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The Triumph Of The Apocalyptics

The Triumph Of The Apocalyptics

Authored by Jeffrey Tucker via The Brownstone Institute,

In the course of almost four years, and really dating…

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The Triumph Of The Apocalyptics

Authored by Jeffrey Tucker via The Brownstone Institute,

In the course of almost four years, and really dating back a decade and a half, I’ve managed to read most of the writings of the intellectuals, titans of industry, and government officials who constructed the strange reality of 2020 and after. They wanted to conduct a science experiment on the human population. Because infectious disease knows no borders, they knew for sure it would have to be a global one. 

They had every detail worked out in their models. They knew how far apart people would need to stand. They knew that the best way to stop any common virus from spreading would be total isolation of the whole human population insofar as that was possible. Families could not do that of course but they figured that they could live in different rooms or simply stay six feet apart. If they couldn’t do that, they could mask up. 

It goes without saying – but they said it anyway because their models told them so – that indoor and outdoor venues where people gathered had to be closed (those were the exact words issued by the White House on March 16, 2020). The scheme was deployed first in China, then Northern Italy, then the United States, and the rest of the world fell in line, all but a handful of nations including Sweden, which faced many months of brutal criticism for allowing freedom for its citizens. 

It’s truly hard to imagine what the architects of this barbaric policy believed would happen next. Is it as simple (and ridiculous) as believing that a respiratory virus would just disappear? Or that a potion would show up in time to inoculate the whole population even though no one has ever successfully come up with something like that before? Is that what they believed? 

Maybe.

Or maybe it was just fun or otherwise remuneratively advantageous to try out a grand and global experiment on the human population. Certainly it was profitable for many, even if it wrecked the social, cultural, economic, and political lives of billions of people. Even as I write those words, it’s hard to believe they are not out of some dystopian fiction. And yet this is what happened. 

Almost immediately, the idea of human rights took a back seat. Obviously so. So did the idea of equal freedom: that was immediately on the chopping block. By edict, the human population was divided into categories. It began with essential and nonessential, distinctions drawn from military protocols that suddenly pertained to the whole of the civilian world. 

That was only the beginning of the stark divisions. The stigmatization of the sick began immediately too. Were they sick because they were insufficiently compliant? Did they disobey the protocols? In a hundred years of public health, we’ve not seen this level and scale of demarcation. Some of this was attempted during the AIDS crisis (pushed by none other than Anthony Fauci) but not this aggressively or comprehensively. 

In those days, you could feel the concern for basic rights and freedom slipping, and with it the moral conscience of the public mind. From the beginning, it felt like martial law and the population was being divided: sick vs. well, compliant vs. noncompliant, essential vs non-essential, elective surgeries vs. emergencies needing medical services. And so on. 

And this expanded dramatically over the coming months. When face coverings came along, it was masked vs unmasked. When some states started opening, it became red vs. blue. Us vs. them. 

When the vaccine came along, the ultimate division hit, piling upon and swamping all the others: vaccinated vs. unvaccinated. The mandates massively disrupted the labor force. The public accommodations of whole cities were shut off to the unvaccinated, so that noncompliant citizens could not go to restaurants, bars, libraries, theaters, or other public places. Even houses of worship went along even though they didn’t have to, breaking their congregations into two parts. 

Behind all of this was a political motive that traces to a text that every high expert still celebrates as a prescient and decisive refutation of liberal values: Carl Schmitt’s Concept of the Political from 1932. This essay is utterly dismissive of human rights on grounds that such notions do not sustain robust states. He was of course a Nazi jurist and his thought laid the groundwork for the demonization of the Jews and the march of the totalitarian state. 

In Schmitt’s mind, the friend/enemy distinction is the best method of rallying the people around a grand cause that gives life meaning. This impulse is what gives strength to the state. He goes further: the friend/enemy distinction is best ignited in the reality of bloodshed:

“The state as the decisive political entity possesses an enormous power: the possibility of waging war and thereby publicly disposing of the lives of men. The jus belli contains such a disposition. It implies a double possibility: the right to demand from its own members the readiness to die and unhesitatingly to kill enemies.”

If for years, you have asked the question “Where does this end?” we now have our answer, which seems inevitable in retrospect: war. We are looking at the deaths of innocents and probably this as just the beginning. The lockdowns broke not only the old moral codes and agreed-upon limits to state power. It broke the human personality and spirit the whole world over. It gave rise to a bloodlust that was barely beneath the surface. 

States went crazy in bullying and dividing their citizens. It happened nearly everywhere but Israel was a leading case in point, as Brownstone has pointed out repeatedly. The citizenry has never been more divided and the state never more distracted from security concerns. The delicate peace was shattered in shocking ways on October 7, 2023 in a ghastly attack that revealed the worst security failure in the vulnerable state in its history. 

That incident then encouraged and further unleashed the apocalyptics, whole peoples determined to take the next step in the dehumanization of the population and the use of appalling means of doing the unthinkable: extermination, a word now thrown around as if it is fine and normal to speak this way. This conflict has now reached further into the politics of every country and down to every civic association, communities of intellectuals, and personal friendship. As Schmitt might have loved – and what Bret Weinstein calls Goliath (the unity of administrative state, media, corporate power, and elite tech platforms) surely celebrates – everyone is being turned into the category of friend and enemy. 

We are reminded at last of how incredibly fragile civilization – and the peace and freedom that gives rise to it – truly is. We should worry that in the drama of the moment, the history recounted above will be discarded from human memory. The plans for virus eradication failed so badly that many of its perpetrators are desperate for a dramatic change of subject so that they can avoid responsibility. Again, this is the desire, and it might even be the plan. 

This simply cannot be allowed to happen. Those of us with memories of civilized life, including universal rights and freedoms, cannot stay silent or get emotionally drawn in to the point that we are willing to forget what was done to us, the damage it inflicted on public culture, and the moral conduct a civilized people expect. 

Every war is preceded by a period of demoralization (I don’t matter), demotivation (there is nothing I can do), and dehumanization (those people are not worth saving). From there it is a simple matter of flipping the switch. 

Brownstone was founded in light of the above history to shine a light on higher ideals, not a Schmittian war between friends and enemies but societies of compassion, dignity, freedom, rights, and the exercise of human volition against all threats and uses of violence public and private. This is our guiding light now and always. Apocalypticism builds nothing; it only destroys. It’s the instantiation of the philosophy of The Joker. No nation and no community can survive it. 

Few of us knew or fully understood the depth of depravity just beneath the thin veneer of civilization that had previously dominated the large expanse of our lives. It was the maniacal experiment in disease control only a few years ago that triggered this bout of man’s inhumanity to man. There is a burning need to know how this came about and why, and take measures, now desperate ones, to put back into the Pandora’s box all that was released. 

Tyler Durden Tue, 10/17/2023 - 16:20

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Spread & Containment

Glimpse Of Sanity: Dartmouth Returns Standardized Testing For Admission After Failed Experiment

Glimpse Of Sanity: Dartmouth Returns Standardized Testing For Admission After Failed Experiment

In response to the virus pandemic and nationwide…

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Glimpse Of Sanity: Dartmouth Returns Standardized Testing For Admission After Failed Experiment

In response to the virus pandemic and nationwide Black Lives Matter riots in the summer of 2020, some elite colleges and universities shredded testing requirements for admission. Several years later, the test-optional admission has yet to produce the promising results for racial and class-based equity that many woke academic institutions wished.

The failure of test-optional admission policies has forced Dartmouth College to reinstate standardized test scores for admission starting next year. This should never have been eliminated, as merit will always prevail. 

"Nearly four years later, having studied the role of testing in our admissions process as well as its value as a predictor of student success at Dartmouth, we are removing the extended pause and reactivating the standardized testing requirement for undergraduate admission, effective with the Class of 2029," Dartmouth wrote in a press release Monday morning. 

"For Dartmouth, the evidence supporting our reactivation of a required testing policy is clear. Our bottom line is simple: we believe a standardized testing requirement will improve—not detract from—our ability to bring the most promising and diverse students to our campus," the elite college said. 

Who would've thought eliminating standardized tests for admission because a fringe minority said they were instruments of racism and a biased system was ever a good idea? 

Also, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this out. More from Dartmouth, who commissioned the research: 

They also found that test scores represent an especially valuable tool to identify high-achieving applicants from low and middle-income backgrounds; who are first-generation college-bound; as well as students from urban and rural backgrounds.

All the colleges and universities that quickly adopted test-optional admissions in 2020 experienced a surge in applications. Perhaps the push for test-optional was under the guise of woke equality but was nothing more than protecting the bottom line for these institutions. 

A glimpse of sanity returns to woke schools: Admit qualified kids. Next up is corporate America and all tiers of the US government. 

Tyler Durden Mon, 02/05/2024 - 17:20

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International

Four burning questions about the future of the $16.5B Novo-Catalent deal

To build or to buy? That’s a classic question for pharma boardrooms, and Novo Nordisk is going with both.
Beyond spending billions of dollars to expand…

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To build or to buy? That’s a classic question for pharma boardrooms, and Novo Nordisk is going with both.

Beyond spending billions of dollars to expand its own production capacity for its weight loss drugs, the Danish drugmaker said Monday it will pay $11 billion to acquire three manufacturing plants from Catalent. It’s part of a broader $16.5 billion deal with Novo Holdings, the investment arm of the pharma’s parent group, which agreed to acquire the contract manufacturer and take it private.

It’s a big deal for all parties, with potential ripple effects across the biotech ecosystem. Here’s a look at some of the most pressing questions to watch after Monday’s announcement.

Why did Novo do this?

Novo Holdings isn’t the most obvious buyer for Catalent, particularly after last year’s on-and-off M&A interest from the serial acquirer Danaher. But the deal could benefit both Novo Holdings and Novo Nordisk.

Novo Nordisk’s biggest challenge has been simply making enough of the weight loss drug Wegovy and diabetes therapy Ozempic. On last week’s earnings call, Novo Nordisk CEO Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen said the company isn’t constrained by capital in its efforts to boost manufacturing. Rather, the main challenge is the limited amount of capabilities out there, he said.

“Most pharmaceutical companies in the world would be shopping among the same manufacturers,” he said. “There’s not an unlimited amount of machinery and people to build it.”

While Novo was already one of Catalent’s major customers, the manufacturer has been hamstrung by its own balance sheet. With roughly $5 billion in debt on its books, it’s had to juggle paying down debt with sufficiently investing in its facilities. That’s been particularly challenging in keeping pace with soaring demand for GLP-1 drugs.

Novo, on the other hand, has the balance sheet to funnel as much money as needed into the plants in Italy, Belgium, and Indiana. It’s also struggled to make enough of its popular GLP-1 drugs to meet their soaring demand, with documented shortages of both Ozempic and Wegovy.

The impact won’t be immediate. The parties expect the deal to close near the end of 2024. Novo Nordisk said it expects the three new sites to “gradually increase Novo Nordisk’s filling capacity from 2026 and onwards.”

As for the rest of Catalent — nearly 50 other sites employing thousands of workers — Novo Holdings will take control. The group previously acquired Altasciences in 2021 and Ritedose in 2022, so the Catalent deal builds on a core investing interest in biopharma services, Novo Holdings CEO Kasim Kutay told Endpoints News.

Kasim Kutay

When asked about possible site closures or layoffs, Kutay said the team hasn’t thought about that.

“That’s not our track record. Our track record is to invest in quality businesses and help them grow,” he said. “There’s always stuff to do with any asset you own, but we haven’t bought this company to do some of the stuff you’re talking about.”

What does it mean for Catalent’s customers? 

Until the deal closes, Catalent will operate as a standalone business. After it closes, Novo Nordisk said it will honor its customer obligations at the three sites, a spokesperson said. But they didn’t answer a question about what happens when those contracts expire.

The wrinkle is the long-term future of the three plants that Novo Nordisk is paying for. Those sites don’t exclusively pump out Wegovy, but that could be the logical long-term aim for the Danish drugmaker.

The ideal scenario is that pricing and timelines remain the same for customers, said Nicole Paulk, CEO of the gene therapy startup Siren Biotechnology.

Nicole Paulk

“The name of the group that you’re going to send your check to is now going to be Novo Holdings instead of Catalent, but otherwise everything remains the same,” Paulk told Endpoints. “That’s the best-case scenario.”

In a worst case, Paulk said she feared the new owners could wind up closing sites or laying off Catalent groups. That could create some uncertainty for customers looking for a long-term manufacturing partner.

Are shareholders and regulators happy? 

The pandemic was a wild ride for Catalent’s stock, with shares surging from about $40 to $140 and then crashing back to earth. The $63.50 share price for the takeover is a happy ending depending on the investor.

On that point, the investing giant Elliott Investment Management is satisfied. Marc Steinberg, a partner at Elliott, called the agreement “an outstanding outcome” that “clearly maximizes value for Catalent stockholders” in a statement.

Elliott helped kick off a strategic review last August that culminated in the sale agreement. Compared to Catalent’s stock price before that review started, the deal pays a nearly 40% premium.

Alessandro Maselli

But this is hardly a victory lap for CEO Alessandro Maselli, who took over in July 2022 when Catalent’s stock price was north of $100. Novo’s takeover is a tacit acknowledgment that Maselli could never fully right the ship, as operational problems plagued the company throughout 2023 while it was limited by its debt.

Additional regulatory filings in the next few weeks could give insight into just how competitive the sale process was. William Blair analysts said they don’t expect a competing bidder “given the organic investments already being pursued at other leading CDMOs and the breadth and scale of Catalent’s operations.”

The Blair analysts also noted the companies likely “expect to spend some time educating relevant government agencies” about the deal, given the lengthy closing timeline. Given Novo Nordisk’s ascent — it’s now one of Europe’s most valuable companies — paired with the limited number of large contract manufacturers, antitrust regulators could be interested in taking a close look.

Are Catalent’s problems finally a thing of the past?

Catalent ran into a mix of financial and operational problems over the past year that played no small part in attracting the interest of an activist like Elliott.

Now with a deal in place, how quickly can Novo rectify those problems? Some of the challenges were driven by the demands of being a publicly traded company, like failing to meet investors’ revenue expectations or even filing earnings reports on time.

But Catalent also struggled with its business at times, with a range of manufacturing delays, inspection reports and occasionally writing down acquisitions that didn’t pan out. Novo’s deep pockets will go a long way to a turnaround, but only the future will tell if all these issues are fixed.

Kutay said his team is excited by the opportunity and was satisfied with the due diligence it did on the company.

“We believe we’re buying a strong company with a good management team and good prospects,” Kutay said. “If that wasn’t the case, I don’t think we’d be here.”

Amber Tong and Reynald Castañeda contributed reporting.

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Petrina Kamya, Ph.D., Head of AI Platforms at Insilico Medicine, presents at BIO CEO & Investor Conference

Petrina Kamya, PhD, Head of AI Platforms and President of Insilico Medicine Canada, will present at the BIO CEO & Investor Conference happening Feb….

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Petrina Kamya, PhD, Head of AI Platforms and President of Insilico Medicine Canada, will present at the BIO CEO & Investor Conference happening Feb. 26-27 at the New York Marriott Marquis in New York City. Dr. Kamya will speak as part of the panel “AI within Biopharma: Separating Value from Hype,” on Feb. 27, 1pm ET along with Michael Nally, CEO of Generate: Biomedicines and Liz Schwarzbach, PhD, CBO of BigHat Biosciences.

Credit: Insilico Medicine

Petrina Kamya, PhD, Head of AI Platforms and President of Insilico Medicine Canada, will present at the BIO CEO & Investor Conference happening Feb. 26-27 at the New York Marriott Marquis in New York City. Dr. Kamya will speak as part of the panel “AI within Biopharma: Separating Value from Hype,” on Feb. 27, 1pm ET along with Michael Nally, CEO of Generate: Biomedicines and Liz Schwarzbach, PhD, CBO of BigHat Biosciences.

The session will look at how the latest artificial intelligence (AI) tools – including generative AI and large language models – are currently being used to advance the discovery and design of new drugs, and which technologies are still in development. 

The BIO CEO & Investor Conference brings together over 1,000 attendees and more than 700 companies across industry and institutional investment to discuss the future investment landscape of biotechnology. Sessions focus on topics such as therapeutic advancements, market outlook, and policy priorities.

Insilico Medicine is a leading, clinical stage AI-driven drug discovery company that has raised over $400m in investments since it was founded in 2014. Dr. Kamya leads the development of the Company’s end-to-end generative AI platform, Pharma.AI from Insilico’s AI R&D Center in Montreal. Using modern machine learning techniques in the context of chemistry and biology, the platform has driven the discovery and design of 30+ new therapies, with five in clinical stages – for cancer, fibrosis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and COVID-19. The Company’s lead drug, for the chronic, rare lung condition idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, is the first AI-designed drug for an AI-discovered target to reach Phase II clinical trials with patients. Nine of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies have used Insilico’s AI platform to advance their programs, and the Company has a number of major strategic licensing deals around its AI-designed therapeutic assets, including with Sanofi, Exelixis and Menarini. 

 

About Insilico Medicine

Insilico Medicine, a global clinical stage biotechnology company powered by generative AI, is connecting biology, chemistry, and clinical trials analysis using next-generation AI systems. The company has developed AI platforms that utilize deep generative models, reinforcement learning, transformers, and other modern machine learning techniques for novel target discovery and the generation of novel molecular structures with desired properties. Insilico Medicine is developing breakthrough solutions to discover and develop innovative drugs for cancer, fibrosis, immunity, central nervous system diseases, infectious diseases, autoimmune diseases, and aging-related diseases. www.insilico.com 


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