquired herd immunity. Colds come and go every year because their hosts are lively, easily spread the viruses around, and never acquire long-lasting immunity so that last year's hosts can also serve as next year's hosts ― only those who have weak immune systems have much to worry about. In other words, under normal conditions, mutations that are more contagious but less deadly have a survival advantage over less contagious and more deadly variations. From the virus' point of view, the evolutionary golden mean is reached when it can easily infect as many hosts as possible without reducing their mobility and without triggering long-term immunity in most of their hosts. That's the ticket to setting up a sustainable cycle of reinfection, forever. Viruses with slow genetic drift and highly specialized reproductive strategies, like polio or measles, can take centuries or longer to become less deadly and more contagious; some may never reach the relatively harmless status of a cold or mild flu virus (by harmless I mean harmless to the majority of the population despite being extremely dangerous to those with weak or compromised immune systems). But for viruses with fast genetic drift, like respiratory viruses, even a few months can make a dramatic difference. Rapid genetic drift is one of the reasons why the Spanish Flu stopped being a monster disease, but polio and measles haven't. And anyone with training in virology or immunology understands this!  We often speak of evolutionary pressure as though it forces an organism to adapt. In reality, a simple organism like a virus is utterly blind to its environment — all it does is blindly produce genetic copies of itself. "Evolutionary pressure" is actually just a fancy way of saying that environmental conditions will determine which of those millions of copies survives long enough to produce even more copies of itself.  A human adapts to its environment by altering its behaviour (that's one type of adaptation). But the behaviour of a single viral particle never changes. A virus "adapts" over time because some genetic copies with one set of mutations survive and spread faster than other copies with a different set of mutations. Adaptation in viruses has to be seen exclusively through the lens of changes from one generation of virus to the next based on which mutations have a competitive edge over others. And that competitive edge will vary depending on the kinds of environmental conditions a virus encounters. So, fear mongering about the Delta variant being even more contagious leaves out the fact that this is exactly what you would expect as a respiratory virus adapts to its new host species. We would expect new variants to be more contagious but less deadly as the virus fades to become just like the other 200+ respiratory viruses that cause common colds and flus.  That's also why the decision to lock down the healthy population is so sinister. Lockdowns, border closures, and social distancing rules reduced spread among the healthy population, thus creating a situation where mutations produced among the healthy would become sufficiently rare that they might be outnumbered by mutations circulating among the bedridden. Mutations circulating among the healthy are, by definition, going to be the least dangerous mutations since they did not make their hosts s.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 25th, 2021