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Antivaxxers think they understand frame shifting. They do not.

A new study reported that the modified mRNA used in the Pfizer vaccine can cause a frame shift (to be explained) that results in the production of proteins besides the intended spike protein. The findings are, as you probably guessed, a big nothingburger compared to how they are being spun.

One unexpected consequence of the infodemic of misinformation and disinformation that has accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic is that it’s given me a chance to reacquaint myself with some molecular biology and genetics that I hadn’t been using nearly as much, thanks to a chance in my research focus several years ago. My lab used to do experiments studying microRNAs and how they regulate gene expression. I even studied how transcription factors regulate gene expression and did a dissection of the functional domains of a transcription factor, but over time I’ve moved towards projects that involve more cellular biology and repurposing drugs approved for other indications for use treating breast cancer. Thanks to antivaxxers, though, I now get the opportunity to go back to my scientific roots, as when James Lyons-Weiler tried to claim that he had found plasmid sequences in the (then) newly-published sequence of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, and that this was slam-dunk evidence that he had “cracked the coronavirus code” and proven that SARS-CoV-2 had been artificially engineered in a laboratory  as the result a misadventure trying to produce a SARS vaccine. Let’s just say that a careful look at the actual sequences that he examined was not consistent with his conclusions. Then there were so many articles claiming that the mRNA vaccines “permanently alter your DNA” (they don’t) and that contaminating plasmid DNA with short sequences from the SV40 promoter from one of the plasmids used in the Pfizer manufacturing process were getting into the nucleus, inserting themselves into the genome, and causing insertional mutagenesis leading to cancer., (There’s no evidence that they do any of that.) Now they’ve discovered frame shifting. Let the hilarity ensue!

Before I continue, though, I do realize that this blog has been a bit slow. The reason is that Orac has been on leave undergoing repairs. He’s back now, and better than ever (hopefully) and ready to get back to normal. Of course, the holidays next week will probably temporarily slow me down again, but hopefully I will greet 2024 with renewed focus and purpose.

Frame shifts and “junk proteins”: Let the fear mongering begin!

It was with quite a bit of interest that I started seeing articles on antivax Substacks hyping yet another dubious claim based on molecular biology designed to frighten people that somehow the modified mRNA used in the Pfizer vaccine was causing a frameshift (I’ll explain what that is in a moment) that led to the production of “random junk proteins” in addition to the intended protein product, the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, that result in “unintended consequences,” I knew I had to read the study that antivaxxers were hyping. This was even more true after I ventured onto X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, and found posts like these:

Some scientists have tried to calle BS on all the conspiracy mongering, but to little avail.

Unfortunately, though, the misinformation has gone beyond just spreading on antivax Substack, X, and other social media. There are newspapers promoting it as well:

The Telegraph, for instance, features this misleading headline, One in four who had Moderna or Pfizer Covid jabs experienced unintended immune response:

More than a quarter of people injected with mRNA Covid jabs suffered an unintended immune response created by a glitch in the way the vaccine was read by the body, a study has found. No adverse effects were created by the error, data show, but Cambridge scientists found such vaccines were not perfect and sometimes led to nonsense proteins being made instead of the desired Covid “spike”, which mimics infection and leads to antibody production. mRNA jabs, such as the ones created by Moderna and Pfizer, use a string of genetic material to tell the body to create a specific protein that safely imitates an infection.

n fairness, The Telegraph does include context from the scientists involved in this study, but there’s plenty in the story, like the above passage, for antivaxxers to latch onto—for example, the claim that one in four subjects suffer an “unintended immune response” is doing some very heavy lifting here, as you well see—even from the passage providing context:

In this scenario not only is the vaccine not making the right protein, it could lead to a rogue protein being produced.

There is no evidence of this occurring in the Covid jabs, the authors stress, and they say any trials on other mRNA therapeutics would detect any such problems in early stages.

The BBC was a bit more measured, using a more accurate headline, Covid study: mRNA vaccines could be fine-tuned:

The revolutionary messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) technology in some Covid vaccines given to millions of people could be fine-tuned for even greater accuracy, UK scientists say.

Genetic instructions in the jab could be tweaked to avoid a harmless tiny “slip” sometimes seen as the body reads the code, the Medical Research Council team suggest.

Existing mRNA vaccines are effective and safe, they say.

Future ones could fight more diseases.

Of course, antivaxxers were not even as circumspect as The Telegraph’s sensationalistic headline was when it came to fear mongering about this study’s results as showing that the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine makes “junk proteins” that cause unintended “off-target” immune responses, implying that these findings mean that the vaccine is hopelessly dangerous. For example, you might recognize Ivor Chudov from last week. He’s not a scientist and has zero background to have any clue what this study actually shows, but, just as it didn’t stop him from incompetently trying to analyze Steve Kirsch’s stolen data from New Zealand, his utter ignorance of molecular biology doesn’t stop him from writing things like Covid Vaccines Produce Random Junk Proteins Thanks to an “Invention” Which Coincidentally Won the Nobel Prize, in which, antivaxxers being antivaxxers, Chudov cranks up the fear mongering to 11:

Would you like to get a mystery shot, which would make your body produce random, garbage proteins for an indeterminate amount of time? Well, it turned out that mRNA Covid vaccines have precisely that effect!

And:

We are discussing one such surprise – the lost “bits” of genetic translation leading to garbage proteins produced by vaccinated bodies at random.

Noting that Katalin Kariko and Drew Weissman won the Nobel Prize for pioneering the use of pseudouridine in mRNA to make mRNA vaccines, Chudov then pulls a predictable antiscience trope out of his nether regions::

May I remind you of another 1949 Nobel Prize given to the inventor of lobotomy Egas Moniz?

Because of course he does, as this seems to be a common theme among antivaxxers commenting on this study. He also makes a rather dubious analogy:

I hope you agree that any technology that causes such random loss of “bits” is not good. Some lost bits can corrupt files and even lead to computer crashes, like the infamous “Blue Screen of Death” in Microsoft Windows.

It turns out that mRNA technologies introduce similar errors, as Mulroney et al. learned using experiments on mice and humans. Just as bits are lost in text, such frameshifting errors can cause garbage outputs to clog human bodies.

The problem, of course, is that is not quite what the study showed. (Actually, unsurprisingly, it is an antivax spin on a somewhat interesting result that is not exactly a new finding.) As I will discuss in a moment, the study did show that pseudouridine in the vaccine can result in a frameshift that causes the production of small amounts of proteins other than spike, but the finding turns out to be a huge nothingburger. However, to understand just what the heck this study does show, it’s necessary to delve back into some Molecular Biology 101-level information about how ribosomes translate the genetic code in mRNA into protein and what a frame shift during translation is.

This brings me to just the latest example of the willful misinterpretation of molecular biology (along with some immunology).

What is a frame shift?

Let’s go back to the very basics again, as this is necessary to understand just what the heck a frameshift is. First, let’s review how the information in genes is transcribed into a different form, RNA, and then translated into protein. First, although I hate the term, let’s look at what is commonly called the “central dogma” of molecular biology, which describes the flow of information from genes to protein. (No less a luminary than Francis Crick first stated it in 1958, and it has been restated over the years in various ways.) Perhaps my favorite version of the central dogma was succinctly stated by Marshall Nirenberg in 1958 and has since been commonly paraphrased to say, “DNA makes RNA makes protein”, which about summed up all of molecular biology in five words. (Why I used the past tense in a moment.) In any event, for purposes of understanding RNA viruses, this is the main sequence that you need to understand. In any event, for purposes of understanding RNA viruses, this is the main sequence that you need to understand:

DNA to RNA to protein
The “Central Dogma of Molecular Biology”. Information flows from DNA to RNA and then is used to make protein.

mRNA vaccines, of course, skip the DNA part, producing an mRNA molecule with all the information necessary for the cell to make the desired protein. But how is that information coded into the DNA and mRNA molecules? DNA and RNA are basically long polymers (chemical chains) made up of four different “bases.” You don’t need to know a lot of the specifics for purposes of this discussion, other than that they are coded A, C, and G in both RNA and DNA; the fourth one used is T in DNA and U (standing for, yes, the dreaded uracil) in RNA, with the two functioning basically the same in each molecule. (Chemists and molecular biologists, I’m simplifying for purposes of a mass audience; no nitpicking.) In the early 1960s, scientists used a clever strategy to work out the genetic code. In brief, they figured out that three nucleotides coded for one amino acid. (As DNA and RNA are chains of a limited number of different bases, proteins are chains made up of amino acids, of which there are 20 used to make the proteins in most organisms. Because, with four different bases, there are more potential combinations of bases in groups of three (64) than there are amino acids, the genetic code is said to be redundant, with most amino acids having more than one three-base “codon” to encode them, although there are special codons that signify the start or termination of translation, all of which were worked out decades ago.

The genetic code is frequently represented as a table like this, with the three letter codes for the amino acids being mapped to the various three-“letter” codon combinations:

Genetic Code Table

And:

Genetic Code
Read from the center out to map the three-“letter” codon to the amino acid.

Confession: I included both versions because I think they’re cool.

So what is a frame shift? Think of it this way. To translate the genetic information in an RNA molecule into proteins, a protein complex known as a ribosome slides along the mRNA molecule, adding amino acids to the growing peptide (protein) chain according to its “reading” of the three-letter codons. However, as you can imagine, as accurate as the process of translation is, nothing in nature is absolutely perfect, and sometimes mistakes in translation are made. One type of mistake occurs when for some reason, the “read” of the mRNA template is shifted so that it’s off by a nucleotide base or two. (Note that a frame shift of three bases would bring the ribosome back onto the correct frame to read the rest of the mRNA sequence correctly, although it would result in the deletion or addition of one amino acid.)

I’m going to borrow this example from Wikipedia, because it’s accurate and fairly easy to understand:

In this example, the following sequence is a region of the human mitochondrial genome with the two overlapping genes MT-ATP8 and MT-ATP6. When read from the beginning, these codons make sense to a ribosome and can be translated into amino acids (AA) under the vertebrate mitochondrial code:
|Start|AAC GAA AAT CTG TTC GCT TCA ...
|Start|123 123 123 123 123 123 123 ...
| AA  | N   E   N   L   F   A   S  ...
However, let’s change the reading frame by starting one nucleotide downstream (effectively a “+1 frameshift” when considering the 0 position to be the initial position of A):
A|Start|ACG AAA ATC TGT TCG CTT CA...
-|Start|123 123 123 123 123 123 12...
 | AA  | T   K   I   C   S   L    ...
Now, because of this +1 frameshifting, the DNA sequence is read differently. The different codon reading frame therefore yields different amino acids. In the case of a translating ribosome, a frameshift can either result in nonsense (a premature stop codon) after the frameshift, or the creation of a completely new protein after the frameshift. In the case where a frameshift results in nonsense, the NMD (nonsense-mediated mRNA decay) pathway may destroy the mRNA transcript, so frameshifting would serve as a method of regulating the expression level of the associated gene.[5]

Let me just note that frame shifts commonly result in a premature stop codon and, as a result, a much shorter protein, although sometimes the open reading frame (the sequence of RNA without a stop codon) can stretch for considerable length, leading to a much longer different protein being translated. Frame shifts can also occur as a result of a frame shift mutation, which involves the insertion of one or more nucleotides into the sequence of a gene, but that’s not what the paper was examining, as such mutations, being mutations, require modification of the actual nucleotide sequence coding for the proteins. The paper being promoted by antivaxxers concerns itself with frame shifts as a result of the ribosome that do not involve a change in the actual nucleotide sequence.

Now here’s the interesting thing. While it’s true that a ribosomal frame shift can occur as a random “mistake” in the ribosome’s reading of the mRNA sequence, that is far from the only mechanism by which ribosomal frame shifts occur. Indeed, such frame shifts are not uncommon, particularly in viral genomes. They can, for instance, allow for two different proteins to be coded from the same stretch of RNA, transcribed from DNA, thus getting more information out of a much shorter stretch of DNA. Indeed, the Wikipedia article on the topic includes a pretty decent lay summary several types of these naturally-occurring frameshifts, some caused by so-called “slippery sequences” that can make the ribosome “slip” and skip a nucleotide in its reading, with such sequences controlling the rate at which such frame shifting occurs. Also, the secondary structure (how the mRNA loops and folds on itself) can regulate the rate and chance of ribosomal frame shifting.

Can I just say that biology is so cool?

It’s even cooler than that, though. We’ve known a long time that frame shifting is important in coronaviruses and since at least 2005 that there is programmed ribosomal frame shifting in the original SARS viral genome. which makes it no surprise that programmed ribosomal frame shifting might occur SARS-CoV-2. In fact, we know that coronaviiruses require ribosomal frame shifting  as part of its replication cycle and that “modified” mRNA bases are not “unnatural”:

Again, biology is just that cool, and since virology is part of biology it’s so cool too. In fact, frame shifts are important in viruses other than SARS-CoV-2. For instance, as Ed Nirenberg explained while discussing this paper, sometimes the frame-shifted protein product can be as immunogenic (or even more so) than the regular protein product:

But, antivaxxers might ask, isn’t something (like adding pseudouridine to mRNA) that increases the likelihood of ribosomal frame shifting a bad thing? The answer is: It depends. It might be. Certainly, in therapeutics we strive to produce exactly the protein intended, no more, no less. However, that doesn’t mean that the findings of this study are evidence that mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines are “dunking up” your cells and causing all sorts of random harmful immune reactions, as antivaxxers are claiming. Now that you have some idea of what this form of frame shifting is and know that it’s also not the horribly “unnatural” thing that antivaxxers is trying to portray it as based on this study, let’s look at the study itself.

Pseudouridine and frame shifting in COVID-19 vaccines

Let’s circle back to the actual study, N1-methylpseudouridylation of mRNA causes +1 ribosomal frameshifting. The corresponding author is Anne Willis, who, along with first author Thomas Mulroney and several of the other authors, is based at the MRC Toxicology Unit, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK. Other authors are based at Oxford University, University College Dublin, University of Liverpool, University of Kent, and Mahidol University in Thailand. Early on, the authors note that the purpose of their study was to quantify how synthetic nucleotides might affect the fidelity of translation in order to use that information to design better mRNA therapeutics and vaccines, noting early on:

At present, it is unclear which modified ribonucleotides affect mRNA translation fidelity and existing studies are mostly limited to understanding misreading frequencies only at a given codon. Misreading of mRNA codons is also only one type of post-transcriptional mechanism that can alter a polypeptide sequence. So far, no study has investigated the fundamental question of whether modified ribonucleotides can affect the maintenance of the correct reading frame during translation of a synthetic transcript. Understanding these processes is critical to increase our knowledge of protein synthesis from modified mRNAs in general, but is also imperative for the robust design and evaluation of new mRNA-based therapeutics that make use of modified ribonucleotides within widely differing RNA sequences or therapeutic contexts.

Just for completeness’ sake, I like to point out that COVID-19 mRNA-based vaccines incorporate N1-methyl-pseudouridine, and that the discovery that the use of this modified base could greatly decrease the immune response to the mRNA itself as well as result in more robust protein production was critical to the development of current mRNA-based vaccine technology. Now let’s look at what Mulroney et al did.

First, they used a sequence unrelated to the spike sequence used to produce mRNA vaccines, namely a sequence designed to produce the enzyme luciferase. Luciferase is a hellaciously useful enzyme in molecular biology because when the appropriate reagents are provided it produces light by luminescence that can be quantified and is proportional to the amount of luciferase present. That’s why it’s often used as a “reporter gene” placed next to various promoters. In any event, the authors did something fairly clever. I’m not going to go into as much detail as Ed did, but basically they engineered a modified sequence for luciferase consisting of one part of it (the N-terminal domain, labeled NFluc for n-terminal firefly luciferase) that is noncatalytic, attached to CFluc, denoting the part of the protein that catalyzes the light-producing reaction. Now here’s the trick. The sequence is engineered such that the CFluc will be made only if there is a +1 frameshift. No frameshift, no light produced, as the protein will be nonfunctional. Here’s what the constructs look like, compared to wild type (WT, or naturally occurring) full length luciferase:

FLUC frame shift
Note that the CFluc requires a frameshift to occur for it to be made in a form that can catalyze the luciferase reaction.

Basically, Fluc+1FS mRNAs are designed to produce catalytically inactive (truncated) NFluc when translated normally. Clever, right? Then, the investigators made two different versions of this construct, one with just regular mRNA bases (designated unmodified) and one with the 1-methyl-pseudouridine modification used in mRNA vaccines (designated 1-methylΨ, or m1Ψ. Several different other modified uridine bases were used as additional controls. The same thing was done with wild type luciferase:

FLUC2 frame shift

Panel b shows the luciferase activity as a result of in vitro translation of the wild type luciferase sequence containing either unmodified uracil bases or the modifications listed. As you can see, the m1Ψ modification produces roughly comparable amounts of protein. Panel c, however, shows the same experiment done with Fluc+1FS, which resulted in luciferase activity only from in vitro translation using the m1Ψ-modified mRNA, with minimal activity produced by all the other groups. Panel d represents introducing Fluc+1FS into cells either unmodified or with the m1Ψ modification, and as you can see the m1Ψ-modified mRNA produced a lot more luciferase activity, indicating that the methyl-pseudouridine substitution increased the rate of frame shifting. Finally, e a Western blot, which shows two additional for the m1ψ mRNA, but also a large amount of the expected iin-frame product.

Ed notes:

So, thus far this paper recapitulates what is already known about Ψ-modified mRNA but also describes increased frame shifting. Sounds bad, right? Well, maybe, or maybe not. In any case, the conclusions thus far are:

Incorporation of 1-methylΨ in Fluc+1FS mRNA significantly increased ribosomal +1 frameshifting to about 8% of the corresponding in-frame protein, which was not observed for other ribonucleotides (Fig. 1c). HeLa cells transfected with 1-methylΨ Fluc+1FS mRNA recapitulated the results from in vitro translation (Fig. 1d). On the basis of these observations, we concluded that IVT mRNA containing 1-methylΨ or 5-methylC exhibits similar translation efficiency to unmodified mRNA, but 1-methylΨ significantly increases ribosomal +1 frameshifting during mRNA translation.

The authors next asked if this phenomenon happens in COVID-19 vaccines. So they vaccinated mice with the Pfizer vaccine and with the Oxford/AZ vaccine, which is DNA-based, not mRNA-based, and therefore would not be expected to produce extraneous proteins due to frame shifts, and looked at T-cell mediated immune responses to spike protein and to the out-of-frame peptides predicted from the nucleotide sequence of spike. What they found was this:

Frame shift immune

The results are quite interesting. The mice did indeed show an immune response to out-of-frame peptides predicted to be produced by the Pfizer vaccine, while, as expected, the AZ vaccine produced no such response because it couldn’t produce the out-of-frame peptides. However, look at 2c. The Pfizer vaccine produced a greater immune response to the intended antigen, the SARS-CoV2 spike protein, than produced by the AZ vaccine.

Then they did the same thing in humans, examining responses in the peripheral blood monocytes (PBMCs) of 21 individuals vaccinated with BNT162b2 (Pfizer) and compared these responses to those of 20 individuals vaccinated with ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 (AZ):

PBMC assay

Panel d assays T-cell immune response PBMCs (IFNγ ELISpot) harvested from human volunteers and stimulated with predicted out-of-frame spike peptides, while panel e shows the same response to in-frame spike peptides: total spike pool or spike S1 + S2 subpools (spike protein S1 and S2 regions). The bottom line is that frame shifting was observed in humans, but it varied between individuals…by a lot. The authors then went on to identify “slippery sites” within the mRNA that are prone to frame shifting and showed that abolishing these sites by mutating them to a different codon coding for the same amino acid could greatly decrease the rate of frame shifting.

Now, I know what antivaxxers are thinking: Maybe these individuals with a greater propensity for their ribosomes to frame shift are those “sensitive” to “vaccine injury” by this mechanism. When it comes to this sort of argument, I tend to agree with Ed Nirenberg (again) that these results have little or no bearing on the safety of the Pfizer vaccine (or the Moderna vaccine) for the reasons that he cites, including:

This is very important. Even though the authors did not test the Moderna vaccine, we would expect that, if frame shifting impacted vaccine safety a lot, there would be a significant difference between the two vaccines based on their different nucleotide sequences. That’s not to say that these results don’t matter for future vaccine design. They do, as Ed points out:

In particular, because there is no autoimmune signature for the mRNA-based vaccines:

And here is another reason why you shouldn’t worry about these results:

Which is what I said at the beginning of this post—remember?—about how most frame shifts don’t result in much of a protein because it’s usually not too far from the frame shift to a stop codon that will truncate the frame shift peptide after a fairly short sequence. Yes, these

short frame shift proteins can—and apparently do—provoke an immune response,  but not one that has been demonstrated to cause harm, the ravings of antivaxxers notwithstanding.

Not that this stops antivaxxers like one whom we’ve met before, Joomi Kim, from ranting:

Technically it’s true that there are “no adverse outcomes reported” from the mistranslation of mRNA vaccines, but that’s because we don’t even know what that would look like. Does anyone walk into the ER and say “I experienced a ribosomal frameshift?”1 No one knows what that would look like, and the authors of the paper don’t either. All the authors can say is that they didn’t see any obvious evidence of harm in the (8?) mice they vaccinated with the Pfizer vax. And even that is iffy: after all, they only looked at what happened to the mice in the short term.

There is only one appropriate reaction to that remark about having “experienced a ribosomal frameshift”:

Godzilla facepalm
I just saw Godzilla Minus One a week ago; so this is the only facepalm meme that I could use for this. BTW, Godzilla Minus One is a really great movie, not just a great Godzilla or monster movie, but a great movie, period.

Actually, we do know what such adverse outcomes would probably look like. It would likely look the same as any other errant immune reaction or autoimmune condition.

Unsurprisingly, Kim also pulls the pharma shill gambit:

We should also mention that it’s possible that some of the authors of this paper have some conflicts of interest:

Competing interests

T.E.M. and A.E.W. are inventors on a pending patent application (2305297.0) related to mRNA technology.

The funny thing is, I could argue coming from the opposite view that that such a financial conflict of interest could be a reason why they published findings that demonstrate what they believe to be a deficiency in its design, and then to mention their preferred solution. If I really wanted to be snarky, I could ask them why they didn’t think that Andrew Wakefield had a hopeless conflict of interest, given that when he published his case series he had under development a measles vaccine of his own. Of course, these authors are nothing like Wakefield, in particular because they are very up-front about what they are trying to accomplish:

Although there is no evidence that frameshifted products in humans generated from BNT162b2 vaccination are associated with adverse outcomes, for future use of mRNA technology it is important that mRNA sequence design is modified to reduce ribosome frameshifting events, as this may limit its future use for applications that require higher doses or more frequent dosing, such as the in vivo production of hormones. It is important to continue investigating therapeutic mRNA mistranslation and immunogenicity, as the evolution of antibody and cytolytic T cell responses against +1 frameshifted spike variants and peptides has not been systematically evaluated in humans and ELISpot responses obtained from pooled peptides may also underestimate T cell responses.

And:

Taken together, these data suggest that N1-methylpseudouridylation at defined mRNA sequences triggers ribosome +1 frameshifting; however, with appropriate mRNA sequence design, it is possible to ameliorate this issue.

Which, I note, would be a good thing. Probably. After all, remember that the Pfizer vaccine induced a stronger immune response than the DNA-based vaccine. What if this is in part due to its producing a small amount of frameshift peptides along with its spike protein? The good thing is that this line of research will answer that question, too; so we’ll know.

Finally:

Our mechanistic data are supported by previous observations of ribosomal frameshifting during translation of naturally occurring mRNAs, which implicate ribosome stalling and require ribosome slippery sequences for +1 frameshifting21,26,27,28,33,34. These findings are of particular importance to our fundamental understanding of how ribonucleotide modification affects mRNA translation, and for designing and optimizing future mRNA-based therapeutics to avoid mistranslation events that may decrease efficacy or increase toxicity.

Presumably, the mRNA products and vaccines for which the two main authors have filed a patent application use these findings to produce more effective—and hopefully even safer than the already very safe mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines—mRNA-based therapeutics and vaccines.

As for the antivaxxers pointing to this study as some sort of slam-dunk evidence of horrific biological and immune effects from small quantities of frameshift peptides generated by the Pfizer (and, presumably, Moderna) vaccines, all I can say is: Thanks for giving me the opportunity to delve into some pretty cool science that, regardless of where it ultimately goes, will likely help us design even better and safer future mRNA-based vaccines and therapeutics that you will hate and try to portray as deadly.

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]

91 replies on “Antivaxxers think they understand frame shifting. They do not.”

To me the big lie about these vaccines is that mRNA stays in the deltoid. This was repeated over and over at the beginning but now is universally understood not to be the case. Depending on which cells take up the mRNA that could be anything from devastating to benign. The other thing that bothered me about these from the get go (which is related) is the notion of having your own cells produce an antigen in order to train your immune system which is trained by neutralizing *your own cells. It seems to me that this process is potentially brittle, hard to understand in the case that the mRNA distributes throughout the body, and has a potential to cause problems if the wrong cells express the antigen.
What’s more, this extremely high-level understanding seems to track well with the adverse events that are being seen – heart cells/myocarditis/pericarditis for instance. Given that the latest strains are more like a cold, this tech hardly seems worth the risk. Prior uses of the tech were more specific to cases where it was worth the risk (such as cancer) which probably makes sense. It seems to me that if you really want to get a jab to prevent what amounts to a head cold these days then at least avoiding the mRNA jabs is the more prudent course.

“…this extremely high-level understanding…”

I do so love laughing at people who clearly have nothing resembling a “high level understanding” of vaccines and medicine. Yes, that’s you.

When the clueless boast about their “extremely high-level understanding”, they’re ripe for mockery.

Indeed. Any time I see one of these characters with no background in the relevant scientific fields brag about “high level understanding,” I know that hilarity will ensue and be very deserving of mockery.

No he is inventor of non vector gen therapy, too – though he did not manage to get PhD. You should rad between lines.

Are you ever going to be shocked if you ever bother to learn how the immune system deals with infected cells…

“3.2.1. Molecular mimicry While the mechanisms of COVID-19 vaccine-associated myocarditis remain speculative, a leading theory is that of molecular mimicry between the vaccine product and self-antigens [68]. Viral infections have long been associated with the subsequent development of autoimmune disease in general [69]. Respiratory viruses including coronaviruses have been associated with acute lymphocytic myocarditis without direct viral infection of myocytes [70]. Cross-reactivity of pathogen-directed antibodies with human proteins through molecular mimicry is the leading theory for the rare but statistically significant association of autoimmune diseases such as guillain-barre syndrome and multiple sclerosis with influenza and hepatitis B vaccines, respectively [71]. These observations raise the possibility that molecular mimicry drives autoimmune myocarditis after COVID-19 vaccines.
Recently, Kanduc et al. found polypeptide sequences in the COVID-19 spike glycoprotein to have a high degree of commonality with sequences in the human proteasome [72,73]. Furthermore, antibodies against the S1 spike protein have been shown to react with multiple tissue antigens including f-actin and ɑ-myosin [68,74]. The number of shared molecular patterns between SARS-CoV-2 viral proteins and self-antigens exceeds that of other coronaviruses and has been proposed as a central mechanism by which the characteristic inflammatory effects of COVID-19 occur [75]. Although all COVID-19 vaccines contain spike protein, it is theoretically possible that subtle differences in antigen presentation may cause molecular mimicry to occur with higher incidence in mRNA vaccines as compared to traditional vaccine platforms [76]. While these studies would suggest that cross-reaction of cardiac antigens with antibodies generated by COVID vaccination is possible, the clinical implications of this are unclear, especially given the lack of evidence for durable autoimmune response after COVID vaccination.

3.2.2. Adaptive immune response The second leading theory for vaccine-associated myocarditis is that unique properties of the mRNA vaccines drive innate immune overactivation. Understanding the basic mechanisms of COVID mRNA vaccines is important to draw these connections. Among COVID-19 vaccines, BNT 162b2 and MRNA-1273 vaccines are unique in that they use lipid nanoparticles to deliver synthetic in vitro transcribed (IVT) mRNA that encodes SARS-CoV-2 spike protein [43]. This mRNA is then translated in the host cytoplasm into SARS-CoV-2 spike protein at sufficient quantities to mount an adaptive immune response via CD8+ and Th1-type CD4 + T-cells [77,78]. When exposed to COVID-19 virus, vaccine-induced antibodies bind the viral envelope spike protein, which both inhibits viral binding to the host cell surface protein angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) – a necessary step for cell entry and infection – and targets virus for destruction [79].”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9115793/

LOL. He thinks he understands molecular mimicry and that his regurgitating text from an article demonstrates that.

Also, hilariously, antivaxxers have been claiming “molecular mimicry” as a mechanism by which vaccines harm going back long before the pandemic, at least a decade. Here’s a summary that I wrote in 2019, a few months before the pandemic arrived. https://www.respectfulinsolence.com/2019/11/01/molecular-mimicry/

The big lie is the anti-vaxxers pro-virus claim that the latest strains “are more like a cold,” when they’re still killing hundreds of thousands of people a year, and can still cause long covid.

Yes, covid “only” killed half as many Americans in 2022 as in 2021. When you try to handwave more than 200,000 deaths as “more like a cold,” you’re effectively pro-virus and want large numbers of people to die of a preventable disease.

So, are you a eugenicist who thinks anyone who dies of covid was “weak” and a burden on society? Or have you decided that hundreds of thousands of preventable deaths are an acceptable price to prop up the office real estate market?

Yeah so I don’t really buy those numbers seeing as hospice patients were classified as covid deaths. Obvious incentives to bump of fear to sell vaccines. Without a comprehensive audit of those numbers, I view them as BS fear mongering.

Hospice patients are still people and what they die of still matters. If people in hospice are fed tainted food and die of salmonellosis, do you think that shouldn’t be recorded and tracked?

It’s not like only hospice patients are being tracked and then that data extrapolated to the entire population.

JLB just revealed a common trait of antivaxxers: Eugenicism. I mean, his attitude, like that of many antivaxxers, is: Who cares if some hospice patients die? They don’t matter. It reminds me of Del Bigtree’s frankly eugenicist claim that COVID-19 is only a danger to those who are old—wink, wink, nudge, nudge, who cares if the elderly die given that they’ve already lived a long life, amirite?—or sick, the latter of whom all “brought it on themselves” through abusing their bodies during their youth. It’s despicable, and antivaxxers, no matter how much they claim otherwise, just can’t resist letting their eugenics freak flag fly, for everyone to see.

I think its also worth pointing out that ribosomal frame-shifting occurs on all mRNAs, not just those with slippery sites. Its relatively rare (it occurs about 1:30,000 translated amino acids), but is essentially an inevitable outcome of ribosomal collisions. While rare, those shifted transcripts are often immunologically important, for example, accounting for a pretty significant portion of cancer neo-antigens.

Quite true. However, normal ribosomal frame shifting that happens so infrequently is nowhere near as easily fear mongered about as frame shifting due to slippery sites. Of course, coronaviruses require frame shifting as part of their life cycles; so it is not particularly surprising that there might be a slippery site or two in the sequence encoding the spike protein.

It is generally understood that a child’s immune system is more innate than adaptive, therefore, children tend to be less susceptible to the COVID-19 virus. The goal of vaccination is to induce longer-term protective immunity, which is a hallmark of adaptive immunity. Studies indicate that children with a hyper-active adaptive immune system are susceptible to atypical neurological development (e.g., allergy-induced regressive autism.)

Q. In some children, can neo-antigens from mRNA vaccines support a hyper-activate adaptive immune system making them susceptible to atypical neurological development (e.g., vaccine-induced regressive autism.

@ Orac,

Fascinating post! I’m pro-vaccine safety and the question above needs to be asked. There are biological makers that may be used to evaluate the status of a child’s adaptive immune system before vaccination. With children, there may be a tipping point for atypical neurological development based on increased maladaptive immunity. Note: Adult nervous systems are essentially developed after 23 years of age so this issue becomes inconsequential.

Anti-vaxxers, alt med prevaricators and contrarians always drum up fear so it is convenient that they discover not generally known material/ terminology concerning vaccines/ meds/ physiology so that they can have a jumping off point for elaborate stream of consciousness writing in order to impress their followers who know even less- if that is indeed possible.

I’ve heard alties go on and on about the BBB or microbiota to scare parents about the dire effects of vaccination of children. Frame shifting is rather arcane so I imagine that the people Orac quotes have NOT studied it which makes it all the easier for them to free associate about the harms it causes. Another unstated assumption they make is that no one else has ever studied the effects so they KNOW that they are unsafe.

Adding luceriferase is a nice touch because so many claim demonic influence of vaccine supporters. ( Recently: Naomi Wolf on X/ nitter.net said the CDC Director has eyes that betray her state of possession).

Demonic possession is a big thing for the head of the Michigan GOP — along with boatloads of other asinine stuff: 2020 election fraud of course, that’s required for anyone who wants a position high in the GOP, but also:

Kristina Karamo,, chair of the Michigan GOP, has claimed
– Beyonce was recruiting Black Americans to Paganism through an album [and that Jay-Z
, Cardi B, Ariana Grande, and Billy Ellis are tools of Satan]
– Demonic possession is real and can be spread from one person to another through intimate relations prior to marriage
– Acceptance of gay and transgender Americans is the first step to acceptance of pedophilia
– Drug use is witchcraft
– Evolution is a scam (one of the biggest in human history)
– Media rhetoric about Republicans will lead to them being rounded up, killed, and put in concentration camps [presumably the last two would not be in that order]

She also says that she is an “anti-vaxxer” because nobody knows what is in them and because of the harm they cause, but she does support innoculation

The problem isn’t the concept of inoculation, which I completely support

And Santa is the biggest conspiracy, a gateway conspiracy that teaches older children to pretend that Santa exists, to be rewarded with presents.

This is a type of socialization that nicely and pleasantly makes children good members of society, able to pretend that they believe what they are required to believe to advance their careers.

It might not even be bad, but it is what it is

But viruses exist whether anti-vaxxers believe in them or not. The Herman Cain Awards are a great antidote.

Calculate amount of bribes needed for you big COVID conspiracy (even assuming that everyone is corrupt)- You could tell who are they runninng wild.

Yeah, I’m unfortunately very familiar with this kook. The Republican Party in my state has gone even more off the rails than the Republican Party elsewhere.

A very interesting and educational post! On of your best, in my opinion.

I find it amazing that all living beings are essentially digitally encoded via their genomes, and each cell is like a mini computer reading data tapes.

I was just thinking… Perhaps frame shifting is good for us? Instead of the deadly spike protein, frame shifting results in random junk being produced, and so, possibly, less bodily damage.

The authors of the scientific study we are all discussing, invented a new way to encode mRNA that still bypasses immune reactions and results in long-term production of target proteins, but with less frameshift read errors. Prof. Anne Willis explained that their invention will make mRNA technology “a whole lot safer going forward”. So, perhaps, looking backward, the technology was not all that safe? Hmmm

Prof. Anne Willis explained that their invention will make mRNA technology “a whole lot safer going forward”. So, perhaps, looking backward, the technology was not all that safe?

“Not all that safe” is a wishy-washy phrase — there’s no way to solidify what that means in a reasonable way.

We all know that you have a strictly binary view of vaccines: either they are 100% effective or they are failures, but that view is useful only to people pushing false information and lies, which is your thing. What is there about noting that simply because something can be improved in some way does not mean it was originally terrible.

The more asinine crap you post the more I wonder how the people who are stupid enough to believe your shit are able to turn on a computer.

Spike protin is of course not deadly in th sns you think. Repeating a claim does not make it true.

Thank you for saying that: we cannot say it enough because anti-vaxxers repeatedly call spikes “deadly”/ “dangerous” in order to unrealistically scare their followers about vaccines.
Spikes sound bad! Spikes provide an entry point for viruses – that’s why they are targeted.

I am thankful for medical physicians who mend our physical bodies. But we do know there is physical death of the body no matter what physicians do to prolong life. But there is also a spiritual meaning to life beyond the physical body.
Yes, we have anti-vaxxers but we also have those who are anti The LORD GOD.

 A person who is NOT born again is under the persuasion of the one who is AGAINST the I AM, Who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
The most brilliant mind cannot understand the spiritual things of Jesus Christ unless the Holy Spirit reveals the things of Christ to you. 

John 14:6
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

“ So, you are the Christ, you’re the great Jesus Christ
Prove to me that you’re no fool – walk across my swimming pool
If you do that for me, then I’ll let you go free…”

@ Kelli

This is probably a waste of time; but:
So what happened to all the people who lived before Jesus?
What happened to all the people living in China, Japan, Australia, North and South America?
At the time of the writing of the Bible, people believed world limited to a flat surface, a sort of island, stars from our own and distant galaxies were just lights in the sky.

G-ds in ancient times were just anthropomorphic projections, larger, more powerful, maybe with wings, etc.; but . . .

The one major advancement in the Bible which most people, especially like you, ignore, is the burning bush. Burning; but not consumed and when asked for a name, “I am that I am”. Too much to accept, so many need a human figure to worship. Many just can not accept that the universe is infinite with innumerable planets & that if there was “something” that created it, it had to be beyond space and time. So why would this “ “ in the infinite universe, make contact with one small section of our world?

So Jesus may have been an extremely good man, both roll model and teaching compassion, charity, being non-judgmental; but even some of the so-called miracles he performed; e.g., returning from the dead happened in earlier persons in the Bible as well, etc.

Yet, many Evangelical Christians are extremely judgmental, ignoring Bible:
“Judge not lest ye shall be judged”
“Don’t look at the fleck in another’s eyes until you look at the fleck in your eyes’
“Don’t judge another until you have walked in their footsteps”
And where does the New Testament demand that people accept Jesus and force them to pray?

I could go on and on; but find it fascinating that with modern science, many still believe primitive religions.

Joel,
In the Gospel of John 1:9, John says that Jesus Christ was the True Light who enlightens every man coming into the world. Every human being who comes into this world is enlightened by Christ, the Light, so that they are without excuse. This is without words. This is without even picking up a Bible. It is how one responds to the Light when each of us are born into this world. You bring up many questions but a hardened heart will not receive the truth. I could answer your questions but then it would be like sharing a personal relationship with one who has already said in his heart I do not believe. He desires a personal relationship with each and everyone of us. The just will live by faith. There are two persuasions in the world one is human and the other comes from God Himself. The Faith is a gift of God. It is given by God.

I thought it was rather odd to say that faith is given BY god. That’s like saying God forces you to believe. Faith by mind control isn’t faith at all, it’s just control.

Say what you like about Odin but he doesn’t give a sh#t if you like him or not and his horse has eight legs.

@ Kelli

You totally ignore what I write & continue to push your faith, a faith not based in reality; but what you choose to believe. You didn’t even answer a simple question such as what happened to all the people born before Christ and to all the people around the world? You ignore that when the Bible was written, those writing it weren’t even aware that other civilizations in Far East, Western Hemisphere existed & if Jesus was truly representative of G-d, etc. why did he ignore most of the world?

I could go on; but it is clear that you are absolutely certain of your faith; but such certainty means you aren’t a flawed, limited human being. And I can assure you that many others are equally certain of their faiths; e.g. Buddhists, Moslems, Jews, etc.

Bottom line is you and many others are incapable of recognizing a G-d outside of time and space; but as with ancient religions, need a G-d in human form.

Joel,
My faith has been given to me by the author and finisher of the faith.
As far as my pushing my faith I have total confidence that the Lord will draw those who are receptive to the good news of Christ. As my previous post stated everyone IS being enlightened by the LIGHT without Words, without the Bible. Everyone has a heart response to the LIGHT while being born in the world. People choose what they want to believe by what they prefer to believe. Therefore, we have different faiths such as Buddhist’s, Jehovah Witnesses, Mormons, Muslims. These faiths are of men and not from out of God as a source.
There is only one faith that is the author and finisher of the faith (Hebrews 12:2)
But Jesus said:
Matthew 7:13

The Narrow Way
(Luke 13:24)
“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.
Matthew 7:14
Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

So it is not a majority who are looking for eternal life with Jesus. There are few in comparison to the many who are rejecting Him.
Jesus (God in the flesh) came in a human body to pay the price for the sins of us all on the cross. In Christ dwells all the fullness of the Godhead in bodily form.
All who receive Him become children of God.
John 1:12
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:

John 1:13
who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Mark 4:11
And He said to them, “To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables,

Mark 4:12
so that
Seeing they may see and not perceive,
And hearing they may hear and not understand;
Lest they should turn,
And their sins be forgiven them.’ ”

Romans 10:13
For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”

Again, thank you for the medical physicians for taking care of the physical bodies as best as you are able.
As you already know you can become frustrated with those who disagree with vaccinations. But not everyone agrees that we are all sinners either and in need of salvation.

That’s what you believe. Millions of people believe other things, or they are not religious at all.
Why should your fairytale beat someone elses fairytale? I choose not to believe in any fairytales. They have brought to much suffering.

Kelli, you won’t convince anyone on this website by quoting Bible verses. What I’ve seen on the various occasions when religion enters the discussion here (or at SBM) is that those with a scientific background tend to see religion as a bad way of doing science, while those from a religious background tend to see scientists as having a religious-like unshakeable faith in their scientific understanding while they don’t understand or accept the process of science.

AFAIK, all religions are based on some sort of received wisdom with the members taking that as absolute truth and reasoning from it as a basis. and they are focused on finding answers to questions like, “what does it mean to be a good person? why do good people do bad things? and if someone does a bad thing, what should they do to make up for it?” Science might inform our approach but doesn’t really address such questions.

Whereas, science is a process of testing our ideas against reality to see if the world really works that way. It explicitly restricts itself to things that can be seen, observed, and tested. And that is WITHOUT assuming that “God did it/”

One of my heroes growing up was Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who taught at Union Theological Seminary in New York before returning to Germany to resist Hitler. He was hung by the Nazis in the final days of World War II. He is reputed to have told Americans that their theology was somewhat deficient. I would say that applies to your comments here as well.

And I would say that most people coming here citing religion are like the people Isaiah was preaching about,

ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding.

(NIV)
John 1:9 states (again NIV)

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.

John was comparing the earlier teaching of John the Baptist to the later preaching of Jesus. Neither of them had anything to say about the structure of DNA, or how it interacts with the biochemistry in the cells in your body. They had no concept of infectious diseases, much less a knowledge of bacteria and viruses.

And I have yet to find in the Bible where it says that God gave man a brain but told him not to use it.

And the people who come here touting their religion seem to lack love for the millions of people that science can help us protect from the suffering and death caused by those diseases.

Instead they seem like the people referred to in ! Corinthians 13:1 (NIV)

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

And now back to the science.

And I don’t believe those selling the vax. And since it only slows transmission in the best case by a small amount then why should I be mandated?

@JLB Who is selling vaccines ? I notice that you admit that vaccines prevent transmission. Next get the effect right.

Whenever I hear or read the kind of faffle Kelli’s spewing I think about this from Emo Phillips.

“Once I saw this guy on a bridge about to jump.
I said, “Don’t do it!”
He said, “Nobody loves me.”
I said, “God loves you. Do you believe in God?”
He said, “Yes.” I said, “Are you a Christian or a Jew?”
He said, “A Christian.” I
said, “Me, too! Protestant or Catholic?”
He said, “Protestant.”
I said, “Me, too! What franchise?”
He said, “Baptist.”
I said, “Me, too! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?”
He said, “Northern Baptist.”
I said, “Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?”
He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist.”
I said, “Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region, or Northern Conservative Baptist Eastern Region?”
He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region.”
I said, “Me, too!” Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879, or Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?”
He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912.”
I said, “Die, heretic!” And I pushed him over.”

@ Igor Chudov

You write: “So, perhaps, looking backward, the technology was not all that safe?”

As usual, you ignore what Orac, myself, and others have written umpteen times, namely, that mRNA was discovered in 1960s and research on vaccines from it began late 1980s. That a mRNA vaccine for SARS was successfully developed; but when SARS disappeared, not used. If you go to PubMed and type in “mRNA vaccines AND before 2018” you will find literally 10s of thousands of studies.

AS USUAL, YOU ARE AN EXTREMELY STUPID SCIENTIFICALLY IGNORANT PERSON WHO IGNORES ORAC’S AND OTHERS COMMENTS THAT REFUTE WHAT YOU WRITE

@ Kelli

Did you know that the Bible you base your beliefs on is NOT the original version?

Here are a couple of books that you won’t read; but should:

Bart D. Ehrman. Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why
Richard Elliott Friedman. Who Wrote the Bible?

I have lots more. My profession was epidemiologist; but I love reading & attended seminars on many subjects. And as undergrad took two courses in theology/comparative religions. And if I were to choose a Christian group, my choice would be Quakers, the first abolitionists when many Christians supported slavery and during 1930s publicly demonstrated for US to allow Jewish refugees from Europe to enter US and during Vietnam War, protested and took ship to North Vietnam with medicines.

This is one big reason why I am an agnostic. How can I know if God exists and if so, which God is it. God’s existence is unprovable and unfalsifiable.

Just in case if God exists, I try to live righteously in general. (my blog was created to answer the moral calling of the Covid era)

Moral calling, now ? I have difficulties to believe that you actually believe the big COVID conspriracy.

I try to live righteously in general. (my blog was created to answer the moral calling of the Covid era)

How does spewing blatant lies about covid and the vaccines, misrepresenting studies about the safety of those vaccines, spewing conspiracies about covid being a bio-weapon, and generally profiting off of saying things that, if believed by your subscribers, in any way moral?

According to the definition by the United Nations,a bioweapon is an intentionally designed or released pathogen that causes disease and/or death. Sars-Cov-2 cost millions to develop and causes disease and death, and therefore fits the definition of a bioweapon.

Uninformed people mistakenly believe that bioweapons must be exceptoinally deadly. That belief is incorrect.

Uninformed people think that a naturally occurring virus “cost millions to develop” and was intentionally released. That belief is incorrect.

Could Sars-Cov-2 have come from nature?

If so, it would be an amazing natural virus, that came from nature in 2019, but was described in a proposal to develop just such a virus in 2018.

It would also be an amazing natural virus that could not infect any wild species of bats.

(with the unusual furin cleavage site, as well as ability to bind to DC-sign via HIV inserts that bind to DC-sign, as described on pages 13 and 41 of the DEFUSE proposal)

And of course, that it appeared in the city where the proposal suggested it be developed, is for sure a funny coincidence!

No, it is not an “amazing natural virus” that is so “amazing” that it couldn’t have evolved naturally. Thank you for demonstrating once again how little you understand about virology and how much you’ve imbibed bullshit misinformation about the molecular biology, genetics, and evolution of coronaviruses. I’ve written a number of times how furin cleavage sites like the one in SARS-CoV-2 are not nearly as unusual as “lab leak” conspiracy theorists claim and how those “HIV sequences” are so short that they are commonplace.

Here’s the funny thing that demonstrates what a conspiracy theorist you are. The claim that SARS-CoV-2 was a bioweapon that escaped into the wild via a “lab leak” has been shown to be so ridiculous that the more “respectable” lab leak proponents have largely abandoned the idea that SARS-CoV-2 was engineered as a bioweapon in favor of a claim that a natural coronavirus stored at the Wuhan Institute of Virology for study accidentally leaked out.

@If DEFUSE proposal is the blueprint why nobody is leaking the fact. DEFUSE proposal was leaked. after all.
There is great incentive to leak:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qui_tam
Relator would collect lots of money
DARPA rejected proposal:
https://assets.ctfassets.net/syq3snmxclc9/5OjsrkkXHfuHps6Lek1MO0/5e7a0d86d5d67e8d153555400d9dcd17/defuse-project-rejection-by-darpa.pdf
Read the reasons rejection. One of then was risks of GoF research. DARPA worried about dual use, too.

Could Sars-Cov-2 have come from nature?

That’s what the overwhelming evidence says, yes. People who don’t care about evidence do, of course deny it — which is why you continue to spout your “bioweapon” bullshit: you’ve never cared about evidence.

@ Michael J Dochniak

You write: “It is generally understood that a child’s immune system is more innate than adaptive, therefore, children tend to be less susceptible to the COVID-19 virus.”

NOPE! The innate immune system has NO memory, has preprogrammed recognition of certain parts of microbes, etc. & COVID-19 virus not recognized by it. However, for reasons not necessary to go into, COVID-19 is usually, not always, less severe in children. As of July 12, 2023, 776 kids age 0-4 & 1071 ages 5-18 died from COVID-19 & many more were hospitalized. [CDC (2023 Jun 28) Provisional COVID-19 Deaths: Focus on Ages 0-18 Years]

See also: Schultze (2021 Apr 1). COVID-19 and the human innate immune system. Cell; 184: 1671-1692
Sievers (2023 Nov 20). SARS-CoV-2 and innate immunity – the good, the bad, and the “goldilocks”. Cellular and Molecular Immunology;

Joel writes,

Nope…

MJD says,

“Our findings suggest that children with COVID-19 do better than adults because their stronger innate immunity protects them against SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes the disease,” said co-senior author Betsy Herold, M.D., chief of infectious diseases and vice chair for research in the department of …

https://www.einsteinmed.edu/news/2422/study-finds-that-childrens-immune-response-protects-against-covid19/#:~:text=%E2%80%9COur%20findings%20suggest%20that%20children,research%20in%20the%20department%20of

Here is what I found:

“The first study comparing the immune responses of adults and children with COVID-19 has detected key differences that may contribute to understanding why children usually have milder disease than adults.
“Our findings suggest that children with COVID-19 do better than adults because their stronger innate immunity protects them against SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes the disease
Compared with adult patients, pediatric COVID-19 patients in the study possessed significantly higher levels of certain cytokines associated with the innate immune response.
Einstein College of Medicine (2020 Sep 21). Study Finds That Children’s Immune Response Protects Against COVID-19 | Newsroom | Albert Einstein College of Medicine.”

Do you understand what the word “suggests” means? Yep, later research could confirm or not.

Note. “Key differences MAY contribute”

So, you could be right; but I try to NEVER rely on one study and I read the study carefully.

@ Kelli

Do you understand that the followers of Jesus in the New Testament expected him to return during their lifetimes? And when he didn’t, religious leaders predicted when he would return over and over again. It is now 2000 years and no return. And I would bet if I could take you in a time machine to year 3,000 and he still didn’t return, would not affect your faith. You continue to believe in a Bible that numerous historians have shown is NOT the original. I listed two books that clearly explain this, including numerous valid footnotes/references; yet, you just keep quoting, wanting to believe the quotes.

If you don’t try to force people in various ways to believe as you believe and it keeps you happy, I have no problem with that; but, however, throughout history Christians have often brutally required people to follow strict doctrines. The first three centuries Christians were kind and non-violent, going to their deaths with smiles on their faces; but since then Christianity has become an often brutal religion.

Did you know that Jesus said that people who pray in public will get their reward; but that people who go into the innermost sanctum of their homes and pray to him, that he will hear them? So why do so many Christians push for public prayers?

Joel,
The Word of God is not just a textbook in black and white, it is spiritual. Even without the Bible I would be living from out of the faith. Not all will receive the LORD but will make up a god of their own making from their own imagination. If people really want to know the way, the truth, and the life, why do they make such an effort to try to find reasons to NOT seek Him out? Because they suppress the truth.
Romans 1:18

God’s Wrath on Unrighteousness
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness
Romans 1:19
because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.
The Bible tells us, and again, reading verses 19 and 20 of Romans chapter 1, 19 because that which may be known of God is manifest in them, for God is the one that manifested it to them. In them. They know. 20 For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood or perceived by the things that are made. God’s Spirit causes people to notice creation. And they also notice that it was a Designer behind that creation. It doesn’t make any difference what they say. If they say, no, I don’t believe that stuff. Well, you might not believe it, but Even His eternal power and Godhead so that they are without excuse.
It says in verse 21 Because when they knew God, not if but when they did, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain or empty in their imaginations, that is their reasonings, and their foolish heart was darkened.
So nonbelievers do not believe because they refused God’s enlightenment about God’s eternal power and Godhead.
Yes, I do agree that many are trying to conform or transform the world to follow Christ. It is called dominionism. The Lord does not work that way.
To be a disciple of the Lord you must deny self and follow behind Him. You cannot transform someone who is not born again. It is by the power of God who saves people.
As far as persecution, Joel, there will be persecutions of believers. Jesus said they hated Him, and anyone who is a disciple of Him will be hated.

@ Kelli

As I’ve explained over and over, your beliefs are your subjective beliefs. You have NO evidence that supports your beliefs, other than your subjective opinions, including interpretations of happenings and history. And as I also explained; but you are too stupid to understand, the Bible was written at a time when people didn’t even understand that the world was a large globe, that there existed civilizations both in Far East and Western Hemisphere, so why did Jesus only allow people in one section of globe chance to be saved. And you ignore that the Bible you use is NOT the original; but it was changed/edited, etc. and the one you use comes from the 3rd Century.

Your beliefs are NOT one bit more valid than those of other peoples around the globe. It is your ignorance/stupidity and arrogance that you believe your beliefs are valid.

Quoting the Bible doesn’t validate your beliefs anymore than someone quoting sayings of Buddha or quoting Quran.

Joel, you stated to me “Your beliefs are NOT one bit more valid than those of other peoples around the globe. It is your ignorance/stupidity and arrogance that you believe your beliefs are valid.”

Me: I’m only quoting what the Word says but you are rejecting it.
Do you always belittle people who do not agree with you?

So your fairytale tells you you are right and as a proof, you quote your fairytale. Others will quote their fairytales, to proof they are right. That’s no proof either of you is right. It’s just self-refering.

You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice
If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice
You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill
I will choose a path that’s clear, I will choose Freewill

I prefer science over religion.

“So if You are the Christ
Yes, the great Jesus Christ
Feed my household with this bread
You can do it on Your head…”

Squirrelelite,
I said I was thankful for physicians who take care of the physical body. Luke, who, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote the book of Luke, was a physician. The point is that each of us has an appointed time of death. Our physical life and physical death is planned and designed by God as He allows. While we’re alive physically, we all are being enlightened by the LORD through various means. What is our response to the enlightenment? Are we rejecting Jesus Christ and instead preferring the darkness which hides the sin? or receiving Jesus Christ as the Perfect Sacrifice which was necessary for the removal of the sin?
You posted, squirrelite, a scripture verse: If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
Truth and agape love, which is of God as a source, are inseparable.

So, Kelli, what are you trying to persuade or convince us of? If it’s your personal version of the Christian religion, you are not doing a very good job of it. And this forum is not about religion per se.
You started by saying

I am thankful for medical physicians who mend our physical bodies. But we do know there is physical death of the body no matter what physicians do to prolong life. But there is also a spiritual meaning to life beyond the physical body.

I agree that death is inevitable but I think it makes a great difference whether people live an average of 25 years as in Luke’s time or perhaps 75 years like now. And that difference is not because we have greater faith. And all of those thoughts and prayers have not protected the 40,000 people who have died in the U.S. from gun violence this year.

I prefer to use science to live a healthier and a longer life. And I try to put my faith to work to influence our politics to make our country a safer place for everyone, regardless of their religion.

And I am trying to learn about the immune system, not just pretend that first century knowledge, which was completely unaware of it, is good enough.

Mostly because this is a science blog. It is not the place to talk about the bronze age ramblings of those who were just trying to figure out how the world works. Including how to get along with their neighbors. Where unfortunately included how to get rid of them (there is lots of violence in the Bible).

And, speaking of Enlightenment, the United States were born out of the age of Enlightenment
The Scientific Revolution began when Natural Philosophers like Francis Bacon, John Locke, Rene Descartes and Isaac Newton established an underlying philosophy for the scientific method.
This was followed up by further philosophical work of many writers, including David Hume, Immanuel Kant, Jean-Jacques, Rousseau and Voltaire. Their writings directly underpinned our foundational documents like the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

The central doctrines of the Enlightenment were individual liberty and religious tolerance, in opposition to an absolute monarchy and the power of religious authorities. The Enlightenment was marked by an increasing awareness of the relationship between the mind and the everyday media of the world,[12] and by an emphasis on the scientific method and reductionism, along with increased questioning of religious orthodoxy

I agree. Religious arguments that are not directly about science, particularly science-based medicine, antivax, etc., and the other usual topics of this blog are off-topic and, if they go on too long, will result in my deleting comments and possibly banning people who refuse to take a hint.

@ Kelli

You write: “As far as persecution, Joel, there will be persecutions of believers. Jesus said they hated Him, and anyone who is a disciple of Him will be hated.”

You really are one stupid dishonest ignorant person. Starting in 3rd Century it was Christians who did the most persecuting. When Crusaders with crosses on their garments took Jerusalem they slaughtered everyone, men, women, children, Moslems, Jews, and Christians. When Moslems retook Jerusalem they spared all but those who continued to fight them and also allowed Churches and Synagogues to remain and be used. And what about the 30 years war where Catholics slaughtered Protestant men, women, and children, and Protestants slaughtered Catholic men, women, and children? And what about World War II when US committed war crimes of firebombing civilian areas of Germany? And on and on it goes.

I could give more history; but as I said, you really are one stupid dishonest ignorant person.

And you ignore that the Bible you believe in was edited and changed in 3rd Century. As for your belief that even without Bible you would know the truth, YIKES! You really are one sick person.

I really should not be even responding to you as this blog is a science-based blog and not for discussions of religious superstitions

By the way, what is your level of education? What was your major?

I sometimes annoy my very religious Army vet brother by singing“They’ll know we are Christians by our guns, by our guns. Yeah, They’ll know we are Christians by our guns…”

I came up with this version of that ditty in the late 1960’s when we were hearing about the Troubles in Ireland, and I was learning about the Conquistadors treatment of the native people they encountered. Which included forcing their religion on them, plus enslavement and genocide. (I was an Army brat in Venezuela going to an English speaking international school, where we got government enforced Venezuelan history and social studies from a teacher who did not pull any punches).

Go away for a short while, and when you return the place has suddenly turned into a hotbed of witnessing.

This is why we need more after-school Satan clubs.

Did you know that the Satanic convention in Boston required proof of Covid vaccinations? People got a lot of laughs out of that one, myself included.

Only because you do not understand that the Satanic Temple is not a religious organization, and they do not actually believe Satan exists. It is a secular organization that promotes civil rights, science and showing the hypocrisy of local governments bending over backwards to promote Christianity. Like allowing religious teachings for and after school activity. Usually by using satire.

Right now we are laughing at you for not getting the joke.

The true evil always pretends to be good and appeals to human feelings of morals, superiority, hate etc. Satanic temple, therefore, is not the epicentre of evil – the virtue-signaling hate-filled movements are where to look for true evil, which always masquerades as good. But the Satanists requiring proof of Covid vaccinations was a true gem

You mean true evil like the COVID-19 cranks who portray themselves as brave warriors against evil and virtue signal by refusing to wear masks and attacking those who do, as they appeal to “freedom” and portray themselves as so much more intelligent and not part of the “herd”? Sure, I’ll grant that many of these people are evil, such as Drs. McCullough, Kory, etc.

“virtue-signaling hate-filled movements are where to look for true evil”

Given that the definition of virtue is somewhat subjective,…..

At least the pro-vax virtue signalling involves reducing harm to all. The anti-vax virtue signalling openly involves deliberately allowing children exposure to possible life changing and ending illnesses,

@ Igor Chudov

You write: “Did you know that the Satanic convention in Boston required proof of Covid vaccinations? People got a lot of laughs out of that one, myself included.”
“People got a lot of laughs out of that one.” Delusions of Grandeur, claiming you know what a lot of people’s reactions were.

And you explained a while back in your comments that you have NO background in science, don’t understand science, that you have NO background/understanding of infectious diseases or immunology; yet, you continue to attack vaccines based on your stupid biased ignorance. I wonder if anyone following your SubStack did not vaccinate their kids, one of them got severely sick, possibly hospitalized, possibly developed long COVID, or even died if they could sue you?

And requiring proof of vaccinations for anyone who understands infectious diseases and immunology is a smart, very smart move because while COVID vaccinations don’t provide 100% protection so an unvaccinated individual could be asymptomatically infected and infect others or self with risk of illness, hospitalization, etc. though lower risk if they are vaccinated, etc.

Why, when you have admitted you don’t understand science, infectious diseases, or immunology do you continue to MAKE A FOOL OF YOURSELF?

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