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Is this the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning for Bitcoin and the cryptocurrencies movement?

Last week Bitcoin lost over 20% of its value with a 10% drop on…
The post Is this the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning for Bitcoin and…



Last week Bitcoin lost over 20% of its value with a 10% drop on Thursday alone, briefly taking the original and market-leading cryptocurrency’s value below $26,000 (circa. £21,000). It has since recovered to a little under $29,630 but has still lost more than half its value since a record high of $68,991 (£56,512) set last November.

The rest of the cryptocurrency and digital assets market has suffered a similarly sharp decline since the end of last year, widely reflecting the flight from risk that has hit tech sector growth stocks hard. Last week Ether, the second largest cryptocurrency and connected to the Ethereum smart contracts blockchain platform, lost 26%, while Solana and Cardano, two smaller cryptocurrencies, lost 41% and 35% respectively.

bitcoin to usd


At its historical peak in November last year, the global cryptocurrency market was worth around $2.9 trillion. It is currently worth around $1.2 trillion. That represents a decline of almost 60% and means any investors more heavily exposed to cryptocurrencies and digital assets like NFTs, which have also seen their valuations routed, will have lost considerable sums. Especially anyone unfortunate enough to have invested towards the peak of the market.

The steep losses are problematic for the cryptocurrencies market in more, and deeper, ways than a market crash, painful as they can be. Recent losses have not only shown correlation to the slump in stock markets, especially for growth stocks, but have exceeded them. The tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 is down 25% for the year-to-date while Bitcoin is down almost 37%, Ether over 45% and Cardano by almost 60%.

Those losses are difficult to reconcile with the narrative that has underpinned the rise of cryptocurrencies over the past several years. Bitcoin, and then the multiple other cryptocurrencies and tokens built on the digital ledger blockchain technology it introduced, were supposed to offer an alternative to the perceived failings of traditional financial markets.

Cryptocurrencies were supposed to be the antidote to high levels of inflation hurting growth stocks because it means the future revenues aggressive valuations rely on are suddenly worth less. And are less certain with recession now broadly expected across much of the world.

Because the number of Bitcoin, and the other cryptocurrencies that followed it, is capped from the beginning (in the case of Bitcoin the cap is set at 21 million), it was positioned as an inflation haven. Fiat currencies like the pound, U.S. dollar, euro and yen, lose value when central banks print more as part of the quantitative easing policies designed to stimulate the economy that have become almost baked into developed economies since the financial crisis of 2007-08.

The amount of money printing that spurred the economic recovery from 2009 onwards, a strategy that was again powered up when the Covid-19 pandemic struck, has been seen as an inflation risk in some quarters for years. For a while, it looked as though the Fed, Bank of England, European Central Bank and other major central banks might have managed to tread the tightrope.

But supply chain issues resulting from pandemic interruptions last year saw inflation start to rise into dangerous territory. That was compounded by the outbreak of war in Ukraine this year after Russia invaded its neighbour in late February. Economic sanctions brought against Russia, and Ukraine being thrown into chaos by a war on its territory, pushed up the prices of energy commodities, metals and agricultural commodities.

inflation rate uk

Source: ONS

That has seen inflation spiral out of control from a little over 6% in the UK in February, still triple the 2% target, to an expected 9% this week when figures are published. The Bank of England now expects it to peak at over 10% in the early summer and most economists expect rates to remain elevated for the next couple of years.

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, for whom the rate of new units being minted and introduced into the market can’t be changed regardless of external factors, were supposed to be a safe haven from fiat currency debasement. Instead, their exchange values have slumped by far more than the loss of purchasing power experienced by fiat currencies over the same period.

Why have Bitcoin and the wider cryptocurrencies market lost so much of their value?

It turns out the cryptocurrency valuations, like the naysayers said all along, were firmly in bubble territory, driven up by the kind of speculation that is always so obvious as soon as the bubble has burst. And they haven’t proven a hedge against inflation at all. In fact, quite the opposite; inflation has been the root cause of their sharp decline.

The inherent, immutable scarcity of cryptocurrencies hasn’t helped them preserve their value through high inflation for one simple reason. Cryptocurrencies are not used as currency. You can’t actually buy anything with them. Or at least not much.

That means, at this stage of their development, cryptocurrencies behave more like a commodity than a currency. But a commodity that has no innate value because it can’t be used for anything, like oil, iron ore, or wheat are used to provide power, build things or be consumed as food.

That realisation has seen Bitcoin and other cryptos instead compared to gold as a digital store of value. Gold also has little practical use other than as jewellery and to a limited extent as a conductor in some electronics. Gold’s price is mainly influenced by the demand for it as a store of value. Which is why it tends to rise when financial markets crash.

But gold’s role as a commodity that acts as a store of value has been ingrained in human culture and economics for millennia. When push has come to shove over the past several months, financial markets have shown they don’t believe in Bitcoin’s inherent worth as a store of value, as a digital alternative to gold.

And right now, cryptocurrencies have no other practical use. Bitcoin can’t be used as a currency, nor can other cryptocurrencies. Ether and XRP, the cryptocurrencies that power the Ethereum and Ripple (a blockchain-based financial clearing system) blockchain platforms, theoretically have some practical utility.

But these blockchain platforms have not become embedded in the everyday economy in the way their proponents expected them to become. Plenty of big companies are or have experimented with blockchain systems. But at least for now, these initiatives remain pilot projects and many have been abandoned altogether.

Overall, blockchain technology remains at a nascent stage of its development and there isn’t a single blockchain solution that is strategically crucial to any company in the real world economy outside of the crypto space. That limits demand for their tokens other than from financial speculators. And the fact pure cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, designed and positioned as an improved alternative to fiat currencies, still have little to no practical use in the real economy means their value was also reliant on demand from speculators.

A bubble occurs when the value of an asset is in the majority founded on a speculative future, rather than genuine economic fundamentals. That’s why the valuations of high growth technology companies have dropped so significantly this year. And why companies still to generate a profit, or even much revenue, have been hit hardest.

And it’s also why cryptocurrencies have plunged. They are, it has suddenly become clear, comparable to the electric vehicle companies that were valued at billions last year without having so much as a working prototype to support investor optimism for their future.

Will cryptocurrencies bounce back more sustainably like online business models after the dotcom crash?

None of that is to say what we are seeing now is necessarily the beginning of the end for cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. The fact that it is now patently obvious valuations were in a massive bubble doesn’t mean cryptocurrencies, digital assets and blockchain have no future.

The most obvious parallel is that of the bursting of the dotcom bubble in 2000. Online businesses that ran at a loss and generated minimal to no revenues were valued at tens and hundreds of millions by investors convinced of their future potential. It turned out they were right. Just a decade or two early.

nasdaq composite

The chart above of the Nasdaq composite clearly shows the rise then fall of the tech-centric exchange in the runup to the bursting of the dotcom bubble in 2000. While there was something of a recovery between 2003 and the onset of the financial crisis in 2008, tech valuations remained muted until roughly the last decade when the economy truly started to digitalise. That has led to the huge revenues the biggest tech companies like Apple, Amazon, Alphabet and Microsoft now generate.

Tech valuations again formed a bubble from March 2020 until the end of last year as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and enthusiasm for the ‘acceleration’ of the digital economy. And also, it is now clear, heavily influenced by the cash central banks flooded the system with in an effort to mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic.

Cryptocurrencies, quite possibly a new regulated generation that prevents them from representing an easy option for money launderers and others involved in criminal activity, could make a similar recovery in years ahead. And blockchain technology could also evolve over the next several years and become integral to companies and other organisations including civil service departments.

But like tech companies after the bursting of the dotcom bubble, cryptocurrency and blockchain organisations will have to build back sustainably. And future valuations can be expected to remain much more tied to economic fundamentals.

At least until the next bubble forms.

The post Is this the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning for Bitcoin and the cryptocurrencies movement? first appeared on Trading and Investment News.

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‘The Scandal Would Be Enormous’: Pfizer Director Worried About Vax-Induced Menstrual Irregularities

‘The Scandal Would Be Enormous’: Pfizer Director Worried About Vax-Induced Menstrual Irregularities

Project Veritas on Thursday released a…



'The Scandal Would Be Enormous': Pfizer Director Worried About Vax-Induced Menstrual Irregularities

Project Veritas on Thursday released a new segment of undercover footage of Pfizer director Jordon Walker in which the Director of R&D within the company's mRNA operation expressed concern over how the COVID-19 vaccine may be affecting women's reproductive health.

"There is something irregular about the menstrual cycles. So, people will have to investigate that down the line," Walker told an undercover journalist he thought he was on a date with.

"The [COVID] vaccine shouldn’t be interfering with that [menstrual cycles]. So, we don’t really know," he added.

Walker also hopes we don't discover that "somehow this mRNA lingers in the body and like -- because it has to be affecting something hormonal to impact menstrual cycles," adding "I hope we don’t discover something really bad down the line…If something were to happen downstream and it was, like, really bad? I mean, the scale of that scandal would be enormous."



Tyler Durden Thu, 02/02/2023 - 19:30

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Growing Number Of Doctors Say They Won’t Get COVID-19 Booster Shots

Growing Number Of Doctors Say They Won’t Get COVID-19 Booster Shots

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),




Growing Number Of Doctors Say They Won’t Get COVID-19 Booster Shots

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

A growing number of doctors say that they will not get COVID-19 vaccine boosters, citing a lack of clinical trial evidence.

I have taken my last COVID vaccine without RCT level evidence it will reduce my risk of severe disease,” Dr. Todd Lee, an infectious disease expert at McGill University, wrote on Twitter.

A vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is seen in a file photograph. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Lee was pointing to the lack of randomized clinical trial (RCT) results for the updated boosters, which were cleared in the United States and Canada in the fall of 2022 primarily based on data from experiments with mice.

Lee, who has received three vaccine doses, noted that he was infected with the Omicron virus variant—the vaccines provide little protection against infection—and described himself as a healthy male in his 40s.

Dr. Vinay Prasad, a professor of epidemiology and biostatics at the University of California, San Francisco, also said he wouldn’t take any additional shots until clinical trial data become available.

“I took at least 1 dose against my will. It was unethical and scientifically bankrupt,” he said.

Allison Krug, an epidemiologist who co-authored a study that found teenage boys were more likely to suffer heart inflammation after COVID-19 vaccination than COVID-19 infection, recounted explaining to her doctor why she was refusing a booster and said her doctor agreed with her position.

She called on people to “join the movement to demand appropriate evidence,” pointing to a blog post from Prasad.

“Pay close attention to note this isn’t anti-vaccine sentiment. This is ‘provide [hard] evidence of benefit to justify ongoing use’ which is very different. It is only fair for a 30 billion dollar a year product given to hundreds of millions,” Lee said.

Dr. Mark Silverberg, who founded the Toronto Immune and Digestive Health Institute; Kevin Bass, a medical student; and Dr. Tracy Høeg, an epidemiologist at the University of California, San Francisco, joined Lee and Prasad in stating their opposition to more boosters, at least for now.

Høeg said she did not need clinical trials to know she’s not getting any boosters after receiving a two-dose primary series, adding that she took the second dose “against my will.”

I also had an adverse reaction to dose 1 moderna and, if I could do it again, I would not have had any covid vaccines,” she said on Twitter. “I was glad my parents in their 70s could get covid vaccinated but have yet to see non-confounded data to advise them about the bivalent booster. I would have liked to see an RCT for the bivalent for people their age and for adults with health conditions that put them at risk.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted emergency use authorization to updated boosters, or bivalent shots, from Pfizer and Moderna in August 2022 despite there being no human data.

Observational data suggests the boosters provide little protection against infection and solid shielding against severe illness, at least initially.

Five months after the authorization was granted, no clinical trial data has been made available for the bivalents, which target the Wuhan strain as well as the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of Omicron. Moderna presented efficacy estimates for a different bivalent, which has never been used in the United States, during a recent meeting. The company estimated the booster increased protection against infection by just 10 percent.

The FDA is preparing to order all Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines be replaced with the bivalents. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which issues recommendations on vaccines, continues advising virtually all Americans to get a primary series and multiple boosters.

Professor Calls for Halt to Messenger RNA Vaccines

A professor, meanwhile, became the latest to call for a halt to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which are both based on messenger RNA technology.

At this point in time, all COVID mRNA vaccination program[s] should stop immediately,” Retsef Levi, a professor of operations management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said in a video statement. “They should stop because they completely failed to fulfill any of their advertised promise[s] regarding efficacy. And more importantly, they should stop because of the mounting and indisputable evidence that they cause unprecedented level of harm, including the death of young people and children.”

Levi was referring to post-vaccination heart inflammation, or myocarditis. The condition is one of the few that authorities have acknowledged is caused by the messenger RNA vaccines.

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Tyler Durden Thu, 02/02/2023 - 19:10

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Inside The Secret Government Meeting On COVID-19 Natural Immunity

Inside The Secret Government Meeting On COVID-19 Natural Immunity

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Four of…



Inside The Secret Government Meeting On COVID-19 Natural Immunity

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Four of the highest ranking U.S. health officials—including Dr. Anthony Fauci—met in secret to discuss whether or not naturally immune people should be exempt from getting COVID-19 vaccines, The Epoch Times can reveal.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci during a Senate hearing in Washington on May 17, 2022. (Shawn Thew/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

The officials brought in four outside experts to discuss whether the protection gained after recovering from COVID-19—known as natural immunity—should count as one or more vaccine doses.

“There was interest in several people in the administration in hearing basically the opinions of four immunologists in terms of what we thought about … natural infection as contributing to protection against moderate to severe disease, and to what extent that should influence dosing,” Dr. Paul Offit, one of the experts, told The Epoch Times.

Offit and another expert took the position that the naturally immune need fewer doses. The other two experts argued natural immunity shouldn’t count as anything.

The discussion did not lead to a change in U.S. vaccination policy, which has never acknowledged post-infection protection. Fauci and the other U.S. officials who heard from the experts have repeatedly downplayed that protection, claiming that it is inferior to vaccine-bestowed immunity. Most studies on the subject indicate the opposite.

The meeting, held in October 2021, was briefly discussed before on a podcast. The Epoch Times has independently confirmed the meeting took place, identified all of the participants, and uncovered other key details.

Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, a professor of medicine at Stanford University who did not participate in the meeting, criticized how such a consequential discussion took place behind closed doors with only a few people present.

“It was a really impactful decision that they made in private with a very small number of people involved. And they reached the wrong decision,” Bhattacharya told The Epoch Times.

An email obtained by The Epoch Times shows Dr. Vivek Murthy contacting colleagues to arrange the meeting. (The Epoch Times)

The Participants

From the government:

  • Fauci, the head of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden until the end of 2022
  • Dr. Vivek Murthy, the U.S. surgeon general
  • Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the head of U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • Dr. Francis Collins, head of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, which includes the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, until December 2021
  • Dr. Bechara Choucair, the White House vaccine coordinator until November 2021

From outside the government:

  • Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and an adviser to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on vaccines
  • Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota and a former member of Biden’s COVID-19 advisory board
  • Akiko Iwasaki, professor of immunobiology and molecular, cellular, and developmental biology at Yale University
  • Dr. Peter Hotez, co-director of Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development and dean of the Baylor College of Medicine’s School of Tropical Medicine

Fauci and Murthy decided to hold the meeting, according to emails The Epoch Times obtained.

“Would you be available tonight from 9-9:30 for a call with a few other scientific colleagues on infection-induced immunity? Tony and I just discussed and were hoping to do this sooner rather than later if possible,” Murthy wrote in one missive to Fauci, Walensky, and Collins.

All three quickly said they could make it.

Walensky asked who would be there.

Murthy listed the participants. “I think you know all of them right?” he said.

Walensky said she knew all but one person. “Sounds like a good crew,” she added.

From top left, clockwise: Dr. Vivek Murthy, Dr. Francis Collins, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and Dr. Rochelle Walensky. (Getty Images)

‘Clear Benefit’

During the meeting, Offit put forth his position—that natural immunity should count as two doses.

At the time, the CDC recommended three shots—a two-dose primary series and a booster—for many Americans 18 and older, soon expanding that advice to all adults, even though trials of the boosters only analyzed immunogenicity and efficacy among those without evidence of prior infection.

Research indicated that natural immunity was long-lasting and superior to vaccination. On the other hand, the CDC published a paper in its quasi-journal that concluded vaccination was better.

Osterholm sided with Offit, but thought that having recovered from COVID-19 should only count as a single dose.

“I added my voice at the meeting to count an infection as equivalent to a dose of vaccine! I’ve always believed hybrid immunity likely provides the most protection,” Osterholm told The Epoch Times via email.

Hybrid immunity refers to getting a vaccine after recovering from COVID-19.

Some papers have found vaccination after recovery boosts antibodies, which are believed to be a correlate of protection. Other research has shown that the naturally immune have a higher risk of side effects than those who haven’t recovered from infection. Some experts believe the risk is worth the benefit but others do not.

Hotez and Iwasaki, meanwhile, made the case that natural immunity should not count as any dose—as has been the case in virtually the entire United States since the COVID-19 vaccines were first rolled out.

Iwasaki referred to a British preprint study, soon after published in Nature, that concluded, based on survey data, that the protection from the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines was heightened among people with evidence of prior infection. She also noted a study she worked on that found the naturally immune had higher antibody titers than the vaccinated, but that the vaccinated “reached comparable levels of neutralization responses to the ancestral strain after the second vaccine dose.” The researchers also discovered T cells—thought to protect against severe illness—were boosted by vaccination.

There’s a “clear benefit” to boosting regardless of prior infection, Iwasaki, who has since received more than $2 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), told participants after the meeting in an email obtained by The Epoch Times. Hotez received $789,000 in grants from the NIH in fiscal year 2020, and has received other grants totaling millions in previous years. Offit, who co-invented the rotavirus vaccine, received $3.5 million in NIH grants from 1985 through 2004.

Hotez declined interview requests through a spokesperson. Iwasaki did not respond to requests for comment.

No participants represented experts like Bhattacharya who say that the naturally immune generally don’t need any doses at all.

In an email obtained by The Epoch Times, Akiko Iwasaki wrote to other meeting participants shortly after the meeting ended. (The Epoch Times)

Public Statements

In public, Hotez repeatedly portrayed natural immunity as worse than vaccination, including citing the widely criticized CDC paper, which drew from just two months of testing in a single state.

In one post on Twitter on Oct. 29, 2021, he referred to another CDC study, which concluded that the naturally immune were five times as likely to test positive compared to vaccinated people with no prior infection, and stated: “Still more evidence, this time from @CDCMMWR showing that vaccine-induced immunity is way better than infection and recovery, what some call weirdly ‘natural immunity’. The antivaccine and far right groups go ballistic, but it’s the reality.”

That same day, the CDC issued a “science brief” that detailed the agency’s position on natural immunity versus the protection from vaccines. The brief, which has never been updated, says that available evidence shows both the vaccinated and naturally immune “have a low risk of subsequent infection for at least 6 months” but that “the body of evidence for infection-induced immunity is more limited than that for vaccine-induced immunity.”

Evidence shows that vaccination after infection, or hybrid immunity, “significantly enhances protection and further reduces risk of reinfection” and is the foundation of the CDC’s recommendations, the agency said.

Several months later, the CDC acknowledged that natural immunity was superior to vaccination against the Delta variant, which was displaced in late 2021 by Omicron. The CDC, which has made misleading representations before on the evidence supporting vaccination of the naturally immune, did not respond to a request for comment regarding whether the agency will ever update the brief.

Iwasaki had initially been open to curbing the number of doses for the naturally immune—”I think this supports the idea of just giving one dose to people who had covid19,” she said in response to one Twitter post in early 2021, which is restricted from view—but later came to argue that each person who is infected has a different immune response, and that the natural immunity, even if strong initially, wanes over time.

Osterholm has knocked people who claim natural immunity is weak or non-existent, but has also claimed that vaccine-bestowed immunity is better. Osterholm also changed the stance he took in the meeting just several months later, saying in February 2022 that “we’ve got to make three doses the actual standard” while also “trying to understand what kind of immunity we get from a previous infection.”

Offit has been the leading critic on the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, which advises U.S. regulators on vaccines, over their authorizations of COVID-19 boosters. Offit has said boosters are unnecessary for the young and healthy because they don’t add much to the primary series. He also criticized regulators for authorizing updated shots without consulting the committee and absent clinical data. Two of the top U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials resigned over the booster push. No FDA officials were listed on invitations to the secret meeting on natural immunity.

Fauci and Walensky Downplay Natural Immunity

Fauci and Walensky, two of the most visible U.S. health officials during the pandemic, have repeatedly downplayed natural immunity.

Fauci, who said in an email in March 2020 that he assumed there would be “substantial immunity post infection,” would say later that natural immunity was real but that the durability was uncertain. He noted the studies finding higher antibody levels from hybrid immunity.

In September 2021, months after claiming that vaccinated people “can feel safe that they are not going to get infected,” Fauci said that he did not have “a really firm answer” on whether the naturally immune should get vaccinated.

“It is conceivable that you got infected, you’re protected—but you may not be protected for an indefinite period of time,” Fauci said on CNN when pressed on the issue. “So I think that is something that we need to sit down and discuss seriously.”

After the meeting, Fauci would say that natural immunity and vaccine-bestowed immunity both wane, and that people should get vaccinated regardless of prior infection to boost their protection.

Walensky, before she became CDC director, signed a document called the John Snow Memorandum in response to the Great Barrington Declaration, which Bhattacharya coauthored. The declaration called for focused protection of the elderly and otherwise infirm, stating, “The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity, is to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk.”

The memorandum, in contrast, said there was “no evidence for lasting protective immunity to SARS-CoV-2 following natural infection” and supported the harsh lockdown measures that had been imposed in the United States and elsewhere.

In March 2021, after becoming director, Walensky released recommendations that the naturally immune get vaccinated, noting that there was “substantial durability” of protection six months after infection but that “rare cases of reinfection” had been reported.

Walensky hyped the CDC study on natural immunity in August 2021, and the second study in October 2021. But when the third paper came out concluding natural immunity was superior, she did not issue a statement. Walensky later told a blog that the study found natural immunity provided strong protection, “perhaps even more so than those who had been vaccinated and not yet boosted.”

But, because it came before Omicron, she said, “it’s not entirely clear how that protection works in the context of Omicron and boosting.”

Walensky, Murthy, and Collins did not respond to requests for interviews. Fauci, who stepped down from his positions in late 2022, could not be reached.

Murthy and Collins also portrayed natural immunity as inferior. “From the studies about natural immunity, we are seeing more and more data that tells us that while you get some protection from natural infection, it’s not nearly as strong as what you get from the vaccine,” Murthy said on CNN about two months before the meeting. Collins, in a series of blog posts, highlighted the studies showing higher antibody levels after vaccination and urged people to get vaccinated. He also voiced support for vaccine mandates.

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Tyler Durden Thu, 02/02/2023 - 21:10

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