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“Amnesty” according to Emily Oster: “Admit you were wrong!”

Economist turned COVID-19 contrarian Emily Oster recently published an article in The Atlantic about offering amnesty and forgiveness over the pandemic. Shorter Oster: “Admit you were wrong!”

In the age of the COVID-19 pandemic, everything old is new again. I know I keep saying that. I know that it probably sometimes grates on my readers. I even know that to some people, repeating this mantra might even come across as lecturing and an exercise in moral superiority. You can believe me or not, but that isn’t the intent. My intent in describing how narratives promoted by COVID-19 minimizers, quacks, and antivaxxers are not new is not to denigrate anyone. (Well, with a handful of exceptions.) Rather, it’s educational. If you know that certain narratives about COVID-19 and the responses to the pandemic (e.g., that the disease isn’t dangerous “to most people,” that “natural immunity” is preferable to vaccine-induced immunity, that vaccines kill, and that there should be a “Nuremberg 2.0” in order to hold them—public health doctors and vaccine advocates—”accountable” somehow for their “crimes“), it’s easier to recognized old antivaccine and disease minimizing narratives being repurposed for a new pathogen. The idea is to provide at least one of the tools necessary “prebunk” a lot of the nonsense coming from these people. This brings me to the concept of “amnesty.”

Historically, in antivax parlance, “amnesty” is always one-sided, in which public health officials, pediatricians, and vaccine scientists “admit” their error and join the winning side. Let me quote, for example, Kent Heckenlively:

It’s one thing to be on the losing side of a fight.  

It’s another to know you’re losing.  

The white majority in South Africa knew they were losing to Nelson Mandela’s call for justice and they took actions which averted a catastrophe.  Even though the British ended up fighting a war with us, there were voices in England who thought that the whole affair was utter madness.  Eventually, their views prevailed.  Hell, even some Nazis could see where Hitler was leading them after D-Day and tried to change things by blowing him up.

One notes, of course, that the actions taken in South Africa were basically to capitulate, and that after the end of apartheid the government instituted a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate the human rights abuses under apartheid. The key point of this narrative is that perpetrators could request amnesty from punishment if they admitted their wrongdoing. Let’s just say that an op-ed gave me very serious COVID-19 contrarian “truth and reconciliation” vibes as I read it, reminding me of antivax “truth and reconciliation” narratives before the pandemic.The problem, of course, is that here, as years ago in antivaxland, the admission of wrongdoing and error expected by the ones calling for it is entirely one-sided and clashes with the more commonly stated demand for retribution falsely portrayed as “justice.”

I’m referring, of course, to an article in The Atlantic a couple of days ago by “unapologetically data-driven economist” Brown University economist and COVID-19 “contrarian” Emily Oster entitled Let’s Declare a Pandemic Amnesty, with a subtitle We need to forgive one another for what we did and said when we were in the dark about COVID. Let’s just say that the idea didn’t go over well among public health advocates, for example:

Before I discuss her “amnesty” narrative, one important thing for you to know about Emily Oster is that nearly her entire shtick about COVID-19 has been to minimize the danger of coronavirus transmission in schools, going back to very early in the pandemic. Indeed, as early as April 2020, she was penning op-eds doing just that, for example an op-ed in The Washington Post entitled Opening schools might be safer than you think, in which she argued that the benefits of in-person instruction were high enough to outweigh what she considered the relatively low risk of coronavirus transmission in schools, arguing that the data suggested that schools “might be one of the least risky kinds of institutions to reopen.” In another op-ed in The Atlantic entitled Schools Aren’t Superspreaders, in which she dismissively described fears of school transmission as “overblown” based on a grossly inadequate subset of her dataset.

Let’s just say that there are reasons that she is not infrequently described in less than flattering terms—deservedly so, I would argued—by a number of academics:

Oster’s influence on the discourse around COVID in schools is difficult to overstate. She has been quoted in hundreds of articles about school pandemic precautions and interviewed as a guest on dozens of news shows. Officials from both parties have used her work as justification for lifting public health measures. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis cited her study while announcing an executive order banning school mask mandates, while CDC Director Rochelle Walenksy referenced Oster’s research in anticipation of relaxing classroom social distancing guidelines. Oster also co-authored an influential school reopening guidance document that was released in early 2021. 

But despite its prominence, Oster’s work on COVID in schools has attracted little scrutiny—even though it has been funded since last summer by organizations that, without exception, have explicit commitments to opposing teacher’s unions, supporting charter schools, and expanding corporate freedom. In addition to grants from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Walton Family Foundation, and Arnold Ventures, Oster has received funding from far-right billionaire Peter Thiel. The Thiel grant awarded to Oster was administered by the Mercatus Center, the think tank founded and financed by the Koch family.

Basically, Oster was known before the pandemic for writing about “data-driven parenting”; so it was a natural pivot to start discussing the effect of COVID-19 on education. Also, unsurprisingly, her positions have mostly aligned with those who have attacked nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) in public health to mitigate the spread and harm from COVID-19 as excessive and ineffective. It was also true before the pandemic that these same sorts of groups liked Oster, probably for these reasons in the context of her prior books:

The unifying theme across all three books is that conventional parenting advice—from experts in medicine, public health, education, and child development—is often wrong, and is based on irrational and overly cautious decisionmaking processes. In each book, she encourages readers to apply the analytical tools of economics to the multitude of choices that arise during pregnancy and parenting. Oster typically criticizes the quality of a few peer-reviewed studies that justify conventional advice, then offers her own recommendations on a range of topics—from eating deli meats in pregnancy (all are acceptable, other than turkey) to whether to send children to public schools (charters are often better in urban areas).

If it’s not already obvious, Oster’s readership skews female, white, affluent, and liberal. Some in this audience might be surprised that her books, which to a casual reader appear chipper and apolitical, have been roundly embraced by right-wing think tanks, including the Manhattan Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and the Cato Institute. (Oster was even invited to speak about Cribsheet at Cato’s Washington headquarters in 2019.) Why might a book about parenting appeal to the Cato Institute? One answer is that Oster’s books popularize what Elizabeth Popp Berman calls an “economic style of reasoning,” which emphasizes individualism, market-based choice, and efficiency, while deprioritizing concerns related to injustice or collective well-being. Since the dawn of the neoliberal era in the 1970s, the economic style of reasoning has been an important ideological tool in the effort to expand corporate power; its propagation is the raison d’être of groups like the Cato and Manhattan Institutes.

In the context of Oster’s past, her call for “amnesty” tracks, although I can’t help but point out that her appeal to “moderation” and “forgiveness” did not exactly go down well with COVID-19 conspiracy theorists, antimaskers, and antivaxxers either:

Also amusingly, antivaxxers didn’t like this idea either, for example:

It sounds as though Mr. Cardillo wants a “Nuremberg 2.0.”
It always makes me chuckle when one of these “moderate” COVID-19 deniers gets pushback from antivaxxers who think she was too moderate.

Not so amusing were the calls for violence:

Yes, this is the sort of thing vaccine advocates have dealt with for years and years before the pandemic but that got so much worse after COVID-19 hit.

Meanwhile, over at Fox News:

"No amnesty"?
Fox News: Predictable, as ever.

The flacks at the Great Barrington Declaration propaganda outlet the Brownstone Institute are apoplectic, too!

I’ve written a lot about antivaxxers wanting a “Nuremberg 2.0” in order to “hold them accountable,” even up to the point of references to the gallows and guillotine, but there was another narrative among antivaxxers who wanted to seem “reasonable,” and Oster’s narrative reminds me a lot of that. First, though, let’s see what she says. In the middle of her op-ed, she does note that misinformation during the pandemic is a bad thing:

Obviously some people intended to mislead and made wildly irresponsible claims. Remember when the public-health community had to spend a lot of time and resources urging Americans not to inject themselves with bleach? That was bad. Misinformation was, and remains, a huge problem. But most errors were made by people who were working in earnest for the good of society.

Got it, Prof. Oster! Bleach man bad! And I even agree! Hey, I made fun of Donald Trump for this too! However, in the context of Oster’s pandemic pronouncements, I can’t help but view this as a common and rather obvious strategy to deflect criticism of your views as extreme or out of the mainstream by attacking those promoting misinformation more bizarre and indefensible than yours, or, as I like to call it, claiming the mantle of “reasonableness” by attacking cranks.

One can’t help but interpret Oster’s characterization of people claiming that COVID-19 wasn’t dangerous to children (like her) as just “working in earnest for the good of society”—shall we say?—less than charitably. Maybe they were, but they continued, even as it became apparent that COVID-19 was at least as dangerous to children as measles, for which we do vaccinate. Basically, measles used to kill around 500 children a year before the measles vaccine, and we thought that bad enough to recommend vaccination of children over one year of age. COVID-19 has thus far killed children in similar numbers that are the same order of magnitude over the last couple of years, but suddenly to her that’s not enough to justify recommending routine vaccination of children because “COVID-19 isn’t dangerous to children“? Does Oster not realize the disconnect and how much she sounds as though she’s invoking what I like to call the Brady Bunch gambit, in which antivaxxers used to downplay the dangerousness of measles by pointing to an old Brady Bunch episode in which the kids all getting measles was played for laughs?

In fairness, I’ll mention that there was indeed considerable legitimate scientific uncertainty in the early months of the pandemic about a variety of issues, including about what kind of masks are most effective and when they are not needed and what the risk of transmission by fomites was. (Does anyone remember the video of the guy washing down vegetables with bleach?) However, answers to these questions evolved fairly rapidly to something closer to a consensus.

Now let’s look at her rationale for calling for “amnesty” (whatever that means):

The people who got it right, for whatever reason, may want to gloat. Those who got it wrong, for whatever reason, may feel defensive and retrench into a position that doesn’t accord with the facts. All of this gloating and defensiveness continues to gobble up a lot of social energy and to drive the culture wars, especially on the internet. These discussions are heated, unpleasant and, ultimately, unproductive. In the face of so much uncertainty, getting something right had a hefty element of luck. And, similarly, getting something wrong wasn’t a moral failing. Treating pandemic choices as a scorecard on which some people racked up more points than others is preventing us from moving forward.

On the surface, this appears oh-so-reasonable. Of course, it’s not a moral failing to have gotten something wrong in science! However, it’s hard to take Oster seriously given that she had prefaced this particular pronouncement with:

Some of these choices turned out better than others. To take an example close to my own work, there is an emerging (if not universal) consensus that schools in the U.S. were closed for too long: The health risks of in-school spread were relatively low, whereas the costs to students’ well-being and educational progress were high. The latest figures on learning loss are alarming.  But in spring and summer 2020, we had only glimmers of information. Reasonable people—people who cared about children and teachers—advocated on both sides of the reopening debate.

Quoth Oster, “Unlike bleach man, you public health advocates had good motives, but you were just wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong!” Never mind that it isn’t nearly that clear.

Does this come across at all to you as…gloating? It sure does to me.

Worse, Oster’s proclamations are nowhere near a “consensus,” much less a “universal” consensus that schools were closed for too long and that the health risks of in-school spread were relatively low. It is not unreasonable to worry about the costs to students’ mental well-being and school achievement due to virtual learning and lack of in-person instruction. Even those most in favor of temporarily closing schools and closing them longer were concerned about these issues and tried to balance them against the risk of facilitating COVID-19 spread by reopening schools. However, Oster has routinely come down on the side of misrepresenting the risks of in-school spread as being negligible based on poor quality evidence, even as other evidence contradicts hers, with other studies indicating that lack of mitigations in schools resulted in more cases of COVID-19 and more deaths. Remember, this is an economist who set up a “data dashboard” about COVID-19 transmission in schools that has been widely criticized even as she has used it to make ironclad conclusions:

She also, as economists seem all too wont to do, seems to like to generate studies to demonstrate preconceived conclusion that supports her ideology:

And there was more, specifically about an independent review that demonstrated how dodgy Oster’s study was:

However, those independent researchers also found that even the slightest change to an arbitrary threshold used to define whether a school was fully remote on a particular week did indeed change the study results—to show a benefit of greater distancing. It is also noteworthy that the study was accepted and published in the prestigious journal Clinical Infectious Diseases within 15 days of submission—much shorter than the typical peer review timeline, raising questions about whether it was appropriately scrutinized prior to publication. In contrast, the results of the independent review were not made public until nearly a full year after the study came out. By this time, true to pattern, the study had already influenced policy so profoundly that the correction was no longer relevant to important questions about school operations during the pandemic.

One parent who tried to participate in one of the studies being done by Oster noted the problems with her methods:

Early in the pandemic she began to track the rate of COVID-19 spread in a small sample of schools, and has used this data to push for the reopening of schools. There were a whole slew of problems with her survey though, starting with it being self-reported because the schools that were most eager to participate would most likely be the ones to take the pandemic more seriously. How do I know there were problems with the survey? Well, I originally tried to participate in the survey because I wanted Abrome to contribute to anything that could help us better understand the threat of Covid-19 to educational settings and to the general public.

When I signed up to participate in the survey I was disappointed by the very narrow options that were available to describe our approach to bringing Learners (“students”) and Facilitators (“teachers) together outdoors (“at school”) during the pandemic. I emailed them to let them know the limitations of the survey and never received a response. I did, however, receive endless follow up emails asking me to complete the bi-weekly survey.

What I did not know at the time was that the survey was strictly a reopen school propaganda campaign under the guise of “science.” She would use the data collected to push her reopen schools argument, as opposed to using the data to help inform her whether or not schools should be reopened.

That is, of course, exactly what her “dashboard” and the “studies” using its data were:

The bitter struggle over COVID in schools, conducted with the rhetoric of “choice,” opened up space for an alliance between affluent white liberal parents and a right-wing propaganda infrastructure devoted to destroying unions and public schools. For instance, John Arnold, the former Enron executive behind the eponymous Arnold Ventures (which funds Oster), has used the pandemic to attack teacher’s unions and further his goal of dismantling public pension funding, much of which is allocated to unionized public school teachers. The pandemic also provided an opportunity to increase charter school usage at the expense of public school enrollment. It gave plutocrats like the Waltons yet another chance to attack teachers’ unions by painting their demands for safer working conditions as irrational. By advocating reopening in a seminar at Bellwether Education Partners (another Walton grantee) during a period when the Chicago Teachers Union was campaigning for stronger COVID rules, Oster helped the Waltons do precisely that.

Same as it ever was.

Let’s get back to vaccines, though. Here’s what Cooper was referring to, an answer to a question about vaccinating children that she gave in June 2021:

Where do you land on vaccinating younger kids?

“I worry a bit that we’re going to get to a place where if you express any hesitancy around vaccinating your four-year-old, people are going to say, ‘You’re a crazy person. Why are you buying into this crazy anti-vax sentiment?’ That isn’t reasonable. It is a very, very different cost benefit analysis for vaccination of a four- year-old than it is for an 85-year-old. That doesn’t mean the vaccine isn’t a good idea for both, but the way we think about the relative costs and benefits are different. I think we’re going to have to accept that vaccination rates in little kids are going to be lower than vaccination rates in adults, and that’s probably okay from the standpoint of the virus.”

I suspect that Oster didn’t realize that the claim that if you “question anything” about vaccination you’ll be tarred as a “crazy antivaxxer” is a very old antivaccine trope, one that I’ve alluded to more times than I can remember. As for that bit about the 85-year-old? I wonder if she realizes that antivaxxers have used exactly this argument to argue against the flu vaccine for children, never mind the disturbing ageism and eugenicist thinking in her response. And she wonders why public health officials have been so critical!

Basically, Oster is “declaring victory” in this debate without having actually been, you know, victorious based on data. Indeed, the very anecdote she chose to open her op-ed with was the most extreme example, in which she described going on a hike with her kids in April 2020 wearing cloth masks and encountering a man yelling, “SOCIAL DISTANCING!” at her and her child when her child got too close to his. The idea, very obviously, is to label most public health advocates as extreme and, in retrospect, mistaken about NPIs used early in the pandemic by associating them in the reader’s mind with a man yelling at a child for getting too close to his child outdoors. It’s a transparent tactic, particularly given that another example that she chooses later in her article of someone being “wrong” is the question of whether the mRNA vaccines would end up being more effective than, say, the Johnson & Johnson DNA-based vaccines or other vaccines.

This leads her to observe that everybody was wrong and everybody was right:

Given the amount of uncertainty, almost every position was taken on every topic. And on every topic, someone was eventually proved right, and someone else was proved wrong. In some instances, the right people were right for the wrong reasons. In other instances, they had a prescient understanding of the available information.

Declares Oster, “We can’t know anything! Everything is possible!” (I paraphrase and exaggerate, but sowing uncertainty is the message.

Guess who, in Oster’s view, had a “prescient understanding of the available information”? Sure, she doesn’t actually say who, but in context it’s pretty obvious that this is another unjustified gloat on her part. And guess who, in her view, might have turned out to be “right for the wrong reasons”? I think you can guess the answer to that one, too. What I couldn’t help but notice is that nowhere in her article does Oster admit any error whatsoever on her part. A clever propagandist would at least thought of something inconsequential that she got wrong and then make a big show of “admitting” that error in order to say, “See! I can admit when I was wrong too!” She didn’t do even that and, apparently, can’t admit even minor error.

From her elevated position as a privileged woman who was so “prescient” about the pandemic based on dubious analyses, Oster then magnanimously suggests “amnesty”:

We have to put these fights aside and declare a pandemic amnesty. We can leave out the willful purveyors of actual misinformation while forgiving the hard calls that people had no choice but to make with imperfect knowledge. Los Angeles County closed its beaches in summer 2020. Ex post facto, this makes no more sense than my family’s masked hiking trips. But we need to learn from our mistakes and then let them go. We need to forgive the attacks, too. Because I thought schools should reopen and argued that kids as a group were not at high risk, I was called a “teacher killer” and a “génocidaire.” It wasn’t pleasant, but feelings were high. And I certainly don’t need to dissect and rehash that time for the rest of my days.

Again, note how Oster transparently picks the most extreme examples that she can think of to describe those whom she considers “wrong,” an obvious tactic to make you think that she isn’t being totally self-serving in wanting this “amnesty.” There’s a “tell,” though, and it’s that last bit about the nasty things Oster was called and how bad they made her feel. She wants “amnesty” in order to be able to “move on” and not be criticized any more. The problem, of course, is that amnesty and forgiveness are not warranted if you don’t admit your own errors, and Oster is definitely not admitting any error. Quite the contrary! In her narrative, she’s the brave maverick whose insights into the pandemic were “prescient” and far ahead of those of actual scientists with expertise in infectious disease, outbreaks, pandemics, and epidemiology, the vast majority of whom were far more humble in their suggestions than Oster has ever been. It’s she who’s offering you lowly public health advocates “forgiveness” and “amnesty,” if only you’ll admit that she got it right and join her to “work together” to fix problems, such as low vaccine uptake—those other vaccines given to children routinely pre pandemic, not COVID-19 vaccines, whose low uptake Oster clearly doesn’t view as a problem given that she has repeatedly questioned whether children even need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 given how “benign” a disease she considers it for children:

Many people have neglected their health care over the past several years. Notably, routine vaccination rates for children (for measles, pertussis, etc.) are way down. Rather than debating the role that messaging about COVID vaccines had in this decline, we need to put all our energy into bringing these rates back up. Pediatricians and public-health officials will need to work together on community outreach, and politicians will need to consider school mandates.

The standard saying is that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. But dwelling on the mistakes of history can lead to a repetitive doom loop as well. Let’s acknowledge that we made complicated choices in the face of deep uncertainty, and then try to work together to build back and move forward.

If you don’t know the context, this all sounds like a lovely sentiment. Why can’t we just put aside all our differences, forgive each other, and work together? Unfortunately, it all comes across rather like a scene from Monty Python and The Holy Grail:

Oster’s call for reconciliation sounds reasonable on the surface, in particular her call for “both sides” to admit error. The problem is that her call is markedly and transparently asymmetrical, given that the COVID-19 contrarian side has far more error and wrongdoing to admit than conventional scientists and physicians. That includes Oster, whose call for “amnesty” is of a piece with her entire career:

Oster’s books all utilize a type of cost-benefit analysis that rejects the precautionary principle. Long embraced by environmentalists, trade unionists, and public health experts, the precautionary principle comes into play in scenarios of scientific uncertainty about risks of harm; it holds that decision makers should err on the side of minimizing or eliminating a potential hazard, even if this might prove to have been an overreaction once more research becomes available. Business interest groups, in seeking to expand corporate freedoms, use and promote the exact opposite interpretation of uncertainty. For example, industry groups might argue for permitting a novel pesticide to enter the market while evidence of its carcinogenic potential is still being collected. There is a bias towards interpreting uncertain and inconclusive research findings about health risks as evidence of no risk—a glaring fallacy that serves the needs of profit.

The general tone of Oster’s books is that pregnancy and parenting advice that is based on the precautionary principle is oppressive to mothers, as it imposes needless worry and restricts their choices as individuals.

Also, “amnesty” and “reconciliation are meaningless unless they apply to both sides and the ones calling for them are willing to admit their own errors. That’s not what Oster is about, though. She’s actually selling a kinder, gentler version of Kent Heckenlively’s assertion that he will “accept your surrender.” No wonder scientists and physicians said not just “No,” but “Oh, hell, no!”

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

203 replies on ““Amnesty” according to Emily Oster: “Admit you were wrong!””

I’m tired of The Atlantic. It’s a horrible magazine and has been trending libertarian for years. That Emily Oster is one of the first authors that comes up when you search for The Atlantic on google is a good indication of their trend.

I’ve never really considered The Atlantic anything more than a pseudointellectual outlet, though.

“there is an emerging (if not universal) consensus that schools in the U.S. were closed for too long”

This is such an obvious lie that the editors at The Atlantic should be slapped silly for letting it go by.

I gave up on The Atlantic 13 years ago, after it had started publishing a raft of “skeptical” articles about the flu vaccine and pro-CAM articles.

What I don’t understand is that, in addition to publishing articles by so many COVID-19 contrarians, The Atlantic also employs Ed Yong, a journalist who’s been among the very best at science-based reporting about COVID-19.

What I don’t understand is that, in addition to publishing articles by so many COVID-19 contrarians, The Atlantic also employs Ed Yong, a journalist who’s been among the very best at science-based reporting about COVID-19.

It’s for the “cover both sides to be fair” mindset.

Katherine Wu, Ph.D. is another excellent writer.

The distinction I make is between their actual pandemic reporting – which, led by people like Yong and Wu has been excellent – and their editorials, which are horrible – remember when they let Dr. Prasad demonize masks by collapsing young children and older children and making incorrect claims?

They’ve certainly allowed many sub-par editorials.

Much of the protest over Oster’s proposal for a “Covid amnesty” seems to be coming from right wing ideologues furious at the prospect of not being able to put Dr. Fauci and maybe other public health figures on trial.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/anthony-fauci-conservatives-pandemic-amnesty-b2215400.html

Bethany Mandel also wants no amnesty for offenders like the American Academy of Pediatrics. Mandel is the homeschooling mom who achieved brief Twitter fame early in the pandemic by declaring she wasn’t going to give up pleasures like visits to museums and restaurants to make others feel “comfortable”. She’s still bitter about being called a “Grandma Killer”, even though it’s a term she sarcastically suggested be applied to her (other Twitter users obliged).

When I signed up to participate in the survey I was disappointed by the very narrow options that were available to describe our approach to bringing Learners (“students”) and Facilitators (“teachers) together outdoors (“at school”) during the pandemic. I emailed them to let them know the limitations of the survey and never received a response.

This is just do par for the course for survey research, whether those narrow frames are biased (consciously or not) to favor a certain “finding”, or just naively over-simplified along the lines of less ideological assumptions. It’s no accident that “social scientists” almost never reveal the details of their sausage-making in their publications – e. g. the actual language of their survey “instruments”.

GIGO. ‘Lies, damned lies, and data.’ But hey, that Thiel/Koch/Arnold/Walton money gets results.

I also thought that Prof. Oster’s call for “amnesty” was very odd.

Amnesty for what misdeeds exactly?

Her article was pained and non-specific. Firstly, her own distancing on a trail (hardly something an amnesty needs to be asked for). Then she puzzlingly mentions “not knowing relative efficacies of Johnson and Johnson vs mRNA shots”, as if someone needs an amnesty for not knowing such relative efficacies. Lastly in the weirdest sentence of hers, she also expresses concern for nebulous “advocates of bleach injections”, as if injections of bleach was actually practiced.

She is very coy about specifying WHAT the amnesty should be for, as well as for WHOM. She probably meant people (and misdeeds) other than what she actually stated, because she did not want to state them.

Asking for amnesty without knowing WHO to forgive and for WHAT is odd. It is like putting the cart before the horse.

And yet, like it or not, The Atlantic is a very important publication representing very serious people. So, my impression of the article is that it is a trial balloon like “will you leave us alone if we leave you alone and go away”, or some such. There were very important unstated reasons for such an article to be commissioned, written and published.

What are these reasons?

Prof. Oster and the people behind The Atlantic possibly realize that there is a good number of disappointed people who want to ask pointed questions about the origins of the pandemic, as well as “pandemic response” that affected the population in social, financial, and biological ways — and Emily and those who represents seek a way out of the sticky situation for themselves.

Some pandemic measures can be undone, such as schools can be reopened. Some measures cannot be undone — these are related to the biological interventions that millions of people did not want to get for whatever reasons, but were forced to under threat of losing their jobs. They are unlikely to forget that and may, rightly or wrongly, blame these mandated substances all their negative health outcomes.

While we can and should discuss merits of all interventions, and there is room for many opinions, there is also a fact of EXISTENCE of very many disappointed people who are asking questions, such as “why am I sicker than before”, “was I cheated”, “was it really an accident” etc.

Be aware that there is a potential for large masses of people becoming scared for their health, fear whipped up, and political players seeking to harness mass anger/hysteria and possible outcomes that may seem quite radical for those who did not anticipate such a turn of events.

As a middle aged man, I prefer an stable but just society, with healthy population, so that I can retire and live modestly but comfortably. Let’s hope nothing extreme happens in the next decade and the past will be parsed carefully and everyone will be treated justly.

Be aware that there is a potential for large masses of people becoming scared for their health, fear whipped up, and political players seeking to harness mass anger/hysteria and possible outcomes that may seem quite radical for those who did not anticipate such a turn of events.

Primarily (not completely, but pretty damn close to completely) due to the bullshit people like you, greg, ir, labarge, mjd, and other con men without any understanding of covid, what vaccines, how effective they were, keep speading: false crap about a link to population decline, massive numbers of deaths from the vaccines, bullshit about hordes of people harmed by the covid vaccines: there seems to be nothing to ridiculous for your kind to spout as truth.

Well, apparently, the Conservative Woman is reporting a recent study that EVERYONE who received an mRNA vaccine have damaged hearts….even though the study didn’t conclude this and STILL recommended vaccination.

Let’s face it, antivaxxers are just psycopathic liars.

“…in the weirdest sentence of hers, she also expresses concern for nebulous “advocates of bleach injections”, as if injections of bleach was actually practiced.”

People were drinking and gargling bleach under the impression it would protect them from Covid-19, but wound up keeping poison control centers busy instead.

statnews.com/2020/06/05/cdc-misusing-bleach-try-kill-coronavirus/

“Be aware that there is a potential for large masses of people becoming scared for their health, fear whipped up, and political players seeking to harness mass anger/hysteria”

…with Igor and other antivaxers and Covid contrarians on Substack and other platforms doing their best to create and exploit such anger and hysteria.

“Some measures cannot be undone ” you mean like everyone who died? All the people who are still dying? All the high-risk people who are asked to shoulder both all the burden of prevention and all the risk?

How is it “just” to demand that other people do all the work to keep you safe and healthy and employed? If you want to live in a society you need to do the work.

You can take off your mask or reopen a school. But you cannot get un-vaccinated. Once the needle goes in, there is no way to reverse the effects.

There are many people who, for whatever reason, regret getting vaccinated. This likely involves people who were forced to get vaccinated via mandates, but also many who now think they were lied to to get them vaccinated (I know some such persons personally).

They are very disappointed about having gotten vaccinated.

Surely, you may point out to studies or CDC reports that seem to prove that these regretful individuals are wrong to be regretful.

The problem is that these regretful individuals do not believe these studies and some are very upset. They are a large and potent social force if someone decides to use them for political purposes.

Their existence is the reason why forward-looking magazines are now publishing articles asking for “amnesty”.

The Atlantic likely published Oster because she wrote the piece in an attempt to claim she was right and, as Orac says, gloat, sent it to them and their op-ed editors thought it would get attention, whether people agree or not. They may or may not have also liked it or agreed with it.

Any attempt to read something more is not really how these things work.

And note that you are including enough anti-vaccine tropes to give the lie to the attempt to pretend not to be anti-vaccine.

What percentage of vaccinated people regret being vaccinated? Did these regretful people get sick from the vaccine?

Good question. Not sure what is the percentage. I know two who are my relatives. One is sick all the time with all sorts of mundane infections, airway bacterial infections, multiple covids etc. Another started having lots of problems, heart pain, bad blood tests etc. I did not ask this second person for a lot of details, but I am on top of the issues of the first person. That’s two individuals and I am not sure what the percentage in the overall population is.

It also depends on how many people will get convinced, in the future, that their health tool a turn to the worse after their vax. Could potentially be an extremely large number of people.

The False Cause fallacy is far easier to understand in principle than in practice. These “regretful” people are motivated by politics, nothing more.

I “liked” Igor’s post that begins “Good question…” by accident. How do I unlike it?

@Igor:

So you know two people who “think” their long term symptoms are caused by vaccination.

So what? Do you really think anyone here cares what anecdotal evidence you pull out of your arse? If disinformation were controlled through far more aggressive means then people wouldn’t be “convinced” through misrepresentation of evidence that their issues are derived from receiving a vaccine. People have been front-loaded to watch for any slight body ache and point to the reception of the vaccine while ignoring the influenza, COVID and other illnesses that are more likely to have contributed.

And what about all the people who got infected? You can’t un-catch this virus. What about their regrets? What about them being upset? (Except of course for all the dead, they can’t be upset, but their surviving families sure can.) Who are they going to give “amnesty” to?

This article about “amnesty” is really asking “can we ignore every single thing we learned from the global experience of COVID-19?”

(Also, maybe you as a dude should be more thoughtful about how you talk about bodily autonomy right now, eh?)

Hi, I was asked by Colin Day what percentage of people regret being vaccinated. I answered that I am related to two such people but do not know the overall percentage.

My point was not to start a general debate on the topic of “vaccines bad”, but instead point out that there is plenty of vaccine-disappointed people, who can potentially become a potent social force.

These vaccine-disappointed people, who exist regardless of whether you or I agree with them, are the reason for The Atlantic to ask for “amnesty”. The Atlantic understands that soon, the public will begin to ask very pointed questions.

Hence the Atlantic’s calls for “amnesty”. Emily’s article was not a piece of clickbait, but instead was a well thought trial balloon.

And what about the ” potent social force” of the friends and families of everyone who died due to limited, delayed or removed-to-early public health responses?
Or all the health care professionals who suffered permanent harm from trying to deal with any of the major waves?

Here’s an example of a ” potent social force” – the righteous anger of everyone in the UK who did abide by the lockdown rules, many of whom did not get to say goodbye to elderly loved ones, while their PM partied. Many of those people understood the need for the lockdown rules and are angry specifically about the hypocrisy, not the public health order.

We don’t need “amnesty”. We need accountability. We need a full and in-depth, global, retrospective so that we can learn from this pandemic and be prepared for the next.
We don’t learn anything from just saying “oh well, mistakes were made.”

I’m reminded of the (now old) saying that arguing with an anti-vaxxers is like playing chess with a pigeon in that the pigeon will knock all the pieces over, crap on the chess board and then fly off like it’s won. Oster is that pigeon. She didn’t know a thing about what she wrote, but stomped around breaking stuff, put out some crap and has now flown off in self-aggrandizing victory.

For me the frustrating thing is that I personally found her books helpful/interesting (and in the book about kids the only thing she is completely unequivocal about is that kids need to be vaccinated on schedule, period).
Even the stuff I didn’t agree with at least gave me starting points for research (like, real research with PubMed, not “research”).

I did pick up on the whole “charter school” thing very quickly, and the note that she actively rejects the precautionary principle explains a lot.

The lockdowns did tremendous damage to many small businesses, while huge businesses did better than ever. Closing schools damaged children’s education, and their social development. And the risk of serious covid for children was nearly zero. Many other things that could endanger children are ignored, because trying to avoid all risk would be crazy. Keeping children out of school was crazy, except maybe in the very beginning when little was known about covid.

Forcing vaccines might have made sense early on, before it was known that we do not protect others by getting vaccinated ourselves. After that, it made no sense.

Genetic vaccines are completely different from the traditional vaccines most people know and love. The covid vaccine makers never claimed to know the long term effects, and we still don’t know. It was a giant experiment. If incidence of heart disease is increasing, for example, how can we know if it has something to do with these vaccines? We can’t.

There is plenty of data showing higher than normal levels of non-covid deaths.

The lab origin theory is alive and well. Horseshoe bats live far from Wuhan, and no one has an idea how any mammal could have brought the virus to Wuhan. No evidence has been found of any animal in the wildlife market having carried the virus. But there is a virology lab nearby, where gain of function research on horseshoe bat coronaviruses had begun in 2018. And the lab had serious safety problems, and some kind of major emergency in fall 2019.

Our NIH was helping to fund this research — trying to make horseshoe bat coronaviruses able to infect humans — through EcoHealth Alliance, run by Peter Daszak. Daszak was one of the most vocal early deniers of the possibility of lab origin.

We know that our society has suffered greatly because of the pandemic and the policies that were followed. We know that mental health and addiction problems have increased. We know that physical health problems have increased — maybe because people were afraid to go out and visit doctors, maybe because of the lockdowns, maybe after effects of covid, maybe long term effects of the covid vaccines. We do not know.

And now, since the same kind of research is still being done, we don’t know if this can all happen over again. Gene editing has become relatively easy now, so biodefense research is needed to stay ahead of enemies and terrorists. I get that. But it has to be better controlled.

The recent Vanity Fair article shows how badly things were going at the WIV. No, we don’t have control over the CCP. But at least we could become aware of what is happening.

Many mistakes were made. I still see people walking alone outside wearing masks. I wonder if those people have any idea what probably caused the pandemic, or that something like it or worse can easily happen again.

I stopped counting after the 3rd obvious lie.

” And the risk of serious covid for children was nearly zero.”

Nope. Measles kills around the same number of children and we mandate the MMR in nearly every school district.

“Keeping children out of school was crazy, except maybe in the very beginning when little was known about covid.”

This is a worthless opinion because you don’t understand community transmission.

“before it was known that we do not protect others by getting vaccinated ourselves”

Third lie. Transmission declines rapidly with vaccination within populations.
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167629622000091

Why you’re tolerated here will forever be a mystery.

Do you remember tha government paid generous compensation for lockdowns ?
We of course know that vaccines stop transmission, though effectivity is not 100%
Do you know that DNA is genetic molecule ? RNA is another thing. It hydrolyses very rapidly.
You should cite data aou non COVID deaths. Have you any ?
Actually Wuhan lab made mouse coronavirus wih human ACreceptor. Its sequence its known, its very different from SARS CoV2

We know how COVID got to Wuhan. A raccoon dog caught it from a bat and was subsequently captured and taken to the wet market.

They know which cage the raccoon dog was in. No mystery at all.

@ Christine Rose re: “They know which cage the raccoon dog was in. No mystery at all.”

Which one?

If the pandemic resulted from a SARS-CoV-2 zoonotic spillover in Wuhan from an intermediate host species, there would be evidence of SARS-CoV-2 circulating in animals before it spilled over into humans.

There is no evidence that any animal was infected with SARS-CoV-2 prior to the first human cases.

If the pandemic resulted from a SARS-CoV-2 zoonotic spillover in Wuhan from an intermediate host species, there would be evidence of SARS-CoV-2 circulating in animals before it spilled over into humans.

This is a real case where absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. If the intermediate host was infected a long way from Wuhan, there would be no evidence of circulation in that species at Wuhan or indeed in most other places. If no-one knows exactly where the animal came from, they would not know which population to look at.

Of course the right-wingers are incensed by Oster’s call for amnesty. As Cartus and Feldman note in the Protean essay Orac quotes above, Oster’s right-libertarian funded role in the ideological firmament is to woo her “female, white, affluent, and liberal” readership toward positions that favor their interests — opposition to school closing and mitigation specifically and “the economic style of reasoning” — without totally upsetting these women’s liberal identities or drawing them to the dark side.

As such, Oster’s shtick operates on the discursive terrain of liberals and scientists: the realm of truth claims intended to operate as truth claims. Which means that the debunking by Orac, Cartus and Feldman, and others is directly on point. What Fox hosts and other right-wing voice are about is a different matter: capsuled with only slight hyperbole as ‘all trolling, all the time.”

WaPo columnist Greg Sargent seems to have (finally) figured this out in the wake of conservative political figures spreading wild conspiracy theories about the attack on Paul Pelosi despite contrary evidence including the attacker’s confession, the police report, and the existence of surveillance video. (the following is condensed for relevance, italics are my emphasis)

Many Republicans in the MAGA vein are employing “big lies” on numerous fronts, but their purpose has taken a dark new turn: It’s as if all the lying is becoming an assertion of power in its own right, a kind of end in itself.

If you think the new information will slow down the dissembling among some on the right, I have a Trump University get-rich-quick real estate scam to sell you. Democrats have responded to all this with outrage, shaming and fact-checking. But that’s about as effective as shooting spitballs at a balloon. This is partly because the falsehoods have spread wildly through a right-wing media ecosystem that has been constructed to be impervious to outside challenge. But it’s also because the whole point of all the lying is to assert the power to manufacture an alternate story in the face of easily demonstrable facts and outraged condemnation — and, importantly, to assert that power unabashedly and defiantly.

Prominent right-wing personalities have blithely asserted that the media is spreading misinformation about the attack, trumped up absurd “false flag” theories about it, spewed truly vicious mockery and even turned the hammer into an online meme. Watching all those figures, it’s hard not to conclude that the key act here is a political faction unshackling itself from even the most minimal standards of public conduct. The louder the shaming and the fact-checking get, the greater the assertion of power in defiance of them becomes. Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a New York University professor who studies authoritarian systems, sees this as the latest example of “autocratic political culture” taking over parts of the GOP and the right. “The ability to assert a false reality in the face of empirical evidence is itself an act of power,” Ben-Ghiat tells me. Those on the right pushing this line, she says, are placing themselves “above the truth” and “above democratic custom.” At the core of this politics, says Ben-Ghiat, is the flaunting of the ability to “get away with it,” whether the “it” is serial lying, the abandonment of basic norms, or even deliberate cruelty to a longtime colleague and member of the political opposition.

I post this in part as it reflects on the issues commenter has raised about the debunking Orac offers here missing the point of antivax, COVID denial etc. He’s right about that, and he’s right that, as such, the debunking has no beneficial effect on these people. If anything, as Sargent observes, it adds fuel to the fire by giving them another opportunity to exert power over truth. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the exercise here at RI is pointless, just that the trolls aren’t necessarily the audience. While the (apparent) truth-claims of the right may be mere window dressing for displays of power, there’s always the possibility that, like Oster’s address to bouzhie moms, people outside the cult may encounter them in some form, treat them as genuine truth claims, and be persuaded by them in some limited way.

Orac recently took has to task for merely pointing to the problem, and having no constructive suggestions on how to counter the anti-epistemology of Trumpism or narcissism more generally. First, I think it’s valid to start conversations with a warning, whether one has a solution or not. Second, IMO the question of how to counter this state of mind is extremely thorny, with no obvious good answers. Third, has has actually made some very general suggestions, albeit nothing specific. But what I want to say today is: 1) It’s not necessarily Orac’s responsibility to take this on, as it largely lies outside his areas of expertise: 2) if he were to take it up to any degree, it need not replace the traditional debunking focus of RI, or even become a major theme, 3) I don’t think the two goals are mutually exclusive, even if the audiences for them may be, and it may indeed be worthwhile to devote some small bit of discussion here to the subject of false empowerment and how it might be undermined.

It appears that the collective thought of this website is exploring three directions

1) [Orac] Emily Oster is wrong on her statements about school closures and there is nothing to apologize for
2) [Indie Rebel] Emily Oster is right on her statements about school closures
3) [sadmar] Explores general topics of Narcissism and Trumpism and general philosophy and epistemology of life given from a liberal standpoint

While everyone has every right to discuss what is interesting to them, I want to note something:

EMILY OSTER’S ARTICLE IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT EVEN IF — AND ESPECIALLY IF — YOU THINK HER STATEMENTS OF FACT ARE WRONG.

It is of very little importance, in the big picture, whether Emily is right or wrong on school closures. There are thousands of voices everywhere talking about school closures and Emily’s opinion adds nothing of interest to that debate.

What is important is that AN ARTICLE ASKING FOR AN AMNESTY FOR “COVID RESPONSE LEADERS” WAS PUBLISHED IN A VERY IMPORTANT MAGAZINE.

Somehow, the smart, well connected and influential newsmen decided to find someone not overburdened with past nastiness (so no Leana Wen or Monica Gandhi), with some appeal to “both sides”, to write a nice but vague article asking “can we please declare an amnesty for everybody”.

Is Emily’s article simply clickbait?

Or is Emily’s article a trial balloon, sent out to gauge the willingness of society to allow an “amnesty”?

Would The Atlantic allow such an article to be posted a year ago? Of course not! It would be totally contrary to everything that the magazine was touting then.

And yet a week ago, it was allowed to be published and had the effect of a grenade thrown into a pile of excrement. Literally everyone on the Internet is opining about her article — because of its importance and the first-ever call for an amnesty!

The “give us amnesty” talk is in the air and that is what is important.

I do not think that Atlantic is a spcial arbiter of truth. Magazine articles come and are forgotten

“and it may indeed be worthwhile to devote some small bit of discussion here to the subject of false empowerment and how it might be undermined.”

Blessed Day — Commander Joseph Lawrence, Giliad

The National Review has two total morons making unscientific and non-evidence based positions to whine about Emily Oster’s article.

How much of this is a result of Trump’s “Big Lie” and their post-truth delusional pseudo-reality where toddlers can’t speak due to mask wearing adults and how much is just their “rugged individuality” and rejection of government? Or is that all the same thing?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6DcoMap9D6s

Watch at your own peril, Caroline Downey is obviously not the brightest “pretty girl” that the right can present to make a claim that they were correct about COVID policies.

It’s possible Emily Oster’s book is going to be the spark:

“Forgiveness to politicians who violated our charter of rights and freedoms? You don’t forgive tyrants – you bring justice to them; either by law or by the sword! Never forgive nor forget what they’ve done – they’d only be too happy to do it to us again!”

“They are running now because of Nuremberg 2.0 Starting January 2023 and ALL Doctors, Celebs, FB, YouTube, Google, IG Influencers etc etc are on the list for these Nuremberg Trials”

“there won’t be enough earth for all the bodies who will face executions for this.”

“Thanks for covering this. The abuser always pleads forgiveness and promises never to do it again. The mandates are still in force in every country. The poison is still being promoted. The injured are still being ignored and worse, demeaned.”

“I lost friends, family, and jobs because of my antivaxx stance. I was kicked out of numerous stores for refusing to wear a mask.
I absolutely will not forgive or forget any of them.”

It gets worse if you go out on Rumble or TrumpSocial or even Gab. There is no recognition of what COULD have happened had public health officials not reacted, nor recognition that many countries’ health officials acted far too slowly and not heavy handed enough to prevent too many deaths. America, in particular, should have had far better per-capita mortality rates.

There is no recognition of what COULD have happened had public health officials not reacted, …

True, but that is because a central point in their argument is that covid was not a serious threat in any case: giving an honest discussion of what could have happened would be a clear contradiction of the “no threat” assertion.

@ Indie Rebel

You write: “Forcing vaccines might have made sense early on, before it was known that we do not protect others by getting vaccinated ourselves. After that, it made no sense.”

First, even if you were right that those vaccinated could still infect others, the overall evidence finds those vaccinated were highly protected against severe disease, hospitalization, long covid, and deaths. So, if not vaccinated and infected could still transmit; but being vaccinated protected the individual, not perfectly; but I don’t live in a fantasy world of perfection. However, numerous studies have found that both those vaccinated and those actually infected transmit usually fewer virions, and some are damaged and some already dead. In actuality, transmissions from infected vaccinated and already sickened and recuperated because even with high antibody titer a virus can get in, for instance, nasal cavity for short period of time before immune system eliminates. Basically, really STUPID to criticize vaccines, ignoring that those vaccinated are protected, because of possible risk of transmission. In fact, the actual solution would be to ensure that most people get vaccinated so if transmitted they won’t get sick. Just another example of your sick unscientific bias.

You write: “Genetic vaccines are completely different from the traditional vaccines most people know and love. The covid vaccine makers never claimed to know the long term effects, and we still don’t know. It was a giant experiment. If incidence of heart disease is increasing, for example, how can we know if it has something to do with these vaccines? We can’t.”

First, as I’ve written numerous times, first NOT a genetic vaccine. Obviously in your immense ignorance you don’t understand the difference between genes and Messenger RNA. As for “long term effects” NOPE. mRNA lasts only short time, produces in case of covid vaccines the S-Spike Protein which can NOT enter cells, cannot hijack cell machinery, can’t kill cells. And as I’ve explained and you in your immense ignorance of immunology, the adaptive immune system does NOT recognize whole microbes; but small distinguishable sections called antigenic determinants/epitopes. Doesn’t matter if infected with live microbe or vaccine, adaptive immune system works the same. So, short term life of mRNA, adaptive immune system generating B cells and T cells that target the S-Spike Protein, S-Spike protein removed by immune system, VOILA. Besides, numerous studies over many decades have found that if a serious adverse reaction is to occur following a vaccination it will be in less than two months. We now have several years of studies around the world of the mRNA covid vaccine as well.

You write: “There is plenty of data showing higher than normal levels of non-covid deaths.?

Yep, as hospitals overwhelmed with covid cases together with shortage of personal protective equipment and staff, some cases of cancer, heart disease, etc. were not treated, at least in a timely manner; but still result of pandemic. And, unfortunately, more traffic deaths from drunken drivers.

You write: “The lockdowns did tremendous damage to many small businesses, while huge businesses did better than ever. Closing schools damaged children’s education, and their social development. And the risk of serious covid for children was nearly zero. Many other things that could endanger children are ignored, because trying to avoid all risk would be crazy. Keeping children out of school was crazy, except maybe in the very beginning when little was known about covid.”

First, risk of serious covid for children was low, though 1,341 died as of March 2022. However, even if one accepts that few children died from covid and we also know that on the whole they transmit it less, they do transmit it and thus can contribute to potentially harming others, including grandparents, strangers if shopping with parent at, for instance, supermarket, etc. And the overall data find the risk from the vaccine; e.g., myocarditis, though real, much much less that from actual covid. That is, though few children died, many still did get sick, some developed long covid, others myocarditis, etc.

Second, yep, businesses were hurt; but with proper support; e.g., federal aid, they can come back. Dead people can’t come back. But the lockdowns were not always done correctly, some longer than necessary, some shorter than necessary, etc. We see this in data comparing areas with lockdowns to those without lockdowns. Those without had significantly higher death rates.

As for the origins of the pandemic, so what? Maybe eventually will turn out to be Wuhan, maybe not. In US we did gain-of-function studies and had numerous lab leaks, including one from U of North Carolina of a gain-of-function corona virus. Fortunately it didn’t break out into public; but we could have been the origin. One can debate origin until hell freezes over; but the more important problem is how various nations reacted. Those that took various precautions, not necessarily total lockdowns; e.g. South Korea, had exponentially fewer deaths whereas the US had one of the highest deaths per capita. Again, lab leaks unfortunately happen; but when they do the response to them is what determines how serious. We failed on the whole.

You write: “Many mistakes were made. I still see people walking alone outside wearing masks. I wonder if those people have any idea what probably caused the pandemic, or that something like it or worse can easily happen again.”

Yep, high likelihood of future pandemics, perhaps much deadlier that current and as anyone who has studied pandemics knows, much much much higher likelihood will have animal origins. Just in past two decades we have had four outbreaks, SARS, MERS, 2009 flu, and COVID-19. Some think 2009 flu overplayed; but later research found number of deaths much higher than original data. Many reasons, none related to labs:
1. cutting down rainforests where many animals with viruses live
2. wet markets where all kinds of animals caught in wild sold
3. mass international travel, etc.
4. because many don’t get vaccinated based on idiots like you

So, as usual, you display your rigid biased unscientific approach.

IR is not susceptible to reasoning, he knows he’s right and you are wrong. Unfortunately he may bite his own bum.

@ Indie Rebel

Just to make clear, mRNA does NOT enter the nucleus where the genes exist. Gene therapies are designed to enter the nucleus and affecte the genes; e.g., alter/modify them.

mRNA vaccines really are NOT different from “traditional” vaccines as they basically are designed to do the same thing, that is, present some form of the antigenic determinants/epitopes to alert the adaptive immune system, allowing it to manufacture memory cells ready to deal with infection from actual live microbe.

Having devoted considerable time during the past couple of years to reading up on mRNA covid vaccine, etc. there is good reason to view them as a major leap forward in producing vaccines. For instance, the current flu vaccine takes over six months to produce and distribute. First, get samples of flu outbreaks in other parts of world, then prepare, either in eggs, cell culture, or from the aforementioned, then sorting out a few antigenic determinants. With mRNA vaccines, we can get DNA or RNA sequencing of flu outbreaks within a week and manufacture vaccine and begin distributing within a month or so. If, as with current flu, outbreak sooner than usual, we will have ability to vaccinate much much faster. By analogy, from handwriting, to type setting, to electronics, same message just improved technology.

And, again, there is NO evidence that mRNA vaccines cause more than a minuscule number of severe side-effects and these are much much much lower than risk from actual diseases. And not riskier, actual just as safe, as more traditional vaccines.

Keep claiming gene therapy, clear evidence of your either stupidity or intellectual dishonesty, probably a combination

@Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH
“Just to make clear, mRNA does NOT enter the nucleus where the genes exist.”

I know all about how mRNA vaccines work. They are generally CALLED genetic vaccines, even though they don’t enter the nucleus.

“there is NO evidence that mRNA vaccines cause more than a minuscule number of severe side-effects and these are much much much lower than risk from actual diseases.”

No one knows how much disease is being caused by these vaccines. You believe what you want to believe, but you don’t have any evidence. No one knows, yet, and we might never since absolute proof would be difficult to get.

No one knows how much disease is being caused by these vaccines.

There is a very good idea of that, but if your assertion were true it would mean that the things and others of your ilk toss out about the damage the vaccines do is pure BS — you don’t know what they’re doing either.

But then, we know that thinking isn’t what you do.

@ Indie Rebel

You write: “They are generally CALLED genetic vaccines, even though they don’t enter the nucleus.”

NOPE, not in peer-reviewed articles, not WHO, not CDC, not FDA, not Swedish health authority, etc.; but I’m sure various antivaxxers like you do call them genetic vaccines; but given you claim to understand how mRNA vaccines work, so why do you call them genetic vaccines if you understand they are NOT.

You write: “No one knows how much disease is being caused by these vaccines. You believe what you want to believe, but you don’t have any evidence. No one knows, yet, and we might never since absolute proof would be difficult to get.”

I don’t have any evidence? I guess the clinical trials, the follow-ups, the US and international data aren’t evidence. Based on your rigid bias, no amount of follow-up, no amount of data can ever refute your beliefs. Well, if one used your approach/mentality we could NEVER accept any new products on the market without really long term follow-ups. We do have very long follow-ups for many other vaccines, literally decades. And by the way, if 10 years down the line a cohort of vaccinated kids have a slightly higher number of “problems/disabilities” these could be caused by numerous other things; e.g., toxins in air and water, changes in diet, improvements in obstetrics that keep alive more very low birthweight kids, etc. But in your mind, must be the vaccines. What about 20 years down the line?

You are a really closed-minded rigid biased moron.

Just for fun, please explain how mRNA which deteriorates rapidly and can’t enter the nucleus can cause long-term effects. Or, how can S-Spike Proteins that can’t enter the cell and our immune system eliminates cause long-term effects. Please explain.

“No one knows how much disease is being caused by these vaccines.”
It’s almost like you’ve never heard of postmarket surveillance, or pharmacovigilance, or any of the other systems used to track adverse events related to vaccines.

Except you have, because we’ve told you, repeatedly, with links an citations.

What types like IR never seem to understand is that SARS-CoV-2 essentially is>/b> mRNA, ready to translate, just done up in a fancy wrapper, as is the case with many RNA viruses. The complete viral mRNA isn’t translated all at once, but only partially. It causes infected cells to make 10 more sub-genomic mRNAs, one of which codes the S protein. Not all of the S protein translated from the viral mRNA winds up stuck to virions. Some of it will make it to the surface of the infected cells, just as that translated from the vaccine mRNA. And of course some of it is chopped up in proteasomes and the peptides put up on MHC for the express benefit of the immune system.

repost with botched tags (hopefully) fixed; my apologies:

What types like IR never seem to understand is that SARS-CoV-2 essentially is mRNA, ready to translate, just done up in a fancy wrapper, as is the case with many RNA viruses. The complete viral mRNA isn’t translated all at once, but only partially. It causes infected cells to make 10 more sub-genomic mRNAs, one of which codes the S protein. Not all of the S protein translated from the viral mRNA winds up stuck to virions. Some of it will make it to the surface of the infected cells, just as that translated from the vaccine mRNA. And of course some of it is chopped up in proteasomes and the peptides put up on MHC for the express benefit of the immune system.

IR: “You believe what you want to believe, but you don’t have any evidence.”

We have a new winner in the Projection Sweepstakes.

@ldw56old
“you don’t know what they’re doing either.”

No one knows, that is what I said. There are experts who have many ideas about what could go wrong. Injecting synthetic mRNA into cells might sound like a good idea. But considering how little is actually understood about the complex processes in living cells, I would say it’s reckless.

“we know that thinking isn’t what you do.”

When people use insults rather than logic, I know they don’t have much of value to say.

You missed the point. You assert others don’t know what injuries are being suffered but you have no problem making vast claims. Your lack of self awareness is matched only by your dishonesty and lack of knowledge.

We get that you don’t like having your errors, lack of honesty, and lack of knowledge pointed out, but those seem to be the only things you have to offer.

You liars on the anti-vacc side are all the same that way.

@JustaTech
“It’s almost like you’ve never heard of postmarket surveillance, or pharmacovigilance, or any of the other systems used to track adverse events related to vaccines.”

And you never heard of the many thousands of events entered in VAERS, and similar systems in other countries. Many more incidents than for any other vaccines. But you of course will say they are all coincidences.

Thank you for the link!

I tried to do a less-stringent stratification of the VAERS data and compare it to morbidity and mortality tables from prior years and I gave up after a few weeks and a couple bottles of scotch. Anyone who has worked with these data will tell you that this was not a minor undertaking.

What on earth are you talking about?
I am talking about all the systems that exist to catch all those reports, including VAERS.

You said that no one is looking for adverse events. I said that wasn’t true, and to contradict my statement you gave an example of one of many systems that exists to collect adverse events!

So which is it, VAERS doesn’t exist, or it does?

And by the way, I WANT to believe the mRNA vaccines are safe, since I got them myself. We were told they would protect others who are vulnerable, and I have elderly relatives that I thought I was helping to protect.

So it’s not like I criticize the vaccines because for some odd reason I want them to be dangerous.

@ Indie Rebel

So, you didn’t answer why you continue to call it a genetic therapy when you knew it wasn’t. Typical

You write: “Injecting synthetic mRNA into cells might sound like a good idea. But considering how little is actually understood about the complex processes in living cells, I would say it’s reckless.”

And please explain difference between “synthetic mRNA” and natural mRNA”. It is composed of same bases. It attaches to cells ribosomes where a protein is produced. In this case the S-Spike protein, though slightly modified; but all the studies find that the process doesn’t differ from natural process. And mRNA disintegrates in a relatively short time and we have numerous published studies that have dealt with it. As for “how little is actually understood about the complex processes in living cells”. Yikes. Maybe Orac should respond as he has a PhD in cell physiology and published studies. In past I kept saying he had PhD in immunology because I was focused on immunology; but a PhD in cell physiology directly relevant.

The only one who things living cells little understood is you who continues to display your ignorance of just about everything.

You write: “When people use insults rather than logic, I know they don’t have much of value to say.”

Orac, I and numerous others have over and over refuted what you write; but you just ignore and keep on, so how else can one appraise someone like you? You want long term follow-ups. So, let’s say we required long-term, decades long, follow-ups of vaccines, then we would, for instance, with polio had 10s of thousands of more paralyzed cases. With smallpox, literally millions more deaths. And with current covid, twice the number of deaths or more. And, only someone like you would ignore ALL the current research and reports, claiming only long-term studies required. Goes against everything we know about vaccines; but, of course, you think you are the expert. Please, list your peer-reviewed papers or just papers which include credible reference lists.

And by the way, the Vanity Fair paper on Covid’s origin ends with: “Clarification, This story has been updated to clarify that Michael
Worobey, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Arizona, said two recent papers by him and his colleagues established that “a natural zoonotic origin is the only plausible scenario for the origin of the pandemic.”

So, I suggest you actually read their paper as well, which I know you won’t. Or, check out:

Steve Novella (2022 Jul 27). New Studies on the Origin of COVID-19: New evidence strongly supports the conclusion that SARS-CoV-2 emerged from the wet markets of Wuhan, killing the lab-leak hypothesis. Science-Based Medicine. https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/new-studies-on-the-origin-of-covid-19/

Right about now Emily Oster, seeing that she’s been slammed both by Covid contrarians and science-based public health advocates, is congratulating herself for being the moderate voice of reason.

She’ll probably get a book out of it.

A book and some TED talks where she can apply the same heartless justification of ignoring COVID in the same way she justified not treating HIV in certain parts of the world.

Yes, in retrospect I should have mentioned her history of suggesting that treating HIV is not justified in some parts of the world. You know, based on a cost-benefit analysis.

Yeah, there’s a fallacy out there that if “both sides” hate you, you must be doing something right. It’s a variant of the fallacy of moderation or the “both sides” fallacy. It’s also very soothing to the ego. You can represent yourself as being oh-so-moderate and “reasonable” compared to the “extremes.”

Just like Intelligent Design tries to be the “reasonable compromise” between creationism and evolution.

I sort of agree with Oster and sorta don’t. Maybe it’s because I’m in academia and I’ve seen, first-hand a) that it was possible to do in-person instruction with low risk AS LONG AS you also had masking, ventilation, etc.; b) we have a cohort of students coming in who are struggling badly because their study skills are almost non-existent (something I’m seeing in my own children as well). I also think she’s right that a lot of early decisions were arbitrary and even counterproductive (e.g., closing beaches and parks). And I think skeptics have legitimate beefs with hypocrisy (e.g., telling people not to go out while politicians went to the French Laundry) and the certainty with which things we were still figuring out were stated (e.g, vaccines will end the pandemic when we only had a few months data on how long immunity would last). Granted, the latter was more the media and politicians than scientists. It would be good for all of us to look back and say what we got right and what we got wrong. And note that the early months were scary and uncertain because we didn’t want to end up like Italy did, having to let people die because we didn’t have enough beds.

That having been said, the “skeptics” need to be careful what they wish for. If we start holding people accountable, let’s start with the Alex Jones and Alex Berensons of the world, whose anti-vax nonsense results in tens of thousands of deaths just in this country. Let’s start with those who said it was “just the flu” when it clearly wasn’t or spun conspiracy theories about a plandemic. Because the “skeptics” did way more damage than the mainstream did. And it’s not close.

That having been said, the “skeptics” need to be careful what they wish for. If we start holding people accountable, let’s start with the Alex Jones and Alex Berensons of the world, whose anti-vax nonsense results in tens of thousands of deaths just in this country. Let’s start with those who said it was “just the flu” when it clearly wasn’t or spun conspiracy theories about a plandemic. Because the “skeptics” did way more damage than the mainstream did. And it’s not close.

Indeed. Obviously, they deny this, but it’s true nonetheless.

@ Hal RTFLC:

Anti-vaxxers say that SBM/ vaccine/ PH advocates are the ones who killed tens of thousands. I just listened to 10 minutes of Del Bigtree.

I keep wondering what will happen when there is a new novel virus: will very few people comply with distancing/masks/ vaccines etc?

Or “my side lied and distorted facts, and your side made mistakes, but let’s just let bygones be bygones.”

Yesterday, Del Bigtree, The Highwire ( 7 minutes in-)

What should we forgive, he snaps?
destruction of the economy, suicides, deaths, school closures, masks, nasal testing, no school sports etc? He goes on for quite a while.
Like other anti-vaxxers, he believes that PH measures used to control the spread of the virus were in themselves dangerous. You can only assert this if you believe that the virus itself is not dangerous or that it doesn’t harm valuable people.
Think of the children!

Del himself should be thankful: Covid invigorated his anti-vax career.

Covid was dangerous for some, the PH measures were devastating also. Which was worse, I guess no one knows. We should have had moderate PH measures that focused on the vulnerable and left most others to live normally.

There are two problems with your argument, Indie Rebel.
Firstly, as has been pointed out before, large numbers of people in “less vulnerable” categories still died or suffered sequelae. “Less vulnerable” doesn’t mean “invulnerable”.
Secondly, even if people catch COVID and survive, they can still be disease vectors. It is possible to be infectious before symptoms display. In addition, it takes a while to clear an infection, even after symptoms have passed. Your approach would have led to many more people being infected and dying.

Remember that obese people are vulnerable to COVID, Isolating hem all (40% of Americans) would have been quite a lockdown

“Children aren’t at risk, so why did we close schools?” = “I don’t think teachers are people.”

Yes, but parents and teachers should protect themselves. I wonder how, but people seemed to think that children wouldn’t spread covid.

Hello Renate:
I thought that you might be interested: Del ( Yesterday, The Highwire) features a film about Dutch farmers: the film maker is trying to raise money** to finish his project . I assume that anything Del supports must be bogus but you might want to take a look and see how ( probably) unrealistic it is.

** not very successfully

Judging from what Del has to say on other sbujects, I suppose it will be the same old, same old. I heard a bit about support for Dutch farmers from right wing politicians, giving a complete false image of things.
We have nitrogen problem, which endangers nature, because some nitrogenous stuff make undesired plants grow and drive out other protected plants. One of the largest causes are the farmers. Because we have signed European treaties, to limit the emission of nitrogen, we should do this, but it brings the resistance of farmers, who don’t think nitrogen is the problem. The problem is nature and refugees. Because of the European treaties and the connected laws, wh should lower the emission of nitrogen. But when building houses, or roads, this means nitrogenous stuff is produced, so because of the laws building has to be stopped. According to some right wing politicians, refugees need housing, so without refugees, no housing is needed and that means there is no nitrogen problem. One thing they tend to forget is that a lot of work on farms and in nursery gardens is done by people from Eastern Europe. They need housing too, but that is also a problem. I live near The Hague and an area with glasshouses, where people from Eastern Europe work. They live in very bad conditions in The Hague, because the people in the glasshouse area, between The Hague and Rotterdam, don’t want them to live in their area.
So we get farmers protests, which are often left alone, while protests of environmental groups are quickly broken up by the police.

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@orac:
“Actually, I have told comments on “my” side to tone it down. I just haven’t had to do that nearly as often as I have for the antivaxxers”

That can’t be true. I have read this blog for quite a while, and “your” side very often uses insults instead of logic to “win” a debate. Often those insults are unbelievably vile.

I have not seen anything like that from your opponents. And I know I have almost never resorted to insults. I ignore most of those attacks.

I am here because I like to hear more than one side of controversies. Sometimes that means we have to take abuse from angry mobs. One commenter on “your” side, called “has,” gets the prize for an insane level of profanity. His malignant hatred of vaccine skeptics is off the charts. Others here mainly call us ignorant conspiracy theorists, or whatever. I ignore that also.

I am interested in scientific and rational debates. I have no patience for the rabid anti-vaxxers either.

I am interested in scientific and rational debates. I have no patience for the rabid anti-vaxxers either.

That is shown to be a lie (on of your most egregious) by your constant referrals to VAERS data as demonstrating danger and risk, as well as you other baseless assertions about the dangers of the vaccine, the lack of study that went into it, and the low risk of covid in comparison.

It would be funny to hear you say that if not for the very high probability that you’re stupid enough to believe you’re engaging in a scientific discussion when you toss out your bullshit.

IR: “And I know I have almost never resorted to insults. I ignore most of those attacks.”

Above all, you ignore all the patient, logic and evidence-based refutations of your claims. Your continual obfuscations and nonsense are what lead to insults (typically accompanied by reasoned arguments, which you pretend don’t exist while clutching your pearls about how mean others are).

“I have no patience for the rabid anti-vaxxers either.”

A bit of self-doubt creeping in? Good.

@ Indie Rebel

You write: “I am interested in scientific and rational debates.”

NOPE. Not scientific, not rational to make absurd claims of extreme dichotomies; e.g., claiming Orac always completely agrees with . . .
Not scientific, not rational to claim over and over risk of long-term effects of vaccines, ignoring over half century of research around the world that if a vaccine has a severe adverse reaction will be obvious within less than two months.

You write: “I have no patience for the rabid anti-vaxxers either.”

WOW! You are a rabid anti-vaxxer, especially regarding mRNA vaccines and your continued ignorance, despite what you claim, of immunology is loud and clear.

“not rational to claim over and over risk of long-term effects of vaccines, ignoring over half century of research around the world that if a vaccine has a severe adverse reaction will be obvious within less than two months.”

You are not aware that mRNA vaccines work very differently than any previous vaccines? You do not know that mRNA vaccines were never before used on large numbers of healthy people?

No one can predict what the damage from these vaccines might turn out to be. Some of it might be subtle — for example, heart damage that is not noticed, but that eventually contributes to serious heart disease. Some of it might involve disruptions in anti-cancer processes of cells that eventually results in cancer. And maybe it will cause or worsen autoimmune or neurological diseases.

No one can be sure. And if someone already has heart disease, cancer, autoimmune diseases, etc., they might never noticed if these things are worsened because of the vaccines.

The vaccine makers have not been highly motivated to study any of the possibilities. We do know that non-covid deaths have greatly increased, but that can be blamed on the lockdowns.

There is no 2 month limit for damage from mRNA vaccines. Many experts think great damage is already occurring, and that it will be worse in the future. I am not taking a side. I do not know, no one knows. But your certainty is not based in science.

“Many experts think great damage is already occurring, and that it will be worse in the future”

Do they though? Really? Are they really experts? Do they have the same access to the raw data and the same qualifications as the people who’s this official job this is?

Or do they have their ‘own’ data? Their own assumptions?

We all know about myocarditis in young men, there is no controversy about that. So we know these vaccines can damage the heart (oh yeah, mild and temporary, sure). How exactly do you think they can damage the heart, if the covid spike is harmless?

So we know about myocarditis. But what we don’t know is how much we don’t know yet. The vaccines are capable of damaging health, we know that. And there are many reasons to suspect they can also cause other kinds of damage.

But no one can say they are completely safe. That would be a lie.

It’s a good thing nobody is saying any vaccine is completely safe — that objection of yours is pure crap.

What they are pointing out is that the level of severity of problems you and your fellow morons are claiming has absolutely zero evidence behind it.

“How exactly do you think they can damage the heart, if the covid spike is harmless?”

Except the covid spike ISN’T harmless. Where the hell have you been? Covid causes myocarditis. Serious covid causes more severe heart damage. How is it possible that you aren’t aware of this? It also causes blood clots.

Actually mRNA produces spike protein,, which would e a component of any killed pathogen vaccine.
You should really prouce data about all these excess nonn COVID deaths.

@ Indie Rebel

You write: “No one can be sure.” Yep; but science is almost NEVER absolutely sure of anything; but when the evidence is overwhelming we base decisions on it. If one used your mentality, medicine and medical research would come almost to a halt.

You write: “There is no 2 month limit for damage from mRNA vaccines. Many experts think great damage is already occurring, and that it will be worse in the future. I am not taking a side. I do not know, no one knows. But your certainty is not based in science.”

As I explained and you ignore, mRNA in the vaccines breaks down within a day or two, so can NOT do anything beyond. mRNA vaccines don’t enter the nucleus, so can’t affect eukaryotic cell genes. mRNA goes to ribosomes and produces one and only one protein, the S-Spike protein; but a slightly modified version so it is recognizable by the immune system; but can’t even change conformation. The S-Spike protein is mostly projected on cell surface where immune system recognizes as foreign; but some can break lose and go through blood; but again, recognized by immune system. And this is what immune system does. Even if there were some remote possibility that some of the S-Spike proteins survived, so what? They can’t do anything. And as I explained and you ignore, mRNA vaccines basically work as other vaccines, that is, present one or more of the antigenic determinants/epitopes that the immune system can recognize. Doesn’t matter if presented as killed microbe, severely weakened microbe, or just vaccine made from one or more antigenic determinants, subunit, conjugate vaccines.

And, in one way vaccines do contribute to future potential health problems. If one died earlier, then one would NOT have developed them; e.g., heart disease, cancer, etc. And we do know, which I and others have already written, that the mRNA vaccine has caused a minuscule number of cases of myocarditis; but the actual disease caused far more. And no vaccine has had a more vigorous follow-up by health authorities around the world. In fact, some of the volunteers in the clinical trials may still be participating in follow-up questionnaires, etc.

As for “many expert”, NOPE, a few antivaccinationists. So, NOPE, overwhelmingly strong evidence from over 50 years of research around the world has found that if a vaccine causes any serious adverse reaction, it will be in less than two months, actually usually less than one month. And you are taking sides, the side rejecting science. As for my “certainty”, NOPE, not absolutely certain; but almost based on understanding immunology, understanding epidemiology, understanding microbiology and having studied, etc. for over 40 years. You, as a rabid antivaccinationists, keep speculating about possibilities that no knowledgeable person would accept.

So, you don’t like being called names; but STUPID and INTELLECTUALLY DISHONEST ANTIVAXXER fit you perfectly.

@ Indie Rebel

Actually from one point of view your rabid antivax position makes sense. If we had never had vaccines the world’s population would be much smaller, probably less than half or even less. Smallpox alone killed on average over 25% of population, though left almost everyone disfigured, Other vaccine-preventable diseases killed fewer; but often overwhelmed our hospitals, left cripples, deaf, blind, brain damaged, etc. However, possibility that one or both of us would not be here, either ancestors already killed or we could be victims of smallpox or crippled or . . .

So, without vaccines we would have far fewer people; but most disfigured, many crippled, blind, deaf, brain damaged. So, yep, your anti vaccine stance does have some merit???

And, as I wrote before, mRNA vaccines, not only quite safe; but because one can sequence microbes genome rapidly, couple of days, a vaccine can be developed in record time, saving if, for instance, next corona virus both much more pathogenic and transmissible, millions of lives.

We were talking about mRNA vaccines, and you keep on bringing up previous vaccines. They are two different things.

And yes, I know mRNA vaccines are quicker to make, and that is one reason they are being pushed. We will need quick vaccines in the event of a biowarfare attack.

EVERY “live” attenuated virus vaccine or viral vector vaccine introduces foreign mRNA into host cells one way or another. Positive-sense single strand RNA viruses essentially are mRNA, ready for translation. All viruses result in at least one viral mRNA to be translated to at least one protein in susceptible and permissive host cells. As I have posted before, SARS-CoV-2 results in a total of 11 viral mRNAs, 10 of which are made inside the infected cells, which are translated to a total of 29 proteins required by the virus. ONE of those is the spike (S) protein.

@ Indie Rebel

You write: “We were talking about mRNA vaccines, and you keep on bringing up previous vaccines. They are two different things.

Just how STUPID and INTELLECTUALLY DISHONEST ARE YOU? Yep, I included other vaccines; but I also explained how mRNA vaccines work, including how quickly they deteriorate, etc. and I also explained that the current mRNA covid vaccines are being followed; e.g., adverse reaction reports, more than ever, followed by health authorities in numerous nations.

And despite what you continue to question, they are probably the safest vaccines ever manufactured. Why? Because other vaccines often contain several antigenic determinants and adjuvants, though the adjuvants have been tested over and over, are extremely small doses, etc. Because mRNA vaccines ONLY produce clearly determined antigenic determinants and lipid nanoparticles or something similar, they are actually safer and the world-wide following by numerous nations health authorities support this. And they aren’t “two different things.” They are simply various ways of presenting antigenic determinants to our immune systems! ! !

And, as I’ve mentioned before, I did a search of PubMed and found 100s of thousands of articles going back to 1960s on mRNA, so, despite what you in your rigid antivax bias and ignorance choose to believe, we know a hell of a lot about mRNA and also my search found over 70 articles prior to covid on mRNA vaccine research.

KEEP MAKING A FOOL OF YOURSELF, SOMETHING YOU ARE REALLY GOOD AT

Oh, you like to refer to “experts” who question mRNA vaccines. One is Peter McCullough who is also founder of group of about 500 doctors who don’t believe HIV causes AIDS, Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, and they have also been anti mRNA vaccine. So, yep, doctors who don’t believe HIV causes AIDS, experts that someone like you would refer to. LOL

@ Indie Rebel

Though you continue to ignore my emphasis and explanations of mRNA vaccines and the S-Spike Protein, I refer also to previous vaccines because there exist a long history of antivaxxers going back to early 19th Century and they continue today, including those who listened to Andrew Wakefield. So, basically, antivaxxer mentalities haven’t changed all that much over the years, so, you are just one more in a long line of people who don’t understand how vaccines work, don’t understand the history of vaccine-preventable diseases, and don’t accept that we know a huge amount about mRNA.

@Dangerous Bacon

“I have no patience for the rabid anti-vaxxers either.”

“A bit of self-doubt creeping in? Good.”

I NEVER was an anti-vaxxer. I don’t agree with either extreme. You and most others here are in need of self-doubt. I read varied opinions so I avoid being brainwashed like you.

And I avoid the “patient logic” here that is usually the same old extremist pro-vax propaganda. There is no use arguing with that, because it has been burned into your brain.

@ Indie Rebel

You are a rabid antivaxxer. Keep deluding yourself.

And I’m not an extremist anything and I won’t repeat because you will continue in your DISHONEST way to ignore what I write.

And you write: “And yes, I know mRNA vaccines are quicker to make, and that is one reason they are being pushed. We will need quick vaccines in the event of a biowarfare attack.”

While a biowarfare attack is a possibility, as I wrote and you ignore:
“Yep, high likelihood of future pandemics, perhaps much deadlier that current and as anyone who has studied pandemics knows, much much much higher likelihood will have animal origins. Just in past two decades we have had four outbreaks, SARS, MERS, 2009 flu, and COVID-19. Some think 2009 flu overplayed; but later research found number of deaths much higher than original data. Many reasons, none related to labs:
1. cutting down rainforests where many animals with viruses live
2. wet markets where all kinds of animals caught in wild sold
3. mass international travel, etc.
4. because many don’t get vaccinated based on idiots like you”

And by the way, the article you found that claimed from Wuhan lab was based on “reading between the lines”, conjecture, etc. and was commissioned by Republicans. Doesn’t mean wrong; but highly suspect, especially given several up-to-date articles that find from natural reserve.

STUPID STUPID STUPID

KEEP MAKING A FOOL OF YOURSELF

In the comments on CBC articles related to COVID-19 that pretty much everyone who insists that SARS-CoV-2 is not of natural origin is also an antivaxxer – and most are apparently profoundly ignorant of biology in general.

One of the more bizarre things I’ve seen is people insisting that we need to know the origin of SARS-CoV-2 in order to make a good vaccine against it. If that were true we’d have precious few vaccines against human viral diseases.

Of course,, you need not to know origin to make the vaccine.The virus itself is enough..
Actually,providing some arguments is useful there too

I’m curious about the origin of the notion that it is necessary to know the origin of a virus to make a vaccine. Most of the people I’m seen make such a claim don’t seem to be capable of coming up with original ideas, so I presume it is something they received ready to use.

@ doug, re: “One of the more bizarre things I’ve seen is people insisting that we need to know the origin of SARS-CoV-2 in order to make a good vaccine against it.”

China does know the origin of sars-cov2.

China planted propaganda online early on, showing: People dropping dead on the sidewalks. Apartment building doors being welded shut. Quarantine tent camps being constructed. Makeshift hospitals being built over the course of just days. All of which incited fear & demands for a vaccine in the western world “as quick as possible”, hence; Operation Warp Speed.

Operation Warp Speed focuses on primarily mRNA because they are faster. Meanwhile:

China beats out OWS by 44 days anyway with Sinovac, a traditional inactivated vaccine.

China refuses to allow mRNA vaccines to be administered domestically.

In September 2022, China manufactures an mRNA vaccine but it is a subunit vaccine. It does not contain the full length spike genome. They then … Give it to Indonesia.

China still refuses all full length spike mRNA vaccines to administered domestically.

Because China knows the origins of sars-cov2.

And they know better than to allow a vaccine containing that engineered spike protein into their citizens & most importantly; their military.

That’s why origins matter. Or “mattered”. It’s too late now, we can’t take it back.

How do you know that China knows the origin of SARS-CoV-2?

It most certainly is not necessary to anything about the origin of a virus to make a vaccine against it. If it were necessary we would have almost no vaccines for human viral diseases.
Making an inactivated virus vaccine “simply” requires growing the virus in culture and “killing” it.

@ Indie Rebel
You spread falsehoods and FUD about vaccines. That fits the definition of antivaxxer that I use in general public forums. That’s considerably narrower than the definition many people use.

Sorry to break in with an OT, but is anyone else unable to read the comments on “Criticism and quality control . . . “? The RI home page says there are comments, but the post itself doesn’t have any.
I cleared my cookies, and it’s still happening.

Ok, I held back commenting on Oster’s call for amnesty because it left me deeply conflicted. On one hand, I don’t believe you guys should be granted amnesty; on the other, I don’t support some antivaxxers’ call for your execution. I suppose I am somewhere in the middle leaning towards life imprisonment.

Now that we got that out of the way, I notice the defense around here for covid restrictions terror is it was justified. How about it is never justified to deny a person his right to earn a living and feed himself and his family for refusing a vaccine that he has a god-given right (and even if I am speaking as an atheist) to refuse, and even if it’s proven without a shred of doubt that the vaccine is the greatest thing since slice bread!

Last point, I came across this article that mentions faith in vaccine is plummeting. Setting aside any gloating, do you guys feel that ‘antivaxxers’ are to be fully blamed for this?

https://news.sky.com/story/vaccine-confidence-another-victim-of-the-covid-19-pandemic-study-finds-12740872

I also would like to mention that I see notifications of responses, but the responses are not available. So I cannot answer properly.

Regarding “natural origin”. A lot of people made comments such as “it was definitely natural origin, suggesting otherwise is antiscience, but if it came from a lab if was certainly an ACCIDENT”.

If it came from a lab (of which I am certain based on genetic, circumstantial, geographic, and even coverup evidence), it may be an accident, or NOT AN ACCIDENT. Even if it was an accident, what was the purpose of Sars-cov-2 development that led to its release?

Even the coverup of lab origin (coordinated Internet censorship, Daszak orchestrated lancet letter, etc) began way BEFORE anything could be known with certainty. Why would an honest player suppress one answer out of two, if there is not yet any certainty? Why a coverup was undertaken and who demanded it? That would obviously the person(s) wanting to hide lab origin. Why do they want to hide lab origin?

There is a somewhat benign explanation of the coverup, which is that the authorities knew full well it was a lab virus, but did not want the public to know as selling “life-saving” vaccines would be much harder as the shocked public would not trust the authorities who financed development of Sars-Cov-2 and mysteriously had a “vaccine developed in 2 days” (per Moderna). In other words, coverup of lab origin was needed to “save lives”. Such is the explanation I give to my less enlightened friends as a way to make it emotionally easier to accept lab origin. But I caution them that this explanation may or may not be true. Later I explain to them that it is not fitting the facts.

In any case, a question of utmost importance is: what was the purpose for which Sars-Cov-2 was developed? What exactly was the goal of researchers, who painstakingly and exquisitely engineered the spike protein and other parts of the virus? Was it released intentionally, or unintentionally? Why was it developed? With what objective? Why did it have engineered capability to bind to DC-SIGN (immune cells), in addition to ACE2? What was the purpose of HIV gp120 inserts?

Any serious government with serious intelligence agencies, biological warfare research etc, would be very wrong to dismiss these questions because they are of utmost importance. What is the virus likely effect on people? If the virus was developed with spike protein made intentionally toxic, is it a good idea to inject everyone with vaccines encoding said protein?

Sars-Cov-2 has an extremely wide range of effects. Lung fibrosis, ARDS, blood clots, heart attacks, neurological damage, immune damage, and more. Dismissing a close look at the lab origin, and declining to interrogate its potential co-contributors as to the intent that was in this virus’ developers minds, is a serious mistake.

More questions than answers, I would say. One day we will know. Actually we know a lot already.

Go submit your scientific research indicating it came from a lab and with a certainty above “I believe”.

Until then your screed doesn’t deserve any time in response.

Yes, there is a chance it came from A lab, and a slightly higher chance it came from the Wuhan lab specifically. That chance is not zero and no one has claimed it is.

What you have done is project your failure onto others. There is no reason to blame anyone for it to come from a lab or make claims it did come from a lab without significant evidence, and that is evidence that YOU do not have. Until you do, then the response to you and other “believers” in lab-origin have nothing to go on and are working on a predestined conclusion that no one else has to waste time on.

I am glad that you think that “there is a chance” that it came from a lab.

Not sure if you would quantify what that chance is, in your opinion. 10%? 30%? 80%?

In any case, if you think that it could come from a lab: we have a virus that possibly came out of a lab and killed millions worldwide, and continues to do so.

In this case, questions are very appropriate, such as

Who actually developed it?
What were the objectives of its development?
What specific functionality is in the virus that allows it to be so successful, to spawn so many variants, and have such varied pathogenic effects?
Are any fragments of the virus, such as “spike protein”, pathogenic by design?
If so, is it wise to inject such fragment-producing code into people without understanding the pathogenicity first?

These are not idle questions to “assign blame”. These are vitally important questions if we are actually trying to “save lives” — because we cannot be successful until we understand what Sars-Cov-2 IS and who and how designed it and for what purpose.

I did write extensively on the genetics of Sars-Sov-2 and designer features of it, and how they are mentioned in the DEFUSE project proposal by Daszak from 2018, but this may not be appropriate for this venue.

The genetic evidence of lab origin roughly boils down to:

1) The Pradhan “uncanny similarity” paper, published on Jan 29 2020 and mysteriously withdrawn on SUNDAY Feb 2, explaining that the “HIV gp120 inserts” actually fold on the spike to make a functional receptor for binding to immune cells, just like HIV does (you can find this paper online and look at the pictures of the SC2 trimer with gp120 peptides highlighted)

2) Strangely codon optimized CGGCGG furin cleavage site

3) The 19-nucleotide sequence CTCCTCGGCGGGCACGTAG, reverse complement to which is in Moderna patent 9,587,003. (Moderna MSH3 mutated cell line) The chance of that being a purely random coincidence is 10^-11.

There is also circumstantial evidence, such as that the bat caves being over 1,000 km away, no intermediate host found, etc, China removing earliest cases from public view and more. I am not that much into this circumstantial stuff myself just because I am fairly satisfied that it is a lab grown virus, anyway.

Sars-Cov-2 is an incredible piece of human history — not a bat cave accident — but much much more.

We are living in very interesting times.

You do realize that I wrote in depth multiple times why these claims (“HIV inserts,” “furin cleavage site,” and “optimized CGGCGG codon”) are not good evidence for a laboratory origin of SARS-CoV-2, right? And that I wrote this posts as these particular claims were surfacing in viral social media posts? I even I wrote the posts on this very blog! It’s all there. I’m just too busy right now to find the specific URLs for you, but I’m sure you can think of appropriate search terms to find the relevant posts if you can’t wait until I have more time.

Addendum: Oh, wait. I couldn’t resist finding just one of them:

https://www.respectfulinsolence.com/2021/06/11/cggcgg-the-latest-new-old-wrinkle-in-the-covid-19-lab-leak-conspiracy-theory/

Orac, that was a great article and I read it before. (and just re-read). A big part of that article is personal critique of some people involved, which is something that I prefer not to get involved into because the genes do not care about human virtues of who is discussing them.

I read many of your articles. In fact, when I write my own stuff elsewhere, I always picture a mean fact checker or someone like yourself reading my writings and criticizing them. So I try to do the best I can, given my own limited abilities. Reading your articles is, therefore, a big benefit to me.

Regarding CGGCGG:

There could be a contorted explanation for some of these individual genetic ingredients that would be a quite unlikely, but still barely-possible explanation. Like an exceptionally lucky frameshift insertion of CGGCGG in just the right place, as you said.

The totality of ALL genetic evidence is extremely convincing of lab origin.

It could not “all come together” by accident in a cave. Unless bats were engaged into wild sexual escapades with HIV infected pangolins, whose HIV virus recombined with the bat coronavirus, giving bat coronavirus the gp120 inserts capable of infecting human DC-SIGN just like the Daszak 2018 DEFUSE proposal said, then frameshifted the CGGCGG furin cleavage site in just the right place, somehow picked up the 19nt Moderna patent sequence from patent 9,587,003, then the bats flew 1,000 km to Wuhan to cover their tracks, infected people near the WIV office, and flew away without a trace. An amazing la-bat-ory!

I am being sarcastic but I hope that you can see my point.

It is also perfectly understandable why virologists and NIH would try to obfuscate what happened. A pandemic caused by a lab virus is weird, and the confused and scared public would be upset about suffering from a lab-released virus, and would refuse the vaccines given by the people not too far removed from those who are suspected of releasing the virus. So it is easier to pretend it was a “natural origin”.

@Igor Chudov About codon. Check BLAST and find how many genes have this sequence.It is quite common.
About HIV again this is a short sequence. Use BLAST again.
Lab leak does not mean engineered. Natural virus studied in lab and escaped is another possiility.

“The totality of ALL genetic evidence is extremely convincing of lab origin.”

And yet actual virologists who know and understand this stuff in great detail say otherwise.

Improbability means nothing. The probability of vast numbers of things that have evolved naturally is infinitesimal.

Again, the sequence that is found in both HIV and SARS-CoV-2 is not rare in viruses. That very fact is why that preprint was withdrawn so quickly. Like you, the authors simply lacked the necessary fundamental knowledge and failed to do any semblance of diligence before publishing.

Well I think that you did it.
You snuck over to China and harassed a bat and all of this is your fault.

Evidence? I’ll show just as much as you: none.

You may think you’re the first to ask these questions (or even just the first around here), but to quote Madonna “I’ve heard it all before”.

I’ll ignore the rest of your drivel for the moment, but the idea that SARS-CoV-2 contains a sequence that must have come from HIV via human intervention is utter nonsense. This notion was roundly and soundly stomped on moments after the first (rapidly withdrawn) preprint that made the claim. Virologists all over the planet quickly pointed out that the sequence in question is found in all sorts of viruses and not in the least suspicious.

You don’t get it, Igor.

There is a chance, certainly very low (less than 10%, at this point with what we know). Science can never prove something to an absolute conclusion, it can only have confidence.

There is NO REASON to go off asking further questions until you have some sort of stronger conclusion that it did come from a lab. That’s how you get the lame conspiracy theory trail you’re heading down. And that’s why you get such a pushback from the scientific community which you incorrectly summed up as “there is 0% chance it came from a lab”, which only talking heads would say, not an objective scientist.

So until you come up with far better evidence that would indicate that there is a serious concern it came from a lab, it didn’t. There is no reason to go further, as you’re just humping a leg and not getting the real thing.

@doug
“And yet actual virologists who know and understand this stuff in great detail say otherwise. [about lab origin]”

Yes, virologists who don’t want this research to end are going to say it wasn’t a lab accident.

“Improbability means nothing.”

Probability is everything. We constantly base our decisions, every moment of the day, on probability.

Yes, know-nothings who delight in spreading falsehoods and FUD chalk everything up to conspiracies. Spreading conspiracies is open to everyone. Understanding virology is orders of magnitude more demanding.

YOU FAIL to understand that in evolution even something that is extremely improbable can happen. Something with one chance in a billion could happen thousands of years from now or tomorrow. Recombination in viruses can make a big change in a genome in one event that takes minutes.

One thing that you, among many, have demonstrated is the probability that someone who insists SARS-CoV-2 came from a lab will also be an antivaxxer approaches unity.

Improbability means nothing when very large numbers are involved. Then even improbable events become certainty.

Imagine a situation where a particular mutation is so improbable it only occurs in one of 1,000,000,000,000 occasions. For reference, estimates for the number of mutations at any one nucleotide that occur per replication (for DS DNA)* are 10,000 times higher than this.

Estimates of the number SARS-CoV-2 virions produced per infected person are between 1,000,000,000 and 100,000,000,000. Taking the middle value, you would only need 100 people infected to have a high probability of that improbable mutation occurring. With 10,000 people infected, it becomes a certainty. There have been probably 1,000,000,000 people infected with SARS-CoV-2 so far. Even the most improbably mutation has certainly occurred more than once**.

*For those who are interested, mutation rates in viruses will be higher due to lack of proof-reading.

**The fact that we have not seen all these mutations is because we are sequencing only a very small fraction of the viruses being produced world wide. We only notice the new variants and sub-variants when they have an advantage over the existing variants and build up into large enough numbers that we find them.

Actually, there is no reason produce virus like SARS CoV 2 and this very good evidence against engineered origin.
Of developing vaccine took more than 2 days

@ Igor

Try reading the following:

Worobey, Michael et al. (2022 Aug 26). The Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan was the early epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. Science; 377.
Pekar, Jonathan E. et al. (2022 Aug 26). The molecular epidemiology of multiple zoonotic origins of SARS-CoV-2. Science; 377.
Novella, Steven (2022 Jul 27). New Studies on the Origin of Covid-19. Science-Based Medicine.

But, as I wrote above, though the probability is extremely low, anything is possible; however, in the US we have had multiple lab leaks, even of a gain-of-function corona virus from University of North Carolina, which, fortunately, didn’t break out into the open. But as I also explained, it was the US poor response that was responsible for us having a much much higher per capita death rate than many other nations who acted appropriately and given our underfunded, understaffed, and fragmented statewide, countywide, etc. public health authorities, and the high probability of more and more future pandemics, some much more dangerous, probability that we again will experience high unnecessary deaths is high.

What is fascinating and depressing is people like you who continue to try to lay responsibility on Chinese and ignore that even if was accidental leak, that the probability of more and more natural pandemics is extremely high and what we should focus on is trying to get the US population to accept this and pressure our politicians to really strengthen our public health system.

@Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH:

There is a lot of different kinds of Covid-skeptic people: for example, some think that “viruses do not exist”, or that Covid-19 is “just a cold” etc. I am not one of those people. I believe that Covid is a bad illness and will claim many times more victims than it did to date. (exacerbated by the interventions)

Thank you for considering a mere possibility that it is a lab virus and citing previous lab leaks, which never resulted in a global pandemic — because unlike Sars-Cov-2, those viruses were not optimized to cause one!

I am NOT trying to blame the Chinese. I believe that scientists outside of China, and some inside China, were instrumental in creating SC2.

In fact, coordinated screams that “lab origin theory” was proposed because of so called “anti-Asian hate” were so strange and odd that they alone convinced me that something is not right. The virus either comes from a lab, or it does not.

However, the fact that the Chinese immediately understood what that virus was and began an almost unthinkable zero Covid policy that cost them tremendously, also is indicative that they know something we do not know.

Sars-Cov-2 is a mystery in many ways: who exactly created it, for what exactly purpose, who knew about it, and many more questions need to be asked.

There are more mysteries than we (or I) have answers.

“However, the fact that the Chinese immediately understood what that virus was”

I’m sorry, what the fark are you talking about? This is exactly why anti-Asian hate increased, people like you are willing to lie about this.

“began an almost unthinkable zero Covid policy that cost them tremendously, also is indicative that they know something we do not know”

What? Like covid is really much more dangerous than experienced in the last few years? Better get your boosters before the ticking time bomb explodes.

At least think your conspiracy reasoning through.

I believe that scientists outside of China, and some inside China, were instrumental in creating SC2.

Because… (no evidence presented, just your ignorance based incredulity).

However, the fact that the Chinese immediately understood what that virus was

FFS, how big a moron are you?

There are more mysteries than we (or I) have answers.

It is true that you don’t have any answers. You don’t have anything, really.

“the fact that the Chinese immediately understood what that virus was”

By the same complete lack of logic the fact that the Russians were the first to release a vaccine means that they did it.

Or, you could understand that there is a global community of researchers who work on emerging infectious diseases who have been expecting something like this (among other possibilities) for years and are at least trying to have a plan in place.

@ Igor

You write: “because unlike Sars-Cov-2, those viruses were not optimized to cause one!”

I wrote that a gain-of-function corona virus was leaked from a University of North Carolina lab. I guess you don’t understand what a gain-of-function virus is???
As for “optimized to cause one”, corona viruses are highly transmissible, so it wasn’t more transmissible, and on the whole, though many innocent people lost their lives, if it really were optimized, many many more would have died and you keep focusing on the Chinese, ignoring just how poorly we handled the pandemic and that we will probably do it again, possibly when a much more virulent virus pandemic develops from nature.

The SARS virus of 2003 was from nature, extremely deadly; but not highly transmissible. If a few natural mutations had made it more transmissible, the number of deaths would have made Covid-19 look like an amateur. And SARS was from nature.

Stop displaying your ignorance and wasting peoples time

@Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH

Gain of function simply means a virus gains a “function”. For example, if I modify a cold virus to also cause diarrhea, it is a gain of function. Gain of function does not mean creating a pandemic level virus.

Regarding “rare events in evolution” mentioned by another poster. They do happen in nature.

But in the case of Sars-cov-2 “rare” is on a whole new level. The chance of SC2 having a reverse complement to a Moderna-patented 19 nucleotide sequence is about 1 in 100 billion.

Multiply this by the chance of “accidentally” frameshifting a CGGCGG furin cleavage site right where the furin cleavage site needs to actually be be in the viral RNA to be functional, the chance of acquiring HIV gp120 inserts in the exact places on the SC2 spike protein trimer to match Daszak’s 2018 DEFUSE proposal to infect DC-SIGN, and you get into astronomically low probabilities, possibly less than one divided by the number of atoms comprising our planet.

Igor the ignorant wrote:

But in the case of Sars-cov-2 “rare” is on a whole new level. The chance of SC2 having a reverse complement to a Moderna-patented 19 nucleotide sequence is about 1 in 100 billion.

Igor, we all get that you lack the knowledge needed to assess things — you’re just like ir, greg, and the other anti-vacc folks in your rampant ignorance — but not even the author of the study you and others use to create your conspiracy believe it.

“We understood from the beginning that this match could be random chance and stated this in the article very prominently,” said Dr. Bala Ambati, a study author who is an ophthalmologist and professor at the University of Oregon. He said in an email that the authors “are not casting aspersions on any person, company, or country.”

Indeed

But the discovery of that reverse complement in a years-old patent is far from proof that Moderna “created” the virus, experts say.

The research paper says “absolutely nothing” about the origin of COVID-19, said Ryan Langlois, an associate professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Minnesota.

Oh look [emphasis added]

<

blockquote>Langlois said a 19-nucleotide sequence is not long in the context of mammalian genomes “that are millions or billions of base pairs.” He said he conducted his own search for several other 19-nucleotide reverse complement portions of the SARS-CoV-2 sequence and also found matches to human genes.

Similarly, Jesse Erasmus, director of virology at HDT Bio, a Seattle-based biopharmaceutical company, said that the chance of finding a 19-nucleotide sequence elsewhere in nature is high — despite suggestions to the contrary.

“You will be surprised how many random sequences show up in a BLAST search but if one has an undergraduate level understanding of evolution/genetics/molecular biology, it’s not surprising,” he said in an email.

Dr. Stanley Perlman, a microbiology and immunology professor at the University of Iowa, also said such allegations of the patent proving Moderna created the virus were false.</blockquote

It isn’t clear why you have chosen to be say things that only demonstrate your lack of knowledge and your rampant anti-vaccination bias, but it is clear you enjoy doing it.

You must take in account howmany SARS CoV 2 virusess are in circulation There is a probability problem for there are billion viruses circulating and there is a mutation with one per billion probability. What are changes that the mutatiion happens in any of them ?
A spliced organism would have a reporter gene. (One must know did the transfer succeeded). Does SARS CoV 2 have one ?

@ Igor

It isn’t worth continuing with you as you fail to realize that minor changes in a virus can create a pandemic. You ignore SARS, 2009 flu pandemic, and many more. As for “But in the case of Sars-cov-2 “rare” is on a whole new level. ” Bull Shit.

You write: “Gain of function simply means a virus gains a “function”. For example, if I modify a cold virus to also cause diarrhea, it is a gain of function. Gain of function does not mean creating a pandemic level virus.”

“What does gain of function mean? Any organism can acquire a new ability or property, or “gain” a “function.” This can happen through natural selection or a researcher’s experiments. In research, many different types of experiments generate functions, and some pose certain safety and security concerns.”

Notice, “acquire a new ability” which can mean more efficient transmissibility, more virulence, or a number of other factors.

You obviously don’t know what you are talking about; but think by coming up with probabilities you think you make a case; but you fail to understand that in a world of trillions of viruses, each mutating continuously that your probabilities are meaningless.

There is a fascinating book that I loved: David J. Hand “The Improbability Principle: Why Coincidences, Miracles, and Rare Events Happen Every Day.

And other factors contribute to a pandemic, not just viral changes. World’s population much greater/denser, international travel much greater, climate change, etc.

Just curious. What is your background; e.g., education, etc.? Have you ever studied, even read one textbook in any of the following areas: immunology, microbiology, virology, epidemiology??? I have all of them over the past 40 years.

As I’ve commented in the past, “One in a million chances happen to almost 8000 people on this planet.” The law of large numbers often makes individually unlikely events eventually inevitable.

I like what Douglas Hofstadter called ‘the Oddmatch Phenomenon’. Basically it’s part of why people tend to be horrible at mentally handling really low probabilities. The 999,999 times where everything goes as expected all tend to blur together in people’s minds; the one time where something unexpected happens stands out. Because the highly unlikely event takes up more mental attention than all the more likely non-events, people tend to grossly mis-estimate the actual probabilities. Either they think it must be happening a lot more often than it actually does, or they think it’s ‘impossible’ and thus there must be an actual reason it happened.

@ Jenora Feuer

Hi. I did a quick search on Google; but couldn’t find anything that contained Oddmatch Phenomenon. Would love to add it to my collection. Could you please give URL to one or more articles or at least a detailed reference to them; e.g., author, date, title, journal (or book), volume, issue, pages.

Thanks

All right, I found his mention of ‘oddmatch’, at least, so I may have been misremembering the ‘phenomenon’ part of it: Hofstadter, Douglas R.; Metamagical Themas, starting on page 100 in the original printed edition, in the chapter ‘World Views in Collision: The Skeptical Enquirer versus the National Enquirer. It’s a reprint of his Metamagical Themas column in the February 1982 column of Scientific American. Now that I look it up again, he appears to have got the term ‘oddmatch’ from The Psychology of the Psychic by David Marks and Richard Kammann, so that latter would be the actual primary source.

They also refer to it as ‘Koestler’s Fallacy’:

‘Koestler’s fallacy’ refers to our general inability to see that unusual events are probable in the long run …. It is a simple deduction from probability theory that an event that is very improbable in a short run of observations becomes, nevertheless, highly probable somewhere in a long run of observations …. We. call it ‘Koestler’s fallacy’ because Arthur Koestler is the author who best illustrates it and has tried to make it into a scientific revolution. Of course, the fallacy is not unique to Koestler but is widespread in the population, because there are several biases in human perception and judgment that contribute to this fallacy.

First, we notice and remember matches, especially oddmatches, whenever they occur. (Because a psychic anecdote first requires a match, and, second, an oddity between the match and our beliefs, we call these stories oddmatches. This is equivalent to the common expression, an “unexplained coincidence”.) Second, we do not notice non-matches. Third, our failure to notice nonevents creates the short-run illusion that makes the oddmatch seem improbable. Fourth, we are poor at estimating combinations of events. Fifth, we overlook the principle of equivalent oddmatches, that one coincidence is as good as another as far as psychic theory is concerned.

@ Jenora Feuer

Thanks. Found pdf of Metamagical Themas online and found quote from Koestler, bookmarked. Added to my collection, though, as I wrote in previous comment, just one of many on same theme, including book title i gave: The Improbability Principal. Couldn’t find online Psychology of the Psychic. Actually found both; but could only read Metamagical Themas. The two books more than enough for my collection on this theme.

@ Jenora Feuer

I am getting old. Just popped into my head that I read an article by Richard Hofstadter almost 60 years ago as an undergrad, “The Paranoid Style in American Politics.” I knew I recognized the name. And I found photocopy of it. It was and still is a great article that explains just how crazy current American politics are.

Cheers

@ Igor

Your understanding of gain-of-function is way wrong.

“Gain-of-function research (GoF research or GoFR) is medical research that genetically alters an organism in a way that may enhance the biological functions of gene products. This may include an altered pathogenesis, transmissibility, or host range, i.e. the types of hosts that a microorganism can infect. This research is intended to reveal targets to better predict emerging infectious diseases and to develop vaccines and therapeutics. For example, influenza B can infect only humans and harbor seals.[1] Introducing a mutation that would allow influenza B to infect rabbits in a controlled laboratory situation would be considered a gain-of-function experiment, as the virus did not previously have that function.[2][3] That type of experiment could then help reveal which parts of the virus’s genome correspond to the species that it can infect, enabling the creation of antiviral medicines which block this function.[3]

In virology, gain-of-function research is usually employed with the intention of better understanding current and future pandemics.[4] In vaccine development, gain-of-function research is conducted in the hope of gaining a head start on a virus and being able to develop a vaccine or therapeutic before it emerges.[4] The term “gain of function” is sometimes applied more narrowly to refer to “research which could enable a pandemic-potential pathogen to replicate more quickly or cause more harm in humans or other closely-related mammals.” Wikipedia. Gain-Of-Function

Check out also:

Gillum (2021 Jun 21). What is ‘gain-of-function’ and why does it matter in the search for SARS-CoV-2’s origins?

Salzberg (2022 Nov 7). Gain-Of-Function Experiments At Boston University Create A Deadly New Covid-19 Virus. Who Thought This Was A Good Idea?

And I already gave several references by well-respected researchers that made a strong case that Covid 19 came from nature; but I bet you didn’t read them. You are fixated on blaming the Chinese. Well read Salzberg’s article and again, despite your really ignorant probabilities, you ignore that we weren’t prepared and won’t be prepared for future pandemics, so the origin, high probability from nature, or extremely small from Wuhan lab doesn’t change that the US is piss poor when it comes to public health.

@ Igor

You write: “you get into astronomically low probabilities, possibly less than one divided by the number of atoms comprising our planet.”

Wow! You ignore that viruses have been around for 100s of millions of years, that at any one time there exist probably millions of trillions, and that they mutate often. In addition, you didn’t read the articles I provided; but Wikipedia summarizes that studies found corona viruses in bats that were genetically similar to COVID-19, so only needed a few additional mutations. And there is more.

“SARS-CoV-2 has close genetic similarity to multiple previously identified bat coronaviruses, suggesting it crossed over into humans from bats.[4][12][13][14][15]” Wikipedia. Investigations into the origin of COVID-19

By the way, I have ALL the Wikipedia referenced articles above and have read them.

There have been a number of antivaxxers, etc posting on this website; but if I were to nominate one as Respectful Insolence Commenter for Moron of the Year, though a tough choice, I’d nominate you.

@Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPPH: I really like your nomination for Moron of the Year 🙂

No hard feelings whatsoever, I know that you feel strongly about your sincerely held beliefs.

Imagine thousands of bats sitting in a cave. Each bat possibly harbors millions of coronavirus virions. Those mutate from time to time, but not too much as to be able to stay replication-competent.

It is true that some of those virions would get unusual or even fancy mutations that are unlikely to happen individually.

However, that fact alone is not enough to dismiss the significance of what happened to Sars-Cov-2. Why? Because those fancy virions in bats sitting in a cave, do NOT come in contact with humans! Only very rarely bat-human interactions happen. (bat bites person, person walks into a bat cave).

So, the amount of virions in any given cave, greatly exceeds the virions that could possibly cause a zoonotic event. So, you are proposing or assuming that

1) Bat virus mutated and developed a codon optimized CGGCGG furin cleavage site
2) Bat virus mutated and incorporated a 19nt reverse complement to a Moderna patent sequence
3) Bat virus purely randomly acquired HIV gp120 inserts to form a functional spike trimer targeting DC-SIGN receptor, like in Daszak’ 2018 DEFUSE proposal
4) That lucky virion came in contact with a human and infected that person

That’s so unlikely, by tens of orders of magnitude, that it is completely implausible.

Is Sars-Cov-2 based on another coronavirus? Of course it is! Could the fancy genetic edits have happened by an accident of nature? It is impossible and implausible, in my opinion.

These called “virologists” are just obfuscating.

I read the Daszak lancet letter, Worobey article, Pradhan article, everything Jeffrey Sachs said about the commission he headed stuffed with guilty “virologists”, and much more.

“Virologists” are not stupid and they realize that questioning Covid origins is threatening their profession’s reputation, if not more. So they call questions about origin of Covid “antiscience” and say “if you restrict us, what about the next pandemic”. To which I would answer, what about THIS pandemic, that killed tens of millions of people?

I might be a “MORON OF THE YEAR” for wanting to know the truth. So be it.

@ Igor

You really are a MORON. Some of the articles that discuss the findings on Coronaviruses in bats that were extremely close to SARS-Cov-2 also discovered/discussed some of these viruses also found in various animals; e.g., pangolins, and also the animal trades from areas where bats with similar viruses found, and also found in animals etc. And on and on it goes. NOPE. You aren’t interested in truth. You want it to be from Wuhan Lab, which I have already written several times is a very low probability; but not impossible; but again, who cares. The fact is and you are far too stupid to understand that even if one could prove it was accidental release from Wuhan lab, the high per capita deaths in US due to our poor public health system and many people who don’t trust science and given the ever increasing rate of pandemics, almost certain another will be coming our way in the not too distant future and we will still be unprepared and given the high rate of corona virus mutations, will likely be another corona virus FROM NATURE.

Nope. You aren’t interested in the truth, so you are a MORON.

How do you explain SARS, MERS, etc? SARS was a bat virus?

You may have read articles; but I doubt you have the level of background; e.g., virology to understand them and you project your sick mind into what you read.

I’m an old man; but if I live another 10 years I would bet we will have another pandemic, one from nature, and then what will you say? Still blame a Chinese lab.

You are really tiresome. It is a waste of my time to respond to you; but it is an outlet for my reaction to a nation with many decent people; but also people like you, though I don’t know if you also are prone to violence or also believe in QAnon

“Virologists” are not stupid and they realize that questioning Covid origins is threatening their profession’s reputation, if not more.

You are right about virologists not being stupid. The rest of your statement is hogwash!

“Only very rarely bat-human interactions happen.”

Lol no.

You know there are lots of places in Texas where people go to watch the migratory bats come out from under the highway overpasses where they sleep during the day? I’ve done it, it’s very cool. It’s also a HUGE number of bats.

You do know that bats carry an astonishing number of viruses, right? And they’re generally colony-living animals? And what that means for disease transmission?

Bat colonies are great places for recombination in coronaviruses. Coronaviruses are well known for their “fondness” for recombination, which can make a big change in a genome in the brief time it takes for RdRp to wander off onto a different template then find its way back.

Again, a probability problem for you: There are billion viruses and there are a mutation wih probability of one per billion. What is probability that the mutation happens in one of them ?
Wuhan has a wet marke that sells living animals, do you know that ?

I. I think even holistic doctors don’t emphasize it enough.

Igor:
I don’t know if you win for the year — IR, greg, labarge, and others are strong contenders there — but your habit of spouting a bit of pure bullshit and then, after having it pointed out that it is bullshit, switching to a new pasture a flinging a fresh pile of new bullshit, all the while failing to understand what you’re talking about, means you will be in contention for the title until December 31.

Sorry — bit of a moronic copy/paste screwup by me. The message to igor was meant to start with this

I might be a “MORON OF THE YEAR” for wanting to know the truth. So be it.

Just a thought: Since covid is a respiratory infection, it probably stays mostly in the respiratory system. But the covid vaccines can get into the blood and go anywhere. Therefore, it seems that longterm heart, neurological, etc., problems are more likely from the vaccine than from the infection.
Try answering this with reason, rather than insults (if you can!)

@ Indie Rebel

You write: “Since covid is a respiratory infection, it probably stays mostly in the respiratory system. But the covid vaccines can get into the blood and go anywhere. Therefore, it seems that longterm heart, neurological, etc., problems are more likely from the vaccine than from the infection.”

First, as usual, you ignore that adverse events occur within two months of vaccinations. Despite NO credible science, you continue to believe in long term effects occurring with NO indication in first couple of months. Second, though Covid enters through the respiratory system it enters cells, hijacks cell machinery, multiplies, and leaves cells. Guess what? Leaves cells into blood system, etc. Why do you think we find antibodies in blood both to natural covid infections and following vaccinations? And if only respiratory, how does it cause cardiovascular problems, neural problems, etc.?

It is impossible NOT to insult someone who displays such dishonest stupid responses, ignoring science.

Since covid is a respiratory infection, it probably stays mostly in the respiratory system.

LOL. That would explain our ability to detect it in waste water?

I guess you have exhausted the nonsense you read wherever you get your talking points from? Or did you make this one up yourself?

COVID goes to the blood, too:
Nikhil Ram-Mohan, David Kim, Elizabeth J Zudock, Marjan M Hashemi, Kristel C Tjandra, Angela J Rogers, Catherine A Blish, Kari C Nadeau, Jennifer A Newberry, James V Quinn, Ruth O’Hara, Euan Ashley, Hien Nguyen, Lingxia Jiang, Paul Hung, Andra L Blomkalns, Samuel Yang, Stanford COVID-19 Biobank Study Group, SARS-CoV-2 RNAemia Predicts Clinical Deterioration and Extrapulmonary Complications from COVID-19, Clinical Infectious Diseases, Volume 74, Issue 2, 15 January 2022, Pages 218–226, https://doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciab394
(RNAenemia means presence of viral RNA in blood.)
Of course, respitory complications can kill you all by themselves

To those who called me an ignorant dumb moron for saying that the covid infection stays mostly in the respiratory system:

Well, it’s quite obvious that if the main symptom you get from omicron, for example, is a sore throat, the virus was infecting your throat. If it had also gone to your digestive system you would have also had digestive symptoms. Nervous system, neurological symptoms. Etc. Where the symptoms are is where the virus is more likely to be.

You might be too dumb and ignorant to understand this, but I tried.

@ Indie Rebel

You just continue to display your ignorance. The route with which a microbe first enters the body is just that its entrance; but they don’t only stay there. Even a sore throat means the virus entered cells and spread from cell to cell, etc. And the point is that the much larger number of live virions, even if many stay in the respiratory system are still far greater than the small number of, for instance, S-Spike proteins created over a short time by the mRNA vaccines because the live virus multiplies exponentially and as I wrote the mRNA disintegrates in a day or so. So, even if you could make a case for most staying in the respiratory system, which as a system includes blood vessels, guess you don’t know that, and these vessels connect with rest of blood vessels, etc. then your antivax stupidity still grossly wrong.

And I repeat for the umpteenth time. The S-Spike Protein from mRNA vaccine can’t enter cells, so can’t take over cell machinery, can’t create masses of new S-Spike Proteins and certainly not virions.

Get professional help. You really need it

Regarding the 19 nucleotide reverse complement CTCCTCGGCGGGCACGTAG to the Moderta MSH3 patent sequence from Moderna patent 9,587,003:

The chance of this genetic sequence occurring randomly is 10^-11.

Some people misunderstand mentions of that sequence as an allegation that Sars-Cov-2 was developed clandestinely by Moderna. It is not a correct understanding. It is just a piece of genetic “text” that points to lab origin of Sars-Cov-2. It does not in any way let us point a finger at the identity of its designer.

@ Igor

You write chance sequence 10^-11.
so, 100,000,000,000.

Given that the corona virus has been around for 100s of millions of years and that there there have been more than 100s of trillions of them, 100 million is not a high probability. I guess besides not understanding virology your math isn’t very good as well. If even just 100 trillion corona virions at one time you figure out how many chances possible if one chance per 100 million would be. Then given the trillions upon trillions over millions of years and the probability actually quite high.

MORON

What is the probability that 5,7,11,13,17,19,23,25-octahydroxy-15-(4-hydroxyphenyl)-6,24-di(propan-yl)octacyclo[14.11.1.12,10.03,8.04,26.020,28.022,27.014,29]nonacosa-1,3,5,7,10(29),11,13,16,18,20(28),22,24,26-tridecaene-9,21-dione could be produced by a single-celled organism?

You try to make much of this 19 nucleotide sequence. What are the possible amino acids it encodes? What properties does the peptide bring to the protein and to the virus?

It is just a piece of genetic “text” that points to lab origin of Sars-Cov-2.

No, no it does not. Your child-like fixation on what you think a small probability indicates is not evidence of what you claim, and it’s been pointed out to you that scientists around the world have said your view is wrong.

It’s simply your dedication to being dishonest that keeps you making that claim,

@Dangerous Bacon:
“https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7313997/

Covid-19 is a systemic disease. We’ve known this for a long time.”

That article was from 2020 so obviously was not about omicron. In my example, I described a person with omicron who only has a sore throat, NOT a systemic disease. MOST cases of covid, especially now, are NOT systemic. THEREFORE, what I said was obviously true, and that means YOU are the obtuse MORON.

IR, hon, you may not know this but just because you only have symptoms in one place in the body doesn’t mean that the pathogen is limited to that space.
Polio is primarily a disease of the GI tract, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t sometimes invade the CNS.
Plague is most commonly known by swollen lymph nodes, but it can also be present in the lungs.

And the use of wastewater to monitor for COVID shows that even when an individual’s symptoms are primarily upper respiratory, that doesn’t mean the virus isn’t also present in the GI tract.

@ Indie Rebel

Yep, most cases don’t become systematic because our immune systems do their job; but you ignore the millions of cases just in US that ended up in hospitals and around a million that died. So, yep, most did OK when infected, though even many not hospitalized suffered quite a bit for a week or more and many took quite a while to recuperate; but maybe you don’t care about the millions who suffered; but I and many others do. You aren’t a MORON, you are a cold callous JERK

Even smallpox only killed about 25%, so what a waste to have a vaccine. Even polio only crippled around 20,000, most cases subclinical, so what a waste to have a vaccine and on and on it goes.

Indie’s “just a thought” was the following:

“Since covid is a respiratory infection, it probably stays mostly in the respiratory system. But the covid vaccines can get into the blood and go anywhere.”

As has been repeatedly demonstrated to you, Covid-19 (SARS-CoV-2) and its effects are deleterious in many parts of the body, so your attempt to paint the vaccines as having nasty systemic effects in contrast to infection fails miserably. And trying to move the goalposts to the omicron variant doesn’t work either.

“And just like earlier variants, omicron can’t be defined as causing only a narrow group of symptoms. As at earlier stages in the pandemic, many patients are still having some combination of fever, gastrointestinal problems, aches and pains, brain fog, weakness and, less often, trouble breathing, says Mount Sinai’s Carr.”

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2022/01/06/1070622880/omicron-symptoms

Sorry Indie, but you can’t be granted amnesty unless you admit you were wrong. 😉

You must have inspired this classic Neil Innes song.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=P_OPpfaFlUI

@JustaTech:

“just because you only have symptoms in one place in the body doesn’t mean that the pathogen is limited to that space.”

Not limited to, but MOST LIKELY in that space. I realize many of you here know and care nothing about probability, but actually it’s one of the most basic and most important aspects of our cognition.

The probability of natural origin of SARS-CoV-2 is 0.7. The probability of lab origin is twice that.

What is your evaluation of that statement?

I realize many of you here know and care nothing about probability, but actually it’s one of the most basic and most important aspects of our cognition.

It is. And based on your posting history the probability you know anything more about probability than how it’s spelled is zero. I dare say my freshmen are better informed than you.

Except that we know (we have ample evidence) that corona viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, both infect the GI tract and cause GI symptoms.
The probabilities have collapsed, it’s a probability of 1.

Why do you assume that I know nothing about probability? Did you buy a Powerball ticket?

@ Indie Rebel

Normal mRNA disintegrates in hours; but the mRNA used in covid vaccines lasts up to TWO DAYS, not more. So, I was slightly wrong, instead of a day or so, two days. Big Deal. The bottom line is it doesn’t last very long.

“The mRNA segment of “programming” cannot endanger cells because it cannot penetrate the nucleus to get near the cell’s DNA. Since the original programmed segment disintegrates rapidly in the body, it is wrapped in liiposomes or micelles (fatty bubbles) which extend its life for 48 hours because although that is not much time, it is enough to trigger the immune system to produce antibodies. This process is nothing new, the liposome\micelles method to enhance absorption of various medicines\vitamins in our body both orally and intravenously has been in use for decades.”
Prof. Chaim Gamliel (2020 Dec 16). The Corona Vaccine, purposeful lies vs. hard scientific facts. Israeli National News.

Please give some credible references. I have several microbiology texts and genetic texts that say same thing and I have bookmarked and/or downloaded a number of articles on the mRNA covid vaccines that say the same thing.

YOU REALLY ARE SICK, an antivaxxer who just keeps making a fool of himself

@Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH
“but maybe you don’t care about the millions who suffered”

I was talking about the fact that MOST of the time the covid virus is not systemic. And we don’t know how often the covid vaccines are systemic. I was saying NOTHING about anyone who suffered.
And your name calling shows how immature you are, and how threatened you feel by opinions different from your own.

@ Indie Rebel

You write: “And we don’t know how often the covid vaccines are systemic.”

You’ve made it clear that you DON’T understand immunology; e.g., antigenic determinants and adaptive immune system. You’ve made it clear that you don’t understand S-Spike Protein. And you make another stupid statement about covid vaccines being systematic. Well, of course they are systematic, they elicit antibodies to the S-Spike protein, antibodies that create memory antibodies and short-lived and long-live plasma cells that exist throughout the body.

And you write: “I was talking about the fact that MOST of the time the covid virus is not systemic.”

Most of the time? And anyone but someone as stupid as you would read this as implying the virus doesn’t affect most people, which in turn minimizes just how many have suffered from it.

You have made it clear over and over again that you are anti the mRNA covid vaccines. Despite what you choose to believe, they are extremely safe and very effective. The risk of adverse reactions from the is far far lower than risk from the virus and they protect a high percentage of people from suffering, hospitalization, and death; but, of course, they don’t confer 100% protection. You have made it clear over and over that you don’t understand mRNA and on and on it goes.

So, keep making a fool of yourself.

Being a long-retired old man I’ve got time on my hands and responding to you as a representative of the mass of idiots in US against vaccines, against using masks, against physical distancing, etc. allows me to vent my frustration at a world that rejects science.

We have a huge problem with people endlessly reinfected with Covid, becoming sicker, and developing a strange variety of illnesses.

If anyone here is into science, please read what the HIV inserts, designed per Daszak’s 2018 DEFUSE proposal to infect DC-SIGN (dendritic cells) and T cells, do to our T-tells, and immune systems, read these two articles below.

Neither of these articles is even remotely antivax.

They show that Sars-Cov-2 pathogenicity somewhat parallels HIV’s, although these are completely different viruses — but they have something in common.

The first is the Nature article written by several authors, including the famous China bat-woman Shi Zhengli.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41392-022-00919-x

It can be described as saying “Sars-Cov-2 Kills T-Cells, Just Like HIV”. (The study is not new and I personally discussed it on Mar 13 2022) The article shows that SC2 kills T cells via LFA-1 receptor (just like HIV does via gp120 — IC). A very interesting study and definitely worth an hour of your time.

The second article is from a Canadian outlet called TheTyee.ca, talking about Anthony Leonardi and his theory that repeated Covid reinfections will take people to their graves. (no antivax material in the article either — safe to read for pro-vaccine people, for the most part)

This article also talks about T cell damage, exhaustion etc.

https://thetyee.ca/Analysis/2022/11/07/COVID-Reinfections-And-Immunity/?utm_source=daily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=071122

The article about Leonardi is extremely interesting. It was published this November. A great read although it strikes a grim tone. However, these ideas were in the air before. Yours truly, on Mar 27, wrote an article saying “Covid Becoming CHRONIC, like AIDS, and Will Take us Down”. That article is NOT safe to read if you are pro-vax so I am not providing the link to it. It expressed concerns similar to what TheTyee article expresses — that three Covid reinfection per year will kill masses of people.

The issue, therefore, is that we have a huge problem with endless Covid reinfections, disabled immune systems, inability to develop long term immunity affecting SOME people, and so on.

We already have excess mortality of roughly 16% (depending on the country in a non-random way). It may get worse — and significantly so.

I keep track of Covid-related hospital utilization via a website called RGJ. My large local hospital Edwards Hospital in Naperville had the highest number of Covid-related ER visits (813) as of the last date for which the report is available. Last time more people were in ER for Covid, was January 7 2022.

The point is that we need to start worrying about our population — and about saving our own lives also. if you, my dear reader, had more than one Covid, it is time to start worrying.

Covid is not just a cold — and it is bad to be susceptible to endless reinfections. Its immune-suppressive features are not accidental. But regardless of whether they are accidental or not — we are all in danger.

You are utterly obsessed with the trivial fact that there are some VERY short aa sequences in SARS-CoV-2 that are also found in HIV, yet you are completely unable to present a shred of argument that they are in any way unique in these viruses or that they are of any significance to the properties of SARS-CoV-2. You have a conclusion and you are desperately trying to claim supports for your notions when actual scientists with actual knowledge don’t. You are making “god of the gaps” arguments – we don’t know exactly how this works, therefore god.

Please search google for “Uncanny similarity of unique inserts in the 2019-nCoV spike protein to HIV-1 gp120 and Gag”

Open the PDF. Read the following:

To get structural insights and to understand the role of these insertions in 2019-nCoV glycoprotein,we modelled its structure based on available tructure of SARS spike glycoprotein (PDB:6ACD.1.A). The comparison of the modelled structure reveals that although inserts 1,2 and 3 are
at non-contiguous locations in the protein primary sequence, they fold to constitute the part of glycoprotein binding site that recognizes the host receptor (Kirchdoerfer et al., 2016) (Figure 4).
The insert 1 corresponds to the NTD (N-terminal domain) and the inserts 2 and 3 correspond to the CTD (C-terminal domain) of the S1 subunit in the 2019-nCoV spike glycoprotein. The insert 4 is at the junction of the SD1 (sub domain 1) and SD2 (sub domain 2) of the S1 subunit (Ou et
al., 2017). We speculate, that these insertions provide additional flexibility to the glycoprotein binding site by forming a hydrophilic loop in the protein structure that may facilitate or enhance virus-host interactions.

The above paragraph explains that although the HIV-1 sequences are discontinuous, “they fold to constitute the part of glycoprotein binding site that recognizes the host receptor”.

The next thing in the article is the picture of spike protein with HIV parts highlighted.

So they do have significance.

Search for my other response mentioning “Leonardi” to see what is the effect of these HIV-1 inserts on human immunity, T cell exhaustion and depletion.

In short –

these sequences fold to recognize host receptor (same as the one affected by HIV)
This was described by Daszak in his 2018 DEFUSE proposal as “targeting DC-SIGN”
The effect on the population’s T cells is described by Leonardi — and could be the reason why so many people have so many seemingly unrelated illnesses

So, these inserts are functional, important, and affect millions of people

I read that preprint a long time ago. It was retracted a long time ago because of a flood of sharp criticism from virologists and molecular biologists all over the world, pointing out that the authors (who undoubtedly produced the paper to get in on the COVID act) made a lot of blunders that those with actual relevant knowledge would never have made. The authors never went back and tried to rework the paper. It remains on the scientific literature trash heap, yet you cling desperately to it. You are like the antivaxxers who cling to Wakefraud in spite of the very damning evidence against him.

You insist these very short sequences are “inserts” without having a shred of evidence that they are. You insist they must have come from HIV, contrary to what many biologists have pointed out.

You jump to all sorts of erroneous conclusions because you simply don’t have the requisite basic knowledge to understand any of this. It may gull your fans on substack but not around here.

@ Igor Chudov

First, the nature article you refer to is an IN VITRO study. I guess you don’t know what that is. In Vitro is studying things independent of the body, that is, in a test tube or petri dish. One ancient example is prontosil, developed in the 1930s to combat infections. It turned out that if they had tested in vitro it would not have worked because when taken in the body the liver transformed it to sulfanimides, an antimicrobial still being used today. The point is that how the body deals with something is often quite different from what one observes in vitro.

As for “Covid Becoming CHRONIC, like AIDS, and Will Take us Down”. HIV is a retrovirus that enters our DNA. COVID is an RNA virus that CANNOT enter the cell nucleus. Just because one finds a small section that is same as HIV means NADA. There are lots of words, for instance, that have, for instance, “ch”, in them, doesn’t mean they have similar meanings.

You write: “We already have excess mortality of roughly 16% (depending on the country in a non-random way). It may get worse — and significantly so.”

We have numerous toxins in air that have been linked to over 100,000 premature deaths per year in US. We have global warming that has caused floods, famines, fires, etc resulting in deaths in US and massive deaths in other parts of world. Since 1950s American diets have changed for the worst, much more meat, processed foods high in sugar, low in fiber, etc. And when I was in school we had 50 minutes of PE five days a week, many schools don’t have nowadays. And COVID has caused many deaths.

You refer to some obscure newspaper in Northern Nevada. Wow!

And you write: “Covid is not just a cold — and it is bad to be susceptible to endless reinfections. Its immune-suppressive features are not accidental. But regardless of whether they are accidental or not — we are all in danger.”

Neither is the flu “just a cold”. Depending on flu variant and how many vaccinated, flu kills quite a few people and hospitalizes many more. And each flu season is new and depending on variant can cause quite a bit of harm.

As for its “immune-suppressive features”, again, you rely on a very few claims. We have doctors who promote all kinds of unscientifically based treatments, including homeopathy.

COVID is a serious infection and Corona viruses mutate and some mutations can change their appearance enough so that our immune systems doesn’t recognize them as fast; but unless radically changed, our immune systems will still recognize them and fight back. You don’t understand how our immune system works and so what your write is based on IGNORANCE.

I don’t know how old you are; but how many common colds have you had during your lifetime?

And despite what you write, the number of deaths, tragic as they are, and the number of hospitalized covid patients is not near as high as it was at beginning of pandemic.

And, though Omicron is both more transmissible; but less deadly, people are NOT wearing masks, practicing physical distancing, and many still have not been vaccinated. Studies around the world have found that those vaccinated, even against variants, are still protected against severe disease, hospitalization, and death, though not perfectly; but I don’t live in a perfect world.

I asked you early on what is your background; e.g., courses or even just reading a textbook in immunology, microbiology, virology, epidemiology, etc.; but you haven’t answered.

You are no different from others without the tools to understand pandemics. In a world of seven billion people and a nation of 330 million with the world wide web, etc. one can always find blogs, newsletters, journal articles that confirm whatever belief one has. I stick with the science.

NOTE. I’ve torn apart your previous comments; but you just don’t learn.

@Aarno Syvänen:

(Igor) Regarding the 19 nucleotide reverse complement CTCCTCGGCGGGCACGTAG to
the Moderna MSH3 patent sequence from Moderna patent 9,587,003: The chance of this genetic sequence occurring randomly is 10^-11.
Aarno: Tell us how you calculated that proablii ?

Answer: I did NOT calculate that probability. It was calculated by Brufsky et al in this article

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fviro.2022.834808/full

“MSH3 Homology and Potential Recombination Link to SARS-CoV-2 Furin Cleavage Site”
Front. Virol., 21 February 2022 Sec. Emerging and Reemerging Viruses

QUOTE: The correlation between this SARS-CoV-2 sequence and the reverse complement of a proprietary mRNA sequence is of uncertain origin. Conventional biostatistical analysis indicates that the probability of this sequence randomly being present in a 30,000-nucleotide viral genome is 3.21 ×10−11 (Figure 2).

The article is worth a read, as it explains how to relate the Sars-Cov-2 sequence to its reverse complement in the Moderna patent. (I wrote a more popular type of post also explaining where to find reverse complement to CTCCTCGGCGGGCACGTAG in the Moderna patent and I can walk you through the steps)

Again, presence of this Moderna-patented sequence from a Moderna cancer vaccine patent, in Sars-Cov-2, is NOT proof that “Moderna created Sars-Cov-2”. It is a proof that Sars-Cov-2 is lab engineered.

One possible explanation for how it ended up there — but NOT at all conclusive — is that Sars-Cov-2 was serial passaged in the Moderna MSH3_mut commercial cell line.This explains why it is a reverse complement.

@Aarno: in addition to my previous reply above: the 19nt sequence in Sars-Cov-2, whose reverse complement is in the patented Moderna MSH3_mut cell line.

That sequence is NOT in some forsaken, useless junk location of Sars-Cov-2’s genome.

Quite to the contrary, the 19nt sequence actually is located n the “prime real estate” of the virus and surrounds the “furin cleavage site”, which is the key to SC2’s infectivity and pathogenicity.

So the location of this sequence is unlikely to be just a randomly and naturally occurring event or even a random outcome of lab serial passage. Quite to the contrary, someone took an effort to put it there for a reason, which do do not yet know.

This is another reason to start doubting that “SC2 was an accident of wild nature”.

Apparently you are unaware that inserting 19 nucleotides into a coding region is almost certain to be lethal to the virus.

Again you make an assertion based on pure assumption. You do not know that it was inserted.

Do you understand WHY making an insertion like that would be lethal? Do you know ANY molecular biology? YOU FAILED to respond to my challenge to list amino acids code by that sequence (and if you know any mol bio you know there is not just one answer).

Igor, are you familiar with the line about a million monkeys at typewriters for a million years accidentally producing the works of Shakespeare?

Yeah, when you have billions of mutation and recombination events you don’t need a million years. How can you see the number of species of beetles on earth and think that variation is rare?

News flash: people aren’t that special. And Nature is ready to eff us up at any moment.

It is a proof that Sars-Cov-2 is lab engineered.

No you ignorant dishonest donut, it is not proof. As noted above on November 8:

We understood from the beginning that this match could be random chance and stated this in the article very prominently,” said Dr. Bala Ambati, a study author who is an ophthalmologist and professor at the University of Oregon. He said in an email that the authors “are not casting aspersions on any person, company, or country.”

Indeed

But the discovery of that reverse complement in a years-old patent is far from proof that Moderna “created” the virus, experts say.

The research paper says “absolutely nothing” about the origin of COVID-19, said Ryan Langlois, an associate professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Minnesota.

Oh look [emphasis added]

Langlois said a 19-nucleotide sequence is not long in the context of mammalian genomes “that are millions or billions of base pairs.” He said he conducted his own search for several other 19-nucleotide reverse complement portions of the SARS-CoV-2 sequence and also found matches to human genes.

Similarly, Jesse Erasmus, director of virology at HDT Bio, a Seattle-based biopharmaceutical company, said that the chance of finding a 19-nucleotide sequence elsewhere in nature is high — despite suggestions to the contrary.

“You will be surprised how many random sequences show up in a BLAST search but if one has an undergraduate level understanding of evolution/genetics/molecular biology, it’s not surprising,” he said in an email.

Dr. Stanley Perlman, a microbiology and immunology professor at the University of Iowa, also said such allegations of the patent proving Moderna created the virus were false.

@ Igor Chudov

As I’ve written, with the world wide web one can find blogs, papers, etc that confirm even the most outlandish beliefs. It is obvious that you are good at searching the web to confirm yours, despite that the overwhelming sciences disagrees.

By the way, did you know that when a single virus invades a single cell that it takes over the cell machinery and churns out 100s of additional viruses and that rna
viruses have, depending on size of their genome, 10 or more mutations per virus, so, one virus entering one cell results in 1000s of mutations, thus, given 100s of trillions of viruses over billions of years and any possible genome is highly likely and/or close enough so only a few mutations more necessary. But, of course, you don’t understand this! ! !

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