Covid-19 News

  • A. Kerala is the oldest of the Indian provinces, median age 31.9, Uttar Pradesh is the 2nd youngest, average age 21.5

    Your are such a dumb fool! Guess who gets most infected by delta?? Age 10..45 ... perfect match with U.P..

    A. Yes there is, actually. Kerala has been doing great, and looks bad because it is doing great...

    I've never read a more nonsensical citation. I believe you already feel some vaccine damage...

    This is what the FM maifa guys of BBC tell the public::

    This, many believe, proves that Kerala has done an admirable job in controlling the spread of coronavirus unlike the rest of India.

    Fact: The vaccine terrorists denied the public a free, better and longer lasting "vaccination" by a natural infection you just treat with Ivermectin!

    Only the poor state of Uttar Pradesh can afford Ivermectin...

    There are so many differences other than ivermectin, don't you think?

    Desperation has caught you. You never can be wrong.

    33 Million Idiots of Kerala tolerate a vaccine terror regime that is the outstanding highlight of India's medical treatment. Highest death rate of India. Outstanding highest case rate. Forbids the only working treatment, but allows the use of Gilead crap Remdesivir.


  • Aran’s message for the United States and other wealthier nations considering boosters is stark: “Do not think that the boosters are the solution.”

    A grim warning from Israel: Vaccination blunts, but does not defeat Delta

    A grim warning from Israel: Vaccination blunts, but does not defeat Delta
    With early vaccination and outstanding data, country is the world’s real-life COVID-19 lab

    Now is a critical time,” Israeli Minister of Health Nitzan Horowitz said as the 56-year-old got a COVID-19 booster shot on 13 August, the day his country became the first nation to offer a third dose of vaccine to people as young as age 50. “We’re in a race against the pandemic.”

    His message was meant for his fellow Israelis, but it is a warning to the world. Israel has among the world’s highest levels of vaccination for COVID-19, with 78% of those 12 and older fully vaccinated, the vast majority with the Pfizer vaccine. Yet the country is now logging one of the world’s highest infection rates, with nearly 650 new cases daily per million people. More than half are in fully vaccinated people, underscoring the extraordinary transmissibility of the Delta variant and stoking concerns that the benefits of vaccination ebb over time.

    The sheer number of vaccinated Israelis means some breakthrough infections were inevitable, and the unvaccinated are still far more likely to end up in the hospital or die. But Israel’s experience is forcing the booster issue onto the radar for other nations, suggesting as it does that even the best vaccinated countries will face a Delta surge.

    This is a very clear warning sign for the rest of world,” says Ran Balicer, chief innovation officer at Clalit Health Services (CHS), Israel’s largest health maintenance organization (HMO). “If it can happen here, it can probably happen everywhere.”

    Israel is being closely watched now because it was one of the first countries out of the gate with vaccinations in December 2020 and quickly achieved a degree of population coverage that was the envy of other nations— for a time. The nation of 9.3 million also has a robust public health infrastructure and a population wholly enrolled in HMOs that track them closely, allowing it to produce high-quality, real-world data on how well vaccines are working.

    “I watch [Israeli data] very, very closely because it is some of the absolutely best data coming out anywhere in the world,” says David O’Connor, a viral sequencing expert at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. “Israel is the model,” agrees Eric Topol, a physician-scientist at Scripps Research. “It’s pure mRNA [messenger RNA] vaccines. It’s out there early. It’s got a very high level population [uptake]. It’s a working experimental lab for us to learn from.”

    Israel’s HMOs, led by CHS and Maccabi Healthcare Services (MHS), track demographics, comorbidities, and a trove of coronavirus metrics on infections, illnesses, and deaths. “We have rich individual-level data that allows us to provide real-world evidence in near–real time,” Balicer says. (The United Kingdom also compiles a wealth of data. But its vaccination campaign ramped up later than Israel’s, making its current situation less reflective of what the future may portend; and it has used three different vaccines, making its data harder to parse.)

    Now, the effects of waning immunity may be beginning to show in Israelis vaccinated in early winter; a preprint published last month by scientists at MHS found that protection from COVID-19 infection during June and July dropped in proportion to the length of time since an individual was vaccinated. People vaccinated in January had a 2.26 times greater risk for a breakthrough infection than those vaccinated in April. (Potential confounders include the fact that the very oldest Israelis, with the weakest immune systems, were vaccinated first.)

    At the same time, cases in the country, which were scarcely registering at the start of summer, have been doubling every week to 10 days since then, with the Delta variant responsible for most of them. They have now soared to their highest level since mid-February, with hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions beginning to follow. How much of the current surge is due to waning immunity versus the power of the Delta variant to spread like wildfire is uncertain.

    What is clear is that “breakthrough” cases are not the rare events the term implies. As of 15 August, 514 Israelis were hospitalized with severe or critical COVID-19, a 31% increase from just 4 days earlier. Of the 514, 59% were fully vaccinated. Of the vaccinated, 87% were 60 or older. “There are so many breakthrough infections that they dominate and most of the hospitalized patients are actually vaccinated,” says Uri Shalit, a bioinformatician at the Israel Institute of Technology (Technion) who has consulted on COVID-19 for the government. “One of the big stories from Israel [is]: ‘Vaccines work, but not well enough.’”

    “The most frightening thing to the government and the Ministry of Health is the burden on hospitals,” says Dror Mevorach, who cares for COVID-19 patients at Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem and advises the government. At his hospital, he is lining up anesthesiologists and surgeons to spell his medical staff in case they become overwhelmed by a wave like January’s, when COVID-19 patients filled 200 beds. “The staff is exhausted,” he says, and he has restarted a weekly support group for them “to avoid some kind of PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] effect.”

    To try to tame the surge, Israel has turned to booster shots, starting on 30 July with people 60 and older and, last Friday, expanding to people 50 and older. As of Monday, nearly 1 million Israelis had received a third dose, according to the Ministry of Health. Global health leaders including Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, have pleaded with developed countries not to administer boosters given that most of the world’s population hasn’t received even a single dose. The wealthy nations pondering or already administering booster vaccines so far mostly reserve them for special populations such as the immune compromised and health care workers.

    Still, studies suggest boosters might have broader value. Researchers have shown that boosting induces a prompt surge in antibodies, which are needed in the nose and throat as a crucial first line of defense against infection. The Israeli government’s decision to start boosting those 50 and older was driven by preliminary Ministry of Health data indicating people over age 60 who have received a third dose were half as likely as their twice-vaccinated peers to be hospitalized in recent days, Mevorach says. CHS also reported that out of a sample of more than 4500 patients who received boosters, 88% said any side effects from the third shot were no worse, and sometimes milder, than from the second.

    Yet boosters are unlikely to tame a Delta surge on their own, says Dvir Aran, a biomedical data scientist at Technion. In Israel, the current surge is so steep that “even if you get two-thirds of those 60-plus [boosted], it’s just gonna give us another week, maybe 2 weeks until our hospitals are flooded.” He says it’s also critical to vaccinate those who still haven’t received their first or second doses, and to return to the masking and social distancing Israel thought it had left behind—but has begun to reinstate.

    Aran’s message for the United States and other wealthier nations considering boosters is stark: “Do not think that the boosters are the solution.”

  • Blood clotting may be the root cause of Long COVID syndrome, research shows

    Blood clotting may be the root cause of Long COVID syndrome, research shows
    New evidence shows that patients with Long COVID syndrome continue to have higher measures of blood clotting, which may help explain their persistent symptoms,…

    New evidence shows that patients with Long COVID syndrome continue to have higher measures of blood clotting, which may help explain their persistent symptoms, such as reduced physical fitness and fatigue.

    The study, led by researchers from RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences, is published in the Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis.

    Previous work by the same group studied the dangerous clotting observed in patients with severe acute COVID-19. However, far less is known about Long COVID syndrome, where symptoms can last weeks to months after the initial infection has resolved and is estimated to affect millions of people worldwide.

    The researchers examined 50 patients with symptoms of Long COVID syndrome to better understand if abnormal blood clotting is involved.

    They discovered that clotting markers were significantly elevated in the blood of patients with Long COVID syndrome compared with healthy controls. These clotting markers were higher in patients who required hospitalisation with their initial COVID-19 infection, but they also found that even those who were able to manage their illness at home still had persistently high clotting markers.

    The researchers observed that higher clotting was directly related to other symptoms of Long COVID syndrome, such as reduced physical fitness and fatigue. Even though markers of inflammation had all returned to normal levels, this increased clotting potential was still present in Long COVID patients.

    "Because clotting markers were elevated while inflammation markers had returned to normal, our results suggest that the clotting system may be involved in the root cause of Long COVID syndrome," said Dr Helen Fogarty, the study's lead author, ICAT Fellow and PhD student at the Irish Centre for Vascular Biology in the RCSI School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences.

    This work was funded by the Welcome Trust, the Health Research Board (HRB) Irish Clinical Academic Training (ICAT) programme as well as the HRB-funded Irish COVID-19 Vasculopathy Study (ICVS). The work was also supported by a philanthropic grant from the 3M Foundation to RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences in support of COVID-19 research.

    "Understanding the root cause of a disease is the first step toward developing effective treatments," said Professor James O'Donnell, Director of the Irish Centre for Vascular Biology, RCSI and Consultant Haematologist in the National Coagulation Centre in St James's Hospital, Dublin.

    "Millions of people are already dealing with the symptoms of Long COVID syndrome, and more people will develop Long COVID as the infections among the unvaccinated continue to occur. It is imperative that we continue to study this condition and develop effective treatments."

  • McMaster TOGETHER Trial: Ivermectin a No Show While Fluvoxamine Shows Some Promise

    McMaster TOGETHER Trial: Ivermectin a No Show While Fluvoxamine Shows Some Promise
    Recently, McMaster University's Professor Ed Mills, principal investigator of the Together trial, highlighted interim analysis results evidencing no

    Recently, McMaster University’s Professor Ed Mills, principal investigator of the Together trial, highlighted interim analysis results evidencing no impact of ivermectin and some other repurposed study drugs while pointing to some promise for Fluvoxamine. TOGETHER is a randomized, Adaptive Platform trial investigating several possible treatments, including ivermectin. After many therapies disappointed, Fluvoxamine, an SSRI commonly used for depression, showed some promise as a repurposed treatment. The study isn’t completed, as there is still a 28-day monitoring period, but Mills recently presented the findings, which are already making the news rounds. While a disappointment for those tracking Ivermectin studies, those critical of the study raise legitimate points for consideration.

    Dr. Ed Mills presented the study results during an August 6 event sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. Mills led this study that looked into several treatments, from hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir to ivermectin and Fluvoxamine. The trial was led by McMaster University, engaging with trial sites in Brazil. He was supported by Kristian Thorlung from McMaster University and Cytel, Inc. and locally in Brazil by Dr. Gilmur Reis from Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, Brazil.

    Funding for the study originates from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir), Fast Grants (Ivermectin, Metformin and Fluvoxamine), and Rainwater (overall trial infrastructure).

    Trial Site Locations

    In order to enroll as many patients as possible, the study established a network of trial site locations in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, including ten (10) specific sites.

    Summary of Findings

    Mills provided some details early on in their findings covering hydroxychloroquine or lopinavir/ritonavir vs. placebo; Metformin vs. placebo; and ivermectin vs. placebo. The study team found no benefits involving either hydroxychloroquine or the combination of lopinavir/ritonavir on the outcome of hospitalization or standard of emergency care. Mills declared, “it just didn’t make a difference.” Metformin didn’t show any benefit, and thus, they stopped the study after 423 patients. Many observational studies involved this drug early on, showing that people weren’t dying of COVID-19. He suggests it could benefit if on for a long time.

    In regards to the topic of ivermectin, Mills’ point of view is perhaps a little biased given the strong advocacy he has contended with around the world. He suggested in this presentation that perhaps his findings would disappoint those advocates or those in the “dark web” but regales the media attention clearly isn’t warranted to the Canadian professor.

    The study started in January with a randomized single dose of ivermectin versus a single dose match of placebo.

    He reported considerable criticism and ultimately increased the regimen to three days of 400 mcg/kg in 1,500 patients. Ultimately, the data indicate that the study drug didn’t significantly impact the study endpoints—composite ER and hospitalization. The results for ivermectin can be found here at 32:00.

    Mills reported that in this outpatient study, they just didn’t see the benefit that many of the ivermectin advocates were looking for, or thought should have been present.

    As far as Fluvoxamine, Mills saw potential good news with the results here. He noted 10 days worth of Fluvoxamine 200 mg per day costs $4, and thus, if the findings are correct, there is an intervention here at a low price point. They have up to 742 patients to date and 738 in the placebo group. Thus, Mills notes that the interim analysis must now be complete, the ongoing study ended as of the presentation, but the study team must follow up the patients for another 28 days.

    These are preliminary findings, but he doesn’t believe they will change that much but perhaps slightly.

    TrialSite Review

    TrialSite engaged with several researchers and physicians involved with ivermectin to elicit some initial perspective on this study. Although, we emphasize the study hasn’t even been uploaded to the preprint server as of yet. Reviewers need to see the data in its entirety.

    Ivermectin was dosed at initially one day and then three days, while Fluvoxamine was dosed at ten days. A review of ivermectin protocols from the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC) involves considerably longer use of the drug, in that case, off-label use based on a discussion of the risks and rewards and consent between doctor and patient.

    There has been much criticism of Dr. Mills by ivermectin proponents, for example. Still, TrialSite suggests Mills is a straight shooter, ethical and moral, and we don’t believe there was any agenda one way or another. Of course, we have chronicled numerous ivermectin studies that have demonstrated considerable results, and some of us have direct first-hand experience using it as an early treatment option for COVID-19.

    But a number of factors could possibly help explain why ivermectin didn’t show results in Dr. Mills important study, including the following:

    · Note sufficient duration of use—for instance, in a scenario where the study drug was dosed at .6mg/day at 14-day course commencing the first day of symptom onset, the results could have been materially different—but we can only speculate.

    · Virulent variant—note that in Brazil, P1 is apparently strong, and as we have written recently, the FLCCC changes its protocol due to delta’s viral load and effects

    · Early-onset treatments—a consensus of individuals we spoke with is that if one doesn’t treat P1 immediately upon symptoms, then the results may not be there

    · Factoring in local use of ivermectin by participants into exclusion criteria

    · Ensuring endpoints match protocol

    Practicing Physicians and Researchers’ Point of View

    In March of this year, Dr. Ira Bernstein, a family physician in Canada and advocate of early outpatient treatment, corresponded with Dr. Mills. Dr. Bernstein was supportive of the overall design of the trial after reviewing the protocol in detail, with one exception. Bernstein states, “I advised Dr. Mills of my concerns that there was no exclusion criteria for subjects having past exposure to ivermectin. Dr. Mills had indicated there isn’t much ivermectin use in the general community in Brazil and stated that the half-life was so short for ivermectin that it shouldn’t be a major concern. I advised Dr. Mills that ivermectin has longer tissue effects than just the half-life, which explains the prophylactic dosing of ivermectin. Additionally, I have family members who live in the same state of Minas Gerais where the study was being conducted, and who all contracted COVID-19. Eight family members took ivermectin at recommended doses all available without a prescription.” The concern expressed by Dr. Bernstein was that there was a risk of ivermectin contamination in any treatment arm, which has the risk to diminish differences in the treatment and placebo arms, similar to concerns raised in the Lopez study in Colombia. Regrettably, the protocol remained unchanged, and the data will need to be carefully scrutinized.

    TrialSite also spoke with Dr. Pierre Kory, director of the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC), who declared, “We appreciate the insight that the TOGETHER trial has brought to the fore, that a confluence of factors and forces necessitate evolving protocols to ensure Ivermectin continues to have the positive impact we have see to date.” Kory’s point is that TOGETHER contributes knowledge the FLCCC has already factored into their treatment regimen, but the doctor and researcher appreciated Mills and the team for taking on the topic.

    How Studies can Fail

    At least some well-respected researchers and early treatment advocates suggest that ivermectin may have failed in this study due to a combination of factors, including 1) too little a dose, 2) dosing starts too late, 3) not taken with a meal or shortly after, 4) length of continuation (or lack thereof), and 5) in Brazil, many people had already been taking the drug.

    Steve Kirsch’s COVID-19 Early Treatment Fund (CETF) has supported clinical investigations into Fluvoxamine but also supports other therapies such as ivermectin.

    Kirsch’s CETF suggests, “Clinical trials on repurposed drugs should always be tested first on outpatients by physicians who prescribe on a shared decision-making basis. Once a protocol is found to be reliable, then it can be “locked” into a clinical trial for “proof” of efficacy. Sadly we do the opposite, which wastes a lot of time and money. We form a hypothesis and then invest millions to test it out in a large scale trial rather than on an outpatient basis.”

    Some key failure points include Dose, Timing, Treatment Delay, Compliance, Duration, Deception, and many more here.

    Lead Research/Investigator TOMORROW trial

    Ed Mills, Ph.D., FRCP, Professor Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence

  • What is clear is that “breakthrough” cases are not the rare events the term implies. As of 15 August, 514 Israelis were hospitalized with severe or critical COVID-19, a 31% increase from just 4 days earlier. Of the 514, 59% were fully vaccinated. Of the vaccinated, 87% were 60 or older. “There are so many breakthrough infections that they dominate and most of the hospitalized patients are actually vaccinated,”

    Total vaccination% = severely ill patients% ???? !?

    ==> If you are old and at risk may be think about buying some Ivermectin.

    Yesterday Israel had 8720 cases. within a week they will see a new record.

    Switzerland is catching up with about 3000 cases/day but not with 46 deaths as seen on 15 Aug. in Israel.

  • Federal vaccine court hasn't helped those whose lives were altered by COVID-19 shots

    Yahoo ist jetzt Teil von Verizon Media

    Angela Marie Wulbrecht jumped at the first chance to get a COVID-19 vaccine, driving three hours from her home in Santa Rosa to a mass-vaccination site on Jan. 19. Twelve minutes after her Moderna shot, she stumbled into the paramedic tent with soaring blood pressure and a racing heartbeat.

    So began a calvary of severe fatigue, brain fog, imbalance and other symptoms that are still with her eight months later.

    Wulbrecht, 46, had been a nurse for 23 years before the fateful shot. She was healthy, ate a vegan diet and was an accomplished salsa dancer. Since January, she’s had to leave her job and has missed out on many activities with her husband and 12-year-old daughter, Gabriella. She has spent about $35,000 on out-of-pocket medical bills, despite having insurance.

    “I wanted to get vaccinated as soon as I could to help fight the pandemic,” said Wulbrecht, who still supports the vaccination campaign. Her husband got his shots despite her reaction, and Gabriella was scheduled to get her first dose Wednesday. “But it would help those who are hesitant if they took care of those of us who got injured.”

    The options are slim for people who suffer rare life-altering injuries after a COVID-19 shot. It's a problem whose significance is growing as states and the federal government increasingly ponder vaccine mandates.

    A federal program compensates people experiencing vaccine injuries, but not injuries from COVID-19 vaccines — not yet, anyway.

    Such injuries are rare, but “if you’re going to take one for the team, the team has to have your back,” said Katharine Van Tassel, a vaccine law expert at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law in Cleveland. “That’s a moral imperative.”

    Thirty-five years ago, Congress created the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, known as the vaccine court, for children hurt by routine immunizations administered as a condition of school entry. Since it began operations in 1988, the vaccine court has paid more than $4 billion to over 8,000 families who could provide a “preponderance of evidence” that vaccines against diseases like measles and pertussis hurt their kids.

    The court also covers vaccine injuries in pregnant women, and from the flu vaccine. But it does not cover aftereffects from COVID-19 shots.

    A smaller federal program, the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program, addresses illnesses resulting from drugs or vaccines administered during a public health emergency, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. But that program requires evidence that’s harder to pin down, does not pay attorney fees and rules by administrative fiat, while the vaccine court has judges.

    The countermeasures program has yet to pay anything to anyone hurt by a COVID-19 vaccine, and its largely invisible decisions are “an inscrutable enigma,” said Brian Abramson, an expert on vaccine law.

    David Bowman, a spokesperson for the Health Resources & Services Administration in the federal Department of Health and Human Services, said the countermeasures program had a total of seven staff members and contractors and was seeking to hire more. He declined to answer questions about how COVID-19 vaccine claims could be handled in the future.

    In June, a bipartisan group of lawmakers led by Reps. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) and Fred Upton (R-Mich.) introduced legislation to address problems with the original vaccine court, including a two-year backlog of cases. That bill would also increase the pain and suffering or death payments to people who can prove an injury, from $250,000 to $600,000.

    A spokesperson for Doggett said he hoped the bill would eventually allow patients injured by COVID-19 vaccines to get compensation through the vaccine court. But that’s far from guaranteed.

    In general, it is very difficult to prove a vaccine caused an injury that arises after vaccination, since the ailments can be coincidental. But the rare vaccine injury can be devastating to a person’s health and financial resources.

    Wulbrecht, whose care has included five ambulance trips, each billed for $3,000, filed a claim in February with the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program. She got a note acknowledging her claim but hasn’t heard further from the program.

    She’s in a Facebook group created for people reporting grievous COVID-19 vaccine-related neurological issues. It was launched by Dr. Danice Hertz, a retired gastroenterologist in Santa Monica who has been diagnosed post-vaccination with mast cell activation syndrome, a rare condition in which part of the immune system goes haywire.

    Hertz got her first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Dec. 23, shortly after it was authorized by the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use. Within 30 minutes, she suffered terrible numbness and pain in her face and tongue and “felt vibrations going through my whole body,” she said.

    More than 90% of the 150 people in the Facebook group are women, Hertz said. She is careful to keep what she terms anti-vaccine “riffraff” off the list, but she said many of the injured people have been frustrated at being unable to get a diagnosis or find doctors who understand the nature of their injuries.

    Talk of vaccine injuries is sometimes muted in public health circles because of reluctance to feed the anti-vaccine movement and its bogus claims of vaccine injury ranging from infertility to magnetism to microchips secretly implanted by Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

    But rare reactions like the ones Hertz and Wulbrecht report are scattered through the vaccine literature and often attributed to a phenomenon called “molecular mimicry,” in which the immune system responds to an element in the vaccine by attacking similar-looking human proteins. Guillain-Barré syndrome, or GBS, is caused by an immune attack on the nervous system in reaction to a vaccination, and to viral infections. It has been reported after influenza shots, and the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

    Hertz and others have been in contact with Dr. Avindra Nath, chief of clinical medicine at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, whose specialty is the study of immune-modulated neurological illness. Nath said he was studying some of the patients but hadn’t confirmed their illnesses were caused by a COVID-19 vaccine.

    “We have to find these answers, but they aren’t easy to come by,” Nath said. “I know these reactions are rare, because there were 36,000 NIH employees vaccinated against COVID and, if it was common, I could study it here. But I don’t have a single NIH employee” who experienced it.

    Regardless of how common the reactions are, vaccine law specialists worry about the impact of a failure to help those hurt by shots administered before the products gain full FDA approval, which could come this fall.

    Congress created the vaccine court to keep pharmaceutical companies from abandoning production of common childhood vaccines by protecting them from damaging lawsuits, while at the same time offering support for kids hurt by a vaccine.

    The Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program arose as part of the 2005 Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act, and was pushed through to shield drug companies from lawsuits over products like the anthrax and smallpox vaccines, which had a relatively high rate of dangerous side effects. COVID-19 vaccines shouldn’t be in the same category, Van Tassel said.

    The PREP Act is likely to set an almost insurmountable burden of proof for injury compensation, she said. Rewards depend on “compelling, reliable, valid medical and scientific evidence,” which doesn’t exist for COVID-19 vaccines because they are so new.

    But cause and effect appear clear to women like Brianne Dressen, a Saratoga Springs, Utah, preschool teacher who was bedridden for months with neurological symptoms that began after she got an AstraZeneca shot in a clinical trial last November.

    “Vaccines are an important piece of the puzzle to get us through the pandemic,” she said. “But some people are going to draw the short straw with any drug or vaccine, and we need to take care of them.”

    KHN (Kaiser Health News) is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues. Together with Policy Analysis and Polling, KHN is one of the three major operating programs at KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation

  • There has been much criticism of Dr. Mills by ivermectin proponents, for example. Still, TrialSite suggests Mills is a straight shooter, ethical and moral, and we don’t believe there was any agenda one way or another. Of course, we have chronicled numerous ivermectin studies that have demonstrated considerable results, and some of us have direct first-hand experience using it as an early treatment option for COVID-19.

    No, you don't, Mr. TrailSite. What you have is anecdotal evidence. It does not count. Now, suppose you had seen people at death's door who got a dose of ivermectin and were nearly recovered the next day. People -- not just one person. Like a dozen people, or 100 people. One person will sometimes recover with spontaneous remission. 100 people recovering would be meaningful, direct, first-hand experience. A few drugs have that kind of dramatic effect. Penicillin did, so everyone knew it was working. Unfortunately, most drugs have less dramatic effects. They work with some patients, but not so much with others. They help clear up symptoms a few days earlier than no treatment. With a serious illness such as cancer, they may save lives, or prolong life more often than not, but many patients die anyway. So, unfortunately, the only way to know whether most drugs are effective is to conduct a double-blind test with hundreds of patients. With ivermectin, such tests have produced mixed results. Ambiguous results. No one knows whether ivermectin works or not. People who say they do know are engaged in wishful thinking.

    Some drugs clear up symptoms immediately. Anyone can see they are working. Aspirin immediately reduces a fever. A decongestant immediately clears your sinuses. Unfortunately, drugs that are supposed to save critically ill COVID patients do not work as quickly and as obviously as these do, as far as I know, and as far as the double blind tests show.

    Some COVID therapies have shown immediate, replicable, verified benefit. Such as putting patients on their stomachs. That's low tech, but it works. Things like that have reduced case mortality, thank goodness.

    Those "numerous ivermectin studies" that "demonstrated considerable results" did no such thing. Alas, they demonstrated nothing. Because many other studies demonstrated no results. A positive plus a negative equals zero. The question remains unanswered. It may never be answered. A doctor using his or her own best judgement might be justified in using ivermectin, but there is no scientific basis for that judgement. You don't need a scientific basis to be right, but it helps.

  • Researchers develop faster and more sensitive Covid test.

    Researchers from the University of Birmingham, U.K., have confirmed the speed, accuracy and simplicity of a novel, highly sensitive testing method for COVID-19 that can be deployed at entertainment venues, airport arrival terminals, and in remote settings where clinical testing laboratories are not available.

    The scientists used a three way comparison study to confirm that the Exponential Amplification Reaction (EXPAR) method is just as sensitive, but faster, than both PCR and LAMP tests which are currently used in hospital settings. The Birmingham COVID-19 test, called RTF-EXPAR, gives a sample-to-signal time of under 10 minutes, even for low viral levels where current lateral flow tests are less effective.

    Professor Tim Dafforn said: "Both the reverse transcription and amplification steps slow down existing COVID assays that are based on nucleic acid detection, compared to antigen tests, such as lateral flow, which do not have these steps. However, while this makes lateral flow tests faster than those based on PCR and LAMP, in return they are typically less sensitive. An ideal test would be one that is both sufficiently sensitive and speedy—our test, called RTF-EXPAR, achieves this goal.

    RTF-EXPAR achieves this feat in two ways—firstly the assay team designed a new RNA-to-DNA conversion step that avoids reverse transcription, making it reverse transcription-free (RTF). Secondly their amplification step to generate the read-out signal uses EXPAR, an alternative DNA amplification process to PCR and LAMP.

  • Israel records over 8,500 daily COVID infections as serious cases climb to 559

    Monday's tally is highest in current wave; 13 deaths recorded overnight; Labor MK Gilad Kariv hospitalized and getting oxygen at Sheba Medical Center

    Israel records over 8,500 daily COVID infections as serious cases climb to 559 | The Times of Israel

    Israel recorded 8,646 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, a new record in the current outbreak of the Delta variant, as an infected Knesset member was hospitalized and getting oxygen therapy.

    Updated Health Ministry figures Tuesday morning showed there had also been 1,691 additional cases diagnosed since midnight, bringing the total number of cases since the start of the pandemic to 951,226.

    It said 6.2 percent of the 141,972 tests the day before came back positive.

    Active cases stood at 55,323.

    The number of serious patients grew by 28 since midnight and reached 559, including 89 on ventilators. The ministry said serious cases were much more common among the unvaccinated: Among unvaccinated patients aged 60 and up, there were 154.7 serious cases per 100,000 people compared with 19.8 for their vaccinated counterparts.

    There were 13 fatalities recorded overnight, bringing the death toll to 6,694.

    The ministry said 5,855,387 of Israel’s population of 9.3 million had received at least one vaccine dose, 5,421,544 had received at least two, and 1,052,615 had received booster shots, which are only available for those aged 50 and up, healthcare workers and those with immune problems.

    The basic reproduction number, or R0 — representing how many people each virus carrier infects on average — went slightly down to 1.28.

    Meanwhile, Labor MK Gilad Kariv, who contracted COVID-19 despite being fully vaccinated, was hospitalized early Tuesday at Sheba hospital in Tel Hashomer.

    Reports said that Kariv, a Reform rabbi who chairs the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, decided to head to the hospital after his symptoms worsened and after consulting the parliament’s doctor.

    His office said he was receiving oxygen, feeling well and was under medical supervision in the hospital’s coronavirus ward.

    Four other lawmakers caught the virus in the past week: Ofer Cassif (Joint List), Inbar Bezek (Yesh Atid), Simcha Rothman and Itamar Ben Gvir (both Religious Zionism).

    Amid rising cases, Israel last month became the first country in the world to begin administering booster shots to those 60 and over, and was a pioneer once again on Friday as it began giving third doses to people 50 and up.

    The Health Ministry said Sunday that Israel will reimpose caps on gatherings that will restrict attendance at private and public events, as well as rules requiring social distancing in businesses that serve customers in person, including stores and shopping malls.

    The government is determined to avoid ordering what would be the country’s fourth lockdown since the coronavirus pandemic started, and is pushing vaccinations, along with some restrictions, as a way to confront a tide of infections expected before morbidity drops again.

  • Those "numerous ivermectin studies" that "demonstrated considerable results" did no such thing. Alas, they demonstrated nothing. Because many other studies demonstrated no results. A positive plus a negative equals zero.

    I took another look at -- and the RCT trials in particular. Figs 16 (graph) 17 (Table).

    Two studies stand out as "worse with IVM" in the table.

    Shahbaznejad has a strong worse figure 0f -138% .. because of ONE death in the IVM arm in a very small trial (35+35) and a very wide age range (5-85: they break out <18 but not > 60 where the risk increases exponentially.)

    (The one death - with comorbidities - was within 24 hrs of admission -- before IIn the present study, ivermectin was prescribed in combination with hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin, and antivirals such as lopinavir/ritonavir. IVM could be expected to have an effect.).

    Most other factors improved with IVM : the text says "In the present study, shorter times to significant improvement in clinical symptoms and a shorter duration of hospital stay were detected in the ivermectin group."

    Other problems: "In the present study, ivermectin was prescribed in combination with hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin, and antivirals such as lopinavir/ritonavir." The control group omitted IVM, kept the others.


    (15 Low-IVM 15 Hi-IVM 15 No-IVM) shows up as 1 IVM needed ventilation vs 0 control. But their primary study shows clear viral load reduction for hi-dose IVM : "In summary, our findings support the hypothesis that IVM has a concentration dependent antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2 and provides insights into the type of evaluations to be considered in the assessment of antiviral drugs for the control of COVID-19."

    (One of the other negatives .. Vallejo has methodology problems)

    In short, I don't see a clear negative cancelling all the positives.
    (Assuming no selection bias in the papers analyzed).

  • Here is some more precise info from these interim results:

    The Ivermectin camp, as I reported earlier, is heavily peopled by anti-vaccination advocates and conspiracy mongers. They maintain that the truth about the drug has been suppressed by agents of the pharmaceutical industry, which ostensibly prefers to collect the more generous profits that will flow from COVID vaccines.

    The problem, however, is that the scientific trials cited by Ivermectin advocates have been too small or poorly documented to prove their case. One large trial from Egypt that showed the most significant therapeutic effect was withdrawn from its publishers due to accusations of plagiarism and bogus data.

    Nevertheless, the advocates have continued to press their case — without necessarily observing accepted standards of scientific discourse. During the symposium, Mills complained that serious researchers looking into claims for COVID treatments have faced unprecedented abuse from advocates.

    “I’ve had enough abuse and so have the other clinical trialists doing Ivermectin,” he said. “Others working in this area have been threatened, their families have been threatened, they’ve been defamed,” he said.

    “I can think of no circumstances in the past where this kind of abuse has occurred to clinical trialists,” he added. “We need to figure out a system where we have each others’ backs on these issues, because the abuse that certain individuals have received is shocking.” He referred to “accusations” and “swearing,” though he gave no specific examples.

    Mills said that his team’s Ivermectin trial was altered after advocacy groups complained that it was too modest to achieve the results they expected. The trial originally tested the results from a single Ivermectin dose in January this year, but was later changed to involve one daily dose for three days of 400 micrograms of the drug for every kilogram (about 2.2 pounds) of the patients’ weight, up to 90 kilograms.

    Half the subjects received a placebo tablet. No clinical results were detected at either dosage, Mills said.

    Asked whether he expected further criticism from Ivermectin advocates, he said it was all but inevitable. “The advocacy groups have set themselves up to be able to critique any clinical trial. They’ve already determined that any valid, well-designed critical trial was set up to fail.”

    I'm sorry. This study adds to the already strong ivermectin does not work evidence from RCTs. It does not prove no effect - obviously. The limits for hospitalisation (it was underpowered for mortality) would allow relative risk anything between 69% and 119%. So if you thought a possible 10% risk reduction was worth chasing it might be worth continuing this study? But it looks like the appalling bevahiour of some of the pro-ivermectin groups is putting people off from doing suhc trials anyway! No-one is going to want to continue a probably negative trial if they reckon negative results could lead to threats to themselves or their families.

  • You can't trust eyeballing this over a careful meta-analysis with GRADE rating of trials. Since this has been done - best to look at such results. they are inclonclusive. The only positive well-conducted meta-analysis (Bryant) had lead authors active in strong pro-ivermectin advocacy groups - but it looked pretty good. The problem was the assessment of RCT bias where they gave positive assessments to Elgazar and one other study. Those were both large with positive results and tipped the overall results positive for mortality. Although, interestingly, even then they could not find positive results on other indicators - which is a bit weird.

    I would have given their analysis a bit of weight - except for the provable errors in bias estimation. It is not just that Elgazar was shown to have grossly cut-and-pasted data. Both it and the other big positive trial scored badly in the sense that they had a lot of details missing - it is a red flag.

    So: this one study from a pro-ivermectin group needed some highly dubious subjective decisions to get positive meta-analysis results. Others have been negative.

    I don't know whether the list is complete, or whether their headline summaries are correct - but I do not trust that site since it is a strong pro-ivermectin advocacy site.

    No-one has yet proved ivermectin has no effect - you would need very big trials repeated with different dose regimens etc. We have had enough big negative high quality trials now to know that it does not have a strong or medium positive effect (see above).

    You might think that RCTs should be free of bias but unless carefully conducted and registered they can very easily be biassed. The trouble with the IVM evidence is the positive mostly come from people where bias is much more likely for one reason or another.

  • How COVID-19’s origins were obscured, by the East and the West

    How COVID-19’s origins were obscured, by the East and the West - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
    The origins of the Covid-19 pandemic remain obscure. The reasons include a vigorous campaign of concealment by the Chinese authorities and missteps by senior…

    Some 20 months after the Covid-19 pandemic first broke out, its origins remain obscure. A vigorous campaign of concealment by the Chinese authorities is the principal reason. But China received considerable help, strange to say, from senior medical research officials in the United Kingdom and United States who mishandled and effectively derailed the initial inquiry into the virus’s origins.

    The mishandling began at a pivotal teleconference held on February 1, 2020. The organizer was Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, a large medical research charity in London. News of the conference emerged with the release this June of emails from the office of Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Farrar supplied further information in his book Spike, published on July 22.

    The conference was held to discuss the unanimous view of a group of virologists that the SARS2 virus had been manipulated in a lab. Yet within a few days of the meeting, the virologists abruptly reversed their conclusion. The meeting’s participants were later involved in two letters to scientific journals that stated the virus must have emerged naturally and that condemned any suggestion of manipulation as a conspiracy theory. These two letters, to The Lancet and Nature Medicine, shaped the views of the mainstream media for more than a year.

    Letters published by The Lancet and Nature Medicine in early 2020.

    Even today, no one can say for sure whether the SARS2 virus emerged naturally or escaped from a lab. Much less could anyone have been sure back then. If the conferees had stuck to known facts, they would have left the question open to the two hypotheses, and the full exploration of the virus’s origins might not have been sidetracked for over a year.

    More significant, the Chinese government would have found it much harder, if not impossible, to manipulate the World Health Organization (WHO) into setting terms of reference that favored China’s obstructive goals and kept WHO inspectors who visited China this February from accessing records vital to understanding the origin of the pandemic. China now insists those terms of reference cannot be changed, blocking further investigation into the origin of the SARS2 virus. “The two groups that produced the infamous letters in The Lancet and Nature Medicine paved the way for the Chinese government and helped enormously to facilitate all of that,” says Milton Leitenberg, an arms control expert at the University of Maryland. The reversal of the virologists’ conclusion about SARS2’s artificial origin is thus a matter of some significance.

    At 10:32 p.m. on the evening before the February 1 conference, Fauci had received an electrifying memo from Kristian G. Andersen, a virologist at the Scripps Research institute in California. Andersen reported that the virus seemed to be man-made. “The unusual features of the virus make up a really small part of the genome,” he wrote, referring presumably to a genetic component known as a furin cleavage site, which greatly enhances the virus’s infectivity, “so one has to look really closely at all the sequences to see that some of the features (potentially) look engineered.”

    A key email from Kristian Andersen to Anthony Fauci. A key email from Kristian Andersen to Anthony Fauci.

    Andersen went on to note that “after discussions earlier today, Eddie, Bob, Mike and myself all find the genome inconsistent with expectations from evolutionary theory”— meaning that, in their unanimous view, the virus didn’t come from nature. “Those opinions could still change,” Andersen added. Eddie is Edward C. Holmes of the University of Sydney. Bob is Robert F. Garry of Tulane University. Mike is Michael Farzan at Scripps Research.

    The message sent Fauci into a whirlwind of activity. “You will have tasks today that must be done,” he emailed his deputy director, Hugh Auchincloss, two hours later at 12:29 am on February 1. One of these urgent tasks evidently concerned NIAID funds that had been passed, via the EcoHealth Alliance of New York, to Zhengli Shi, China’s leading bat virus expert, at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Fauci was doubtless anxious to check whether his agency’s funding of Shi’s work had complied with US law, which banned funding gain-of-function research from 2014 to 2017 and required it be reported to a government panel thereafter. “Gain of function” refers to research in which a pathogen’s ability to cause disease is enhanced. Auchincloss replied a few hours later that efforts were underway to ascertain “if we have any distant ties to this work abroad.”

    Meanwhile Farrar, who had independently heard of the Andersen team’s conclusion from Holmes, says in Spike that he arranged a teleconference set for 7 p.m. London time, convenient for both Washington and Australia, where Holmes was based.

    The participants included Fauci and possibly his nominal boss, Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health. (Farrar says in Spike that Collins was present, but Collins’s name is not on the list of invitees in the Fauci emails.) Officials on the UK side were Farrar and Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific adviser to the UK government. The others were mostly virologists, including Andersen, Holmes, and Andrew Rambaut of the University of Edinburgh.

    Far from being selected at random, the conferees were associated through a complicated web of relationships, a sort of virologists’ old boy network that included senior medical officials in China. Farrar was well acquainted with George Fu Gao, the head of China’s counterpart of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He has described Gao as an “old friend,” who in fact had called a month earlier, on December 31, 2019, to tell Farrar about the initial cases in Wuhan of what turned out to be Covid-19. Farrar says in his book Spike that on the weekend of the teleconference, he called another highly placed Chinese official, Chen Zhu, China’s minister of health from 2007 to 2013, to tell him of “rumours that the novel coronavirus could be the result of a lab accident.” As for Holmes, he has published many papers both with Farrar and with Gao and has been a guest professor at Gao’s CDC from 2014 until 2020.

    Because of these varied connections, it seems likely that Chinese authorities knew about the conference almost from the moment it occurred and, if so, would have had the opportunity to influence deliberations that followed it.

    At the conference there was a notable imbalance of power between the virologists and the officials. Fauci and Farrar together control a large portion of the funds available for virological research in the Western world. A virologist keen to continue his career would be very attentive to their wishes. Two of the conference participants had multimillion-dollar grant proposals under final review with NIAID at the time of the call.

    Almost all references to what was discussed at the teleconference have been redacted from the Fauci emails under exceptions to the Freedom of Information Act. The conference would doubtless have included explanation from Andersen and Holmes as to why they had concluded the previous evening that the virus had been altered through laboratory manipulation. “Kristen and Eddie have shared this and will talk through it on the call,” Farrar writes in one of the Fauci emails.


    The known knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns of COVID-19

    A Jeremy Farrar email about the teleconference. A Jeremy Farrar email about the teleconference.

    Whatever was said at the meeting, it was followed by a remarkable and almost immediate about-face. By at most three days later, Andersen had executed a 180 degree turn in his views about the virus. In an email of February 4, 2020 to Peter Daszak, president of the EcoHealth Alliance, which had directed NIAID funds to Shi, Andersen wrote, “The main crackpot theories going around at the moment relate to this virus being somehow engineered with intent and that is demonstrably not the case.” The email was obtained by U.S. Right to Know, an investigatory group.

    Participants have not explained what was said at the meeting or found in the days immediately following it to induce the change of mind. Media offices at the Wellcome Trust and NIAID declined to comment on this article. Andersen, Holmes and Rambaut did not reply to emails seeking an account of the reversal.

    Farrar, not Fauci, seems to have been the leader in the teleconference’s deliberations. “This is not my area of expertise so I have backed off and am leaving it all to Jeremy,” Fauci wrote on February 13 to a CDC official. US officials were not to take the lead in this pivotal inquiry.

    Fauci's "leaving it all to Jeremy" email.Fauci’s “leaving it all to Jeremy” email.

    Farrar had a direct hand in the two letters that went out to the Lancet and Nature Medicine. He was a signatory of the Lancet letter, a draft of which Daszak, the organizer of the letter, began circulating just five days after the conference. The letter sought to squelch all discussion of the possibility that the virus had escaped from a lab by deriding it as a conspiracy theory. When Daszak wrote an article in the Guardian elaborating on the same theme, Farrar promoted it with a tweet, saying “as always worth reading @PeterDaszak.”

    Farrar also recruited the five authors who drew up the Nature Medicine letter, his spokesman told the writer Ian Birrell. (The spokesman referred to the Lancet letter but evidently meant the Nature Medicine letter, which has five authors.) The Nature Medicine letter, accepted on March 6 and published on March 17, 2020, presented a detailed and influential case that the virus had emerged naturally from animals. Its authors were Andersen, Rambaut, W. Ian Lipkin, Holmes and Garry.

    In his book Spike, Farrar portrays the events between the February 1 conference and publication of the two medical journal letters as a judicious process in which he held an agnostic view and played no role other than asking questions. “On a spectrum if 0 is nature and 100 is release—I am honestly at 50!” Farrar says he emailed to Fauci and Collins a day after the conference. But if that were honestly so, he fails to explain his switch from 50 to 0 when signing the Lancet letter a few days later.

    According to Spike, it wasn’t until March, “after the addition of important new information, endless analyses, intense discussions and many sleepless nights” that Andersen and his four fellow virologists “were ready to pronounce on the origins of the novel coronavirus.” Why then was Andersen, the virologists’ leader, ready to pronounce just 3 days after the conference that lab release was a conspiracy theory? Farrar’s account does not match with the available facts.

    Nor does Andersen’s. In a June interview with the New York Times, he painted a picture that includes a change of mind on the possible engineering of the virus “in a matter of days, while we worked around the clock,” and then that quick reversal being buttressed by drawn-out research.

    “This is a textbook example of the scientific method, where a preliminary hypothesis is rejected in favor of a competing hypothesis as more data become available and analyses are completed,” he said in a statement released by Scripps Research after his Jan 31 email to Fauci had become public. “I cautioned in that same email that we would need to look at the question much more closely and that our opinions could change within a few days based on new data and analyses—which they did,” Anderson said in the New York Times interview. In that same interview, he also said that “more extensive analyses, significant additional data and thorough investigations to compare genomic diversity more broadly across coronaviruses led to the peer-reviewed study published in Nature Medicine.”

    These later data and analyses would not have been available three days after the conference, the date of Andersen’s volte-face email to Daszak. And they would not have been available to Farrar as he signed the Lancet letter, which was published just 17 days after the teleconference.

    More puzzling is Andersen’s statement that in his preliminary studies “the genome of RaTG13, a SARS-related coronavirus found in bats, wasn’t yet available.” In fact its full sequence had been deposited by Shi in a data bank on January 24, 2020, a week before Andersen’s report to Fauci, and Farrar says in Spike that he had seen the sequence by the time of the conference. RaTG13 is the closest known relative of SARS2, and the fact that it lacks the furin cleavage site found in SARS2 would have been a major reason for the Andersen group to suppose that this genetic element had been inserted into SARS2 in a lab.

    Given his role in leading the February 1 teleconference, in presiding over the virologists’ 180 degree change of views, and in arranging or influencing the Lancet and Nature Medicine letters, Farrar was evidently the driving force of the campaign to persuade the public that the SARS2 virus could not possibly have leaked from a lab. This was an unfortunate position for any scientist to take, given that he was assuring the public of something he could not be sure was true.

    Farrar now says in Spike that, although natural emergence is more likely, “nobody is yet in a position to rule out an alternative.” But his campaign sought very vigorously to do exactly that. “We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin,” Farrar and his cosignatories wrote in the Lancet on February 18, 2020. This lapse in scientific judgment reflects also on the other senior participants in the conference who saw what was happening but apparently took no steps to insist that scientific truth should take precedence over unjustifiable professions of certainty.


    Caltech's David Baltimore discusses the debate over origins of SARS-CoV-2

    The decision to quash any notion of lab escape seems to have brought relief all round. At least until the tide of opinion began to change a year later, Fauci and Collins didn’t have to endure unpleasant questions about why they had been funding hazardous research in minimally safe conditions at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

    “I just wanted to say a personal thank you on behalf of our staff and collaborators, for publicly standing up and stating that the scientific evidence supports a natural origin for COVID-19 from a bat-to-human spillover, not a lab release from the Wuhan Institute of Virology,” Daszak emailed Fauci after a White House press briefing on April 17.

    In August 2020 the NIAID announced it would award $82 million over five years to 10 participants in its new network for detecting infectious diseases. Among the lucky winners: Daszak, Andersen, and his associate Robert Garry.

    The perturbing lab leak theory raised by Andersen and his colleagues on January 31, 2020 had been safely laid to rest. Farrar and his colleagues had succeeded in the one goal also pursued by the autocrats in Beijing, that of suppressing discussion of whether the SARS2 virus might have escaped from the Wuhan lab.

    Beijing’s way of squelching inquiry about the virus was, unintentionally, somewhat more obvious than the methods used in London. Chinese authorities tried so hard to stamp out information about the virus’s origin that they left a rather clumsy trail of footprints pointing to where they didn’t want people to go.

    One of the more informative suppressions of data was the closure of China’s main database on bat and other viruses. Zhengli Shi, China’s leading expert on bat coronaviruses, told the BBC that it was taken off line because of numerous hacking attempts. It’s conceivable that in January 2020, after the pandemic broke out, people without authorized access might have tried to hack into the database. But in fact the database went off line on September 12, 2019. Who would have wanted to hack into a bat virus database back then? More likely, that is the date at which Chinese authorities realized they had a virus escape problem.

    In February of last year, President Xi referred to the need to ensure biosafety and biosecurity, and the Chinese Communist Party followed by tightening up their biosafety rules in October 2020, accelerating a long planned revision. “To me, the fact that the CCP enacted a major series of laboratory biosafety regulations this past year is an indication that China’s political leadership believes that a lab accident is likely to have caused the pandemic,” says a biosurveillance expert who has monitored China’s disease outbreak reporting for the past two decades.

    Major clues as to what happened are evident in Shi’s various pronouncements about the virus. The omissions and untruths in these statements are specific enough to outline the very body of facts the censors have sought to conceal.

    Wuhan Institute of Virology researcher Shi Zhengli spoke about SARS during a Yixi event (comparable to a TED talk) on June 23, 2018. (Yixi video)

    In looking at Shi’s questionable statements, it’s only fair to keep in mind that they may have been compelled. Her train of deceptions began immediately after the genetic sequence of the SARS2 virus was published on January 10, 2020, by Yong-zhen Zhang of Fudan University, against the wishes of Chinese authorities who subsequently closed his lab for a time. Where did this strange new virus come from? Shi wanted or was told to establish SARS2’s pedigree as a bat virus, with an ancestry analogous to that of SARS1, the bat virus that caused an epidemic in 2002. In an important paper published on February 3, 2020, Shi reported that the genome of SARS2 is 96 percent similar to that of a bat virus, RaTG13, “which was previously detected in [the bat species] Rhinolophus affinis from Yunnan province.”

    Shi neglected to mention a salient difference between the two viruses, namely that SARS2 possessed a furin cleavage site and RaTG13 did not. Alina Chan, of the Broad Institute in Cambridge, has likened the omission to describing a unicorn by reporting all its horse-like features, but neglecting to mention the horn. Evidently the Chinese authorities were highly sensitive to the furin cleavage site’s presence.

    Shi also failed to say when and where she had discovered the RaTG13 virus, surely important data for the closest known relative of SARS2. In fact, she had found RaTG13 in 2013, in an abandoned mine in Tongguan—the same place where six miners had fallen sick the year before. At that time, she analyzed just one of its genes and reported the virus under another name, BtCoV/4991. Daszak, the holder of her NIAID grant, told the London Times, perhaps on misinformation from Shi, that the virus was then thrown in a freezer and forgotten about until 2020. This was untrue—the virus was of much greater interest. Shi had analyzed its full genome, probably by 2018, but did not publish it. It was only when she needed a bat virus pedigree for SARS2 that Shi released information about the virus, which she now renamed RaTG13. The fact that BtCoV/4991 and RaTG13 were one and the same was discovered by Monali Rahalkar and Rahul Bahulikar, two internet-sleuthing researchers in Pune, India.

    It’s not acceptable practice among scientists to report something already published under a different name as if were new. Shi’s February paper had the goal of portraying SARS2 as just another bat virus while concealing the true provenance of its closest known relative—a cave known to harbor lethal viruses.

    When RaTG13’s connection to the Tongguan mine was pointed out, Shi still tried to conceal the lethality of the mine’s bat viruses, saying the miners had died of a fungus infection. This untruth was corrected when a master’s thesis by a Chinese doctor, Li Xu, was unearthed by the internet sleuth who calls himself TheSeeker268. The thesis reported that the miners had died of a SARS-related virus with symptoms identical to those of Covid-19 and with CT scans similar to those of Covid patients. The only evident difference between that virus’s effects and those of SARS2 is that the miners’ virus was not readily transmissible from one person to another.

    The specificity of what Shi’s statements concealed—the furin cleavage site, RaTG13’s identity with BatCoV/4991, the latter’s origin in the mine where six miners were infected, the death of the three miners from infection by a virus with symptoms very similar to those of SARS2—all point to the involvement of these elements in a scenario the Chinese authorities are determined to cloak. That scenario may have been the storage or generation of the SARS2 virus in Shi’s lab from one of the many viruses recovered from the Tongguan cave.

    The Chinese government’s persistent stonewalling and Shi’s pattern of evasions do not amount to proof that the SARS2 virus escaped from her lab. But they seem less like the actions of innocent people and more like attempts to cover up a fatal accident, one that has caused the deaths of maybe 10 million people and counting.

    Perhaps proof will one day emerge that the virus emerged naturally. If not, the likelihood that SARS2 escaped from a researcher’s laboratory is an albatross that will hang round China’s neck in perpetuity. China’s only hope of release from this terrible encumbrance lies in opening its laboratory doors and either establishing its innocence or admitting its fateful error

  • You can certainly discount Metformin. A good drug, and inexpensive but 2 people I know who take Metformin for type 2 diabetes have had very bad Covid experiences.

    "Certainly" discount it? I think you should say "probably discount it." Two people is anecdotal evidence. Sometimes, a drug will work with some patients but not other patients. You can say with certainty that Metformin is not a wonder drug that cures all patients, like penicillin.

    These reported tests of ivermectin have five possible meanings, which in the aggregate tell us nothing:

    1. The positive tests are right; it works.

    2. The positive tests are statistical errors.

    3. The negative tests are right; it does not work.

    4. The negative tests are statistical errors.

    5. Both positive and negative tests are right, but there are unknown confounding control factors, so doctors do not know how to make it work consistently.

    “I’ve had enough abuse and so have the other clinical trialists doing Ivermectin,” he said. “Others working in this area have been threatened, their families have been threatened, they’ve been defamed,” he said.

    “I can think of no circumstances in the past where this kind of abuse has occurred to clinical trialists,” he added.

    That tells you all you need to know about those particular anti-vaxx people. They are not just opposed to vaccines. They are opposed to science itself, to modern medicine, and to academic freedom. Essentially they are opposed to the basis of our civilization since the Renaissance. They would turn the clock back to the year 1400.

    Perhaps other anti-vaxxers are more reasonable, but those people are barbarians.

  • Here is a cynical comment:

    When Kayfabe Gets You Killed - The Bulwark
    There’s an obituary recurring so frequently these days, you could play Mad Libs with the headlines: [COVID-19 critic] [Republican Lawmaker] [GOP Official]…

    There’s an obituary recurring so frequently these days, you could play Mad Libs with the headlines:

    • [COVID-19 critic] [Republican Lawmaker] [GOP Official] [Conservative Media Personality]

    who called

    • [COVID-19] [Dr. Fauci] [Mask Mandates] [Vaccines] [Lockdowns]
    • [a hoax] [a fraud] [ineffective] [unconstitutional]

    dies of COVID-19.

    Here is the latest example:

    Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, a Covid-19 vaccination critic, is hospitalized and on a ventilator

    Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, a Covid-19 vaccination critic, is hospitalized and on a ventilator
    Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke has been hospitalized with Covid-19 and placed on a ventilator, according to a tweet over the weekend from his official account.

    The Cardinal sounds like real jerk. If he dies, maybe it will teach his followers a lesson. I have to say though, the Pope and rest of the Catholic Church seem to be on the right side. The Pope has been vaccinated and he urges others to get the shot. Good!

    A medical researcher who is a babe in the woods said something like: "I don't understand the opposition to COVID vaccinations. No one is out there campaigning against tetanus shots." Yeah? I'll bet there are fanatics opposed to tetanus shots. But this isn't about vaccinations, or science, or health. The GOP does not give a shit about those things. They would gladly kill another 200,000 people if that's how they can win the next election. This is about controlling people with fear, Fox News killing people for profit, winning the next election, and "owning the libs." As I said, it is the same kind of pointless, useless, cynical slaughter the Japanese militarists carried out in 1945 during the bombing raids. They knew the whole time they would have to surrender in a few months. If you cannot imagine the mindset during the last months of the war in Japan . . . Now you know. You are looking at it happen again in the U.S. Scale it up a little and bingo! -- another mountain of corpses.

    I lived in Japan 30 years after that holocaust. Half the population lived through the war. I knew many of those people. They were sensible, sane, ordinary people. They told me what it was like, and what they thought at the time. I know how it came to be that the whole society went stark raving crazy. In a fit of suicidal, homicidal lunacy. That is where we are now. Future generations will look back and they will not be able to fathom why we slaughtered hundreds of thousands of people for idiotic reasons.

    I feel sorry for the pathetic idiots who believe the GOP, do not get shots, and die in agony. I even feel sorry for the Cardinal. But the GOP leaders themselves do not actually believe what they say. They are deliberate, calculating, cold blooded mass murderers, like the Japanese militarists. As the article I quoted above says:

    "At Fox News, where vaccine skepticism is on display every night, Rupert Murdoch was one of the first people on the planet to get vaccinated and Fox has a vaccine mandate for employees. And of course, Donald Trump got his Fauci Ouchie a long time ago. Which is not something you hear a lot about. The higher up the food chain you go, the more it seems like being anti-vaxx is a pose, not a lifestyle."

  • Israel developing injectable and oral vaccines as COVID cases soar

    Israel developing injectable and oral vaccines as COVID cases soar
    Infection rate surge is largely due to the Delta variant.

    Several Israeli companies and academies are working to develop domestic COVID-19 vaccines to protect against variants of the virus.

    Phase II clinical trials of the novel BriLife coronavirus vaccine, developed by the Defence Ministry’s Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR), are currently taking place in Israel and Georgia.

    Isreal21c reported that US-based NRx Pharmaceuticals will receive the license for exclusive worldwide development, manufacturing and marketing rights of BriLife.

    The initiative is being co-led by NRx director and chairman of Israeli private equity group CH Health, Chaim Hurvitz with NRx CEO Dr Jonathan Javitt, who has held leadership roles in seven healthcare IT and biopharma startups.

    Meanwhile, startup MigVax, a spin-off from the Israeli Science and Technology Ministry’s Migal Galilee Research Institute, has developed the MigVax-101 oral vaccine.

    It is raising funds to launch Phase I and Phase II human clinical trials after results from preclinical tests on rats demonstrated potential effectiveness as an antibody booster for previously vaccinated people.

    Another oral vaccine is being developed by Oravax Medical, a subsidiary of Jerusalem-based Oramed Pharmaceuticals, in partnership with India-based Premas Biotech.

    The solution capitalizes on Oramed’s proprietary protein oral delivery (POD) technology and Premas’ exclusive virus-like particle vaccine technology.

    As it targets three SARS CoV-2 virus surface proteins, it could potentially be effective against current and future mutations either as a standalone vaccine or a booster. The vaccine candidate is currently being tested in animals against variants, including the Delta variant.


    Israel has one of the world’s highest levels of vaccination, after securing deals with Pfizer and Moderna to share health data in exchange for vaccine doses. However, it is now reporting one of the world’s highest infection rates, largely due to the Delta variant.


    Other potential Israeli vaccines are in early stages of development, including an oral sub-unit coronavirus vaccine being developed in Rehovot at TransAlgae using an edible delivery vehicle based on engineered algae.

    Israel recently began offering COVID booster shots to immunocompromised adults and over 50s. Prime minister Naftali Bennett said on Monday (16 Aug) that more than a million people have received a third dose of the jab.


    Prof Itamar Shalit, MigVax’s infectious disease expert, said: “Oral boosters such as our MigVax-101 will be key enablers that will help health organisations the world over transition from ‘panic mode’ to routine, due to their ability to reduce the cost and expand the reach of ongoing vaccination programs.”

    Nadav Kidron, CEO of Oramed, said: “Our vaccine is a particularly strong candidate against the evolving COVID-19 virus due to its unique targeting of three proteins rather than one.”

    NRx director Hurvitz, said: “As the first-generation COVID vaccines are increasingly challenged by rapid mutation of the coronavirus, we aim to develop a vaccine that can rapidly scale at low cost to serve the needs of both the developed and the developing world.