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How patent laws get in the way of the global coronavirus vaccine rollout

A transcript of The Conversation Weekly podcast episode #3.



The race to make enough coronavirus vaccines is underway. i_am_zews via Shutterstock

This is a transcript of Episode 3 of The Conversation Weekly podcast: Coronavirus vaccines: what’s getting in the way of the global rollout, published on February 18, 2021. In this week’s episode, we hear about an ongoing battle to relax intellectual property rules around coronavirus vaccines and new research on why China is closing down coal-fired power stations faster in some places than others.

NOTE: Transcripts may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting in print.

Gemma: Hello and welcome to The Conversation Weekly.

Dan: Each week we bring you expert analysis on the world’s biggest stories.

Gemma: And groundbreaking new research, explained by the academics behind it.

Dan: Today, we’re talking about coronavirus vaccines – how and where they’re getting manufactured and why there is a fight over the intellectual property rights that regulate them.

Ronald Labonté: Countries have that vaccine manufacturing capacity, but right now they can’t access it.

Gemma: And we’ll hear from an expert on Chinese energy on why the country is shutting down coal-fired power stations – and what this means for the wider region.

Hao Tan: 291 coal power generation units had been decommissioned in China.

Dan: I’m Dan Merino in San Francisco.

Gemma: And I’m Gemma Ware in London and you’re listening to The Conversation Weekly.

Dan: Gemma and I are in the UK and the US. But the story we’re gonna hear today is about how countries with lower incomes are struggling to get vaccines. A key reason for this is that companies in rich nations generally hold the intellectual property rights over the vaccines.

Gemma: OK Dan, before we get into all, can you just run through the different types of vaccine that have already been licensed.

Dan: Sure, so first we have whole virus vaccines. These are when you inject a whole but harmless version of the coronavirus into your body and this generates an immune response. These use either harmless versions of the coronavirus that are still alive, this is called a live attenuated vaccine, or a dead normal version of the coronavirus, this is called an inactivated vaccine. Another kind is called an adenovirus vaccine – these use harmless adenoviruses to deliver a gene from the coronavirus into your body. Your cells then use that gene’s directions to make a piece of the coronavirus. It’s totally harmless, it’s just a little protein, but it triggers a really strong immune response.

Gemma: OK, which vaccines are we talking about here?

Dan: A couple of the Chinese vaccines are using dead version of the coronavirus. And ones using those harmless adenoviruses include the Oxford/Astrazeneca vaccine, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and also the Sputnik vaccine in Russia.

There’s also mRNA vaccines, like the Moderna and the Pfizer vaccines. When you get one of these, a bit of mRNA – a form of genetic code – is shot into your arm. Like with the adenovirus vaccine, your cells read these genetic instructions to create the same protein from the coronavirus. Again this triggers a really strong immune response, it’s totally harmless.

Gemma: OK, and are there any other technologies being used?

Dan: There are a ton of different things being tried, but the ones I explained just now are the ones that have been approved so far.

Gemma: OK so we’ve got all these different types of vaccine but how are they actually made?

Dan: So I actually spoke with someone who really helped explain how vaccines are manufactured.

Anne Moore: My name is Dr Anne Moore and my research interests are in vaccines.

Dan: Anne is a Senior Lecturer in Biochemistry and Cell Biology at University College Cork in Ireland. She first explained how adenovirus vaccines – like the Oxford/Astrazeneca vaccine – are manufactured.

Anne: So what you do, say for adenovirus, you would take some of your master virus, and you would infect some cells, some very special cells that you understand all of the attributes about those cells. And you grow those up. The virus will infect the cells and produce more virus. And then you’ve enough cells in there where you have this bulking up a virus over the course of a few days, and this will be in anywhere from four litres of cell culture up to higher volumes, maybe 20, 30 litres.

And then you have what we call downstream processing then where you’re purifying the virus vaccine away from all of the other components that you’re not interested in. That can be a very, very difficult process. So even though it only takes a few days to grow a batch of virus. It can take a long time to not just to purify, but also to prove that it is pure and it is sterile and it is what you say it is.

Dan: So what about the genetic material vaccines?

Anne: It’s much more synthetic. You don’t have any cells, so you don’t need any vats to grow anything in. The synthesiser is chemically conjugating one nucleic acid onto the next one in the right sequence.

Dan: That sounds almost more assembly line-like where the other one is much more staged?

Anne: Yeah, I guess we call that continuous versus batch manufacturing. So the kind of move in industry is to go down this more continuous method where it is, as you say, an assembly line.

Dan: How many vaccines can one facility make at a time. And where are we at right now as far as output?

Dan: I suppose thinking about one facility making the vaccine from start to finish is a little bit untrue, because classically in the pharma industry, you would have different facilities doing a different part of the job.

I guess, constraints at the moment is more about actually getting your hands on the materials that you need to make the final product. Everything has many moving parts and that is becoming a constraint in manufacturing now because there is a big demand to make as many vaccines as quickly as possible.

Line of vaccine vials in manufacturing facility.
Manufacturing of vaccines is a complex process with multiple steps. Ekaterina 1525 via Shutterstock

Dan: Is the pace something that you are happy with?

Anne: I think, you know, considering this virus only emerged in November 2019, we are doing incredibly well, if you look back and say we actually even have a vaccine and we have almost half a dozen licensed at this stage is an incredible achievement. It kind of comes down to commerce. We didn’t have any buffer in the system in the sense that there was no spare capacity. And there was a recognition that that was needed because a pandemic would happen, but nobody was actually willing to support it.

Nature abhors a vacuum and pharma abhors an empty facility, you know, nobody’s going to leave something empty just in case pandemic happens.

So I think it is a huge global scramble to rededicate facilities to a coronavirus vaccine to upskill employees, to get more employees in, to actually do the work. And I think there will be an inflection point where these facilities that are now being kitted out will come on stream and will be then pumping out millions more vaccine doses than we’re seeing at the moment.

Gemma: So Dan it sounds like Anne is saying good job so far everyone, but the world could have perhaps prepared a bit better.

Dan: Yeah, absolutely and I guess that’s a major lesson from this pandemic too. But she touched on a hugely important part of the story here: economics. The fact that these vaccines are being produced by large, for-profit, pharmaceutical companies.

Anne: Who made the vast proportion of vaccines for the world.

Dan: Anne told me that there are essentially four major vaccine manufacturers in the world, and for the most part, they have their manufacturing facilities in the US and in Europe. There’s a shift though happening as India is now actually the biggest vaccine manufacturer globally. They’ve actually got a licence to make large batches of the Oxford/Astrazeneca vaccine.

Gemma: So who is getting the coronavirus vaccines that this small number of companies are producing?

Dan: The answer to that also is basically who has the money. A bunch of different countries spent a tonne to pre-order batches of the different vaccines. And this was happening even before these vaccines were approved.

According to the Duke Global Health Innovation Center by early February 2021, the world’s high-income countries had pre-ordered 4.2 billion vaccine doses, compared to a total of 670 million ordered by low-income countries. Many of the world’s wealthiest countries have far more than they need to cover their entire populations.

So to find out what it’s like in a part of the world where COVID vaccinations still feel very far away in the future, I called up a researcher who’s actually working across west Africa to try and solve this problem.

Mosoka: My name is Mosoka P. Fallah, I’m from Liberia.

Dan: Mosoka is a lecturer at the University of Liberia in the School of Public Health, and also a part-time lecturer in Harvard’s School of Public Health. He’s been very involved in the research on Ebola, and consults for the company Merck as an expert on Ebola vaccine licensing. He spoke to me last week from Sierra Leone, and described the situation there.

Mosoka: I can speak from west Africa because at least I’ve travelled, in recent times, Libiera, Sierra Leone, I was in Burkina Faso and then I transited through Togo. Basically, what I do know for now is that there’s nothing substantial towards vaccine.

Dan: He said a few countries in the region, including the small island of Cape Verde have been able to start to procuring some doses of the vaccine. But these are the exception.

Read more: COVID-19 vaccines: how and when will lower-income countries get access?

Mosoka: There’s attempt by the regional body, like African Union to access the vaccine. There is minimum effort, at least I know one, from a cell phone company to procure very little vaccine but it’s just a drop in the ocean. So basically Africa right now does not have any substantive way to acquire the vaccines.

Dan: Mosoka explains the reasons for this are almost entirely economic.

Mosoka: Fundamentally it’s the economic costs of acquiring the vaccine. You know, As someone really involved with the outbreak, I think the African countries tried to protect themselves preemptively, but it came at an alarming cost.

Dan: The cost of the vaccines is simply prohibitive for many of these countries.

Mosoka: Most of them are heavily indebted and there are no sense that they will have any debt relief. So basically this means, from an economic point of view, they cannot afford at the current market price.

Dan: There is an ongoing multinational effort to secure vaccines for countries that can’t afford them. I’m talking of course about the Covax initiative, led by the World Health Organization. The initiative wants to get 2 billion vaccine doses out to these countries in 2021.

But it’s at an incredibly slow pace. Mosoka explained that many west African nations covered by the alliance are only expecting to have 3% of their populations vaccinated by mid-2021. To put that that into perspective, as of February 14, 3.9% of the entire US population had gotten both doses of a coronavirus vaccine, 11% had already had one dose.

Anne Moore explained that manufacturing a vaccine is difficult and there have been a ton of delays already. This begs an obvious question: why aren’t more countries manufacturing vaccines that have already been approved, like the Moderna or Astrazeneca vaccines, for example. To understand why this is happening, we have to broach an ugly international issue. This is intellectual property rights around pharmaceuticals. To help me understand that, I called up Ronald Labonté.

Ronald: I’m a professor and have a distinguished research chair at the University of Ottawa in the School of Epidemiology and Public Health.

Dan: Ronald told me that the world has a lot of untapped vaccine manufacturing capacity.

Ronald: The annual global vaccine manufacturing capacity is estimated at somewhere between six and a half and eight and a half billion doses per year. But UNICEF probably using a larger database of potential manufacturers, estimates that in 2021, the volume of that output could be as much as 20 billion.

Meanwhile, the 2021 production run of the top three vaccines at the moment, right, the Pfizer vaccine, the Moderna, the AstraZeneca, the total manufacturing capacity that these three companies have is only 3.2 billion.

Dan: Sort of running in parallel to Covax is something called the COVID Technology Access Pool or CTAP, it’s led by the World Health Organization. This is something of a information sharing club to help scale up the global production of vaccines.

Ronald: And that pool was designed to have manufacturers make their patents, their medical know-how available to all other manufacturers. Since its launch, not a single COVID-19 patent-holding company has joined CTAP. A lot of countries have that vaccine manufacturing capacity, but right now they can’t access it. And interestingly half of this vaccine manufacturing potential is actually in developing countries: Argentina, Bangladesh, China, India, Brazil, Egypt, Cuba, Indonesia, Iran, Mexico, Taiwan, Thailand, South Africa.

Dan: The intellectual property system for drugs is governed by the World Trade Organization. Specifically, it’s regulated by an agreement called TRIPS, which stands for the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights agreement.

Ronald: And this agreement obliges all WTO member states to offer 20 years of monopoly protection on new patented products. There is a group of 35 least developed WTO member states that are still exempt from these obligations, but all the other countries that are members of the World Trade Organization have to play by these rules.

If the patent holder has a patent that applies to that particular country, that country cannot just automatically reverse engineer, try to develop a generic equivalent. It has to offer or provide or guarantee, a period of monopoly protection, during which time the company is basically able to set whatever price or whatever conditions it wants to set in access to its product. It’s the only agreement in the World Trade Organization that is not liberalising, it is protecting.

Dan: The pandemic has now put this TRIPS agreement seemingly at odds with an international effort to ramp up vaccine production. This is due to be discussed on March 1 and 2 at the World Trade Organization’s General Council. A number of countries are bringing up a request – first tabled in October 2020 – for a temporary waiver of the TRIPS agreement when it comes to COVID-19.

Ronald: India and South Africa, and a bunch of other countries, have formally signed on with a petition to create this waiver and over a hundred developing country member states of the World Trade Organization also support it.

So what they’re arguing is that, is that in the absence of a waiver, there are too many, uh, legal obligations, too many impediments, too many cumbersome rules around the flexibilities of the TRIPS agreement that would allow, other vaccine manufacturers to very quickly scale up and produce more of the vaccines that are effective.

It would be enforced until the World Health Organization declared the global pandemic was over. In other words, that global herd immunity had been reached.

Dan: Waivers have issued for other WTO stuff, like things for bananas, for example. But there’s only been one waiver for TRIPS, relating to the licensing rules around exporting generic medicines.

Ronald: So it is possible, by consensus, if all the countries agree, then yes, we have the TRIPS waiver. Or if I believe it’s three quarters of the member states agree if they come and they hold a vote on that.

Dan: This path to expanding global manufacturing capacity for coronavirus vaccines – and presumably ending the pandemic faster – is being blocked by a few powerful countries.

Read more: Dummy's guide to how trade rules affect access to COVID-19 vaccines

Ronald: Australia, Brazil, Canada, the EU, Japan, Norway, Switzerland, the UK and the US oppose it, or if they don’t oppose it they’re saying, well, we really can’t support it at this time because there’s no real evidence that it’s needed.

Now, the argument being made by this small handful of opposing countries, all of them, high-income countries, pretty much. Most of them already having inked a number of their own bilateral vaccine, advanced purchase agreements, so there they’ve taken care of themselves. Their argument is that existing TRIPS flexibilities for compulsory licenses or parallel importing is sufficient. And they also argue that patent holding companies well, they can issue voluntary licenses to other manufacturers to produce their products at negotiated prices, and indeed, many have done so with a number of other vaccine manufacturers.

Dan: But again, price limits how many places can actually afford to make a deal with the patent holders. And that’s where these flexibilities built into TRIPS come into play. They could theoretically allow countries to make their own vaccines without having to deal with the pharmaceutical companies at all. But Ronald says getting these flexibilities approved is next to impossible – it’s only happened once before – and it would take forever to be done on a wide enough scale as the flexibilities need to be approved on a case-by-case basis.

Ronald: What it really comes down to is that they don’t want to touch the intellectual property rights regime of the TRIPS agreement, which is so profitable to the patent-holding pharmaceutical industry.

Intellectual property it’s seen as one of the engines of the new kind of post-industrial economic growth. So we want our patent-holding companies to become profitable, to become rich because if they’re rich, then supposedly our countries become rich. So there’s a kind of a mercantilism going on here.

Dan: To Ronald, it’s frustrating to see pharmaceutical companies posting big profits from coronavirus vaccines.

Ronald: The only reason the vaccines got done so quickly, wasn’t because of the wonderful inventiveness and the use of intellectual property rights that the vaccine manufacturers, were able to put in place. It was because of massive, massive amount, billions and billions of dollars, in public support. And billions and billions of dollars more in advanced purchase agreements by governments that, that kind of gave the assurance of making a tonne of money at some point in time and recovering all of those costs. It wasn’t because we had an intellectual property regime system.

Dan: Ronald has been advocating hard for the TRIPS waiver – including writing a few articles for The Conversation. But he admits, if the waiver passes through the WTO, the outcome are also unknown.

Ronald: Now it may mean that, or it may be that, that if the waiver were approved, that it would take a while for all of its actions to sort of begin to play out. And, it may not make the huge difference that a lot of people think it could make. But we don’t know that.

We’re in a global pandemic emergency. The longer we wait, the worse it’s going to become, the more variants we might get. And the countries that are going to take the longest in actually being able to vaccinate their population to some sort of a kind of the national herd immunity are going to be the low-income countries.

Dan: When I asked Mosoka Fallah about what changes to IP and intellectual property rights might mean, he immediately pointed to the example of antiretroviral drugs and HIV/Aids. As soon as the IP was opened up, the price went down.

Mosoka: Once, multiple countries like Brazil and South Africa manufactured HIV, drugs, antiretroviral, we saw that the prices went down and countries could access it.

Fundamentally, in an ideal situation, if they release the IP to countries that have the capacity to manufacture, the pipeline going to increase. There’s going to be more vaccines, the prices are going to be reduced.

Dan: This won’t happen easily.

Mosoka: But the catch of this is that, if we allow of them to to give their IP, and there is an another outbreak tomorrow would they have incentive to do research? So the key trigger to think about is, how do we find means to meet these countries halfway, give them some funding for the R&D?

Dan: Mosoka is particularly incensed by the vaccine nationalism surrounding COVID, because it is so different from what he saw during the Ebola crisis. Today, there a shared pool of Ebola vaccines, ready and waiting to stop any outbreak no matter where it happens.

Mosoka: So that within 24 hours, where there is an Ebola outbreak, you can make a request that the vaccine can go to that country, irrespective of their ability to pay. So that’s a very good arrangement.

Dan: Towards the end of our conversation, Mosoka relayed to me a teaching, from his close friend and collaborator, the late Swedish epidemiologist, Hans Rosling.

Mosoka: And one morning, he said to me: “Mosoka, keep this in your mind. Everything you do in Liberia you are protecting Washington DC and London. If you don’t do a good job in Liberia, London and DC are vulnerable.”

Dan: The is as true for COVID as it is for Ebola.

Mosoka is part of a group of scientists working on a joint letter advocating for more equitable access to COVID vaccines. There are two main actions they plan to push for. First, more funding for the Covax alliance. This would help the group buy more vaccines for countries that can’t afford them. Second, that intellectual property rights be relaxed or waived.

Finally, Mosoka argues that richer countries, should simply give vaccines to poorer places. This isn’t even an ethical argument, it’s actually just the safest thing to do for everyone on earth.

Mosoka: And so at some point in time, if you vaccinated, say, 50% or 60% of the rich population, then you begin to do to share with others because even from a protective point of view, from a selfish point of view, if you don’t protect us, you are at risk because there is mutation happening. And so we are trying to propose potential alternatives. We’re not saying give 100%, can you give 10%? But for your own survival, try to share some of that vaccine.

Gemma: He makes a compelling argument doesn’t he?

Dan: He really does, not only from the ethics, but just the broader public health argument. Like, if your neighbours’ house is burning down, not only should you save them because, I don’t know, maybe it’s the nice thing and the right thing to do, but also because it’s gonna burn your house down too.

If you’re interested in reading more about vaccine manufacturing, vaccine nationalism and the intellectual property rights around vaccines, you can read stories by Ronald Labonté, Mosoka Fallah and Anne Moore on The Conversation. The links to their stories, and plenty of other further reading by experts, are in the show notes.

Gemma: Right, so for our next story we’re going to hear about an important shift that’s happening in China. So Dan, what do you think when I say the words “coal and China”.

Dan: Well, I imagine China’s burning a lot of it. And because its coal, it’s just spewing tonnes of pollution out into the atmosphere. Am I far off the mark there, Gemma?

Gemma: No, you are right. In fact, China is still the world’s biggest producer and consumer of coal, by a large margin. But there’s a change underway, and China is closing down some of its coal power stations.

Dan: Well that’s gotta be good. Is it for environomental reasons, or what’s going on?

Gemma: You’d think so but actually the reasons aren’t just about the environment, and they’re a lot more complex than that. So to find out more, I spoke to a researcher who has just published a study on what’s happening.

Hao Tan: My name is Hao Tan and I’m a researcher with Newcastle Business School within the University of Newcastle in Australia. My research is focused on energy transitions, especially that in China and its global implications.

Gemma: So Hao could you set the scene for us? How much coal does China use every year?

Hao: China is the largest coal user in the world. In 2019, China consumed about 53% of the coal produced in the world. In 2020, this share could even go higher because the country’s economy has had rapid recovery from the pandemic since early 2020, where all the major economies are still struggling with restriction to economic activities.

Gemma: Ok. So biggest consumer of coal, and I think the biggest producer of coal as well?

Hao: Exactly. China is also the largest coal producer in the world, yes, you’re right. So it’s not surprising that the majority of the coal used in China is from domestic sources. In 2019, about 90% of the coal used in China was domestically reproduced and the rest was imported from overseas.

Gemma: Why? What is this coal being used for?

Hao: About half of the coal is for power generation. So right now China has about half of the coal power stations in the world.

Gemma: But it’s also used for industry?

Hao: Yeah, for steel making, for heating, a range of purposes.

Gemma: When it does use coal from outside of the country, where does that coal come from?

Hao: Indonesia, Australia, Mongolia and Russia. So coal from those four countries account for over 90% of the coal imports of China.

Gemma: And in terms of domestic coal, is it coming from all over the country or are there particular parts of China, which are the biggest coal producers?

Hao: The majority of the coal produced in China actually is from western China. Eastern China used to produce a coal, but they are no longer producing coal anymore.

Gemma: So you’ve set out to picture here where China is the world’s biggest producer and consumer of coal, but it’s got plans to change that, hasn’t it? It’s trying to shift away.

Hao: Yes, so China, as we know, has recently announced its commitment to zero emissions by 2060. I think to achieve this goal, it has to radically reduce the coal use in the country.

Gemma: Let’s turn now to talking about your research. Could you explain what the most recent research you’ve done on coal power stations has been in China?

Hao: This is a part of an ongoing project funded by the Australian Research Council. In this project, my colleagues from UNSW and Macquarie University and myself, look into the energy transitions in east Asian countries and particularly the role governments play in those transitions. And in this research project we look into not only the rise of renewable energy industries, but also the dynamics of traditional energy industries, such as coal.

Gemma: And what did you find? How many coal power stations have been closed?

Hao: So between 2010 and 2019, a total of 291 coal-power generation units had been decommissioned in China, accounting for 37 gigawatts of capacity. For context, currently there’s 50 gigawatts of power generation capacity in operation in Australia.

Gemma: And what share of the overall coal power generation was that?

Hao: Right now it’s still a small share in terms of the total coal power generation capacity in China. China currently has over 1,000 gigawatts of coal power generation capacity.

Gemma: So it’s a small amount, but it’s happening at a faster rate than it used to?

Hao: Yes, yes. And, more interestingly, we found that in more economically advanced regions, the closures have been more substantial and more rapid. For example, take Guangdong province, a relatively developed region June in China.

Gemma: That’s in the east?

Hao: That’s right. This is one of the 30 provinces in China but, since 2015, coal power capacity retired in this province accounted for over 10% of the total coal power capacity retired in the country. Meanwhile, we see that the new power stations are still being built, particularly in poorer western provinces in China. In fact, since 2015 and 2019, the total coal power capacity of the country increased, by about 18%.

Gemma: Ok, so it’s a complex picture there that you’re painting, isn’t it? That there are power stations closing, but there are others opening. So in the areas where you did see them closing, can you explain a bit about why?

Hao: We found that, while in other countries, climate change is probably the main cause of, closures of coal power plants, a distinctive feature in China is that closure of coal plant stations there largely follow a developmental logic. By developmental logic, we refer to the local government’s ambitions to replace many energy- and pollution-intensive industries with industries based on more value-added activities, such as advanced manufacturing and services.

Gemma: And the land is very valuable, I imagine?

Hao: Yes, especially in those rich regions land has become very expensive. So that becomes a economic incentive for the closures of power plants.

Gemma: And what does that mean for those countries you mentioned at the beginning, who export a lot of coal to China?

Hao: If we’re talking about countries like Australia and Indonesia, an advantage of their coal exports is that they can actually transport the coal to China’s coastal regions with relatively cheaper transportation costs. But with this geographic redistribution of the coal power capacity, I think the prospect of coal exports from these countries to China is a bit gloomy in the future.

Gemma: I think particularly with Australia, there’s real trade tensions with coal at the centre of them?

Hao: Yes, in the middle of 2020, China has imposed an unofficial ban to Australian coal exports to China. And ships of coal have not been able to unload it to Chinese ports. So in December, the coal exports to China, for example, from Australia has completely stopped.

Gemma: How does this shift that you’re seeing in China fit into a wider pattern of energy transition, which, you know, you said at the beginning that you study the wider region?

Hao: So those countries race to develop new carbon energy technologies is not just about climate change. It’s probably more to do with growing internationally competitive industries. This reflects the strong tradition of the development state in those countries, where governments have the resources and motives, to directly support a creation, transformation and growth of new industries.

Gemma: So what you’re saying is that while there’s an overall kind of concern about climate change and a need to shift away from coal, that actually it’s more economic drivers that are the reason behind the closures in eastern China. Is that, is that what you’re saying?

Hao: Yes. You can say that. Yes.

Gemma: And what do you think about this 2060 net zero emissions target? Do you think it’s achievable in the timeframe?

Hao: I think we still need to see more evidence to assess whether this commitment is achievable and whether the Chinese government is serious about that. I think two immediate indications include, first, the coming 14th five-years plan, which is going to be released by the Chinese government very soon. And second, whether the trend of emissions - so as we know, into 2013, actually the emissions in China has declined between 2013 and 2017. But unfortunately in recent years, that emission has picked up again. So we will look very closely whether that trend can be reversed.

Gemma: Well thank you very much Hao, it’s been fascinating talking to you, and I appreciate you explaining your research to us.

Hao: Thank you Gemma.

Gemma: If you want to read more about this, you can find a link to a story that Hao Tan wrote recently with some of his colleagues, in the show notes.

Dan: To finish off this episode we’ve got a few recommendations sent in via voicemail from our colleague Clea Chakraverty, politics and society editor at The Conversation in France.

Clea Chakraverty: Hi everyone. I’m Clea Chakraverty, politics and society editor from the The Conversation France.

This week I would like to discuss a very sensitive topic that is shaking France at the moment. At the beginning of January 2021, lawyer Camille Kouchner published a book called La Familia Grande in which she reveals how her father in law sexually abused her twin brother when they were teenagers. The book triggered a huge outcry as the man she accused is a well-known academic and is close to various elite circles in France.

The book also broke the taboos around incest, child abuse and abusers in a new way. Following its release, thousands of French people came out with stories of incest and abuse with the #Metooincest.

As historian Anne-Claude Ambroise Rendu from Université Versailles St Quentin wrote for The Conversation in French, incest and child abuse are quite common within families, but they are too often silenced.

Recent data published by a team of researchers from INED, also for The Conversation, back her claim: in France one woman out of 10 has faced sexual abuse while growing up, whether from outside her family or within.

This week authorities are discussing a possible revision of the law surrounding sexual abuse of minors. The reckoning for this historic abuse has only just started. Thanks so much for listening.

Gemma: Clea Chakraverty there from The Conversation in France.

Dan: Alrighty, that’s it for this episode of The Conversation Weekly. Thank you to all of the academics we’ve spoken to in this episode.

Gemma: And thanks to The Conversation editors Nicole Hasham, Caroline Southey, Moina Spooner and Clea Chakraverty.

Dan: You can find links to all of the expert analysis we’ve mentioned in this week’s episode in the show notes. Or head to, where you can sign up to get a free daily email by clicking “Get newsletter” at the top of the homepage. I promise you, it’s actually a good newsletter.

Gemma: This episode is co-produced by Mend Mariwany and me, with sound design by Eloise Stevens. Our theme music is by Neeta Sarl. Final thanks also to Alice Mason, Scott White and Imriel Morgan.

Dan: And one final thing, if you like this podcast, please tell your friends about us and go please give us a review on Apple Podcasts – it really does help!

Gemma: Thanks for listening, until next week.

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UN Initiative Targets And Doxxes Doctors And Nurses Who Don’t Follow COVID-19 Narrative

UN Initiative Targets And Doxxes Doctors And Nurses Who Don’t Follow COVID-19 Narrative

Authored by Katie Spence via The Epoch Times (emphasis…



UN Initiative Targets And Doxxes Doctors And Nurses Who Don't Follow COVID-19 Narrative

Authored by Katie Spence via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Nicole Sirotek is a registered nurse in Nevada with over a decade of experience working in some of the harshest conditions. When a hurricane devastated Puerto Rico, Sirotek and the organization she founded, American Frontline Nurses (AFLN), were there and gave out over 500 pounds of medical equipment and supplies.

National flags in front of the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. A group started as part of the United Nations Verified initiative has targeted nurses and doctors who don't follow the official narrative on COVID-19. (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP)

She hasn’t hesitated to be the first in when an emergency hits and medical professionals are needed. She’s lost count of the number of times she’s woken up on a cot in the middle of nowhere, boots still strapped to her feet, and ready to go.

But in tears during an interview with The Epoch Times, she detailed her ordeal with harassment and doxing over the past year and how she’s contemplated suicide due to crippling anxiety and depression.

It took such a toll on my mental health. I wasn’t sleeping and wasn’t eating,” Sirotek said.

To regain her mental health, she decided to step back from the group she started. But even that decision brought pain.

I said after I left New York, I’d do everything that I can to make sure it didn’t happen again,” Sirotek said, recalling the death she witnessed when she volunteered in New York as a nurse at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. “I mean, for me to step back and take a break just makes me feel like I failed!”

A mobile station in New York on Dec. 29, 2021. (Richard Moore/The Epoch Times)

Sirotek is the victim of ongoing harassment. She’s received pictures of her children posed in slaughterhouses and hanging from a noose, drive-by photos of her house, and letters with white powder that exploded upon opening.

The Nevada State Board of Nursing was inundated with calls for Sirotek’s professional demise and flooded with anonymous complaints.

These complaints trace back to Team Halo, a social media influencer campaign formed as part of the United Nations Verified initiative and the Vaccine Confidence Project.

In response, Sirotek filed a police report. Her lawyer sent a cease-and-desist letter. The Epoch Times reviewed the documents.

The reply from the cease-and-desist letter? The client was acting within his First Amendment rights.

The Harassment Begins

In February 2022, Sirotek, as the face of AFLN, a patient advocacy network that boasts 22,000 nurses, appeared before Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and testified about the harm patients were experiencing when they sought treatment for COVID-19.

She said she didn’t witness patients dying from the novel virus when she volunteered to work the front lines in New York at the start of the pandemic.

Instead, in her opinion, as a medical professional with multiple master’s degrees, patients were dying from “negligence” and “medical malfeasance.

Sirotek detailed the withholding by higher-ups of steroids and Ibuprofen and the prescribing of remdesivir. Additionally, there was zero willingness to consider possible early intervention treatments like ivermectin.

As the pandemic continued, such practices only escalated, Sirotek said.

Sirotek’s testimony resulted in cheers, widespread attention, and a target on her back.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) (C) speaks during a panel discussion titled COVID-19: A Second Opinion in Washington DC Jan. 24, 2022. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

[The harassment] all started the day we got back from DC,” Sirotek said.

At first, the attacks started with the typical “you’re transphobic, you’re anti-LGBTQ. I mean, they even called me racist,” Sirotek, who is Hispanic, recalled.

And as more patients sought AFLN’s help, the attacks increased in frequency and force.

At first, Sirotek said the attacks appeared to come from random people. But as the attacks continued, the terms “Project Halo,” “Team Halo,” and “#TeamHalo” continually cropped up. Especially on TikTok and from two accounts, “@jesss2019” and “@thatsassynp.”

“[@thatsassynp] just kept on saying how I was spreading misinformation, [that] ivermectin doesn’t work,” Sirotek said. “He kept targeting the Nevada State Board of Nursing because I was on the Practice Act Committee, and he did not feel like that was acceptable.”

Craig Perry, a lawyer representing nurses, including Sirotek, before the Nevada State Board of Nursing, confirmed Sirotek’s account. The executive director of the Nevada State Board of Nursing, Cathy Dinauer, declined to provide details on complaints or investigations, stating to The Epoch Times via email that they are “confidential.”

Sirotek said the complaints overwhelmed her ability to defend her nursing license.

“Untimely, they were filing so many complaints against me that [the Nevada State Board of Nursing] had to start filtering them as to what was applicable and not applicable. And [the complaints] just buried my nursing license to the point that we couldn’t even defend it,” Sirotek said.

Attacks Transition to Threats

Whenever Sirotek, or AFLN, tried to set up a community outreach webinar, hateful comments flooded their videos.

Julia McCabe, a registered nurse and the director of advocacy services for AFLN, told The Epoch Times that initially, they tried kicking the trolls out of the outreach videos. But they couldn’t keep up with the overwhelming numbers and had to shut the videos down, usually after only 10 minutes, she said.

To address the swarms, as McCabe labeled them, AFLN started charging an entrance fee for their webinars. But, McCabe said, they’d send out an email with a free access code to all of their subscribers before the webinar started. It helped, but not enough. The swarms kept coming. And the attacks escalated.

On June 5, 2022, @thatsassynp posted a video on TikTok calling for a “serious public uprising,” because the Nevada State Board of Nursing and other regulatory agencies weren’t disciplining nurses for spreading “disinformation.”

It became one of many such videos in the ensuing days. In the comments of one, he stated, “Also, stay tuned as [@jesss2019] will be addressing this as well. We are teaming up (as per usual) to raise awareness and demand action on this issue.” @jesss2019 responded, “Yes!!!! We will get this taken care of.”

Jess and Tyler Kuhk of @thatsassynp have “teamed up” on several occasions, targeting healthcare workers who question the COVID-19 narrative. Team Halo doesn’t officially list Kuhk on its site, but Kuhk posts with the #teamhalo.

In another video, he states, “If you’re new to this series, PLEASE watch the videos in my playlist ‘Nevada board of nursing.’ This started in Feb of this year.” His video has almost 35,000 “loves.”

On June 7, 2022, @jesss2019 posted a video on TikTok accusing Sirotek of spreading misinformation. It included a link to @thatsassynp, and his complaints about Sirotek to the Nevada State Board of Nursing and calls to remove her from the Practice Act Committee. She implored TikTok to boost the message. It, too, became one of many videos attacking Sirotek.

Specifically, @jesss2019 and @thatsassynp took issue with videos and posts from Sirotek, and AFLN, advocating for ivermectin and highlighting possible issues with remdesivir and the COVID-19 vaccines.

@jess2019 removed all of the above videos after The Epoch Times sought comment. The Epoch Times retains copies.

Sirotek says she received the first death threat against herself and her children around the same time, in June 2022.

“They cut off the pictures of my children’s faces from our family photos, where we take them every year on our front porch—we’ve got 11 years of those photos—and they cut them out and put them on the bodies of those little boys that have been sexually abused. And that’s what would get sent to my house. And I gave the police that,” Sirotek said.

In response to a request for comment from The Epoch Times, Sen. Johnson defended Sirotek.

“The COVID Cartel continues to frighten and silence those who tell the truth and challenge their failed response to COVID,” Johnson said. “It is simply wrong for Ms. Sirotek to be smeared and attacked like so many others who have had the courage and compassion to successfully treat COVID patients.”

As the threats continued and escalated, Sirotek also asked Perry to send a cease-and-desist letter to Tyler Kuhk on Aug. 1, 2022.

Kuhk, a nurse practitioner, is the person posting on TikTok under the pseudonym @thatsassynp.

The TikTok logo is pictured outside the company’s U.S. head office in Culver City, California, on Sept. 15, 2020. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

The letter sent to Kuhk alleges that on at least 10 different occasions, @thatsassynp encouraged a “public uprising” against Sirotek. It also details that his videos attacking Sirotek garnered over 400,000 views.

In response, McLetchie Law, a “boutique law firm serving prominent and emerging … media entities” responded to Perry by stating in a letter dated Aug. 16, 2022, “Both Nevada law and the First Amendment provide robust protections for our client’s (and others’) rights to criticize Ms. Sirotek’s dangerous views and practices—and to advocate for her removal from the Nursing Practice Advisory Committee of the Nevada State Board of Nursing.”

It also warned that any attempt to deter Kuhk from his chosen path would “backfire” and could result in a “negative financial impact.” Neither Kuhk nor McLetchie Law responded to The Epoch Times’ request for comment.

Unable to confirm the real name behind the TikTok account @jesss2019, and thus, unable to send her a legal letter, Sirotek posted some of the threats she’d received on Facebook, pleading for @jesss2019 to cease targeting her, and recognize the possible real-world harm.

In desperation, Sirotek asked Perry to file a legal name change, which he did on Sep. 15, 2022, hoping that would thwart people’s ability to look up Sirotek’s information. Perry told The Epoch Times, “Usually, when you do a name change, it’s a public record. But under extenuating circumstances, you can have that sealed.”

In Sirotek’s case, the court recognized the threat to her and her family’s safety, waived the publication requirement, granted the change, and sealed her record on Oct. 4, 2022.

Sirotek, at the behest of Perry, filed a police report detailing the harassment on Oct. 17, 2022.

In December 2022, @jesss2019 posted a video to TikTok doxing Sirotek by revealing her name change. The Epoch Times sought comment from @jesss2019 but has not received a response. After the request for comment, the user removed the video.

Team Halo and Social Media

On Dec. 17, 2020, Theo Bertram, a director at TikTok; Iain Bundred, the head of public policy at YouTube; and Rebecca Stimson, the UK head of public policy for Facebook, appeared before the UK’s House of Commons to explain what their social media sites were doing to combat “anti-vaccination disinformation.”

All three stated their companies employed a “two-pronged approach.” Specifically, “tackle disinformation and promote trusted content.”

Bundred stated that from the beginning of the year to November 2020, YouTube had removed 750,000 videos that promoted “Covid disinformation.”

The logos of Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat on mobile devices in a combination of 2017–2022 photos. (AP Photo)

Stimson stated that between March and October 2020, “12 million pieces of content were removed from [Facebook],” and it had labeled 167 million pieces with a warning.

Bertram stated that for the first six months of 2020, TikTok removed 1,500 accounts for “Covid violation” and had recently increased that activity. “In the last two months, we took action against 1,380 accounts, so you can see the level of action is increasing,” Bertram said.

“In October, we began work with Team Halo,” Bertram added. “I do not know if you are familiar with Team Halo. It is run by the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and is about getting reliable, trusted scientists and doctors on to social media to spread trusted information.”

Team Halo’s Origins

On Sep. 20, 2022, Melissa Fleming, the under-secretary-general for global communications at the United Nations, appeared at the World Economic Forum to discuss how the United Nations was “Tackling Disinformation” regarding “health guidance” as well as the “safety and efficacy of the vaccine” for COVID-19.

A key strategy that we had was to deploy influencers,” Fleming stated. “Influencers who were really keen, who had huge followings, but really keen to help carry messages that were going to serve their communities.”

Fleming also explained that the United Nations knew its messaging wouldn’t resonate as well as influencers, so they developed Team Halo.

“We had another trusted messenger project, which was called Team Halo, where we trained scientists around the world, and some doctors, on TikTok. We had TikTok working with us,” Fleming said. “It was a layered deployment of ideas and tactics.”

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Tyler Durden Wed, 02/01/2023 - 23:25

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Why Is There A COVID Vaccine Mandate For Students?

Why Is There A COVID Vaccine Mandate For Students?

Authored by Margaret Anna Alice via ‘Through The Looking Glass’ Substack,

Letter to the…



Why Is There A COVID Vaccine Mandate For Students?

Authored by Margaret Anna Alice via 'Through The Looking Glass' Substack,

Letter to the Stanford Daily: Why Is There a COVID Vaccine Mandate for Students?

“Not to know is bad. Not to wish to know is worse.”

—African proverb

I can’t figure out why Stanford is mandating the COVID vaccine for students.

  1. Is it to protect students from the virus, hospitalization, or death?

  2. Is it to protect them from other students?

  3. Is it to protect the Stanford community members from the students? 

If it’s to protect the students from catching COVID, that doesn’t make sense because the CDC says it “no longer differentiate[s] based on a person’s vaccination status because breakthrough infections occur.”

The CDC also acknowledges natural immunity, noting that “persons who have had COVID-19 but are not vaccinated have some degree of protection against severe illness from their previous infection.”

It appears Stanford didn’t get the memo because Maxwell Meyer—a double-jabbed, COVID-recovered alum who was nearly prohibited from graduating for choosing not to get boosted—was informed by an administrator that the booster mandate is “not predicated on history of infection or physical location.”

Despite living 2,000 miles away from campus and not being enrolled in coursework for his final term, Maxwell was told Stanford was “uniformly enforc[ing]” the mandate “regardless of student location.” Does that sound like a rational policy?

Fortunately, a different administrator intervened and granted Maxwell an exemption, but few Stanford students are so lucky. Almost everyone else simply follows the rules without realizing they’ve volunteered for vaccine roulette.

Cleveland Clinic study of the bivalent vaccines involving 51,011 participants found the risk of getting COVID-19 increased “with the number of vaccine doses previously received”—much to the authors’ surprise.

They were stumped as to why “those who chose not to follow the CDC’s recommendations on remaining updated with COVID-19 vaccination” had a lower risk of catching COVID than “those who received a larger number of prior vaccine doses.”

So if the vaccines don’t keep you from getting COVID, maybe they at least protect you from hospitalization?

That doesn’t wash, either, because according to data from the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)-Associated Hospitalization Surveillance Network (COVID-NET)hospitalization rates for 18–64-year-olds have increased 11 percent since the vaccine rollout. Worse, kids under 18 have suffered a shocking 74 percent spike in hospitalizations.

An observational study conducted at Germany’s University Hospital Wuerzburg found:

“The rate of adverse reactions for the second booster dose was significantly higher among participants receiving the bivalent 84.6% (95% CI 70.3%–92.8%; 33/39) compared to the monovalent 51.4% (95% CI 35.9–66.6%; 19/37) vaccine (p=0.0028). Also, there was a trend towards an increased rate of inability to work and intake of PRN medication following bivalent vaccination.”

A new paper published in Science titled Class Switch Towards Non-Inflammatory, Spike-Specific IgG4 Antibodies after Repeated SARS-CoV-2 mRNA Vaccination even has Eric Topol concerned:

If you don’t know what that means, Dr. Syed Haider spells it out in this tweet. He explains that the shots “train your immune system to ignore the allergen by repeated exposure,” the end result being that “Your immune system is shifted to see the virus as a harmless allergen” and the “virus runs amok.”

Viral immunologist and computational virologist Dr. Jessica Rose breaks down the serious implications—including cancerfatal fibrosis, and organ destruction—of these findings.

Well, then does the vaccine at least prevent people from dying of COVID?

Nope. According to the Washington Post, “Vaccinated people now make up a majority of COVID deaths.”

At Senator Ron Johnson’s December 7, 2022, roundtable discussion on COVID-19 Vaccines, former number-one–ranked Wall Street insurance analyst Josh Stirling reported that, according to UK government data:

“The people in the UK who took the vaccine have a 26% higher mortality rate. The people who are under the age of 50 who took the vaccine now have a 49% higher mortality rate.”

Obtained by a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to KBV (the association representing physicians who receive insurance in Germany), “the most important dataset of the pandemic” shows fatalities starting to spike in 2021.

Data analyst Tom Lausen assessed the ICD-10 disease codes in this dataset, and the findings are startling. His presentation includes the following chart documenting fatalities per quarter from 2016 to 2022:

This parallels the skyrocketing fatality rates seen in VAERS:

The vaccinated are more likely to contract, become hospitalized from, and die of COVID. If the vaccine fails on all of those counts, does it at least prevent its transmission to other students and community members?

The obvious answer is no since we already know it doesn’t prevent you from getting COVID, but this CDC study drives the point home, showing that during a COVID outbreak in Barnstable County, Massachusetts, “three quarters (346; 74%) of cases occurred in fully vaccinated persons.”

Maybe Stanford can tell us why they feel the mandate is necessary. Their booster requirement reads:

Why does Stanford have a student booster shot requirement? Our booster requirement is intended to support sustained immunity against COVID-19 and is consistent with the advice of county and federal public health leaders. Booster shots enhance immunity, providing additional protection to individuals and reducing the possibility of being hospitalized for COVID. In addition, booster shots prevent infection in many individuals, thereby slowing the spread of the virus. A heavily boosted campus community reduces the possibility of widespread disruptions that could impact the student experience, especially in terms of in-person classes and activities and congregate housing.”

The claim that “booster shots enhance immunity” links to a January 2022 New York Times article. It seems Stanford has failed to keep up with the science because the very source they cite as authoritative is now reporting, “The newer variants, called BQ.1 and BQ.1.1, are spreading quickly, and boosters seem to do little to prevent infections with these viruses.”

Speaking of not keeping up, that same article says the new bivalent boosters target “the original version of the coronavirus and the Omicron variants circulating earlier this year, BA.4 and BA.5.”

It then goes on to quote Head of Beth Israel Deaconess’s Center for Virology & Vaccine Research Dan Barouch, who says, “It’s not likely that any of the vaccines or boosters, no matter how many you get, will provide substantial and sustained protection against acquisition of infection.”

In other words, Stanford’s rationale for requiring the boosters is obsolete according to the authority they cite in their justification.

If Stanford is genuinely concerned about “reduc[ing] the possibility of widespread disruptions that could impact the student experience,” then it should not only stop mandating the vaccine but advise against it.

Some nations have suspended or recommended against COVID shots for younger populations due to the considerable risks of adverse events such as pulmonary embolism and myocarditis—from Denmark (under 50) to Norway (under 45) to Australia (under 50) to the United Kingdom (seasonal boosters for under 50).

The Danish Health Authority explains why people under 50 are “not to be re-vaccinated”:

“People aged under 50 are generally not at particularly higher risk of becoming severely ill from covid-19. In addition, younger people aged under 50 are well protected against becoming severely ill from covid-19, as a very large number of them have already been vaccinated and have previously been infected with covid-19, and there is consequently good immunity among this part of the population.”

Here’s what a Norwegian physician and health official had to say:

“Especially the youngest should consider potential side effects against the benefits of taking this dose.”
—Ingrid Bjerring, Chief Doctor at Lier Municipality

“We did not find sufficient evidence to recommend that this part of the population [younger age bracket] should take a new dose now.… Each vaccine comes with the risk for side effects. Is it then responsible to offer this, when we know that the individual health benefit of a booster likely is low?”
—Are Stuwitz Berg, Department Director at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health

new Nordic cohort study of 8.9 million participants supports these concerns, finding a nearly nine-fold increase in myocarditis among males aged 12–39 within 28 days of receiving the Moderna COVID-19 booster over those who stopped after two doses.

This mirrors my own findings that myocarditis rates are up 10 times among the vaccinated according to a public healthcare worker survey.

Coauthored by MIT professor and risk management expert Retsef Levi, the Nature article Increased Emergency Cardiovascular Events Among Under-40 Population in Israel During Vaccine Rollout and Third COVID-19 Wave reveals a 25 percent increase in cardiac emergency calls for 16–39-year-olds from January to May 2021 as compared with the previous two years.

The paper cites a study by Israel’s Ministry of Health that “assesses the risk of myocarditis after receiving the 2nd vaccine dose to be between 1 in 3000 to 1 in 6000 in men of age 16–24 and 1 in 120,000 in men under 30.”

Thai study published in Tropical Medicine and Infectious Disease found cardiovascular manifestations in 29.24 percent of the adolescent cohort—including myopericarditis and tachycardia.

Even Dr. Leana Wen, formerly an aggressive promoter of the COVID vaccine, admitted in a recent Washington Post op-ed:

“[W]e need to be upfront that nearly every intervention has some risk, and the coronavirus vaccine is no different. The most significant risk is myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, which is most common in young men. The CDC cites a rate of 39 myocarditis cases per 1 million second doses given in males 18 to 24. Some studies found a much higher rate; a large Canadian database reported that among men ages 18 to 29 who received the second dose of the Moderna vaccine, the rate of myocarditis was 22 for every 100,000 doses.”

All over the world, prominent physicians, scientists, politicians, and professors are asking pointed questions about illogical mandates; the safety and efficacy of the vaccines; and the dangers posed by the mRNA technology, spike protein, and lipid nanoparticles—including in the UKJapanAustraliaEurope, and the US.

Formerly pro-vaxx cardiologists such as Dr. Aseem MalhotraDr. Dean Patterson, and Dr. Ross Walker are all saying the COVID vaccines should be immediately stopped due to the significant increase in cardiac diseasesadverse events, and excess mortality observed since their rollout, noting that, “until proven otherwise, these vaccines are not safe.”

President of the International Society for Vascular Surgery Serif Sultan and Consultant Surgeon Ahmad Malik are also demanding that we #StopTheShotsNow.

And now, perhaps most notably, Dr. John Campbell has performed a 180-degree turn on his previous position and is saying it is time to pause the mass vaccination program “due to the risks associated with the vaccines”:

Rasmussen poll published on December 7, 2022, found 7 percent of vaccinated respondents have suffered major side effects—a percentage that echoes the 7.7 percent of V-Safe users who sought medical care as well as my own polling data.

Add the 34 percent who reported experiencing minor side effects, and you have nearly 72 million adults who’ve been hit with side effects from the vaccine.

Rasmussen Head Pollster Mark Mitchell explains:

“With 7% having a major side effect, that means over 12 million adults in the US have experienced a self-described major side effect that they attribute to the COVID-19 vaccine. That’s over 11 times the reported COVID death numbers. And also note that anyone who may have died from the vaccine obviously can’t tell us that in the poll.”

According to British Medical Journal Senior Editor Dr. Peter Doshi, Pfizer’s and Moderna’s own trial data found 1 in 800 vaccinated people experienced serious adverse events:

“The Pfizer and Moderna trials are both showing a clear signal of increased risk of serious adverse events among the vaccinated.…

“The trial data are indicating that we’re seeing about an elevated risk of these serious adverse events of around 1 in 800 people vaccinated.… That is much, much more common than what you see for other vaccines, where the reported rates are in the range of 1 or 2 per million vaccinees. In these trials, we’re seeing 1 in every 800. And this is a rate that in past years has had vaccines taken off the market.…

“We’re talking about randomized trials … which are widely considered the highest-quality evidence, and we’re talking about the trials that were submitted by Pfizer and Moderna that supported the regulators’ authorization.”

And this is the same Pfizer data the FDA tried to keep hidden from the public for 75 years.

Nothing to see here … except 1,223 deaths, 158,000 adverse events, and 1,291 side effects reported in the first 90 days according to the 5.3.6 Cumulative Analysis of Post-Authorization Adverse Event Reports—and those numbers are likely underreported by a factor of at least 10 (my conservative calculations show an underreporting factor (URF) of 41 for VAERS).

Stanford is asking students to risk a 1 in 800 chance of serious adverse events—meaning the kind of events that can land you in the hospitaldisable you, and kill you. And for what?

Anyone who knows how to perform a cost-benefit analysis can see this is all cost and zero benefit.

Stanford’s own Dr. John Ioannidis—professor of medicine, epidemiology & population health, statistics, and biomedical data science—demonstrated that college students are at a near-zero risk of dying from COVID-19 in his “Age-Stratified Infection Fatality Rate of COVID-19 in the Non-Elderly Population.”

One of the six most-cited scientists in the world, Ioannidis found the median IFR was 0.0003 percent for those under 20 and 0.002 percent for twenty-somethings, concluding the fatalities “are lower than pre-pandemic years when only the younger age strata are considered” and that “the IFR in non-elderly individuals was much lower than previously thought.”

And yet Ioannidis’s employer is mandating an experimental product with extensively documented risks of severe harm.

What if a Stanford student dies and the coroner determines it was caused by the vaccine? That happened with George Watts Jr., a 24-year-old college student whose cause of death Chief Deputy Coroner Timothy Cahill Jr. attributed to “COVID-19 vaccine-related myocarditis.” Cahill says, “The vaccine caused the heart to go into failure.”

Notorious for mandating a booster not yet tested on humans (just like Stanford), Ontario’s Western University dropped its mandate on November 29, 2022, stating:

“We are revoking our vaccination policy and will no longer require students, employees, and visitors to be vaccinated to come to campus.”

That was the same day this article reported that 21-year-old Western University student and TikTok influencer Megha Thakur “suddenly and unexpectedly passed away” on November 24.

The timing is interesting, don’t you think? I’m sure it’s just a coincidence—even though this Clinical Research in Cardiology paper determined vaccine-induced myocardial inflammation was the cause of death in “five persons who have died unexpectedly within seven days following anti-SARS-CoV-2-vaccination.” In that analysis, the authors “establish the histological phenotype of lethal vaccination-associated myocarditis.”

Coincidences notwithstanding, Stanford may want to revoke the mandate before anything like that happens to one of its students … if it hasn’t already.

And if that’s not incentive enough, Stanford should consider the legal ramifications of mandating an experimental product. As this JAMA article warns:

“Mandating COVID-19 vaccines under an EUA is legally and ethically problematic. The act authorizing the FDA to issue EUAs requires the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to specify whether individuals may refuse the vaccine and the consequences for refusal. Vaccine mandates are unjustified because an EUA requires less safety and efficacy data than full Biologics License Application (BLA) approval.”

Dr. Naomi Wolf delivered an impassioned speech to her alma mater, Yale, in which she called their booster mandate “a serious crime. It is deeply illegal. Certainly, it violates Title IX.” She explains:

“Title IX commits the university to not discriminate on the basis of sex or gender in getting an equal education.… I oversee a project in which 3,500 experts review the Pfizer documents released under court order by a lawsuit. In that document, there is catastrophic harm to women! And especially to young women! And especially to their reproductive health.… 72% of those with adverse events in the Pfizer documents are women!”

Other universities are currently facing lawsuits for mandating the COVID vaccine in violation of state laws, including one against Ohio University, University of Cincinnati, Bowling Green State University, and Miami University of Ohio.

Let’s recap.

Abundant evidence proves the vaccines FAIL to:

  • stop transmission

  • prevent contraction of COVID

  • lower hospitalization rates

  • reduce mortality

By the same token, this evidence shows the vaccines are ASSOCIATED with:

  • heightened transmission levels

  • greater chances of catching COVID

  • increased hospitalization rates

  • higher excess mortality

  • disproportionate injuries to women

Why is Stanford mandating these unsafe and ineffective products, again?

If logic, peer-reviewed studies, and legal concerns such as the violation of Title IX don’t convince Stanford to rescind the mandate, then what about its stated ethical commitment to upholding its Code of Conduct?

BMJ’s Journal of Medical Ethics recently published COVID-19 Vaccine Boosters for Young Adults: A Risk Benefit Assessment and Ethical Analysis of Mandate Policies at Universities. In this paper, eminent researchers from Harvard, Oxford, Johns Hopkins, and UC San Francisco (among other institutions) present five reasons university mandates are unethical.

They argue that the vaccines:

“(1) are not based on an updated (Omicron era) stratified risk-benefit assessment for this age group; (2) may result in a net harm to healthy young adults; (3) are not proportionate: expected harms are not outweighed by public health benefits given modest and transient effectiveness of vaccines against transmission; (4) violate the reciprocity principle because serious vaccine-related harms are not reliably compensated due to gaps in vaccine injury schemes; and (5) may result in wider social harms.” (emphases mine here and below)

They calculate that:

To prevent one COVID-19 hospitalisation over a 6-month period, we estimate that 31,207–42,836 young adults aged 18–29 years must receive a third mRNA vaccine.”

The authors conclude that:

“university COVID-19 vaccine mandates are likely to cause net expected harms to young healthy adults—for each hospitalisation averted we estimate approximately 18.5 SAEs and 1,430–4,626 disruptions of daily activities.… these severe infringements of individual liberty and human rights are ethically unjustifiable.”

This builds on a previously published BMJ Global Health article by some of the same authors titled, “The Unintended Consequences of COVID-19 Vaccine Policy: Why Mandates, Passports, and Restrictions May Cause More Harm Than Good.”

In this paper, the authors contend that COVID-19 vaccine mandates “have unintended harmful consequences and may not be ethical, scientifically justified, and effective” and “may prove to be both counterproductive and damaging to public health.”

Over the course of history, countless products once thought to be safe—from DDT to cigarettes to thalidomide for pregnant women to Vioxx—were eventually discovered to be dangerous and even lethal. Responsible governments, agencies, and companies pull those products from the market when the scientific data proves harm—and institutions that care about their community members certainly don’t mandate those products when evidence of risk becomes obvious, as is the case now for the experimental COVID vaccines.

Mahatma Gandhi once stated:

“An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it. Truth stands, even if there be no public support. It is self-sustained.”

The truth is clear to anyone who’s willing to look.

Will Stanford stop following the propaganda and start following the science—the real science and not the politicized science?

Will it stand up for the lives and health of its students—or will it wait until tragedy strikes another George Watts Jr. or Megha Thakur?

This is a historic opportunity for Stanford to prove its allegiance to people, scientific data, and critical thought over pharmaceutical donors, political pressures, and conformist thinking.

The stakes could not be higher.

*  *  *

For 16.4 cents/day (annual) or 19.7 cents/day (monthly), you can help Margaret fight tyranny while enjoying access to premium content like Memes by Themes“rolling” interviewspodcastsBehind the Scenes, and other bonus content:

Tyler Durden Wed, 02/01/2023 - 21:25

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Massive Peer-Reviewed Mask Study Shows ‘Little To No Difference’ In Preventing COVID, Flu Infection

Massive Peer-Reviewed Mask Study Shows ‘Little To No Difference’ In Preventing COVID, Flu Infection

A massive international research collaboration…



Massive Peer-Reviewed Mask Study Shows 'Little To No Difference' In Preventing COVID, Flu Infection

A massive international research collaboration that analyzed several dozen rigorous studies focusing on "physical interventions" against COVID-19 and influenza found that they provide little to no protection against infection or illness rates.

The study, published in the peer-reviewed Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, is the strongest science to date refuting the basis for mask mandates worldwide.

And of course, the CDC still recommends masking in areas with "high" rates of transmission (fewer than 4% of US counties, as Just the News notes), along with indoor masking in areas with "medium" rates of transmission (27%).

Masks are still required in educational institutions in Democratic strongholds such as New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Washington and California, according to the Daily Mail. Boston Public Schools denied its "temporary masking protocol" in early January was a "mandate," following a public letter against the policy by student Enrique Abud Evereteze.

South Korea is still requiring masks on public transport and in medical facilities after dropping COVID mandates in most indoor settings, including gyms, Monday, Reuters reported. -Just the News

According to the Cochrane study, which included the work of researchers at institutions in the  U.K., Canada, Australia, Italy and Saudi Arabia, a total of 78 studies were analyzed. Most recent additions to the meta-analysis were 11 new randomized controlled trials.

As unlisted study author Carl Heneghan - who directs the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at the University of Oxford noted on Twitter: "Wearing masks in the community probably makes little or no difference to the outcome of influenza‐like illness (ILI)/COVID‐19 like illness compared to not wearing masks."

The Danish study had trouble finding a major journal willing to publish its controversial findings that wearing surgical masks had no statistically significant effect on infection rates, even among those who claimed to wear them "exactly as instructed." 

Mainstream media overlooked red flags in the Bangladeshi mask study, which found no effect for surgical masks under age 50 and a difference of only 20 infections between control and treatment groups among 342,000 adults. -JTN

Bottom line, mask wearing "probably makes little to no difference," when it comes to influenza-like or COVID-like illnesses, regardless of type of mask used.

We're sure the cult of Fauci will now start insisting peer-reviewed meta-analyses aren't 'the science.'

Tyler Durden Wed, 02/01/2023 - 17:45

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