Antivaccine nonsense Bad science

Prions. Why did it have to be prions?

Prions. Why did it have to be prions? (Again.) The antivax trope that vaccines cause prion disease is an old one, and antivaxxers are trying desperately to resurrect it to apply to COVID-19 vaccines.

Here’s yet another instance where I feel obligated to say something that I repeat so often that it might irritate some readers: Since COVID-19, with respect to antivaccine quackery, pseudoscience, and misinformation, everything old is new again. I realize that many of you find this to be such an obvious statement that my continual repeating of it might even irritate some of you. However, you have to understand that the vast majority of colleagues out there, having ranged from only knowing a few of the common antivax tropes (e.g., vaccines supposedly causing autism) to being utterly oblivious to antivaccine misinformation, keep acting surprised when they hear antivaxxers blame COVID-19 vaccines for things like prion disease.

Prion disease? Oh, yes, I’m very serious. Behold the “2nd Smartest Guy in the World” (2ndSGitW), which if true would tell me that humanity is stupid indeed! Fortunately, it is not true, and even allowing that 2ndSGitW is claiming that title ironically, the disconnect between the title and the nonsense that this pseudonymous blogger spews on Substack is nonetheless less jarring. The example that I will now discuss is UPDATE: Doctors Warn mRNA “Vaccines” Could Spur Epidemic of Prion Brain Diseases, which is indeed an actual update to a Substack post from a few days prior that I had squirreled away a while back in my folder of quackery for later attention, Doctors warn mRNA vaccines could spur epidemic of prion brain diseases. My reaction to this was akin to Indiana Jones’ reaction to falling into a nest of snakes:

Prions. Why did it have to be prions. (Apologies to Indiana Jones.)
“Prions. Why did it have to be prions?”

As I sat down to write about this, I debated about whether to describe what 2ndSGitW wrote first and then go back and describe just how old the whole antivax claim that vaccines cause prion disease, complete with examples, or vice-versa. Truth be told, I don’t know that one option is better than the other, but first let’s describe what prion disease is and how the idea that vaccines cause prion disease entered the antivax lexicon. This will help you understand the rationale used by antivaxxers like 2ndSGitW, but more importantly why the rationale and science are bogus.

Indeed, the “update” also solidifies the whole COVID-19 vaccines/prion connection as nothing more than yet another conspiracy theory held together with biobabble. Remember Star Trek’s technobabble, which was science-y sounding language that meant nothing used to lend plausibility to whatever magic was being done at the time? Biobabble is the same thing, just with biology, and antivaxxers and quacks use it all the time. Basically, it’s fancy-sounding biological babble that can impress the rubes but that scientists who know the actual science will immediately recognize as bullshit.

What are prions and prion diseases?

Boiled down to the simplest explanation, prion diseases are degenerative neurologic diseases caused by prions. Basically, prions are believed to be misfolded proteins that can transmit their misfolded shape onto normal variants of the same protein. I don’t need to go into the details for you to understand the very basics of prion disease, other than to note that the protein that makes up prions, the major prion protein (PrP) is found in many places in the body in healthy people and animals, and its normal function in biology and physiology is poorly understood. Most prions are malformed isoforms of PrP.

These diseases can affect animals and humans and can be transmitted in some cases to humans by consuming the meat from animals affected with the disease. Prion diseases are rare diseases, with only around 300 cases/year being reported on average in the US, and include congenital, sporadic, and acquired prion diseases. I think right here I’ll just quote the Johns Hopkins website:

  • CJD (Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease). A person can inherit this condition, in which case it’s called familial CJD. Sporadic CJD, on the other hand, develops suddenly without any known risk factors. Most cases of CJD are sporadic and tend to strike people around age 60. Acquired CJD is caused by exposure to infected tissue during a medical procedure, such as a cornea transplant. Symptoms of CJD (see below) quickly lead to severe disability and death. In most cases, death occurs within a year.
  • Variant CJD. This is an infectious type of the disease that is related to “mad cow disease.” Eating diseased meat may cause the disease in humans. The meat may cause normal human prion protein to develop abnormally. This type of the disease usually affects younger people.
  • Variably protease-sensitive prionopathy (VPSPr). This is also extremely rare, it is similar to CJD but the protein is less sensitive to digestion. It is more likely to strike people around age 70 who have a family history of dementia.
  • Gerstmann-Sträussler-Scheinker disease (GSS). Extremely rare, but occurs at an earlier age, typically around age 40.
  • Kuru. This disease is seen in New Guinea. It’s caused by eating human brain tissue contaminated with infectious prions. Because of increased awareness about the disease and how it is transmitted, kuru is now rare.
  • Fatal insomnia (FI). Rare hereditary disorder causing difficulty sleeping. There is also a sporadic form of the disease that is not inherited.

These diseases are uniformly fatal, with no known effective treatment thus far. In livestock and wildlife, prion diseases such as scrapie (sheep), chronic wasting disease (deer, elk, moose), and mad cow disease (cattle) can spread by casual contact or contamination of feeds or the environment. Prions also can be infectious if inadvertently transferred from person to person by invasive medical procedures. Prion aggregates are very stable and thus resistant to denaturation by chemical and physical agents. Thus, they cannot be destroyed by ordinary disinfection or cooking, as they are resistant to proteases, heat, ionizing radiation, and formaldehyde treatments. Getting rid of prion contamination requires protein hydrolysis or reduction or destruction of protein tertiary structure so that it cannot provoke further misfolding of proteins. Examples include sodium hypochlorite, sodium hydroxide, and strongly acidic detergents.

Now that you know what prion diseases are, you can see why, despite their rarity, they are very scary and why outbreaks of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (“mad cow disease”) are treated so aggressively.

The claim by antivaxxers that vaccines can result in prion disease is one that I’ve seen far less frequently than the claim that they cause Alzheimer’s disease, although I remember that it was touched on years and years ago in John Snyder’s review of Dr. Bob Sears’ book touting his “alternative” vaccine schedule. The origin of the claim appears to derive from the observation that the media used to support the growth of some of the cell lines used to grow virus stock from which vaccines are made contains fetal bovine serum (FBS), a common ingredient in cell culture media. Antivaxxers originally used that observation to claim a risk of “prion contamination” of vaccines. Never mind that such contamination of a vaccine with prions has never been documented or demonstrated.

Like many antivaccine myths, the myth that vaccines might become contaminated with prions originates from a tiny grain of possible truth. Decades ago, during the height of the mad cow disease outbreak in the UK, there was indeed concern about using FBS from British cattle to manufacture vaccines. A news article in Nature from 2000 reported on the findings of an inquiry into Britain’s BSE epidemic and even specifically asked the question: “Were some CJD victims infected by vaccines?” The report basically concluded that the answer to that question was unknown, but:

The BSE inquiry’s report (see above) calls for vaccines to be investigated as a possible route of transmission. But it concedes that this will be hampered by the fact that “systematic records of the action taken in response to BSE in respect of individual medical products are lacking”.


Alarmingly, vaccines produced after the point at which the BSE epidemic had been identified — possibly using British bovine material — were still in use as recently as November 1993. According to the inquiry’s report, the chief medical officer of the day, Donald Acheson, decided to phase out the existing stocks because new batches of vaccines take time to grow, and medical experts considered that the benefit of maintaining a continuous national immunization programme outweighed the risk of interrupting it.

You can see how far back this idea goes, at least three decades.

An article in MPR from 2010 by pediatrician Dr. Gary S. Marshall, author of The Vaccine Handbook: A Practical Guide for Clinicians (The Purple Book), is more reassuring. Noting that the FDA convened a meeting in 2000 to discuss the very question of whether vaccines could transmit BSE, Dr. Marshall characterizes the conclusions of the FDA thusly:

Although the risk of transmission of vCJD to humans from such vaccines was considered theoretic and remote, the recommendation was made that vaccines use bovine materials originating from countries without endogenous MCD. Mathematical models suggest that the agent of MCD first entered cattle feed in the United Kingdom around 1980; since the vast majority of initial cases of vCJD were born well before then, childhood vaccines were not likely to be the cause.


Maternal-fetal transmission of prions has never been documented in animals and fetal blood is not known to contain prions. Moreover, the fetal bovine serum used in vaccine manufacture is highly diluted and eventually removed from cells during purification of vaccine viruses. It should be pointed out as well that prions propagate in mammalian brain but not in cell culture.


Final reassurance comes from the fact that transmission of prions occurs from eating the brains of infected animals or from directly inoculating preparations of brains of infected animals into the brains of experimental animals. Transmission of prions has not been documented after inoculation into the muscles or under the skin, which are the routes used for vaccination. Taken together, the chances that currently licensed vaccines contain prions and represent a risk to humans is essentially zero.

So, although the claim that vaccines transmit prions entered the antivaccine lexicon of disinformation in the 1990s nearly three decades before the pandemic hit and after billions upon billions of doses of vaccines for which the viral stock was grown in FBS-containing media, as COVID-19 spread throughout the world, there was no evidence that vaccines had ever been contaminated with prions or ever caused a single case of prion disease in humans or animals anywhere. It was a non-issue.

Of course, remember my mantra. Everything old is new again. When the pandemic hit and mRNA vaccines were rolled out in December 2020, it didn’t take long for the hoary old myth that vaccines cause prion disease to be rejiggered and applied to the “scary” new mRNA vaccines against COVID-19, as I discussed in February 2021, a mere two months after the mRNA vaccines were granted an emergency use authorization (EUA) by the FDA. That was when J. Bart Classen, the antivaxxer best known prepandemic for blaming vaccines for diabetes, latched onto the idea that the new mRNA vaccines and published a fake review article in a predatory journal that I deconstructed in detail three years ago.

If it hadn’t been three years since I wrote about this, I might not have bothered with 2ndSGitW’s blather, but I figured: What the heck? I wondered what, if anything, this anonymous Substack antivaxxer might have added to the antivax misinformation.

COVID-19 vaccines and prion disease?

Let’s start with the first article, published last week, Doctors warn mRNA vaccines could spur epidemic of prion brain diseases, which further claimed that “…prions can be transmitted to others, whether they have received the “vaccines” or not,” citing an old post by—you guessed it!—2ndSGitW entitled, New Data Confirms Injections Cause Previously Rare Creutzfeld Jacobs Disease – Misinformed & Biased Alex Berenson Claimed “Fringe Scientists” Do Not Have Proof: Here Is The Proof. My first reaction was amusement at the crank fight, given that Alex Berenson, the “pandemic’s wrongest man,” had apparently dismissed the claims that COVID-19 vaccines caused prion disease as the products of “fringe scientists” who didn’t have any evidence. Let’s just say that it’s rare that I agree with Alex Berenson, and if you embrace conspiracy theories that even Alex Berenson thinks are too out there to be believed you really need to reassess your title of “2nd Smartest Guy in the World.”

So what was 2ndSGitW’s rebuttal? A comment on Berenson’s Substack referencing a crank website run by Sid Belzberg and Adam Gaertner collecting cases of prion disease that it attributes to COVID-19 vaccines:

Last fall my colleagues Adam Gaertner and others posted this website for a few months. (we recently reactivated it). During those few months in the fall we got about 15,000 hits

We requested at the time that anyone who after the injection got serious neurological problems or their loved ones to submit a report to the site. We got 60 reports including 6 cases of diagnosed Creutzfeld Jacobs diseases. Normally this disease hits 1 in a 1,000,000 people. To get 6 cases you would need 6,000,000 hits to the site assuming everyone reports. The chances of getting 1 cases in 15000 hits is 1 in 66. To see 6 cases in 1 group of 15000 is 1/66^6. or 1 in 82,000,000,000 20 times more likely to win the powerball lottery!

We recently put the site back up and again ask if anyone has has serious neurological events post vax please post a report.

Among the “fringe scientists” that supported our hypothesis last year included the late Dr.Luc Montagnier Nobel laureate,

The amusing thing is that Berenson’s article was about a case report of a woman who developed CJD after vaccination and the conspiracy theory that this was being covered up. Berenson was actually more open to the idea than 2ndGitW and Sid Belzberg let on. True, he did characterize the idea thusly:

Even before Cohen’s case, in early 2021, some fringe scientists had conjectured the mRNA vaccines might risk causing or accelerating CJD or other brain diseases by triggering brain proteins to misfold. But their claims were theoretical and speculative and almost universally dismissed.

I note that that fringe scientist was J. Barton Classen, and the article was the very same one that I deconstructed in February 2021. In any event, just for yucks I looked to see what the website showed and got this:

Prions RIP?
I’m half tempted to purchase this domain.

Never one to be so easily stymied, I invoked the almighty Wayback Machine at and found as it existed in August 2022. Quelle surprise, the website was selling a prion test and quack treatments for prion disease and included a link to report cases of prion disease that anyone thinks might be due to the vaccine. That’s some powerful evidence, 2ndSGitW!

So what is the new evidence presented in the 2ndSGitW’s article from a few days ago? Nothing, really, other than assertions like this, based on a link to an old post from the same Substack:

…the “vaccine” adverse events now extend to once unimagined ailments of horror show proportions whereby the genetically modified humans transmit dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, and potentially many other diseases that were previously untransmittable.

I note that the claim that vaccines cause dementia like Alzheimer’s disease is also a very old claim that I discussed in detail along with the claim that COVID-19 vaccines cause prion disease. Indeed, the first time I ever encountered the claim that vaccines cause Alzheimer’s disease was when I saw Bill Maher make the claim on Real Time With Bill Maher in…2005. That’s when he claimed that influenza vaccines cause Alzheimer’s, with the risk increasing with the number of years you’re vaccinated against the flu. Truly, everything old is new again. Hilariously, the evidence that 2ndSGitW uses to imply that COVID-19 vaccines will cause dementia is an estimate of how much the prevalence of dementia will increase by 2050 in Europe. Of course, it never occurs to antivaxxers that, given that dementia and particularly Alzheimer’s disease are diseases of aging and the populations of developed countries are aging, we would expect to observe this very phenomenon over the next 25 years. Indeed, demographers have been warning about it for decades. Basically, citing a World Health Organization report concluding that the number of people with dementia is expected to increase from 55 million now to 78 million by 2030 and 139 million by 2050, 2ndSGitWdismisses this explanation thusly:

At least in this report “climate change” was not blamed for the surge in dementia.

More importantly, anything but the DEATHVAX™ is to be blamed.

And it would not be the global eugenics program that it is without the One World Government’s medical node the WHO being involved, and carefully “monitoring” this rise in dementia (and autism, cancer, SIDS, myocarditis, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and so on and so forth).

Expect that one day the truth will finally come out and charts like the above will have bars of State sanctioned “vaccine” schedules. 

Do NOT comply.

OK, my bad. It was a conspiracy theory before the “update” in which 2ndSGitW goes on to speculate:

These mis-folded proteins of the “vaccinated” may infect others, and potentially cause a global Alzheimer’s Disease epidemic; thus, it would follow that captured governments would be able to control and ultimately depopulate or decarbonize large swaths of cognitively impaired societies with far greater ease.

Of course, the biggest problem with the impending surge in the number of people suffering from dementia is how to take care of them, which is incredibly expensive. The obvious conspiracy theory is that they’ll just be killed or allowed to die. However, I couldn’t help but think that there would be a lot more inexpensive and practical methods than giving large swaths of the population dementia with a vaccine, which is slow and expensive. That must be where the prion disease comes in, as prion diseases produce rapid neurologic deterioration. Even so, it’s usually months to years before the victim dies, and during that time the victim will need a lot of medical and custodial care. As depopulation conspiracies go, this one just doesn’t seem very…efficient. Or even practical.

In fairness, 2ndSGitW doesn’t just lay down the above conspiracy theory. He/she/it also proposes a new mechanism for how COVID-19 vaccines cause prion disease. I bet that some of you with some knowledge of molecular biology might be able to guess what it is if you’ve been reading my posts over the last three months. Here’s what I mean:

A paper as far back as 2013 warned of the known action of mRNA “frame-shifted” spike proteins in promoting conditions known as “prion diseases” – and that they are “transmissible.”

The most common, Creutzfeld-Jakob disease, featured in the campaign to destroy live cattle, amidst fears that prions carried by animals could be transmitted to humans who consume them. This paper, over ten years old, found that the action of mRNA is a known cause of prion disease, which can result in “transmissible spongiform encepholopathy” from the slightest exposure to altered proteins.

“Frameshifting accounts quantitatively for the ætiology of prion disease. One per million frameshifted prions may be enough to cause disease. The HIV TAR-like element in the PRNP mRNA is likely an effector of frameshifting,” the paper explained.

A recent video featured U.K.-based Dr. Kevin McCairn explaining this mechanism. McCairn – who first raised the alarm over the dangers of prion disease in 2020 and is a former neuroscientist at the Korea Brain Research Institute – reveals that mRNA technology used in the COVID jabs is causing the same “frame shifting” that leads to harmful prions being produced.


He also asserts that these prions can be transmitted to others, whether they have received the “vaccines” or not.

“Mis-folded proteins caused by prions can impact every level organ and tissue system in the body…” McCairn said in the video published by Health Alliance Australia on February 19. “[They] bioaccumulate and are resistant to degradation, thereby building up in the environment.”

Wait, what? J. Bart Classen wasn’t the first crank to suggest that COVID-19 vaccines cause prion disease? I guess that, even at this late stage, I can learn new things. I can also look up the paper cited by 2ndSGitW and easily see that it has basically nothing to do with mRNA vaccines or the spike protein. Rather, it is a theoretical paper, published in the Journal of Theoretical Biology, and does hypothesize that frame-shifting in PrP is part of the cause of prion disease, not frame shifting in spike proteins. Frame shifting occurs when the translation of mRNA to protein is “shifted” out of frame by starting at a different nucleotide and results in very different proteins that are often truncated because the frame shift introduces a stop codon. I wrote about this in a great deal of detail the first time around, if you’re interested, as well as why the fear mongering about small amount of frame shifting seen when mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines does not do all the horrible things that antivaxxers with molecular biology background try to claim that it does and how frame shifting occurs naturally…a lot.

None of this stops 2ndSGitW from citing…Kevin McKernan:

McKernan explained in a video with the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance the mechanism of “frameshifting,” which is claimed to lead to prion disease. This is the production of multiple proteins from the injected RNA, which he says manufactures the proteins which lead to rare diseases.
If you frameshift over the stop codons, you’re going to be making proteins that are spike-mito proteins. When I talk to a lot of the Long Vax patients I hear of all these things that remind me of my time in the mitochondrial disease sequencing space…

“Spike-mito” proteins? What does this even mean? I will give McKernan props, however, for echoing another favorite antivax trope from before the pandemic about how vaccines supposedly provoke mitochondrial disease. True, before the pandemic, that idea was that vaccines alter the redox chemistry in the cell and affect the mitochondria in a way that results in autism, but it was not unexpected that antivaxxers would try to use the same biobabble to blame vaccines for neurodegenerative diseases, such as prion diseases and dementia. I’ll also give 2ndSGitW props for using his/her/its fear mongering about prion diseases from COVID-19 vaccines to sell familiar quackery:

What may perhaps be the most effective prion-based disease treatment protocol is this Substack’s protocol which is based on the old Joe Tippens cancer treatment protocol…

Yes, that’s the protocol with fenbendazole, ivermectin, curcumin, and other things that 2ndSGitW has been promoting as a cure for cancer.

But what about 2ndSGitW’s latest update, published over the weekend?

I must admit that I was confused, because 2ndSGitW starts out with claiming that the vaccines cause VAIDS (vaccine AIDS), based on the nonsensical idea that very short nucleotide sequences in the mRNA of the vaccine that match sequences from HIV but are also very common because they are short sequences and short sequences are often found in many genes. It didn’t take me long to figure out how that came about, but first, he/she/it pivots to a conspiracy theory:

The overriding question that now remains is did the Intelligence Industrial Complex and their partners-in-crime like BigPharma, the UN, WEF, CFR, WHO, NIH, FDA, CDC, et al. know that their Modified mRNA “vaccines” would induce prion diseases.

Longtime readers of this Substack already know the answer to this crucial question.

Let us consider the following article from 2019 that was written by a trio of DoD/USSOCOM/DARPA scientists, more at biowarfare criminals conducting illegal research as paid for via grants stolen from taxes, in the Deep State journal Defence iQ entitled, Prions as Bioweapons?

The article cited was published by Defence IQ, “one of the world’s largest defence events and media organisations.” Basically, it lays out concerns how prions might be used as bioweapons, noting that recent “developments in prion research may enthuse weaponization of prion agents, and thereby pose threats to national security.” The article is very speculative and outright notes that “there are no known bioweapon programs that currently utilize prions and/or prion-based substances” while nonetheless encouraging “the US government and international regulators to focus on the current and near-term capabilities of prion research for employment in both kinetic and non-kinetic engagements.”

2ndSGitW also unironically quotes this passage:

For example, prion infections targeting meat markets, animal resources, and prompting public fear could disturb the relative capabilities of regional or global economic and socio-political competitors. The instigating actor/state could then offer viable alternative products or treatments to capitalize on the disruption, thereby establishing relative economic hegemony – and power – in these markets and perhaps on the world stage. If, and when combined with a well-executed misinformation campaign, such an approach could yield multi-domain, multi-dimensional effects that would be iterative, robust, and likely evoke durable consequences.

I’m sure it totally escapes 2ndSGitW that that’s not unlike what he/she/it and fellow COVID-19 antivax quacks are doing, spreading misinformation about COVID-19, even if they didn’t create it, and the offering what they think are “viable alternative products or treatments,” never mind that they aren’t viable in that they aren’t effective. Truly, every accusation is an admission.

Which brings us back to VAIDS:

Our three hacks were also most certainly familiar with an article from 2013 entitled, Frameshifted prion proteins as pathological agents: Quantitative considerations which established that, “The HIV TAR-like element in the PRNP mRNA is likely an effector of frameshifting.”

Which is why it came as little coincidence when genomics expert Kevin McKernan recently proved that the very same frameshifting is also induced by the Modified mRNA “vaccines.” 

Which further establishes that VAIDS was always a known and expected side effect of these Modified mRNA poisons.

Which further proves that prion based diseases were a deliberate feature, and most definitely not a bug, of the various bioweapon GOF programs that illegitimate government agencies and their co-conspirators were illegally developing, and continue to do so.

So that’s how the conspiracy theorists close the loop and relate the vaccine, mRNA frameshifting, and the claim that the brief sequences from HIV had been intentionally introduced into SARS-CoV-2 (the coronavirus that causes COVID-19), the last of which was a conspiracy theory unfortunately embraced by Nobel Laureate Luc Montagnier as “evidence” that SARS-CoV-2 was not only the result of a “lab leak” but had been engineered as a bioweapon. I must say, this conspiracy theory that COVID-19 vaccines cause prion disease unifies a number of other conspiracy theories about COVID-19, from the “VAIDS” conspiracy theory to the “lab leak” conspiracy theory. Impressive.

2ndSGitW even brings in the financial angle, citing projections that the market for prion disease treatment will increase by close to 50% by 2030, just six years away and then going straight for the pharma angle:

And is it any wonder then that the global(ist) prion disease treatment market chart ends in the UN’s climacteric year of their 2030 Agenda endgame? Because at the rate these “vaccine” adverse events are progressing, by 2030 large swaths of society will be afflicted with premature dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease, and thus these genetically modified patients will be that much easier to transition into their medically assisted “peaceful culling” democide.

But wait! There’s hope! Because yet again 2ndSGitW invokes the Tippens Protocol as the cure for the prion disease caused by the evil vaccines, because of course there’s grift involved in all this conspiracy mongering. Too bad there’s no evidence that any vaccine, much less COVID-19 vaccines, cause prion diseases. However, because everything old is new again (and reborn for the pandemic), antivaxxers are promoting the evidence-free claim that COVID-19 vaccines cause prion disease in support of each other’s grift selling fake cures for prion disease (not to mention cancer, COVID-19 itself, and every medical condition that they attribute to the vaccines and the evil pharmaceutical agenda).

Same as it ever was.

David Byrne same as it ever was

And why did it have to be prions? Again?

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]

42 replies on “Prions. Why did it have to be prions?”

Wow. Just looking at 2ndSGitW’s website really is Timecube levels of bonkers and conspiracy theory lunacy. Makes David Icke sound like David Attenborough.

Covid-19 virus, as well as Covid vaccines, contain a prion-like domain in the spike protein. A study in Biomolecules, titled SARS-CoV-2 Invasion and Pathological Links to Prion Disease, explains:

==> Interestingly, the amino acid sequence of the SARS-CoV-2 viral ‘S1’ spike protein shares a number of ‘prion-like’ attributes and properties that appear to contribute to various aspects of the PrD neuropathology, neurophysiology, and the pathomechanism of prion-type infection and neurodegeneration. These attributes include the ability to bind various natural glycosoaminoglycans such as heparin, heparin binding proteins (HBP), and disease-associated molecules such as amyloid-beta (Aβ) peptides and prion proteins; the ‘S1’ spike protein therefore acts as ‘seeding centers’ for the formation of disease-characteristic intracellular inclusions in the brain and CNS. These pathological lesions support pro-inflammatory neurodegeneration, neuronal cell atrophy, death, and/or PrD-type change (see Section 4. The SARS-CoV-2 and PrD—Overlapping Pathological Neurobiology) [3,43,44,47,48,49].

We are also seeing statistical reports of increased medical visits due to cognitive problems. Health institute RIVM in Netherlands reported ‘Significant increase in memory and concentration problems among adults” in 2023. “The number of GP visits for memory and concentration problems increased in all age groups among adults (aged 25 years and up), but the biggest increase was seen in the age groups from 45 to 74 years (+40%). ”

So something is clearly going on!

And it may not be just the Covid vaccine

That article is one of the most blatant examples of handwaving speculation without good evidence that I’ve seen in a long time. Seriously, there’s no evidence there, just some speculation about vague structural similarities that remind me of antivaxxers referring to “VAIDS” based ons short stretches of nucleotide sequence in the gene for the spike protein that are found in HIV, but also in a lot of other genes.

Of course, I note that, even if the spike protein had prion-like properties, guess what the difference between infection and vaccination is? There’s lots more spike protein in an infection, and it goes to many more organs in much larger amounts than in vaccination.

Seriously, this is all very unconvincing. However, given that you know basically almost nothing about biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics, etc, and that much of what you do “know” is distorted through your conspiracy-mongering need to believe that COVID-19 vaccines are deadly and don’t work, it does not surprise me that you’d cherry pick a speculative paper like this.

Orac, I agree with you tha tthe paper is somewhat speculative. I hope for more research on these prion-like domains in Sars-Cov-2 and the vaccine.

Yeah. And if you knew anything you’d know those authors attributed it to the loss of social support and other key functions in society due to the lockdowns. You’d also know that we are getting better at diagnosing and managing dementia and age-related neurological degeneration. I know both to be having an effect because I AM a “GP.”

If you knew what you were talking about, you’d know that therapists, aides, and other ancillary staff got kicked out of hospitals and long term care facilities during COVID lockdown. They do the bulk of “memory care” and the work that keeps patients oriented and conditioned. The same patients who were more independent still could not leave their homes or interact with others socially.

We also catch these folks more in clinic since the changes in the Medicare screening guidelines. Most of the older physicians I trained under years ago never asked about cognitive decline. In part, it was considered “Rude.” In part, because there was nothing we could do about it back then. Those times have changed.

Vaccines have nothing to do with this, as usual. I’m not touching the ridiculous, sci-fi-worthy biochemistry you postulate with prions someone else can.

Perhaps you should actually measure S1’s affinity to beta amyloid and others., not just speculate. Return when you find a paper doing that.
Article you cited is this:,increase%20among%20adults%20over%2075.
From it:
however, recent studies(link is external) have shown that long-term memory and concentration problems are much more common after COVID-19 than after flu. In addition, these symptoms are more common in older age groups. The figures provided by GPs are consistent with this expectation.
You of course did not cite that.

Aarno, thanks for posting a great quote. Indeed, Covid-19 causes “memory and concentration problems” (a symptom of dementia), and we need to wonder why does this coronavirus cause such dementia symptoms.

re “biobabble”
And physiobabble, chemicobabble, psychobabble etc

I’ve observed alt med provocateurs seek out arcane sounding words as they rifle through actual research/ texts in order to impress the marks of their deep understanding of science. Names of chemicals, pharma products, physiological processes and structures are all game. Big words are important so ( at least one woo-meister) gussies up tech terms with additional – and unnecessary- suffices. Another tries to impress by parading his lab skills and many projects using second hand equipment he acquired from universities.

Because vaccines are not universally studied and because of recent upticks in stories about them and virology, alties have new topics with which to deceive and mis-inform their followers. Prions is both scary and only slightly understood by the general public so obviously it is chosen.


“Git / ˈɡɪt / is a term of insult denoting an unpleasant, silly, incompetent, annoying, senile, elderly or childish person. As a mild oath it is roughly on a par with prat and marginally less pejorative than berk”

That definition is funnier than it ought to be.

I’m still confused how this person gets from the allege link to the imaginary VAIDs to prion disease. These are two different diseases they’re trying to blame on vaccines. Let’s pretend you can show frame shifting. How does that show anything deliberate, and if whatever it shows is deliberate, does it show HIV or prion disease? Aside from the complete lack of connection to the evidence, is there internal consistency here, and if so, where is it? Can someone help?

The only thing I can come up with is that there is one postulated mechanism for prion disease involving an occult lentivirus as a vector or inducer of some kind and they heard lentivirus and jumped right to AIDS…because…of course.

The most ludicrous aspect of antivaxers promoting the idea that Covid-19 vaccines cause prion diseases (aside from the complete lack of evidence that it’s occurred or a plausible mechanism to explain it) is ignorance of the very long incubation period for these diseases (typically decades, rarely several years) which makes it hugely implausible that we’d already be seeing them as a result of Covid-19 vaccination.

The spread of antivax misinformation on this subject began not long after the vaccines came into use. A Children’s Health Defense article breathlessly reported that a woman felt “different” immediately after her second Moderna shot in early 2021, went rapidly downhill and died several months later of what was reported to be Creutzfeld-Jacob disease (CJD). Along with time-traveling Covid vaccines that teleported back to the years 2000-2019 to cause a surge in cancer incidence among the young (a meme currently popular on antivax social media), we saw another miracle – prions sickening a person immediately after injection.

In addition to CHD falling for this CJD story, other credulous ninnies (including (of course!) Steve Kirsch) ballyhooed it along with VAERS reports as proof that the vaccines cause prion disease.

While The Great Prion Reset is utter nonsense, Mad Antivaxer Disease is quite real and a threat to public health.

There seems to at least be a possible biological path for a vaccine to cause a prion disease, which puts this a step up from most antivax theories.
The problem is, it seems like a vaccine that would do that would almost certainly have to do so quickly, and also would almost certainly do so to most people who got the injection, not like some tiny percentage.

And thus, any such substance proposed to be a vaccine candidate would fail miserably in clinical trials.

(Honestly, this happens a lot with antivaxxers – the thing they propose a vaccine causes is something that if it was real, would be happening often enough that statistical analysis would be unnecessary.)

There was a Canadian study that estimated incubation time of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Incubation time based on various modes of transmission. It is titled “Is Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Transmitted in Blood?”

It lists various known transmission incidents and with them, incubation time (time from accident to diagnosis, not to death).

Neurosurgery: 20 months
Stereotactic EEG: 18 months

Corneal Transplant: 17 months
Dura Matter Implant (cerebral surface) 5.5 years

Growth hormone: 12 years
Gonadotropin: 13 years

So, the specific prion disease CJD takes a long time between a transmission event and diagnosis, depending on the transmission mode.

Which is why the case reports of CJD occurring after COVID-19 (there are a couple that I’m aware of) are clearly ignoring the incredibly high likelihood that the CJD was already preexisting and developing long before the person ever caught COVID-19. It’s papers for clickbait.

Yes, that is very possibly true – prion disease will possibly statistically show up soon, or (hopefully) it will not.

The above-mentioned RIVM report about 40% increase in cognitive problems in adults in 2023 is somewhat disturbing.

I hate to confess, especially on this forum, that I also feel like my memory and executive function are not as good as they used to be and I hope that I can fix that by having a healthier lifestyle.

It is not statistics (random appereance of things). It is incubation period of the disease:
In a typical infectious disease, the incubation period signifies the period taken by the multiplying organism to reach a threshold necessary to produce symptoms in the host.
Prions replicate very slowly.

Igor is citing an article that appeared in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in 1997 but, um, forgot to cite the following statement from the article:

“Note the progressively longer incubation period as the route of exposure becomes more peripheral. The incubation period lengthens to 30 years after intramuscular or subcutaneous injection.”

That doesn’t exactly lend support to CHD/Kirsch’s suggestion that a patient “immediately” developed symptoms of prion disease following Moderna vaccination, with that event allegedly causing death a few months later.

I never amplified those suggestions, and in addition, I pointed out that Covid-19 virus genes, as well as mRNA vaccine genes, encode a prion-like domain.

We might find out pretty soon that the humanity will get thinned out quite a bit in a few years!

The remaining few people will enjoy expanses of beautiful greenery, undisturbed by excessive human presence, and global warming will finally be reversed.

A paper about prion like domains among viruses:
Using the prion-prediction PLAAC algorithm, we identified 2,679 PrDs in proteins from 735 different viruses. In total, we analyzed 2,742,160 proteins derived from the UniProtKB database from over 3000 known viral species.
Hit rate was 735/3000 = 24.5%. Interesting times. Check herpesviruses.

“We might find out pretty soon that the humanity will get thinned out quite a bit in a few years!”

At what point will you stop advancing the timetable and say “it would have happened by now”?

List the Covid/Covid vaccine apocalyptic situations with the expected time line and the criteria required to prove that they have happened.

For example:

mRNA vaccine causes a prion disease. By 2034 prion infection case rate = 10 x current projected case rate. Confounding factors taken into account.

Pretty sure that a man of your definitive knowledge should be able to pull a decent sized list together.


==> At what point will you stop advancing the timetable and say “it would have happened by now”?

It IS happening now – there is excess mortality and the humanity is thinning, although slowly.

For instance, Europe experienced 10% excess mortality in December of 2023.

You could obtain excess mortality figures from Eurostat and Covid vaccination rates of those countries from Statista. (I have links).

Then you can analyze relationship between “Covid vaccination rates” and “excess mortality”. You would probably expect the relationship to show a strong protective effect of Covid vaccines, thus having a negative slope coefficient, right?

Quite to the contrary: Covid vaccination rate explains 24% of excess mortality, and the slope is 29%. So, each additional percent of Covid vaccination results in 0.29% increase in mortality.

Perplexing, right? It is surprising only to those who see this first time.

Such a pattern of positive effect of Covid vaccination on excess mortality existed since the second half of 2022. For excess mortality, covid vaccines were protective in 2021, then provided no protection in spring of 2022, then the protection reversed and became negative around the end of summer of 2022.

I hope that this phenomenon will finally go away, and vaccinated and unvaccinated people will again enjoy times of equally low mortality, of course.

We might find out pretty soon that the humanity will get thinned out quite a bit in a few years!

The remaining few people will enjoy expanses of beautiful greenery, undisturbed by excessive human presence, and global warming will finally be reversed.

So much baseless conspiracy, dishonesty, and lack of knowledge encapsulated on so few words. Quite a feat.

Quite to the contrary: Covid vaccination rate explains 24% of excess mortality, and the slope is 29%. So, each additional percent of Covid vaccination results in 0.29% increase in mortality.

Oh joy, igor has pulled another “regression analysis” out of his butt. Igor, you’ve demonstrated you have no understanding of when regression can be used, when it doesn’t, and what things need to be checked prior and during use. Why should anyone think this time you’ve done anything correctly?

In addition igor, are there no other variables that could also contribute to excess deaths? It’s highly unusual to use a single explanatory variable for something so complicated.

@Igor Chudov You are missing age adjustment. Among older people, there are more deaths. So-o difficult to get, it is not.
Cite actual statistics, and you will see that.

@Igor Chudov You should actual excess mortality rates (even raw ones) and compare them actual vaccination rates. Result is muc different than you claim.

“It IS happening now – there is excess mortality and the humanity is thinning, although slowly.

For instance, Europe experienced 10% excess mortality in December of 2023”

I’m sorry, I must have missed the part where you demonstrated that a few years of pandemic had no impact on general health and no impact on the provision of health care. You must have also eliminated the ongoing health professionals wage conflict in the UK, the increase in the cost of living and shortages in drug supplies as well?

Fantastic, I look forward to seeing the published report.

Not mention that neurosurgery is very different thing than vaccination. it is actually injection. Even dura mater tranplant took 5 years

There is a very real threat of people ingesting prions as a result of deer with Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). The deer excrete prions in their urine, they remain in the soil and are taken up by plants growing there. Alfalfa hay could pass the prions on to cattle. It’s possible that humans could get it from contaminated wheat.

Listen to TWiV 1091 at about 16 minutes.

So all we need to do is make a coronavirus that “feels like a mild cold” but encodes those prions, right?

And then the prions would come from both the virus, as well as the hastily created vaccines encoding viral protein containing prion like domains.

Good thing no virologist would design such a virus on purpose! Right?

Coronavirus is not a mild cold and does not code prions
You suppose evil without purpose. Too many bad horror stories, I suppose (mad scientists running amok).

I think there’s a simpler explanation for igor’s constant misrepresentation of studies and ignoring comments pointing out why he’s [uniformly] wrong: he’s trying to make money off his substack, and the people willing to pay for his crap are people even more conspiracy minded than he is. He looks for studies with terms and language that sound scary, and pushes those in the most extreme way. I don’t know if he really believes what he says [he probably does, but I don’t know for sure] but he does know what the buffoons who subscribe to him believe it, so he sees a purpose in spreading his completely wrong discussions.

@ Idw56old:

Agreed. Notice that Igor includes phrases like humanity “thinning out” and increased cognitive problems that his intended audience will automatically link to vaccines as a dog whistle.
Alties I observe have honed their skills in messaging like this for decades to sell products and “informational” books and films.

Obviously, there are other reasons for cognitive issues – some people actually study cognition- hint– such as stress, medication, lack of medical care for ongoing medical concerns, serious illness, aging, injury, infection, even long Covid.

Substack itself attracts novice “thought” leaders because it is free, easy to use and gives internal suggestions based on material so if you love Naomi Wolf, you’ll probably also love Igor. It allows long form diatribes and highlights the author unlike Reddit. What could possibly go wrong?

I used to give Igor the excuse that he grew up in the CCCP and therefore rightly trusts no media or institution but he’s been here a long time and has internet. Even if you mistrust media outlets in general or by political persuasion, there are other sources in other countries and universities. The only way out of this quandary is to say, ” Everyone else is wrong” GLOBALLY? And you’re right?

I should include a few sources:
BBC, CBC, ABC (AUS), NBC, AP, Reuters, Le Monde, Deutsche Welle, RAI, NHK, Al Jezeera ( all available in English)
but no RT

I would agree that Igor is into money. He spreads a simple horror film scenario because his target audience believes it.

Aarno: ==> I would agree that Igor is into money.

I love money. Many people misunderstand what “love of money” is. Someone would say “I love money,” but would spend all money on flashy objects. That’s not love of money, but its opposite!

Quite conversely, I love money as in having money and seeing it grow (if I get lucky).

So yes, I am guilty of having love for money.

However, the Substack I have provides relatively meager income, and does not justify itself based on finances alone. I make much less than Naomi, for example. Maybe if I retire it would make more financial sense.

My substack exists to save the humanity from Covid vaccines (and a few other things I am describing occasionally). The money is just a nice little extra.

My substack exists to save the humanity from Covid vaccines (and a few other things I am describing occasionally).

Since there is no danger from covid vaccines that is, of course, pure bullshit. It’s on the same level of reality as a cartoon in which a dog says its saving the family from the mailman.

Your substack exists to make you money, to spread blatant lies and tons of misinformation, and make you feel important. Everything else you say is, well, bullshit.

@Igor Chudov So you actually believe in simple horror story scenario, mad scientist doing evil without a purpose.. It is not even conspirscy by veryone anymore.

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