Antivaccine nonsense Medicine Politics

Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo parrots antivax disinformation

Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo has called for a halt in the use of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines based on fear mongering about DNA “contamination.” Truly, under Gov. Ron DeSantis, Florida has become a public health hellscape.

It figures. Just when I didn’t have time to get a post out for tomorrow something big happened, starting off 2024 in a bad way. I’m referring to Wednesday’s press release from the Florida Department of Health, courtesy of its director, Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo. In it, Dr. Ladapo calls for a halt in the use of mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines based on, well…let me just quote the press release, because I have never in my life seen a government agency as important as the department of health for a large state issue a press release like this:

On December 6, 2023, State Surgeon General Dr. Joseph A. Ladapo sent a letter to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Dr. Robert M. Califf and Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Mandy Cohen regarding questions pertaining to the safety assessments and the exit disclaimer icondiscovery of billions of DNA fragments per dose of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 mRNA vaccines.

The Surgeon General outlined concerns regarding nucleic acid contaminants in the approved Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 mRNA vaccines, particularly in the presence of lipid nanoparticle complexes, and Simian Virus 40 (SV40) promoter/enhancer DNA. Lipid nanoparticles are an efficient vehicle for delivery of the mRNA in the COVID-19 vaccines into human cells and may therefore be an equally efficient vehicle for delivering contaminant DNA into human cells. The presence of SV40 promoter/enhancer DNA may also pose a unique and heightened risk of DNA integration into human cells.

Let me just note that Dr. Ladapo’s letter from last month is a masterpiece of JAQing off, and basically says what is summarized above in that it lays heavily into a theoretical concern about DNA in a vaccine, specifically the “risk of tumorigenesis if insertion reduces the activity of a tumor suppressor or increases the activity of an oncogene” or if DNA integration results in “chromosomal instability through the induction of chromosomal breaks or rearrangements.” Molecular biologists (like me—remember, I’m not just a surgeon but have a PhD in cellular physiology and my research has long involved molecular biology, sometimes even hardcore old school promoter bashing and gene regulation by microRNAs) will immediately recognize that, yes, theoretically this could happen, but also that, no, the likelihood of its happening with small fragments of DNA from a plasmid that might or might not contain parts of the SV40 promoter is infinitesimally small. Also, as “Debunk the Funk” Dr. Dan Wilson notes, it is standard quality control to test biologics to determine how much residual DNA is left in the final product. It is, of course, impractical, probably impossible even, to reduce the amount of residual DNA to zero; so small amounts of short fragments of DNA are always present in any biological that uses a plasmid to produce its mRNA and, in the case of the use of these techniques to produce something like vaccine proteins or insulin, protein.

If you click on the link in the passage above claiming the “discovery of billions of DNA fragments per dose of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 mRNA vaccines,” you might recognize a certain preprint by antivaxxers including Jessica Rose and Kevin McKernan that I deconstructed in detail after it was released last fall. (I also pointed out that “billions” of fragments is actually a very tiny amount, on the order of 10 femtomoles, and the use of “billions” is designed to frighten those without a background in basic chemistry.) In brief, the study claimed to have found huge amounts of “DNA contamination” in the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines left over from the plasmids used in the manufacturing process to generate the mRNA used in the vaccines. The long version is in the link; the CliffsNotes version can be summarized in two main points:

  • McKernan and his fellow cranks, quacks, and pseudoscientists actually found DNA contamination well under the FDA-recommended limits when they used the most reliable test, namely a PCR-based assay. Basically, by the authors’ own measurements, the amount of DNA/vial was well below the FDA guidance of 10 ng DNA/dose. The authors even used a rather obvious trick to make even that small amount of DNA per vial seem like more DNA than it was compared to the FDA limit, namely graphing their results on a log scale.
  • Even using the method above, the authors appear to have assumed that the numbers they got above for copy number of DNA fragments corresponded to full length plasmid copy, when clearly it was all fragments averaging ~100 base-pairs (bp) in length, compared to a multi-thousand bp plasmid
  • In order to come up with the frightening estimates that they did, McKernan and his fellow disinformation agents used a fluorescence-based assay, the Qubit assay. Depending on the particular fluorescent molecular marker chosen, this assay can distinguish between double-stranded DNA (like plasmid DNA), single-stranded DNA, and RNA. (mRNA is single-stranded.) However, even a highly selective test for dsDNA, when that DNA is mixed with orders of magnitude more RNA, will detect some of that RNA, thus producing a much higher reading than what is there.

As for the fans of Dr. Ladapo who might be upset by my referring to the “scientists” who did this study as cranks, quacks, antivaxxers, pseudoscientists, and disinformation agents, I don’t care. That’s what they are, as I (and others, such as YouTubers “Debunk the Funk” Dan Wilson and Susan Oliver) have abundantly documented, and the “science” (such as it is) in this preprint—which, unsurprisingly, has not yet been published in the peer-reviewed literature and likely never will be, except maybe in a bottom-feeding pay-to-publish predatory open access journal—is execrable in the extreme, designed to mislead. So, naturally, a quack like Dr. Ladapo likes it.

Also, don’t even get me started on the part about SV40, which is a longstanding antivax trope dating back over a decade and based on a real incident involving the polio vaccine in the late 1950s/early 1960s. At that time, it was discovered that some of the oral polio vaccine (OPV), which is a live attenuated virus vaccine, was contaminated with SV40, as simian virus whose large T-antigen could transform cells (turn them cancerous). Again, the long version is in the link; the CliffsNotes version is that, although the SV40 large T-antigen is oncogenic, there is no epidemiological evidence of an increased risk of cancer in people who as children received the OPV contaminated with SV40 in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Unsurprisingly, antivaxxers being antivaxxers and there never being anything truly new under the sun in antivax misinformation, COVID-19 antivaxxers glommed onto the presence of the SV40 promoter sequence, a short DNA sequence frequently used in plasmids because it is a strong promoter that drives the production of a lot of mRNA, in the plasmid used by Pfizer—but not, I note, Moderna—to drive the expression of an antibiotic resistance marker—but not, I note, the actual spike protein mRNA—to resurrect this particular fear mongering about SV40 in COVID-19 vaccines. Antivaxxers have even gone beyond old misinformation about SV40 whole virus contamination in polio vaccines causing cancer to SV40 promoter sequence in COVID-19 vaccines somehow causing “turbo cancer,” because that’s so much scarier than just cancer, no matter how ridiculous it is, so much so that COVID-19 quacks Dr. Peter McCullough and Dr. William Makis have been spreading this message. Sadly, reinforcing my point about how not knowing common antivax narratives can lead even seemingly reasonable scientists astray, even the director of a large cancer center fell for the trap of finding these claims plausible, thus totally embarrassing himself by agreeing to be interviewed by a rabid antivax conspiracy theorist.

As an aside, I can’t help but ask antivaxxers like Dr. Ladapo: Why are you calling for the cessation of use of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines? Only plasmid used to produce the Pfizer vaccine contains an SV40 promoter; the plasmid used to produce the Moderna vaccine does not. Look it up if you don’t believe me. If SV40 is what you’re worried about, then you should be fine with the Moderna vaccine. Dr. Ladapo, just like every other antivaxxer promoting the SV40 fear mongering narrative, fails to mention this difference between the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines because it’s not about science. it’s about fear mongering about vaccines. Moreover, the SV40 promoter, particularly fragments of it, is not oncogenic by itself. Moreover, we have good evidence, both in vitro and in vivo, that whole plasmids with just SV40 promoter elements are not by themselves oncogenic, even when used in huge amounts. If there is no actual DNA for an actual oncogene present, the whole plasmid is not oncogenic, much less fragments of it.

Hat tip to Dan Wilson (not to mention Skeptical Raptor), BTW, for providing me more grist about just how wrong Dr. Ladapo is:

Somehow, I missed that Dr. Ladapo had recently appeared on Del Bigtree’s podcast to make these same claims. I guess that this is what happens when Orac goes into the shop for repairs for a few weeks, as he did last month, and the blog gets quiet. He misses things like the Surgeon General of a large state appearing on the podcast of a longtime antivax propagandist to spread misinformation about vaccines.

In any event, let’s continue, if only to see just how much Dr. Ladapo parrots antivax disinformation in his press release:

In 2007, the FDA published guidance on regulatory limits for DNA vaccines in the Guidance for Industry: Considerations for Plasmid DNA Vaccines for Infectious Disease Indication(Guidance for Industry). In this Guidance for Industry, the FDA outlines important considerations for vaccines that use novel methods of delivery regarding DNA integration, specifically:
  • DNA integration could theoretically impact a human’s oncogenes – the genes which can transform a healthy cell into a cancerous cell.
  • DNA integration may result in chromosomal instability.
  • The Guidance for Industry discusses biodistribution of DNA vaccines and how such integration could affect unintended parts of the body including blood, heart, brain, liver, kidney, bone marrow, ovaries/testes, lung, draining lymph nodes, spleen, the site of administration and subcutis at injection site.
On December 14, 2023, the FDA provided a written response providing no evidence that DNA integration assessments have been conducted to address risks outlined by the FDA themselves in 2007. Based on the FDA’s recognition of unique risks posed by DNA integration, the efficacy of the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine’s lipid nanoparticle delivery system, and the presence of DNA fragments in these vaccines, it is essential to human health to assess the risks of contaminant DNA integration into human DNA. The FDA has provided no evidence that these risks have been assessed to ensure safety.

So let’s see how much further Dr. Ladapo will go in his lies and misinformation in his press release:

As such, Florida State Surgeon General Dr. Joseph A. Ladapo has released the following statement:

“The FDA’s response does not provide data or evidence that the DNA integration assessments they recommended themselves have been performed. Instead, they pointed to genotoxicity studies – which are inadequate assessments for DNA integration risk. In addition, they obfuscated the difference between the SV40 promoter/enhancer and SV40 proteins, two elements that are distinct.

DNA integration poses a unique and elevated risk to human health and to the integrity of the human genome, including the risk that DNA integrated into sperm or egg gametes could be passed onto offspring of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine recipients. If the risks of DNA integration have not been assessed for mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, these vaccines are not appropriate for use in human beings.

Providers concerned about patient health risks associated with COVID-19 should prioritize patient access to non-mRNA COVID-19 vaccines and treatment. It is my hope that, in regard to COVID-19, the FDA will one day seriously consider its regulatory responsibility to protect human health, including the integrity of the human genome.”

In the spirit of transparency and scientific integrity, State Surgeon General Dr. Joseph A. Ladapo will continue to assess research surrounding these risks and provide updates to Floridians.

I nearly ruined another keyboard spitting up the coffee I was drinking as I wrote this. “Transparency and scientific integrity”? You mean like the transparency and scientific integrity when Dr. Ladapo altered a draft of a study he commissioned the Florida Department of Health to do in order to have the final version of the study show harm from COVID-19 vaccines that the study did not in fact support? The mind boggles. Also, I have to wonder about Dr. Ladapo’s call for prioritizing “non-mRNA COVID-19 vaccines and treatment.” Right now, the only non-mRNA options for COVID-19 vaccines in the US are either adenovirus-based vaccines like the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine (which is no longer available in the US) or the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine, which is a protein subunit vaccine. Guess what? Even though it’s a protein subunit vaccines, antivaxxers have been fear mongering about “moth DNA” in the vaccine because Novavax uses the baculovirus system, which uses moth cells, to produce the protein subunit used as the vaccine antigen. How long before antivaxxers like Dr. Ladapo start fear mongering about that? Not long, unsurprisingly:

The non-mRNA shots are not named – does he mean Novavax? Janssen? These products are also EUA Countermeasures, full of junk, saponin adjuvant, insect legs, and e.coli/endotoxin and also utilize plasmids in manufacture. Which can also be “forgotten” in them. And none of these companies tested for genetic integration, and the FDA also wasn’t interested in this question. Dr. Ladapo is “hoping that FDA will one day consider, etc.” 

His statement is not a real action, it is a political performance to aid his boss DeSantis run for political office. He knows very well these shots can be legally adulterated as EUA Countermeasures and the FDA had no lawful basis to “approve” them since the clinical trials were fake – conducted for non-investigational chemical entities without the IRB approval and without informed consent. That’s why an FDA approved product was never shipped in the US. He is calling for a “halt” – can we ask by whom, and using what procedure? Not good enough, at all. Therefore, my grading of Dr. Ladapo’s performance is a C+.

Of course, antivaxxers are unhappy, because it’s all about fear mongering about vaccines and even Dr. Ladapo isn’t radical enough for them!

As for “treatments,” given that Dr. Ladapo first became famous as part of America’s Frontline Doctors pushing hydroxychloroquine as a cure for COVID-19 back during that first summer of the pandemic in 2020, you can probably guess what he means: disproven treatments like repurposed hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin.

Here’s the thing. Copious evidence exists in the scientific literature that small amounts of random fragments of DNA are not a major risk. Moreover, to believe Dr. Ladapo’s claim that the lipid nanoparticles in which the mRNA in the vaccines is contained are a novel risk because they can get the residual plasmid DNA into cells in a manner that’s never been studied before, you have to ignore about 35 years of history and experiments in molecular biology. As I sometimes like to point out, I did my PhD in the early 1990s in a laboratory where one of the graduate students was working on a project that specifically tried to introduce whole plasmid DNA into chick embryo muscle in order to measure the expression of a marker gene. It was difficult, and it was inefficient. When Dr. Ladapo fear mongers about DNA fragments in lipid nanoparticles, he is either basically ignorant himself about well-established molecular biology conclusions or he knows and is lying. Indeed, it’s not as though this hasn’t been studied; for example, injection of whole plasmid—again, that’s whole plasmid—results in nearly all of the plasmid being extrachromosomal (outside of the chromosomes in the nucleus), with one group of investigators finding that the frequency of integration of plasmid elements into chromosomal DNA of ” ≤1–8 integrations per 150,000 diploid cells, which would be at least three orders of magnitude below the spontaneous mutation rate,” leading them to conclude that the “risk of mutation due to integration of plasmid DNA vaccines following intramuscular injection is negligible.” Even using a method more efficient than lipid nanoparticles (electroporation) and way more plasmid DNA, they found that integration events were quite rare and less frequent than the rate of spontaneous mutation.

Another part of the passage in Dr. Ladapo’s response struck me, namely his hope that “the FDA will one day seriously consider its regulatory responsibility to protect human health, including the integrity of the human genome.” (Emphasis mine.) Remember the whole antivax “pureblood” thing, in which antivaxxers who had refused the COVID-19 vaccine bragged that they were “purebloods,” a nod to the Harry Potter novels in which wizards whose ancestry had nonmagical humans in it referred to themselves as “pureblood” and disparagingly referred to those who did have nonmagical humans (Muggles) in their ancestry as “mudbloods”? Also remember how obsession about the “purity” of one’s blood was very much a part of Nazi beliefs regarding the Aryan race, which was why being “pureblood” was associated with followers of the main villain of the Harry Potter novels, Lord Voldemort? Dr. Ladapo is clearly dog whistling to the fascist “pureblood” crowd, as he did on Bigtree’s show when he claimed that DNA from the vaccine is “hitchhiking into human cells.”  After all, it’s not as though it wasn’t incredibly clear in the Harry Potter novels and movies that the magical “pureblood”/”mudblood” dichotomy was an obvious metaphor for Nazi ideas about racial “purity” and superiority, with the Muggles being viewed by Voldemort and his followers as inferiors who were “contaminating” the pure wizard race, complete with a horror on the part of Voldemort at the thought of magical people mating with Muggles and having children that was every bit as strong as the disgust that Nazis expressed at Jews mixing with “pure Aryans.” An obsession with vaccines being supposedly “contaminated” with DNA and thus prone to “permanently altering” your DNA is just one example of how the antivax purity cult manifests its beliefs.

I could go on and on and on—and have gone on and on and on—about how horribly wrong Dr. Ladapo is about COVID-19 vaccines on a scientific basis and how the minuscule amount of plasmid DNA fragments left over from the manufacturing process is nothing to be afraid of, but why bother? What is truly disturbing about this incident is not so much the form of the antivax misinformation being parroted—and, make no mistake, Dr. Ladapo is parroting antivax disinformation—but rather who is parroting it. Never before can I recall—at least not in the US—a whole state government having co-opted its health department to promote antivaccine misinformation, thus taking advantage of the credibility with which Americans have generally viewed state health departments to spread a message that will actively harm the health of the population of not just one state, but all states. Why? Well, if you think that what Florida does affects only Floridians, you have a very narrow view of politics. Of course Dr. Ladapo’s lies and disinformation affect more than just Florida, because a whole disinformation ecosystem was waiting to take up his message and promote it as government-sanctioned “validation” of their misinformation, disinformation, pseudoscience, quackery, and conspiracy mongering. That’s the idea, and he and Gov. DeSantis surely know that.

Back in the beforetime (actually, more like 10-15 years ago) I used to say—correctly, I might add—that, contrary to the stereotype then that antivax was an ideology primarily limited to granola-crunching, sandal-wearing lefties, it was actually the conspiracy theory shared by the left and the right. I also used to point out that it wasn’t all that long ago that standard public health measures, including school vaccine mandates, once shared wide bipartisan support and were fairly uncontroversial. That started to change beginning around 15 years ago, give or take, when the center of gravity of the antivax movement started drifting to the right. The pandemic accelerated the process far beyond anything I could have predicted to the point that right here, right now, in 2024, one party—the Republican Party—has adopted the most bonkers of old antivax conspiracy theories, pseudoscience, and misinformation as a major part of its core ideology. Gov. Ron DeSantis and his lackey Dr. Joseph Ladapo are just one manifestation of that and how we can’t count on civil servants to save us from this; once cranks take over the levers of government, opposition will eventually be purged. I pity any scientists and physicians still dedicated to actual public health science who might remain in the Florida Department of Health. They face an awful choice of going along with their new masters, quitting, or being eventually purged.

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]

69 replies on “Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo parrots antivax disinformation”

A tiny consolation – DeSantis is unlikely to become President. And he’s vaccinated against Covid, although he has developed convenient amnesia about it lately.

“If you are vaccinated, fully vaccinated, the chance of you getting seriously ill or dying from COVID is effectively zero. If you look at the people that are being admitted to hospitals, over 95 percent of them are either not fully vaccinated or not vaccinated at all. And so these vaccines are saving lives. They are reducing mortality.”
— Gov. Ron DeSantis, July 2021

“The demagogue is one who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots.”
– H.L. Mencken

“Never before can I recall—at least not in the US—a whole state government having co-opted its health department to promote antivaccine misinformation”

It reminds me of the Discovery Institute’s wedge strategy applied to medical virology.

“I’m not a scientist” tells me why you find McKernan’s blather compelling. If I were to write a rebuttal to McKernan’s “fact checker response” it would consist pretty much just of a list of links to posts I’ve written before about all the claims that he and his fellow cranks have been making. For example, that bit about nuclear localization sequences doesn’t demonstrate what he thinks it does:

His bit about p53 binding by SV40 promoter is nothing more than JAQing off and that all I could find in the actual peer-reviewed scientific literature by Drayman on this topic does not support what McKernan claims it does. What it shows is not, as McKernan implies, that SV40 somehow blocks the function of p53 but rather that in actual SV40 infected cells p53 binds to SV40 viral promoter to shut down the production of large T-antigen, the protein produced in cells infected by the virus that is oncogenic. It’s a clever trick that is clearly a deception, because even I don’t think McKernan is so ignorant that he doesn’t know what this paper really shows.

Thanks. I copied your response into a comment below Dr. McKernan’s article. We’ll see if he responds. I will say, though, that I think your referring to him and Dr. McCullough, among others, as “cranks” undermines your credibility, as I think they are obviously extremely intelligent people with outstanding professional accomplishments and I very much doubt they started expressing opinions in opposition to the medical establishment as a pathway to fame and fortune because doing so is much more likely, I believe, to lead to the loss of positions, research funding, certifications and licenses, not to mention court actions like the one Baylor launched against Dr. McCullough (which was dismissed but I don’t think he recouped his legal expenses).

McKernan’s social media postings have been getting increasingly bizarre.

In the last couple of days on X, he’s posted typical antivax memes like blaming Covid vaccines for causing cancer, blasted “vaxophilia”, claimed that bitcoin is going to upend peer review and what he calls “fiat science”, and reposted this unhinged rant against Dr. Peter Hotez:

“Witness the mRNA lies of one of the most evil men in the world- share like hell to expose the evil.
OMG this makes my skin crawl – like staring Satan himself in the face”

Responding positively to criticism can be difficult, but this is a bad look for anyone, not to mention “extremely intelligent people with outstanding professional accomplishments”.

Such behavior can be quite profitable though, as evidenced by scientists and MDs who’ve successfully monetized their views through books, speaking engagements, Substack subscriptions, sales of unproven/ineffective supplements and drugs etc. McCullough lost his job at Baylor, but currently has a gig at The Wellness Company and over 100,000 Substack subscribers to soften the blow.

Well, I agree that calling people evil – even Hitler, as far as I’m concerned – is somewhat immature, but if people are lying about the Covid vaccines, either because they don’t want to admit their “medical advice” has been ill-advised and caused substantial harm or because they are being influenced by the $1.4 trillion pharmaceutical industry (which has been fined tens of billions for fraudulent actions) not to say anything which would hurt it financially, then anger against such people is understandable, if not supportable. And I think it’s clear that the reason why scientists with excellent credentials like Drs. McKernan, Hotez, Gorski, McCullough, Offit, Malone and the many others who are debating the Covid vaccine issue cannot reasonably discuss the issues and work out their differences of opinion – for the sake of the many of us who are confused about whose medical advice to trust – is that some of them are in fact not being honest about what they really believe, of which I think all of the above scientists are accusing the others who don’t agree with them. It’s a sad situation and for now I’m trusting the medical heretics, for the most part, as again they did not start out criticizing the medical establishment to become rich and famous, that would have been a very stupid thing to do, and they are not connected to the huge financial interests of the medical establishment. If it has worked out lucratively for a few of them then that is because they impress people very much not only with the depth of their knowledge but also their somewhat obvious sincerity, which people can see and hear in video communication – which reveals more about a person than any logical analysis of what they are saying (because the brain is infinitely smarter than the mind), especially by people who don’t have the scientific background to do so adequately. That is why I mistrust those scientists who refuse to engage in video public discussion with highly-credentialed peers who disagree with them.

Incidentally, I just lost a lot of my respect for Dr. Robert Malone, as a result of what I consider to be his defamatory and unscientific takedown of Dr. Geert Vanden Bossche on the FLCCC broadcast last Wednesday, which I think will result in fewer people preparing for what Dr. Vanden Bossche is predicting than if Dr. Malone had provided a scientifically-based, reasonable analysis and opinion of the assertions Dr. Vanden Bossche is making. I’m guessing that Dr. Philip McMillan has invited Dr. Malone to discuss those assertions on Dr. McMillan’s YouTube podcast and Dr. Malone has refused. If Dr. Vanden Bossche turns out to be correct then I think Dr. Malone, in addition to the many other scientists who are refusing to reasonably consider and respond to what Dr. Vanden Bossche is saying, will have blood on his hands.

Jon Schultz wrote: “If Dr. Vanden Bossche turns out to be correct then I think Dr. Malone, in addition to the many other scientists who are refusing to reasonably consider and respond to what Dr. Vanden Bossche is saying, will have blood on his hands.”

If you think Dr. Vandan Bossche is to be believed, then please post his PubMed indexed papers where he defends his beliefs. His last PubMed indexed paper was written in 1994, so please make sure the publication is less than three years old.

Also some reading for you:

Jon Schultz: “That is why I mistrust those scientists who refuse to engage in video public discussion with highly-credentialed peers who disagree with them.”

You are mostly proving to us that you are very gullible. Your judgement of who to believe also shows that you lack an appropriate education in biology. The latter can be corrected by taking a freshman biology class at a local community college (something I did).

Well Jon, that’s a hefty amount of word salad in order to invoke the shill gambit and “debate me bro” silliness (what is it that bothers you about thoughtful written responses that aren’t susceptible to “gotcha” tactics and Gish Galloping that characterize live debates with dishonest denialists and quackery promoters?).

It’s not really that difficult to decide who to believe. There’s a lot of good research out there plus more accessible analyses from trustworthy sources which don’t employ QAnon-style conspiracy-mongering.

“the brain is infinitely smarter than the mind”

With some exceptions. 😉

*the brain is the most important organ in the body. Of course, it’s the brain telling you that. (George Carlin?)

Speaking of Vanden Bossche (and Schultz never said just what it is he is now predicting or if that is different from what he predicted when the vaccines first came out), I’ve been reading the book Immune by Philipp Dettmer. It’s easy reading for a lay person but gives a thorough discussion of the various parts of the immune system with a lot of nice pictures.

Chapters 30,31, and 32 discuss Major Histocompatibility Class I molecules, which form part of the cell wall and show random proteins circulating inside the cell to the “outside” world. Killer T cells which tell cells containing antigens to shut themselves off, and Natural Killer Cells, which look for cells where the virus is reducing the number of MHC I molecules to hide themselves. The Natural Killer Cells tell those cells to kill themselves.

Since this is non-antigen specific process, it is hard (especially for a layman with no training in microbiology or immunology) to understand how one could create a vaccine, as Vanden Bossche purported to do, to tell those particular cells to go after a specific antigen.

And somehow tweaking them to tell more cells to kill themselves could be very harmful to the body!

And vaccine-generated immunity preps the body to quickly make lots of the killer T-cells, as well as antibodies.

Anyway, that’s my lay understanding of it. And, as Chris noted, Vanden Bossche hasn’t published any actual research in ages.

Indeed. Basically, he latched onto a narrative from Andrew Wakefield from before the pandemic about measles and MMR, in which he claimed that MMR could cause “mass extinction” of humans:

And here’s the repackaging:

Vanden Bossche was peddling bullshit three years ago, and—surprise!—he’s still peddling bullshit three years later.

I’m not saying Dr. Vanden Bossche should be believed, I’m saying he’s credible-enough sounding, in addition to his impressive credentials and experience, for scientists who have the requisite knowledge to seriously consider what he is saying and respond to it in a fair and unbiased way – especially in light of the fact that he strongly believes an almost unimaginably huge disaster is in the making, for which he has sacrificed his career and put his reputation on the line so Covid-vaccinated people can be warned to prepare (by prophylactic or immediate antiviral therapy, nothing he would profit from, although he was talking about an alternative type of vaccine in early 2021). I’m aware of the March 2021 reviews by Edward Nirenberg and Dr. Gorski – which I’m not sure if Dr. Vanden Bossche ever responded to in detail – but I’m not convinced his assertions have been sufficiently addressed. For one thing, when he first stated his warning in early 2021 I believe the Alpha variant had emerged but I’m not sure if any others had and I believe most scientists were saying that coronaviruses mutate relatively slowly, compared to other viruses, and any additional variants should be able to be dealt with fairly easily by updating the vaccines. With the virus having mutated so radically since then most scientists are no longer saying that, if I’m not mistaken, so I think what he predicted at that time has panned out to some extent. And what he has been saying since that time (when I don’t think he spoke English all that well) has changed quite a bit, as he has continued to study the evolution of the pandemic and the effects of the mass vaccination campaign. He wrote a 260-page book that was published in June titled, “The Inescapable Immune Escape Pandemic” and made a series of videos explaining the basic concepts which are on his YouTube channel at while his most recent article is at and his most recent interview is at (with Dr. McMillan publishing a follow-up interview the next day with Pediatric Rheumatologist Rob Rennebohm, who tried to simply the science as Dr. Vanden Bossche went into quite a bit of complexity). I highly recommend the interview if you want to have any real understanding of who the man is – which, again, is not to say I am sure he is right and should be believed. Even if he is wrong – and he admits he was wrong on the timeline of his predictions and explains the mistake in the interview (and I think people who break new ground tend to make mistakes which they learn from) – I still think he is a sincere, brilliant and courageous man, but you’ll have to judge that for yourself. And with regard to the Goldman paper, I don’t think he enunciated Dr. Vanden Bossche’s position accurately, in which case it is something of a straw man argument. He doesn’t mention Dr. Vanden Bossche’s important point that vaccinating in the face of a pandemic – especially with a two-dose regimen where full immunity takes about six weeks to kick in – is unwise because many people will be infected within that six weeks and the virus will often be able to mutate around the immature immunity, even if the people in which that happens don’t get terribly sick.

Dr. Vanden Bossche’s claim that vaccinating in the middle of a pandemic was just plain bullshit when he enunciated it three years ago, and it’s still bullshit. Seriously, at the time I pointed out the he had just resurrected nonsense that Andrew Wakefield had been peddling about measles and MMR and repackaged it for COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccines:

It got no better a few months later:

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that he’s making the same bullshit arguments nearly three years later.

@Jon Schulz It always ends up with “trillion dollar pharmaceutical industry” . But Republican party will save you-.
You should actually foreign DNA would sneak into human, Suggest mechanism.
As for medical establishment, McCullough actually sells “spike detox”. Funny thatyou do not consider this a conflict of interest

Jon: “(Vanden Bossche) wrote a 260-page book that was published in June titled, “The Inescapable Immune Escape Pandemic” and made a series of videos explaining the basic concepts which are on his YouTube channel”

Along with Substack, those are the prime means by which respected scientists present their research.*

*along with Rumble videos, interviews in the Epoch Times and appearances on Alex Jones’ show.

Jon: “He wrote a 260-page book that was published in June titled, “The Inescapable Immune Escape Pandemic” and made a series of videos explaining the basic concepts which are on his YouTube channel…”

What part of “PubMed indexed papers” did you not understand? Please post the peer reviewed PubMed indexed papers by Vanden Bossche that are less than four years old. Remember he was a veterinarian who studied diseases of birds, and has not published in any scientific journal after 1994.

A PMID is fine.

Along with Substack, those are the prime means by which respected scientists present their research.*

*along with Rumble videos, interviews in the Epoch Times and appearances on Alex Jones’ show.

I remember from grad school one of our profs talking about how people with crank ideas in math were taking to printing their own little books to get their “ground breaking research” out. He said that he would occasionally have one reach out to him for his opinion on work, and when he would tell them to submit it to a journal for review and publication the response was “journal editors don’t like outsiders” and “mathematicians in the past published results in books”.

It seems to me that the move to substack and the other homes for quackery and foolishness is simply a modern version of something that cranks have been doing for a long time.

I’m not saying Dr. Vanden Bossche should be believed, I’m saying he’s credible-enough sounding, in addition to his impressive credentials and experience, for scientists who have the requisite knowledge to seriously consider what he is saying and respond to it in a fair and unbiased way – especially in light of the fact that he strongly believes an almost unimaginably huge disaster is in the making

Jon, for what it’s worth, I am starting to adopt a measured take on Geert. Sorry Orac, but I think he is dead right that mass vaccination is driving the immune escape variants. How the immune system is adopting to these variants is where I am starting to question Geert, and especially his prediction that a cataclysm variant is on the abyss. He has been making this claim for awhile now and it hasn’t happened.

Listening to Geert overly cerebral explanations (and even when he is asked to dumb it down) of how this deadly variant will come about, I am starting to question whether a lot of his thinking on this line is not just theorizing and guesswork, rather than something that is rooted in hard science.

@John Schulz SARS CoV 2 is RNA virus, that mutates fast. Omicron appeared from South Africa, a ountry with low vaccination rate.
Other RNA virus would be polio virus. No immunne escape mutants appeared. How is this ?
Immune system produces multiple antibodies and T cell clones againt one pathogen. One mutation does not result an imune escape.
Pathogens do interfere with immune, as SARS CoV 2 does<.

Jon writes:
“…credible-enough sounding, in addition to his impressive credentials and experience”.

Can you enumerate any of that? He is a veterinarian and apparently did some minor research on animal diseases a few years back and like others have pointed out, he’s not done any publishable research in years and has not done anything on the topic of of viruses/vaccines/epidemics ever. What am I missing?

They are not into position or research funding, they are into money. Being a contrarian helps selling spike detox snake oil.

Don’t worry. Orac isn’t a scientist either. He tacitly admits this every time he derisively refers to questions he doesn’t like as “JAQing off”. Real scientists don’t fear questions; asking questions (and seeking reproducible answers) is the entire basis of the scientific method.

Silly troll. In addition to my MD, I have a PhD in cellular physiology (and my thesis project and research since have been fairly heavily molecular biology-based) and have been funded by the NIH, Department of Defense, private foundations, and the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Look me up on PubMed for my publications.

As a scientist, I also recognize the difference between genuine scientific questions for which an answer is actually desired and JAQing off. Of course, the entire purpose of JAQing off is to give the appearance of scientific curiosity and debate while asking bad faith questions (for which the answers are often already known, if knot acknowledged by the crank) designed to cast doubt on current science and medicine based on no evidence or cherry-picked evidence.

Real scientists don’t fear questions; asking questions (and seeking reproducible answers) is the entire basis of the scientific method.

Except you’ve repeatedly shown that, when you’ve asked questions about why the the current research and data should be trusted you’ve ignored the explanations. You and your kind also ignore the explanations of why your favored conspiracies and quack pushed “cures” don’t work.

In short, you have no interest in the scientific method because you routinely dismiss what it tells us. Whether it’s just a lack of knowledge of the science, or the statistics, or simple dishonesty, only you know, but one thing is clear: you’ve never been and probably never will be an honest actor.

Yeaaaah…more proof you have no clue wtf you’re talking about. Pretty much anyone doing anything in Oncology is probably trained in, and involved in, research. If you knew anything about medicine that would have been a given.

Asking questions that have already been answered multiple times, ignoring the answers you get, and pretending no one has ever asked or addressed those questions before, are NOT a “basis of the scientific method.” It’s just plain old denialism and derailing of any scientific progress.

This guy seems to be expressing many of the same concerns. He has legit credentials. Is he wrong?

Search this blog for his name. It’s not as though I haven’t written about his “concerns” before. The search box is your friend.😏

Is he wrong?

Yes and no. Yes he is correct that there is small amounts of fragments <200 bp present in the vaccine. No he is completely wrong about their ability to be integrated into the genome. The mechanism he proposes is completely without any evidence for ever having occurred.

But really, wearing a lab coat to a Senate hearing is a piece of performance theatre that indicates to me that Buckhaults knows he is spouting nonsense.

Beth is back, in full-on Just Asking Questions mode.

The Google search box is also your friend.

Not to unduly alarm Beth, but DNA from foreign sources continually enters our bodies. DNA from the food we eat winds up in our precious bloodstreams.

Beware, Beth – you could wake up one morning partially transformed into potato chips and pizza.

What I find strange is that Mr. Ladapo (I don’t think this person deserves the title Dr. any longer) is not openly held accountable for his egregious misinformation and his glaring incompetence in the field of medicine and science. Isn’t there some sort of independent authority (e.g. the state medical board) that can take steps to remove him from office? Because it should be clear to anyone with a modicum of medical/scientific knowledge that the man is unfit for the job. At the very least, I would expect more protests (if not outright activism) from doctors and other experts in the field.

Florida passed a law this past May prohibiting professional boards from reprimanding doctors for Covid-19 misinformation.

And even if the board had been inclined to discipline physicians for this reason, remember that board members are appointed by the governor and serve at his (dis)pleasure. Ron probably wouldn’t have appreciated an investigation of his buddy Ladapo. From the Florida legal code:

“The Governor may suspend from office any board member for malfeasance, misfeasance, neglect of duty, drunkenness, incompetence, permanent inability to perform his or her official duties, or commission of a felony.”

Take an evidence-based position on healthcare that DeSantis doesn’t like? Sure sounds like malfeasance or misfeasance!

So the odds are effectively zero that any practitioner in Florida will be sanctioned for spreading Covid-related nonsense (or for that matter any sort of antivax idiocy), no matter how much it could harm patients.

Since as I understand it Surgeon General is a politically appointed position, outside institutions likely don’t and arguably shouldn’t have a lot of influence, other than the medical board appealing to politicians to replace him. DeSantis is probably somewhat unlikely to follow such a call.

State Medical Boards? Oh my, Mr. Rasker, that’s astoundingly naive. Perhaps you can search the RI archives to begin gaining an understanding of how these boards actually function, or perhaps I should say don’t function.

Indeed. I’ve been writing about how ineffective state medical boards are going back to my posts about cancer quack Stanislaw Burzynski and how the Texas Medical Board has consistently failed to do anything about him since the late 1970s and antivax cancer quack Rashid Buttar and how the North Carolina Medical Board only managed a slap on the wrist for his quackery and then was neutered by Buttar and his allies in the legislature, which passed a bill to make it harder for the medical board to discipline quack physicians. Those are just two prominent examples of many.

I believe this is the last agonal breath of the DeSantis presidential campaign wherein Ron tries to summon the ghost of 2021 when his two-bit show from lapdog Ladapo drew clicks and likes.

We can only hope. The problem is that, even if Donald Trump were somehow to falter, all the other alternatives are nearly as bad. DeSantis was just the worst of the awful. I view him as even worse than Trump in that (1) he is at least more competent at policy and governing and (2) he almost certainly knows that what he’s doing is bullshit and lies but has chosen to do it anyway in the pursuit of power.

The good news is that it will improve “trust in health authorities”.

A lot of people trusted no “health authority” before.

There is now a meaningful choice of whom to trust, thanks to Joseph Ladapo’s position.

Someone might not trust Mandy Cohen, but they would trust Joe Ladapo! real progress here

Yeah, alas some people put trust in the wrong persons, like mr. Lapado, you and all the other sellers of bs, because they did everything in their power, to undermine science.

People like Igor don’t dispense “medical advice” to help people — if they did what they say and write would be fact based.

No, they’ve discovered that quick lies about covid vaccines and fictional stories about how friends had horrible reactions to vaccines but were amazingly saved by the administration of a horse medicine sell to gullible people — and getting subscribers and the resulting money are the only things the Igors of the world care about. Hell, he recently posted that he’d advised is parents not to get vaccinated and then, later, posted that he’d never given them advice. He can’t even keep his own BS straight.

No, they give ‘medical advice’ in order to get followers and admirers, who think they are great, because they go against the stream. It doesn’t matter they tell lies, as long as it goes against what experts say.
Alas it’s better to listen to sound advice from experts and ignore the opinions from Igor and all other sellers of bs. But that is not what some people want to hear. They want to hear that they are doing the right thing, because they don’t listen to experts, but construct their own opinion on what they find on internet and that somehow feels right. This makes them feel great and ahead of the crowd.

Also, is “Chudov” a real name? It sounds too much like the title of a really famous bad low-budget movie.

It sounds too much like the title of a really famous bad low-budget movie.

The original or the sequel that had Bianca Jagger, Norman Fell, June Lockhart, Robert Englund, and Robert Vaughn in its cast?

There is now a meaningful choice of whom to trust, thanks to Joseph Ladapo’s position.

The word “meaningful” is doing a lot of heavy lifting here. The choice is actually between public health officials, scientists, and physicians promoting science- and evidence-based policy versus people like Dr. Ladapo promoting misinformation, disinformation, and pseudoscience as a basis of public health policy.

Renate and Ldw56old:

The strongest trend I’ve seen – whether they be anti-vax, alt med or political denialists- is by always invoking mis-trust of experts, mainstream media and education because that is the only way their low level content has a chance.

If you have a ground-breaking breakthrough that is not recognised by experts, chances are that YOU, not the experts, are wrong. As Orac shows, they usually don’t even get the basics correct. Of course, not everyone can have a degree in cellular biology or medicine but they have other ways of giving themselves away to sceptical readers;
I’ve found that language reflects their general abilities when they botch simple grammar, semantics and idiomatic speech. Often, they use references and analogies nearly exclusively from pop culture and – wrongly- try to drop in more sophisticated writers and concepts.
Do these guys sound like people with graduate degrees or scientific expertise?

Frequently, they savage actual experts and smear their reputations with allegations of wrongdoing and vast wealth even when it is made clear that the person being maligned made little or no profit ( I’m thinking most of vaccine developers and sceptical writers). Also, they resort to school yard level taunts about a scientist’s appearance or age.

If anyone can be an expert on SubStack, the word has no meaning.

To follow up-how to spot a crank

These people make it so easy for me:
a few days ago, Mike Adams ( NN) scared his followers about the approaching arctic blast which will bring extremely low temperatures to Texas where he lives: he quotes numbers like -24 and -30, presumably Fahrenheit, and shows a map with terrifying patches of blue and violet, signifying cold.
He delineates the dire consequences of this disaster in great detail.
HOWEVER, to his ( slight) credit, he admits yesterday and today, that he got something RONG!:
the numbers mean departure from average, not the actual temperature!
NOW, because he regards himself as an educator and informer for his addled masses, shouldn’t he have at the very least read the map more closely and looked at other sources before he spoke? This shows his habitual unjustified self confidence in his pronouncements and research abilities.

There are so many examples of alt med/ anti-vaxxers lording it over their entranced thralls:
–Null, an exceptional student of art history, repeatedly praises the Italian painter TITAN, mispronouncing his real name ( actually his most common nym ) over and over. And butchers names and locations in diverse European languages, meaning that he probably never studied French, German, Italian, Spanish et al. Not to mention Chinese, Japanese, Hindi etc. You Can look up pronunciation, you know.
— Katie Wright ( X) constantly complains about how dangerous life is in cities: attacks on women, subway violence, protestors, migrants- she lives in fear BUT then posts images of the lovely birds and flowers she observes on her frequent excursions to parks or of her family strolling along nonchalantly as if nothing is wrong.
— Anti-vaxxers believe in in postnatal causation yet recently, they also talk up prenatally caused autism from OTC meds. Don’t they see how they are weakly admitting what we all know?

RFK jr/ Del/ Naomi Wolf- too many examples to list here.

Putting aside the obvious Nazi connection that you emphasize, do you think anti-vaccine activists do not understand that they’re siding with the bad guys in the Harry Potter novels, or do you think that’s really how they see themselves? As the witches and wizard willing to torture, kill and harm others, including innocent, for selfish purposes?

I would think most anti-vaccine people see themselves as good people doing good, but this raises some questions.

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