Willem de Kooning Police Gazette 1955
Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are based on mRNA technique. AstraZeneca/Oxford’s, and Russian vaccine Sputnik V, use traditional technique. They are also much cheaper. AstraZeneca was developed as a not-for-profit. Russia wants theirs to be cheap. But the EU has banned the Russian vaccine, though it could be the best, because: Russia!
AstraZeneca has said they will produce 2 billion vaccine doses in 2021, Russia 1 billion. Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have already made people billionaires even before production. Why use mRNA vaccines anyway? Money.
But RussiaRussia! Hungary wanted to try it, and the EU said: no! Like a global pandemic doesn’t need a global answer.
More than 500 million people will be able to take the pioneering Russian Sputnik V vaccine against the coronavirus next year. Its developers say the two-shot jab will be sold cheaper than those of its foreign competitors. The drug will be produced not only in Russia but also by “leading foreign pharmaceutical companies” who agreed to cooperation deals with the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF). Talks with additional international partners are underway to further increase production capacity. “Sputnik V will be two or more times cheaper than mRNA vaccines with similar efficacy levels,” RDIF said in a statement.
A single dose of the Russian vaccine is going to cost $10, according to the producer, meaning it will set each person back $20 for two shots – which is still way below the price tags of US biotech firms Pfizer and Moderna, who are eyeing $39 and $50-74 for their vaccines, respectively. Notably, it’s only foreign buyers who would need to pay up, as the Russians will be getting Sputnik V for free. International customers are scheduled to receive first shipments of the vaccine in January. The new data announced by Moscow’s Gamaleya Center, which developed the Sputnik V formula, suggests that its vaccine is 95 percent effective. The result was based on Phase Three clinical trials that involved almost 20,000 volunteers who were administered two shots of the drug.
By Malcolm Kendrick, doctor and author who works as a GP in the National Health Service in England.
“We are told that none of the mRNA can get into the nucleus of the cell, where it could become incorporated into the DNA. I hope so. Could it trigger an immune cascade? I hope not.”
Now, we have a thing called a messenger RNA vaccine (mRNA). RNA is, effectively, a single strand of DNA – the double helix that sits within our cells and makes up our genetic code. Many viruses are made up of a single strand of RNA, surrounded by a protein sphere. They enter the cell, take over the replication systems, make thousands of copies of themselves, then exit the cell. Sometimes killing the cell as they do so, sometimes exiting more gently. Covid19 (Sars-Cov2) is an RNA virus. Knowing this, rather than attempting to create a weakened virus, which can take years, or break the virus into bits, the vaccine researchers decided to use Sars-Cov2’s RNA against itself. To do this, they isolated the section of RNA which codes for the ‘spike’ protein – which is the thing the virus uses as a ‘key’ to enter cells.
They then worked out how to insert this small section of RNA, messenger RNA, into the cell, where it takes over a part of the protein replication mechanisms that sit inside all cells. They turn the mechanism into a 3D printer, churning out copies of the spike protein. These spike proteins then leave the cell – somehow or other, this bit is unclear. The immune system comes across them, recognises them as ‘alien’ and attacks. In doing so, antibodies are created, and the immune memory system kicks into action. If, later on, a Sars-Cov2 virus gets into the body, the immune system fires up and attacks the remembered spike protein. Hopefully killing the entire virus. This is all, certainly very clever stuff. What, as they say, could possibly go wrong?
The first thing to say is that, with something this new, we don’t really know. It could be that it is absolutely 100 percent safe. We are told that none of the mRNA can get into the nucleus of the cell, where it could become incorporated into the DNA. I hope so. Could it trigger an immune cascade? I hope not. I know that the researchers will be looking very, very, closely at the novel safety issues that could emerge. If they are not, they damned well should be. However, the timelines here are very short. It normally takes many years to create safe and effective vaccines. Here is it happening in, effectively, weeks. The early stage human safety studies have been crammed very tightly together.
In addition, we will also have very little information on such things as whether or not the vaccine actually reduces serious infections or death, as noted by Professor Haseltine in a recent article: “These [vaccine] protocols do not emphasize the most important ramifications of COVID-19 that people are most interested in preventing: overall infection, hospitalization, and death.” Prof. Haseltine also argues that the trials have all been “designed to succeed.” The reality is that we are rushing and rushing. There are very good reasons for this rush, but I advise caution. Should everyone take the vaccine? Probably yes for those at highest risk of serious infection and death, where the potential benefit is high. As for anyone healthy, under the age of sixty, I would wait. As I shall be.
mRNA should be tested first for a much longer time.
Israelis celebrated on Friday when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that the country had signed a deal with Pfizer Inc. to buy its novel coronavirus vaccine. But the fact remains that if Pfizer succeeds – or Moderna, with whom Israel also has a contract – these will be the first-ever messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines brought to market for human patients. In order to receive Food and Drug Administration approval, the companies will have to prove there are no immediate or short-term negative health effects from taking the vaccines. But when the world begins inoculating itself with these completely new and revolutionary vaccines, it will know virtually nothing about their long-term effects.
“There is a race to get the public vaccinated, so we are willing to take more risks,” Tal Brosh, head of the Infectious Disease Unit at Samson Assuta Ashdod Hospital, told The Jerusalem Post. When Moderna was just finishing its Phase I trial, The Independent wrote about the vaccine and described it this way: “It uses a sequence of genetic RNA material produced in a lab that, when injected into your body, must invade your cells and hijack your cells’ protein-making machinery called ribosomes to produce the viral components that subsequently train your immune system to fight the virus.” “In this case, Moderna’s mRNA-1273 is programmed to make your cells produce the coronavirus’ infamous coronavirus spike protein that gives the virus its crown-like appearance (corona is crown in Latin) for which it is named,” wrote The Independent.
Brosh said that this does not mean the vaccine changes people’s genetic code. Rather, he said it is more like a USB device (the mRNA) that is inserted into a computer (your body). It does not impact the hard drive of the computer but runs a certain program. But he acknowledged that there are unique and unknown risks to messenger RNA vaccines, including local and systemic inflammatory responses that could lead to autoimmune conditions. An article published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, a division of the National Institutes of Health, said other risks include the bio-distribution and persistence of the induced immunogen expression; possible development of auto-reactive antibodies; and toxic effects of any non-native nucleotides and delivery system components.
Brosh compared the mRNA vaccine to traditional vaccines, such as those for influenza, which use an inactivated virus that was destroyed by heat or chemicals to elicit an immune response without infecting the recipient. Others, such as for measles or mumps, use a weakened virus that is unable to hurt you but can still train your immune system to fight it. Oxford University’s AstraZeneca, the Russian’s Sputnik V and the Israel Institute for Biological Research’s Brilife are all based on more traditional technologies.
Better than a vaccine?
Background Vitamin D has an immunomodulatory role but the effect of therapeutic vitamin D supplementation in SARS-CoV-2 infection is not known.
Aim Effect of high dose, oral cholecalciferol supplementation on SARS-CoV-2 viral clearance.
Design Randomised, placebo-controlled.
Participants Asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 RNA positive vitamin D deficient (25(OH)D<20 ng/ml) individuals.
Intervention Participants were randomised to receive daily 60 000 IU of cholecalciferol (oral nano-liquid droplets) for 7 days with therapeutic target 25(OH)D>50 ng/ml (intervention group) or placebo (control group). Patients requiring invasive ventilation or with significant comorbidities were excluded. 25(OH)D levels were assessed at day 7, and cholecalciferol supplementation was continued for those with 25(OH)D <50 ng/ml in the intervention arm. SARS-CoV-2 RNA and inflammatory markers fibrinogen, D-dimer, procalcitonin and (CRP), ferritin were measured periodically.
Outcome measure Proportion of patients with SARS-CoV-2 RNA negative before day-21 and change in inflammatory markers.
Results Forty SARS-CoV-2 RNA positive individuals were randomised to intervention (n=16) or control (n=24) group. Baseline serum 25(OH)D was 8.6 (7.1 to 13.1) and 9.54 (8.1 to 12.5) ng/ml (p=0.730), in the intervention and control group, respectively. 10 out of 16 patients could achieve 25(OH)D>50 ng/ml by day-7 and another two by day-14 [day-14 25(OH)D levels 51.7 (48.9 to 59.5) ng/ml and 15.2 (12.7 to 19.5) ng/ml (p<0.001) in intervention and control group, respectively]. 10 (62.5%) participants in the intervention group and 5 (20.8%) participants in the control arm (p<0.018) became SARS-CoV-2 RNA negative. Fibrinogen levels significantly decreased with cholecalciferol supplementation (intergroup difference 0.70 ng/ml; P=0.007) unlike other inflammatory biomarkers.
Conclusion Greater proportion of vitamin D-deficient individuals with SARS-CoV-2 infection turned SARS-CoV-2 RNA negative with a significant decrease in fibrinogen on high-dose cholecalciferol supplementation.
Who’s pushing for this when 3 billion doses of non-nMRA vaccine doses are coming?
Global shipping giant UPS on Tuesday said it would start making dry ice in the United States and also distribute ultra-cold temperature freezers as it prepares to handle the logistics of shipping Covid-19 vaccines. Facing the world’s largest coronavirus outbreak, the US government’s Operation Warp Speed plans to distribute 6.4 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in the first week after it’s cleared for emergency use, which could come as soon as December 10. That vaccine requires ultra-cold long-term storage of -70 degrees Celsius (-94 Fahrenheit), and the company has developed special containers with dry ice to keep it cool for up to 15 days, while other vaccines may also need dry ice in transport.
In a statement, UPS said it had added equipment in its facilities that can produce up to 1,200 pounds of dry ice an hour for the shipping needs of these vaccines, which can be distributed within 24 hours of production to US and Canadian hospitals. “Healthcare facilities in Louisville, Dallas and Ontario will ensure we have the capability to produce dry ice to sufficiently pack and replenish shipments as needed to keep products viable and effective,” Wes Wheeler, president of medical arm UPS Healthcare, said in a statement.
Four geoeconomic summits compressed in one week tell the story of where we stand in these supremely dystopian times… The (virtual) signing of RCEP in Vietnam was followed by the equally virtual BRICS meeting hosted by Moscow, the APEC meeting hosted by Malaysia, and the G20 this past weekend hosted by Saudi Arabia. Cynics have not failed to note the spectacular theater of the absurd of having the Top 20 – at least in theory – economies discussing what is arguably the turning point in the world-system linked to a beheading-friendly desert oil hacienda with a 7th century mentality.
The Riyadh declaration did its best to lift the somber planetary mood, vowing to deploy “all available policy tools” (no precise details) to contain Covid-19 and heroically “save” the global economy by “advancing” global pandemic preparedness, vaccine development and distribution – in tandem with debt relief – for the Global South. Not a peep about The Great Reset – the Brave New World scheme concocted by Herr Schwab of Davos and fully supported by the IMF, Big Tech, transnational Big Capital interests and the oh so benign Prince Charles. Meanwhile, off the record, G20 sherpas moaned about the lack of real global governance and multiple attacks on multilateralism.
And not a peep as well about the real life vaccine war between the expensive Western candidates – Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca – and the much cheaper Russia-China versions – Sputnik V and Sinovac. What seems to be the case is that any agenda – sinister or otherwise – fits the one-size-fits-all vow by the G20 to provide “opportunities of the 21st century for all by empowering people, safeguarding the planet, and shaping new frontiers.” At the G20, President Xi Jinping did not waste the chance – after RCEP, BRICS and APEC – to once again emphasize China’s priorities: multilateralism, support for WTO reform, ample international cooperation on vaccine research and production.
But then, in tandem with reducing tariffs and facilitating the trade of crucial medical supplies, Xi proposed a global health QR code – a sound way to restore global travel and trade: “While containing the virus, we need to restore the secure and smooth operation of global industrial and supply chains.” Predictably, there were howls about neo-Orwellian intrusion, comparing the QR code with the exceptionally misunderstood Chinese credit system. Herr Schwab’s Great Reset in fact proposes something similar, with even more neo-Orwellian overtones, disguised under an innocent “Covid Pass” app, or highly secure “health passport”. What Xi has proposed amounts to just a mutual recognition of health certificates, issued by different nations, based on nucleic acid tests. No gene altering vaccines coupled with nanochips. These QR codes, incorporated to health apps, are already used for domestic travel in China.
Kerry is just like Biden. A career sell-out.
“..Biden, having vowed to make fighting climate change a top priority, simply wants someone who’ll look like he’s trying hard — but won’t actually get anything done.”
What was Joe Biden thinking for his choice of climate-change ambassador extraordinaire? John Kerry is one of the biggest gasbags in American politics, singlehandedly responsible for massive amounts of terrible emissions. People have been laughing at him since Yale, when “Doonesbury” creator Garry Trudeau was zinging his pretentious, vacuous self-promotion. We look forward to the anti-carbon lectures from a guy who travels the globe on private jets and luxury yachts. Set aside his deer-in-the-headlights loss as the Democrats’ presidential nominee in 2004. He was a joke as secretary of state under President Barack Obama — off on his yacht during Egypt’s 2013 military coup.
He vowed a crushing response when Syria crossed Obama’s infamous “red line” — only to have Obama pull the rug out from under him and agree to let Russia pretend to take Syria’s chemical weapons away instead. Kerry also cluelessly “negotiated” the Iran nuclear deal even as the real talks were being run out of the White House; then he had to pretend to cheer an accord that gave away several points he’d said were non-negotiable, such as truly tough inspection requirements. And he helped craft the 2015 Paris climate accord — a performative non-binding “triumph.”
The Kerry-initiated Israeli-Palestinian peace talks of 2013-14 went absolutely nowhere. He later blasted President Trump over moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem, insisting it would cause “an absolute explosion” — when it actually helped bring unprecedented Arab-Israeli rapprochement. The only conclusion you can draw is that Biden, having vowed to make fighting climate change a top priority, simply wants someone who’ll look like he’s trying hard — but won’t actually get anything done.
It is tempting to dismiss last week’s statements by Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, equating anti-Zionism with antisemitism and suggesting the global movement to boycott Israel is driven by hatred of Jews, as the last gasp of a dying administration. But that would be foolhardy. Pompeo’s decision to label all but the most tepid criticism of Israel as antisemitism is fully in line with the current redrawing of the limits of western political debate about Israel. To underscore his message, Pompeo issued his statement as he headed to an illegal Jewish settlement in the West Bank – the first such official visit by a US secretary of state.
New guidelines announced that in future the US would mark settlement goods as “Made in Israel”, concealing the fact that they are produced in the occupied Palestinian territories. For good measure, Pompeo described the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS), widely supported by Palestinians, as a “cancer”. “We will regard the global, anti-Israel BDS campaign as antisemitic,” he added. The state department would identify any individual or group opposed to “doing business in Israel or in any territory controlled by Israel” – that is, in the settlements – “and withdraw US government support”.
They should close both down.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been kept in conservatorship limbo for over a decade now. But the Trump administration may move to end that before leaving office in January. In the wake of the government bailouts of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the housing-finance giants were placed into conservatorship. The Federal Housing Finance Agency, a new regulator, was created to oversee the two companies’ operations as the companies recovered from the subprime-mortgage crisis and repaid the federal government. In that time, Fannie and Freddie’s shareholders — other than the federal government — have gone without even a single dividend payment. For most of this time, Fannie and Freddie’s profits have been swept to the Treasury Department.
Conservatorship was not intended to be a permanent thing. In April 2019, Vice President Mike Pence’s former chief economist, Mark Calabria, was confirmed as the director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the main regulator overseeing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Since assuming that post, Calabria has moved to lay the groundwork needed to get the two companies out of conservatorship. But with President Trump’s loss in the elections earlier this month, a wrench was thrown in those plans. Former Vice President Joe Biden is unlikely to be in any hurry to move Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac out of their current arrangement. Faced with that reality, Calabria appears to be considering a plan to move Fannie and Freddie out of conservatorship before the inauguration, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.
Depending on how the exit is orchestrated, it could have a major impact on the housing finance ecosystem. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are not mortgage lenders — they buy and securitize mortgage loans, providing a crucial inflow of capital. All told, nearly half of all mortgages created in the first quarter of 2020 (47%) were backed by Fannie and Freddie, according to data from Inside Mortgage Finance and the Urban Institute. “Director Calabria has previously been quoted as saying that he believed the GSEs would be able to successfully exit the conservatorship sometime in 2022,” said Rick Sharga, a mortgage industry veteran and executive vice president at real-estate analytics firm RealtyTrac. “Accelerating the exit by at least a year seems ambitious at best, and risky at worst, given the critical role Fannie and Freddie play in providing mortgage market liquidity and stability.”
Look, people know you’re just making it up. You’re inviting unrest.
The government has announced that up to three households will be able to mix indoors and stay with each other overnight from 23 to 27 December under loosened coronavirus restrictions across the UK. But how exactly will these new “Christmas bubbles” work?
Can I eat out with my Christmas bubble? No. In a blow to pubs and restaurants, and families who like to avoid the piles of washing-up, separate households in a Christmas bubble will not be able to meet up in hospitality venues. Restrictions on these venues – which will vary depending on which tier they are placed in from 2 December – will remain in place over the festive period. However, members of a Christmas bubble can meet at home, in places of worship and in outdoor public places including gardens. You can continue to meet people who are not in your Christmas bubble outside your home according to the rules in the tier you are staying in.
Is there a limit on the number of people who can meet up as part of a bubble? There is no maximum size for a Christmas bubble, so you don’t need to worry if you and those you join with live in large households. This means three households of two people each – a total of six people – are allowed to meet, just as three households of, say, six people each – a total of 18 people – are also allowed to meet.
If I’m already in a bubble with another household, do we count as one household or two for the new Christmas rules? Under the rules, a support bubble will count as one household when Christmas bubbles are being formed. In England, support bubbles have been permitted for a number of months throughout Covid restrictions, allowing a household with one adult to join with another household. Those in a support bubble can still visit each other, stay overnight and visit public places together. This means that, technically, if three support bubbles – each comprising two separate households – were to join together in a Christmas bubble, six households would be able to meet.
Can I join more than one Christmas bubble? No, the bubbles have to be exclusive, and they cannot change over the five-day period – so pick your households carefully. This means that you can’t mix with two households on Christmas Day, and then a different two households on Boxing Day. However, children whose parents are separated will be able to move between two Christmas bubbles so they’re able to celebrate with both parents.
Do I need to socially distance from the people in my Christmas bubble? Bubble members will not be required to social distance while they are together, so they can hug or kiss under the mistletoe. However, people are advised to exercise caution if there are vulnerable people involved in their bubble. “This virus is not going to grant a Christmas truce,” Boris Johnson said on Monday.
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