Nov 252020
 November 25, 2020  Posted by at 6:41 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , ,  17 Responses »

Willem de Kooning Door to the river 1960



While I’m trying to read my way into the world of vaccines, not my field at all, I think the logical/philosophical implications should be clear: the model for doing medicine in a global pandemic must of necessity be global cooperation. But we apparently are not capable of that (anymore). Because the pandemic must be mined for profit.

Not so much for the AstraZenaca/Oxford vaccine, which is produced in a not-for-profit capacity, or the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, but certainly for the Pfizer and Moderna ones. We should just refuse those, but we’re -told we are- desperate, and they know it.

So it’s politics and profit that determine the world of vaccines. What a sorrowful state of affairs. And that’s not even the worst of it. Far from it. With vaccines -that we know of- being developed in Cuba (4x), China, Russia (2x), West (multiple), etc., maybe we can have the luxury of choosing the ones that do the least harm?

Well, there’s a trap door hidden somewhere in there. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use a whole new (revolutionary!) technique to produce vaccines. Some people even refuse to call them vaccines because of this. Vaccines as we -used to- know them were based on taking a harmless strand of a virus/bacteria and using it to urge your immune system to produce antibodies.

mRNA (messengerRNA) is very different. Here, it’s a synthetic, artificial entity designed to be injected into your cells to provoke certain reactions. And in the case of the Pfizer/Moderna vaccines, it’s basically entirely untested.

They intend to ship out billions of doses of their vaccines, which would essentially create billions of human guinea pigs. The risk is not so much short term, the only thing they would have to provide evidence for, it’s long term, for which they do not. What is that risk? We don’t know, it’s never been tested.

The problem seems obvious: once more people begin to understand this, more people will refuse to be inoculated with these “vaccines”. But then “authorities” will demand you take them to fly/move/just go outside? I don’t see it. What I see is human guinea pigs. And why, if there are other non-mRNA vaccines about to come forward? Money will cure the pandemic? The South China Morning Post had this today:

Pfizer-BioNTech Says Final Analysis Shows Vaccine 95% Effective

A major milestone in the race for a vaccine to counter Covid-19 was reached on Wednesday, when the first vaccine developers to complete phase 3 trials announced results in what has been the fastest vaccine development in history.[..]

Getting enough doses out to the world will take time, coordination and infrastructure. Pfizer and BioNTech have said they could produce 1.3 billion doses by the end of 2021. Several hundred million doses are already booked by major economies like the US and EU. Each immunisation requires two doses and there is an additional hurdle – they need to be transported and stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius (minus 94 Fahrenheit). All told, leading vaccine makers have projected that some 16 billion doses could be made next year..

Pfizer and BioNTech announced results after their trial reached a planned end point of 170 infections of Covid-19 among their nearly 44,000 participants. Of the cases, 162 were observed in the placebo group, while there were eight cases among those who had received the vaccine candidate, BNT162b2. The efficacy rate of 95 per cent was consistent across age, gender, race and ethnicity demographics, the companies said. Notably, the observed efficacy for adults over 65 years of age was over 94 per cent, an important marker for a group whose Covid-19 mortality rate far exceeds younger age groups.

But that makes no mention of the development method, or the risks involved. Which could be huge. I mean, it’s fine to say we need a lot of vaccine doses, and fast, but with AstraZeneca promising 2 billion in 2021, and Russia 1 billion, and China 1 billion or so as well, what exactly is the risk/reward ratio here? Why splurge into mRNA vaccines if you don’t have to? Is it just profit driven? When so many people are dying?


Here’s a bit from an Automatic Earth comments section yesterday. Commenter “upstateNYer” said:

I’m not yet clear on how “the scientists” made sure this mRNA hijacker will quit forcing my cells to produce stuff once its demands are met. Does anyone here with medical knowledge understand how it’s guaranteed that the mRNA strands don’t get just a bit power hungry and take over more than initially agreed upon?

In reaction to which, commenter Doc Robinson cited a Jerusalem Post article from November 17:

Could mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines Be Dangerous In The Long Term?

[..] 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.

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.”

Doc Robinson on the potential risks:

1. the bio-distribution and persistence of the induced immunogen expression
[spreading throughout the body and lasting longer than intended]

2. possible development of auto-reactive antibodies
[potentially leading to auto-immune conditions]

3. toxic effects of any non-native nucleotides and delivery system components.
[such as from nanoparticles and potential allergens like polyethylene glycol (PEG)]

“There is a race to get the public vaccinated, so we are willing to take more risks… 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.

And then there was this Reuters article from October 29:

Doc Robinson:

The vaccines being developed by Russia, J&J and CanSino use a human adenovirus platform, which is a proven technology used in Ebola vaccines and cancer treatments. The other frontrunners are “based on new, largely unproven technology platforms designed to produce vaccines at speed.” Other vaccine candidates using more conventional approaches won’t have late-stage trial results until sometime in 2021. I am going to avoid mRNA vaccines like the plague, and wait and see whether the conventional approaches produce anything with a good track record and minimal risk.

Next Crop of COVID-19 Vaccine Developers Take More Traditional Route

Many leading candidates now in final-stage testing are based on new, largely unproven technology platforms designed to produce vaccines at speed. They include messenger RNA (mRNA) technology used by Moderna Inc and Pfizer Inc with partner BioNTech SE, and inactivated cold virus platforms used by Oxford University/AstraZeneca Plc, Johnson & Johnson and CanSino Biologics, whose vaccine has been approved for military use in China.

Merck & Co in September started testing a COVID-19 vaccine based on a weakened measles virus that delivers genes from the new coronavirus into the body to stimulate an immune response to the coronavirus. Of these, only the technology offered by J&J and CanSino that use [human] cold viruses as vectors to deliver coronavirus genetic material have ever produced a licensed vaccine – for Ebola. [The Russian vaccine also uses this technology.]

The next set of candidates – with late-stage trial results expected in the first half of 2021 – are heavily skewed toward approaches that have produced successful vaccines. Conventional methods include using a killed or inactivated version of the pathogen that causes a disease to provoke an immune response, such as those used to make flu, polio and rabies vaccines. Also more common are protein-based vaccines that use purified pieces of the virus to spur an immune response. Vaccines against whooping cough, or pertussis, and shingles employ this approach.

I don’t know about you, but this scares the heebees out of me. If given the choice, I’d much rather not be a guinea pig for some Big Pharma experiment. There have been in our past very succesful vaccines, and I would maybe list penicilline in that list, but certainly Jonas Salk’s 1955 polio vaccine, off which nobody got rich, and it feels just completely crazy to now exploit a pandemic for profit. It’s just wrong.

Maybe COVID19 is not our biggest problem? Maybe our own mindset is? If we can no longer work with Russia and China on global issues, but we instead turn to large corporations to solve them for us for profit, we have already conceded defeat? Our own defeat?!

I don’t like the smell of this. Be careful out there. Don’t volunteer to be a human guinea pig just so you can fly a plane, or walk outside.




We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, you are now not just a reader, but an integral part of the process that builds this site.

Click at the top of the sidebars for Paypal and Patreon donations. Thank you for your support.




Support the Automatic Earth in virustime, election time, all the time. Click at the top of the sidebars to donate with Paypal and Patreon.


May 192015
 May 19, 2015  Posted by at 7:38 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  4 Responses »

Harris&Ewing Horse and Motor Oil, Washington, DC 1918

Will this Greek stuff ever stop? Probably, but don’t hold your breath. I was reading up on China, but that will have to wait till tomorrow. A friend just sent me a Sputnik story -they’re a Russian news channel, so they can’t be trusted, right?!- that adds more juice to the Syriza vs troika tale. And whaddaya know, the king of Greece leaks, Paul Mason at Channel 4, is involved once again.

Let’s do Mason first. He’s in Athens and, wait for it, he scored another leak. But not a direct leak to Mason; this one concerns a European Commission document leaked to Greek newspaper To Vima. There are some useful numbers here. Mason:

Greece: Europe’s Last-Ditch Effort To Keep It In Euro?

According to To Vima, the EU commission boss (Juncker, ed.) has offered Greece a deal that delays the harshest austerity for two years, and releases €5bn of bailout money to help fill the gaps in the Greek budget. To get the money Greece has to:

• Run a primary surplus of 0.75% of GDP – much lower than the previous demands from the ECB and IMF. And a surplus of 2% of GDP in 2016.

• This rises to 3.5% for both of the next years, but would have to be seen as notional – as committing to anything in 2018 barely matters when you are three weeks from default.

• Greece has to raise VAT to 18% – with 15% for card transactions. This cleverly forces tax evaders into the formal economy by setting a relatively low rate.

I was wondering why I saw two different numbers being reported, but this makes sense. As much as I am suspicious of the war on cash issue as well, we must be aware that using cash to avoid taxes is a huge issue in Greece, and Syriza has do to something about that. I’m guessing there’s a similar difference for the lower VAT rate, 6.5% vs 9.5%.

• Greece gets its way on labour market reform, which will be done using “ILO best practice”. But it has to keep an unpopular property tax called ENFIA and it has to reduce pension entitlements for public sector workers.

This may jeopardize the whole thing no matter how much water Juncker is putting into the wine. But Tsipras may find a way, provided any changes are pushed far enough into the future.

The obvious sticking point is the IMF. As I reported on Saturday, the IMF – one of Greece’s major creditors – has rules that prevent the sign-off of a “quick and dirty” settlement, such as the one Jean-Claude Juncker is offering. The debt has to be judged sustainable – yet the Juncker proposal puts off a long-term deal until October.

Greek government insiders were already worried that the IMF was going to walk away – asking the EU to take over the next bailout of Greece. The Juncker document acknowledges this problem and hints that the Greek debt will have to be taken over solely under the EFSF fund.

I don’t know that Syriza was worried about the IMF leaving the table, as long as the EU is still there.

It may still be too austere for Syriza’s left to accept – meaning Alexis Tsipras’ government could not get it through parliament, and that there may have to be new elections.

That is a possibility. The Syriza meeting I wrote about last night is happening as I write this, 3pm EDT. But the left side will also want to keep its powder dry if Tsipras can convince them he’s really close.

Beyond the usual left wingers, people I’ve found rigidly loyal to the party’s line were saying “if we surrender I am leaving”. But the leaked offer at the same time is way more generous than any proposal previously considered by the ECB and the German Finance Minister Schauble. If the Germans veto it, then it leaves Alexis Tsipras with nothing palatable to sell his own voters. A German veto would, if it came to a euro exit referendum, probably play well for those advocating a “controlled exit”. Greeks would no longer be seen as walking away from the euro, since the commission had offered them a compromise – but from a Europe where the commission has no power, and only the voters of Germany get their way.

Mason obviously gets confused in that last bit, but that’s alright. German veto, controlled exit, German voters, that’s all just opinion making. And not all reporters are equally good at opinions.

But this is just the warm up. The juice comes from the Sputnik piece. Turns out, the US has gotten involved. And they want peace and quiet in their own back yard while they’re wreaking havoc anywhere from Kiev to Ramadi to Aden. Yes, it’s about “Greece’s geopolitical value as a NATO outpost”. And Greek ports frequented by US oil tankers.

US Pressures EU via IMF Over Greece’s Permanence in the Euro

The EU is under increasing American pressure via the IMF to bail out Greece, as Grexit has become anathema to Washington, Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten (DWN) reports. DWN quoted a recent article in the New York Times stating that: “Even as Greece’s European neighbors are focused on the country’s ability to repay its debts, the United States is intent on addressing Greece’s geopolitical value as a NATO outpost at the southern tip of the Balkans and as an important gateway for energy from Central Asia.” Hence the dispute is not between Greece and the EU, but between the EU and the US, added DWN. It all started with a memo dated May 14 that the IMF leaked to Paul Mason of Channel Four.

The memo was apparently leaked to put pressure on the EU in the run-up to the gathering of European leaders in Riga for the Eastern Partnership Summit on 21-22 May. Either a deal is reached then, or Greece will default a couple of weeks later. [..] Hidden in the IMF memo, however, is a nasty surprise for the still unaware European, and especially German, taxpayer. According to DWN, the US-dominated IMF is trying to pass on its credit risks to the EU via the rescue mechanism ESM (European Stability Mechanism).

Here is the IMF memo again: “While staff emphasized they are not pushing the European partners to consider debt relief, at the same time staff noted the numbers need to add up. In particular, it was noted there is an inverse relationship between reforms and sustainability.”

I forgot to ask the question yesterday in The IMF Leaks Greece, but now I see it again, I’m still puzzled. “ inverse relationship between reforms and sustainability”, does that mean the more reforms, the less sustainability? Fewer reforms, more sustainability? It would be way less funny if it didn’t ring so true.

According to Paul Mason of Channel Four: “This translates as: the more austerity the Europeans demand, the bigger the chance that Greece defaults on its debts.” Indeed the IMF is not content with so-called “quick and dirty” solutions favored by the EU. Which is sensible enough, giving the EU’s attitude to just buy time and delay real solutions. The problem is who foots the bill. We are talking of IMF own credit risks with Greece, after all. And yet, the IMF memo mentioned “debt relief” in connection to “the European partners”. So, just as with sanctions on Russia, the US decides, the EU pays.

That’s not a bad find at all.

Yesterday, the EU hit back by leaking its own – strictly confidential, of course – memo to the Greek newspaper Vima. The EU memo contains the European Commission’s proposal to keep Greece afloat — and in the Eurozone. Clearly the US have succeeded in persuading the EU that Grexit is a no-go. The show must go on and here is how — the harshest austerity measures will be delayed for two years, and $5.6 billion (€5bn) of bailout money provided to help finance the Greek budget.

In case you weren’t paying attention, that’s just about exactly what Syriza has been asking for.

As the NYT has written: “European and international lenders continue to hold back on releasing $8.1 billion (€7.2bn) in funds from a bailout program, demanding economic overhauls in Greece that the Tsipras government has so far been reluctant to carry out.” Now the EU has been persuaded to put up at least $5.6 billion (€5bn). “To get the money,” – explains again Mason, quoting Vima – “Greece has to run a primary surplus of 0.75% of GDP – much lower than the previous demands from the ECB and IMF. And a surplus of 2% of GDP in 2016. “This rises to 3.5% for both of the next years, but would have to be seen as notional — as committing to anything in 2018 barely matters when you are three weeks from default.”

Varoufakis exonerated indeed.

As for the labor market, a contentious point between the IMF and Greece, the EU will demand no reforms. But public sector workers’ pensions, another contentious point, will have to be reduced. What the above plan amounts to, however, is precisely what the IMF calls “quick and dirty solutions”.

But who controls the IMF?

The EU memo hence, is hardly the latest chapter of the “save Greece saga”, but by now we can be confident that, one way or the other, quick and dirty or with EU-footed “debt relief”, Greece will be offered to remain in the Eurozone. Will it accept? It is not just a financial decision. It is a highly political, almost civilization one. To remain in the Eurozone means to stay under Brussels and Washington. To exit, might open up other opportunities. Greece has indeed been invited by Russia to join the New Development Bank (NDB). Whether Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will want, or even be able to, sell the EU deal to his voters and backbenches remains to be seen.


In a veritable, last minute flinger flick, Greek Finance Minister Varoufakis said last night that the referendum will be on Grexit, not on any deal, be they IMF or EU sponsored. As for Washington’s stance, DWN quoted sources in the financial scene: “The USA will not want to hear any discussions about a Grexit nor will any hard negotiations between EU-creditors and Greece be allowed.” So, it really is up to the people of Greece.

Amen again. We all got the picture now?