Much ado about the Covid ‘second wave’

please note: events of the past weeks of December have shown the speculation surrounding the so-called ‘seasonal thesis’ below to be completely wrong, instead we have a witnessed another surge as the result the rise of a more infectious lineage of the virus, the article is preserved here to serve as a record of this open speculation.

TWO WEEKS ago Boris Johnson announced a second nation-wide lockdown for the UK. This apparently after data showing projected infection increases, outstripping the capacity of the NHI — there is a broad variance shown by the conflicting mathematical models, which do not take into account exposure to UV radiation.

As the Northern economies enter Winter, the ‘second wave is upon us’. However the same cannot be inferred by local data. So far as the South is concerned, summertime is proving that when it comes to Covid-19 every indication points to the pandemic being seasonal, and that a diverging UV profile will lesson the impact in the South.

The announcement of a vaccine with a 90% effectiveness has boosted hopes for an end to the pandemic. With Nelson Mandela Bay metropole the sole outlier, South Africa has been spared the worst ravages of the ‘second outbreak’. The nation has an extraordinary high recovery rate and most early projections have proven wrong, witness the controversy over the modelling.

‘In the South African context, there is close to zero value in going back to a hard lockdown as it is not going to achieve anything different in controlling the epidemic’ is the view of Professor Shabir Madhi from the school of pathology at the University of the Witwatersrand. This stands in contrast to Dr Zweli Mkhize’s insistence that his mathematical models are correct.

What is not being said by either sides, (and speaking as an environmentalist) is that there are very different environmental factors at play in Africa. Not only do we have a different seasonal procession, with the South experiencing Summer when North experiences Winter, but there are vastly different weather patterns, all of which impacts on the amount of sunshine and consequently UV radiation experienced by the average individual.

South Africa’s UV burn index is amongst the highest in the world. Bare in the mind that the coronovirus is a derivative of the common cold, and operates much in the same way that the flu does, save for the fact that coronoviruses tend to break out in clusters unlike the flu which comes in waves. Direct normal radiation for Upington for example, is nearly 1000 w/m2, and vastly different from our coastline.

The whole notion of a ‘second wave’ for the entire world, is potentially a flawed assumption made by the World Health Organisation which has tended to operate as if the earth were flat in the process dishing out advice that is no better than that given by socialist bureaucrats during the Soviet Union.

The mandarins and technocrats in Geneva simply rolled out policies for the entire world this year, a one-size-fits-all determination that treats every economy as if we are all living in Alaska, and which deserves to be tested and scrutinised by local and regional scientific councils.

The only ones benefiting from this extraordinary overreach, are the large pharmaceutical companies which stand to make a mint out of the supply of PPE and the much-vaunted vaccine. A vaccine which may take anywhere up to 5 -7 years to dispense. Nevetheless questioning Covid stats, may incur professional liability and institutional sanctions much in the same way that questioning received doctrine on the HIV epidemic has become a shibboleth of notable proportion.

Now more than ever, is the time to host a national symposium on what is known about the virus within the local context, what still needs to be understood and to derive policies based upon evidence-based science and empirical research rather than policy decisions made externally and consequently adopted by our government without any forethought as to the consequences.

Unfortunately as the HIV crisis has shown, the likelihood of the South African government taking a lead where science is concerned is extremely slim. Read my piece on Skepticism during the Mbeki era.

The rise of the alcohol prohibition and temperance consortium

A CAMPAIGN to eliminate or reduce the availability of alcohol under the guise of recent public health policy interventions appears to be under way. Bolstered by the ban on alcohol sales in terms of the National Disaster Act, the group made an appearance on eNCA last night, apparently to ‘debate the ban’ and a series of regulations gazetted in terms of legislation which is currently under judicial scrutiny.

Although Leslie London, of Public Health Medicine at the University of Cape Town agrees with Maurice Smithers of the African Alcohol Policy Alliance that the ban is not sustainable in the long-term, he appeared to offer contradictory information. On the one hand the initial ban also affecting transport had ‘reduced trauma cases in hospital wards’, on the other, the later ban without the transport component, ‘had not shown significant reductions’.

Mary Makgaba from POWA asserts there is ‘a strong correlation between gender based violence and alcohol abuse’, but agreed with the economic arguments that people’s livelihoods also mattered. Yet as often noted, correlation does not imply causation — the presence of alcohol is not sufficient reason to infer gender bias, in the same way drinkers are not all necessarily men.

While Makgaba was in support of restrictions, Both London and Smithers claimed that ‘alcohol is a drug’ requiring stronger regulation by government. They argue that South Africa should adopt the WHO guidelines on ‘reducing availability, increasing price of alcohol and curtailing or banning alcohol advertising’.

Prohibitionists have historically used religious arguments to ban alcohol, but today’s members of the temperance union rely upon the fact that alcohol is classified as a ‘central nervous system depressant’. Instead of arguing for harm reduction, they wish to closet alcohol use behind a veil of bourgeois values and assertions — reducing the size of beer bottles, making alcohol less affordable or simply unaffordible to the working class and poor.

Some of the suggestions made by Smithers appear eminently reasonable at first glance, for example, reducing the number of outlets or restricting the amount of alcohol available to purchase, yet each carries a price, the problem of enforcement and consequent danger of the criminalisation of alcohol users who do not comply.

After decades of filling the nation’s jails with drug users, the motion to lock up alcoholics is the antithesis of harm reduction and drug liberalisation strategies. Broader societal harm caused by alcohol needs to be weighed against the long-term harm caused by a reduction in individual freedoms and the rise of a police state — the true cost of policing and enforcement of policy, not simply upon people’s lives but also livelihoods.

The science provided was also incredibly thin, mere references to materials handed out by the WHO — there is yet to be a national review of the medical literature with any input from the social sciences and humanities.

Banning private transportation for instance, as London appears to suggest, would offer an immediate benefit to hospital wards, but just about nobody and not even the Professor of Public Health, is standing up complaining that the cost of vehicle transport on people’s lives is way too high, nor are today’s temperance union members averring that drunk-driving offences receive longer sentences.

South Africa remains a democratic republic where public health policy is set in terms of a constitutional dispensation not medical fiat. A dispensation that enshrines individual freedoms over the body, and a political reality that is not the result of the diktat of bureaucrats in Geneva, but rather a democratic revolution.

Is anyone in Pretoria listening?

A vaccine is just the beginning of the fight against Covid-19 …

THIS PAST week saw British scientists lauded for a successful phase 1 vaccine trial. A working vaccine may be available by the end of 2020. Unfortunately deploying a global immunisation programme may prove to be harder than producing the vaccine.

Although the United Nations is pushing all countries to join ‘an effort to make vaccines and drugs to fight Covid-19 cheap enough that the poorest populations in the world can be treated’, the sheer scale of such an endeavour looks daunting.

South Africa with a population of 58.8 million would require production of at least 160 000 doses per day for over a year to cover the entire country. Dispensing the vaccine would require 6712 jabs per hour to complete in 12 months, a Promethean task, more likely to occur over 5 to 10 years.

In other words, while the good news is that the world has a working vaccine, one of several vaccines capable of producing the right antibodies and killer T cells required to defend against the virus, the logistical problems of immunisation, make the pandemic likely to stay with us for the foreseeable future.

Technological innovation such as robotic application and drone delivery, novel production techniques and other medical advances, could bring this horizon closer — the day when everyone has immunity and countermeasures such as masks, social distancing and other measures are no longer required.

Bare in mind that as more people recover and gain natural immunity, the target population for an immunisation programme is lowered, thereby reducing the immediate task at hand. Although there is some debate as to whether or not, such immunity is short term and may fall off over time.

By that stage, those who would have died from the virus, will in most likely be dead. The risks of cluster outbreaks and casualty ward spikes will have diminished, and the burden on our health system will normalise along with the impact on the economy.

In effect, the virus and its grip on society, will have weakened, at least for now, but the risk of future flare-ups and other coronovirus clades remain.

Targeted immunisation programmes focusing on vulnerable groups and maximising scarce resources could also assist us in meeting our goal. But for now, we stuck with the ‘no longer novel’ coronovirus of 2019, which looks set to become as prevalent as the common cold, and a seasonal disease just like the flu.

The far left’s tenuous grip on Covid-19 science

DR MBUYISENI  Ndlozi, a man with a PhD in Political Science from Wits is no expert on epidemics and virology. As a spokesperson for far-left opposition party, EFF, he is a regular guest on national television and a staunch opponent of any relaxation of the hard lockdown.

Like many popular commentators on Covid-19, including myself, Ndlozi was quick to compare the pandemic to the Spanish Flu of 1918. Just how wrong this comparison has turned out, can be seen by the fact that several pandemics have occurred since the Spanish flu, each with their own lesson for humanity.

In February 1957, a new influenza A (H2N2) virus emerged in East Asia, triggering a pandemic (“Asian Flu”).

The Hong Kong flu (also known as 1968 flu pandemic) was a flu pandemic whose outbreak in 1968 and 1969 killed an estimated one million people all over the world. Woodstock occurred during the pandemic.

Nobody remembers these epidemics because there was no social media, no lock-downs and no cessation of economic activity. The world survived and only remembered the Spanish Flu epidemic from 1918.

“Should we be comparing Covid-19 to flu at all?” asks science journalist Laura Spinney. “The viruses that cause the flu and Covid-19 belong to two different families. Sars-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19, belongs to the coronavirus family. And in that, there are greater similarities with SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome, that originated in China in 2002) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome, which began in Saudi Arabia in 2012).”

“Unlike flu, which spreads rapidly and relatively evenly through a population, coronavirus tends to infect in clusters,”

Spinney writes. “In theory, that makes coronavirus outbreaks easier to contain, and indeed both SARS and MERS outbreaks were brought under control before they went global.”

Most importantly, she says, the world has changed a lot between 1918 and now.

“In 1918, a large number of people chose to follow what religious leaders were saying rather than heed the advice of health experts. For instance, in the Spanish city of Zamora, the local bishop defied the health authorities by ordering evening prayers on nine consecutive days in honour of Saint Rocco, the patron saint of plagues. Churchgoers lined up to kiss the saint’s relics. Zamora recorded the highest death rate in Spain, and one of the highest in Europe.”

Ferris Jabr of Scientific American, writing in Wired agrees and says:”Coverage of the coronavirus pandemic teems with monstrous and sometimes contradictory statistics.

“Among the most vexing figures flitting across our screens, and spreading via text and tweet, is the case fatality rate (CFR)—the proportion of known infections that result in death. Early in the Covid-19 pandemic, World Health Organization officials announced an average CFR of 2 percent. Later on, they revised it up to 3.4 percent. In contrast, numerous epidemiologists have argued that the global case fatality rate is closer to 1 percent. These might seem like small differences, but when multiplied across large populations they translate to significant discrepancies in overall deaths.”

The novel coronavirus pandemic however remains “a major threat that demands a swift and robust response,” writes Jabr. “Even a fatality rate between 0.5 and 1 percent is extremely alarming in a world as populous and interconnected as ours. Another crucial consideration is the virus’s potential to induce severe illness that may not be fatal but lasts for weeks, straining hospital resources and potentially leaving some people with lifelong health issues.”

Ndlozi is therefore right to reiterate the initial concerns raised by persons such as myself, with regard to the virulence and infectiousness of the virus. Its rapid spread took everyone by surprise, and without sufficient controls many lives would have been lost. But he is just plain wrong to suggest without any evidence, that a blanket, hard lock-down applied to the entire country will provide any benefits moving forward.

South Africa has aggressively intervened to contain the epidemic. But it is far from clear which strategic outcome is being pursued. “Is it following the lead of countries such as New Zealand or South Korea and trying to stop virus transmission altogether until a suitable vaccine becomes available? Or is it attempting to manage the infection rates so that extreme peaks in morbidity are prevented? “asks Alex Van Den Heever et al.

The cost of embracing a zero-risk policy is more likely to lead to ‘untold economic misery’ for ordinary South Africans and will prove ultimately futile in areas where social distancing is unworkable, witness the long queues for food across several of our provinces.

Those living in lockdown in South Africa’s townships are bound to experience a double-burden of hardship, not only do they risk losing their jobs, but also family members to the disease. The control measures over the food supply have already backfired.

A recent panel discussion hosted by Francois Picard of France 24, The Debate, highlighted the different approach taken by Sweden which has balanced control measures while avoiding a hard lock-down thereby avoiding an economic situation that ‘nobody will be able to live with’.

So summarise some of the current epidemiological thinking on Covid-19, articulated by Nobel laureates, high achievers in the arena of science as opposed to political studies — in essence the pandemic ‘represents a few extra weeks of average deaths for our population’. A hard lock-down merely pushes these deaths ahead of us, without much benefit. In any event we will still experience waves of the disease moving forward.

Hard lock downs are not the solution. Other ways to control the virus must be found. They might include limiting access to certain districts, keeping entire Cities in one level while other parts of the country are allowed to open up. Fighting the virus wherever it flares up in hotspots but allowing life to continue where it has not.

Dear Mr President, the paradox of leadership during Covid-19

THERE is a paradox in philosophy, one popularly referred to as Buridan’s Ass. It tells the story of a donkey that is equally hungry and thirsty, and placed precisely midway between a stack of hay and a pail of water. The paradox assumes the ass will always go to whichever is closer, and therefore it dies of both hunger and thirst since it cannot make any rational decision between the hay and water.

Similarly, South Africa is caught between two seemingly contradictory paths, both of which necessitate immediate and urgent action.

On the one hand, we are required to combat a ‘killer virus’, a virus whose impact upon our health and the health of our broader population is only beginning to be understood. If we do nothing, we risk inundating our health care system with casualties, and incurring unacceptable loss of life.

On the other hand, we are dependent upon our economy, for our livelihoods and way of life. Not simply our lives, but the very manner — both way and means by which we as individual households, survive year to year. We are all stricken by the need to feed and clothe our families, forced to pay our way, our rent and our bills. It matters not whether one believes necessities of life exclude alcohol or the nails one uses to repair ones roof, or whether we do depend upon smokes or the tools one uses to fix ones walls.

If we cease to engage with our economic imperatives, we also risk death — incurring unacceptable, diminished living standards, shortened life spans and negative health outcomes as we move forward.

That the burden of disease is also the burden of hunger, has already been written about here at length, and only a fool would suggest otherwise, to engage in a binary debate between people’s lives and livelihoods. Both are equally important.

The conundrum is similar to a patient forced to take medication. The list of side-effects may turn out to be worse than the disease. The cure may kill us all.

To complicate matters, there are urgent human rights and serious civil freedom predicaments that have compounded the situation. What appears to be nothing less than a silent coup, occurring the world over, a creeping Global Police State and a major shift in national and international imperatives.

Bar the health agenda, it is with almost zero constitutional backing that our own government has embarked upon a drastic course of action, (taken alongside other governments both across the continent and the world), with outcomes that appear to result in a blatant seizure of power in favour of the national executive.

Power taken without debate, taken away from Parliament in favour of the Executive, power usurped from the Courts, without checks and balances in favour of a centralised authority, the so-called National Command Council (NCC). The erosion of democratic institutions which have characterised our republic for decades and likewise many other democracies, is further reflected in local authorities pulling away from democratic norms and standards .

That the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) in South Africa has admitted it was an “error of law” on its part not to investigate the alleged role played by the Johannesburg Metro Police in the death of Collins Khoza at the hands of the SANDF is to be welcomed.

But a lot more needs to be done to preserve the rule of law in our country.

For starters, recognition that the SANDF may only act in an adjunct or auxiliary role to the Police during a National Disaster — the courts and justice system must be seen as primary during such a difficult period, especially one where the metaphor of war is easily bandied about, but where no actual war has been declared. Even then, we are a democracy and expect the democratic will and rule of law to prevail.

There are troubling signs that local authorities also wish to curtail rights not to be subject to search and seizure without a warrant.

The lock-down certainly has a sell-by-date and it is surely an extraordinary act of chicanery for us to believe that powers emanating from a piece of legislation designed primarily to deal with natural disasters such as hurricanes, drought, famine and earthquakes is fit for the purpose of public health initiatives taken over the past month?

Parliament must return to its civic duties, and the justice system must resume its oversight role. The many rules, bylaws and regulations must be debated by our elected representatives, and the NCC must explain why it is that they find themselves unable to choose between a stack of hay and a bucket of water, unable to speak to the absence of a vaccine and the problematic of herd immunity, unable to come through for those who demand alcohol or tobacco? Stricken as it were, by the enormity of what they have done, in seizing power over the commons.

A rather bizarre, jingoistic Covid-19 Freedom Day address by Julius Malema

HAVING JULIUS Malema appear on national television on Freedom Day, as if he were running the country is nothing new. But having the man appear to take charge during a National Disaster, surely one for the history books?

Today’s address must be seen as consistent with the commandeerist and vanguardist philosophy for which his far-left faction are renowned. The trouble with our national broadcaster’s approach, one of drawing in the troublesome EFF, is that it has allowed Malema to garner new opportunistic heights during the Covid-19 crisis.

Though characteristically lengthy, (I will leave it up to news media to report the nuts and bolts), the address contained more than the usual number of clangers.

Even under lockdown, he attacked the private sector which he said, could not be relied upon to provide services and said such persons were ‘driven by the profit-motive instead of coming together in times of crisis’, a fact not born out by the government’s own policy of allowing some economic activity to continue.

Witness Malema’s crass attempt to set the stage for a new ‘politics of the body’, setting the scene to take future credit for the production of ventilators and health equipment by our military-industrial complex under Denel, and a programme thus already underway.

“The South African government currently owns Denel which produces high tech fighting machines, that capacity must be directed towards the production of medical equipment. How do we explain that we can build fighter jets, fighting machines, but we cannot build a ventilator to help people breathe? Why do we have capacity to produce guns to fight wars but cannot produce machines to save lives?” he asked.

If you have not been following the details of South Africa’s national ventilator programme, or the response by local pharmaceutical companies such as Aspen, you could be forgiven for thinking that the EFF boss, had just made a major contribution on the subject, demanding local production of medicine and deployment of scarce military resources to the national effort.

Most of the politician’s address was caught up with an essentially bellicose attempt at holding both our government and industry to account for the crisis, whilst calling for stricter measures and harsher penalties, and reminding ‘revolutionaries’ that the ‘revolution was far from over, so long as the land was in white hands.’

‘If any workers lives were lost as a result of a premature exit from the national lockdown’, he fulminated, there would be hell to pay. In particular his party would make sure that for each worker’s life lost, the family ‘would receive at least R5 million’.

This after demanding an increase of the emergency crisis grant, to R1000. No credit given for President Ramaphosa’s historic introduction of a basic income grant (BIG) in times of need. Which is a bit like saying, ‘up the grant, and we will negotiate a payout if you die, or else’.

Not even socialist Sweden, which did not embrace a lockdown, has the kind of money to pay its entire population R1000pm, indefinitely, without there being some form of concomitant work in return, and thus a contribution by all workers to the nation’s exchequer. Malema however, called for BIG to be made permanent, and also demanded laptops and tablets for learners, another policy already implemented to some extant by the ANC, alongside E-learning.

Not content with playing catch-up to the ruling party and its remarkable series of interventions announced over the past week, by demanding stricter measures, and a return to moribund SOEs, Malema then proceeded to draw the kind of racist distinctions for which he is also famous.

One distinction in particular jarred, that made between European and Non-European, or in Malema terms, African and Non-African. That Malema was merely paraphrasing racist invective from the past whilst appearing to couch his arguments within the terms of black pride, can be seen in the following bizarre statement:

“Everyone thinks they are better than an African, they can made (sic) the worst form of suffering like Holocaust and bullets, they still will see themselves as better than Africans, meaning instead of human tragedy making them identify with Africans, they will still think of their own human suffering as better than being an African, why because African is being trapped in a skin colour, a body one can never escape.”

It was Adolf Hitler who made a distinction between what he termed Aryan, and Non-Aryan. It took apartheid founders such as DF Malan and HF Verwoerd to extend this classification system into the binary, European and Non-European, and thus some wind to the kind of racist terms deployed by Malema today.

But I fear, it takes a special type of jingoism, an inversion of logic if you will, for the result to blur into a scenario where ‘Hitler’s suffering’ is at the heart of all the problems to do with the black body. And where contrary to black consciousness leader, Steve Biko, ‘blackness is now purely the result of skin pigmentation’. All whilst calling essentially for a school curriculum that could see compulsory political re-education camps and censure on the basis of ideological outlook?

The sheer problem of metaphysical and epic proportions, in the extrapolation of a new ‘physicality of the body politic’ as a Covid19 ‘discourse of suffering’ by Malema, requires a lot more rumination than is possible on Freedom Day.

However, one of the tactics deployed by the self-styled and would-be Marxist dictator over the years, has been to cast himself as an unstoppable theoretical force, already in power. (By the powers of Fanon & Sankara?). If only the outcome of the ballot paper were a bit different and our nation’s ideological battles could be resolved with a simple tick of the pen?

Freedom day is surely not the time to be making distinctions on the basis of race, colour, religion and creed? And a crisis is not the place to be issuing forth on a treatment regime for some at the expense of others? But of course, we all get that Malema is about to volunteer for the treatment action campaign, or do we?

No other opposition leader has been given quite the same legroom by our nation’s institutions to attack democracy (or the marketplace) from within, whether in terms of editorial or column space, and thus to gain access to radio listeners and television spectators thereby, using the very mechanisms of power.

Malema’s party has too readily been granted the kind of privilege reserved for our democratic founders, and the type of audience reserved for visiting heads of state, in issuing forth racist cant that divides our nation, not between the haves and have-nots, but between those who qualify as Africans in Malema’s eyes, and those who do not.

For many commentators, the emergence of the EFF is a strange fact of South African life, orchestrated by party insiders, those wanting to create an antidote to the mostly white official opposition, and those who want merely to steal the revolution.

It is time to call-out what is occurring before our eyes, on the nation’s screens, in the negation of the democratic promise of universal rights and freedom for all citizens, black and white.

Medicine is ‘part observation, part hypothesis’, Tim Noakes apologises.

THAT A HydroxyChloroquine vs Chloroquine controversy continues to rage, and one of the theories as to why Covid-19 patients may be getting starved of oxygen despite medical interventions, appears to have been debunked as nothing more than in silica research, hasn’t stopped Dr Tim Noakes going out on a limb to defend what he feels should be an open debate on the subject.

‘It is not important if one’s hypothesis is wrong or right, what is important are the clinical observations, the theories must come later’ is the gist. In an audio interview broadcast on Capetalk and 702 Noakes apologised to listeners for any perceived harm his comments during an interview on CCFM may have caused, but urged the public to keep an open-mind instead of jumping to conclusions.

Without mentioning Nathan Geffen directly, he referred to the Treatment Action Campaign, which he lauded for doing a sterling job, but accused an unnamed activist for ‘being in cahoots with drug companies’ and wanting to shut down and censor debate. An advocate whose views were also broadcast during the follow up interview, was of the opinion that Noakes should rather ‘stick to his own lane’, meaning his chosen field, as a physician, which is sports medicine.

Noakes is no stranger to controversy, having literally had his version of the Banting diet placed on trial (his research started out as a refutation of a key feature of the Lore of Running), and then suffering the inequity of several years of litigation before the matter was finally put to rest in 2018, with HPCSA failing to appeal his acquittal.

Far from issuing a rebuttal, Noakes was keen to assert that he had spent most of his career researching the manner in which oxygen circulates within the body, and thus the impact of diet on ones health.

Noakes then proceeded to laud a New York physician Cameron Kyle-Sidell, MD who suggested COVID-19 ventilator protocols may need revisiting, and requested listeners to take the time to watch the following video:

The CCFM podcast is available here and criticism which you can read here and Noakes response here and here.

SEE: Could Hypokalemia explain COVID-19 mortality?

SEE: OGH using hyperbaric 02 therapy with success on COVID-19 patients

The Luc Montagnier Covid-19 Chimera Controversy

AT THE START I should caution readers that the scientific literature is littered with controversies and that the very basis of scientific proof, for any proof worth its salt, a proof must not simply be demonstrable by its authors, but subject to further experimentation by peers. In other words, for any theory to be accepted as true, it must be subject to peer review, and corroborated by experiments which are both demonstrable and repeatable.

Our own country has its fair share of scientific controversy, the latest being on air statements by Dr Tim Noakes and criticism which you can read here and his response here and here.

And for obvious reasons the history of the HIV epidemic, in particular the policies of the Mbeki administration remind us that it is important to keep an open mind and to allow debate to occur before jumping to conclusions.

It may therefore come as a shock that no less than the co-discoverer of HIV, Professor Luc Montagnier, 2008 Nobel Prize winner for Medicine, is at the centre of a growing controversy around allegations that SARS-CoV-2 is a chimera — a combination of several viruses, and possibly man-made.

Reasons why this may turn out to not be the case at all, are supplied below.

Luc Montagnier claims that SARS-CoV-2 is a manipulated virus that was accidentally released from a laboratory in Wuhan, China. Chinese researchers are said to have used coronaviruses in their work to develop an AIDS vaccine. HIV RNA fragments are thus believed to have been found in the SARS-CoV-2 genome.

His claims are based upon alleged evidence which has yet to be peer reviewed, and a paper which has been submitted for publication by mathematician and researcher, Jean-claude Perez.

Perez’ science paper summary is available here and here. And may also be downloaded here.

Perez maintains ‘It is very likely that there was HUMAN INTERVENTION in this LYONS’s region of wuhan genome: Analysis of this region in all coronaviruses shows a 100% jump in homology for the Wuhan genomes and 70 to 80% for the closest SARS. Although there is already a trace of ENV HIV1 in the genome that we have referenced here SARS2003. While there is NO TRACE of HIV1 ENV in the region (Lyons-weiler 20020) in all other SARS Coronavirus genomes.”

He supplies various proofs and includes two diagrams which we publish here for the sake of discussion.

Invalidated Work

‘Based on the study published by Jean-Claude Pérez, who “delved into the smallest details of the sequence” of the virus’, reports Le Parisien, ‘Professor Montagnier argues that SARS-CoV-2 contains “sequences of another virus which is HIV, the AIDS virus ”. He adds that a “group of Indian researchers tried to publish an analysis” of the same type and that it was withdrawn “under enormous pressure”.’

‘But “the study of Indian biomathematicians was quickly invalidated by other work which, by looking into the computer study of the genome, proved that there was no HIV sequence”, recalls Anne Goffard, virologist and teacher at the Faculty of Pharmacy in Lille.’

The study in question was also withdrawn by the authors themselves after “the comments received from the research community on their technical approach and their interpretation of the results”, can be read on the site BioRxiv , host of the publication.’

For the mathematical study provided by Jean-Claude Pérez, Étienne Decroly, CNRS researcher at the Architecture laboratory develops an analogy: “The sequence of a virus corresponds to 30 pages of a book. We scientists have tools to try to determine if a paragraph from this book has ever existed in another book. We have the sequences of all known viruses available. As for similarities with HIV, it is as if the word ‘hat’ appeared four times in two different books. We can, by chance, have sequences that look alike without demonstrating intentional modifications ”.

There is also published work refuting the idea that SARS-Cov-2 is a chimera.

And of course it all depends upon how one defines natural vs artificial. A chance occurrence of parts of a genome sequence from HIV may be the result of in vivo evolution of the virus genome, since chimeras may be created from two separate viruses inside the body, and what Perez may be observing is the unreported possibility that the samples sequenced were taken from patients that were already infected with HIV.

One should remember that what all RNA Coronoviruses have in common is the remarkable ability to assemble themselves via hijacking the bodies own cellular mechanisms. Cells already infected with HIV may therefore result in the exact same genome subjected to analysis by Perez. A simple case of looking too closely at an object seen from afar?

Or just another factor of the infodemic and failure to correctly unravel the viral family tree?

More likely, HIV shares some of the genome common to Coronoviruses. 

I could also be wrong and just plain Dunning–Kruger, as one researcher put it.

Only time can tell which view of reality is the truth.

UPDATE: The withdrawn study appears to be one and same research conducted by Perez, and published in International Journal of Research – Granthaalayah

UPDATE: Coronavirus could attack immune system like HIV by targeting protective cells, warn scientists

UPDATE: Calif.-based Gilead Sciences Inc., is ramping up its COVID-19 antiviral candidate production and research and is donating 1.5 million doses for compassionate use

Peter Breggin MD, raises questions on US-China ‘gain-of-function’ Coronovirus research.

THIS WEEK saw a special report by Peter Breggin, MD, raising serious questions about US-sponsored ‘Gain-of-Function’ Coronovirus research at China’s Wuhan laboratory facility.

This type of research was temporarily halted over ethical concerns under the Obama administration. Gain-of-function (GOF) research ‘typically involves mutations that confer altered functionality of a protein or other molecule.’

He says a ‘2015 Scientific Paper Proves US & Chinese Scientists Collaborated to Create Coronavirus that Can Infect Humans‘.

In 2015, American researchers and Chinese Wuhan Institute of Virology researchers collaborated to transform an animal coronavirus into one that can attack humans. Scientists from prestigious American universities and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) worked directly with the two coauthor researchers from Wuhan Institute of Virology, Xing-Yi Ge and Zhengli-Li Shi. Funding was provided by the Chinese and US governments. The team succeeded in modifying a bat coronavirus to make it capable of infecting humans.

The research was published in December 2015 in the prestigious British journal, Nature Medicine (volume 21, pages 1508–1513). The paper by Vineet D. Menachery et al., “A SARS-like cluster of circulating bat coronaviruses shows potential for human emergence” is available here as a PDF as well as on-line.i

The research demonstrates how a modified Bat coronovirus capable of attacking ACE2 was created by Chinese researchers and also their failure to develop a vaccine, and was followed by warnings of the danger involved published by The Scientist, 16 November 2015.

We built a chimeric virus encoding a novel, zoonotic CoV spike protein—from the RsSHC014-CoV sequence that was isolated from Chinese horseshoe bats1,” claim the researchers.

“The results demonstrate the ability of the SHC014 surface protein to bind and infect human cells, validating concerns that this virus—or other coronaviruses found in bat species—may be capable of making the leap to people without first evolving in an intermediate host, Nature reported. They also reignite a debate about whether that information justifies the risk of such work, known as gain-of-function research. “If the [new] virus escaped, nobody could predict the trajectory,” Simon Wain-Hobson, a virologist at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, told Nature.”

Breggin’s astonishing report comes the same week that an investigation into the same Wuhan facility has been reopened by the USA.

Breggin is well known within the medical and scientific community and has authored dozens of scientific articles and over twenty books, ‘promoting more caring and effective therapies’. He is also highly critical of the drug establishment and pharmaceutical industry.

His report follows initial articles, questioning whether Sars-Cov-2 is a chimera of two different viruses?

And apparently conclusive evidence that the virus is not man-made.

Breggin is at pains to point out that the man-made coronovirus referred to in the 2015 scientific literature is not SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for Covid-19. He instead presents various questions, necessitating further inquiry:

Concluding Questions:

  • Who in the US government enabled this research? Why was it allowed when it was enabling the Chinese to develop a military weapon or to accidentally cause an epidemic?
  • Why was an FDA official involved as an author and why was NIH funding the project?
  • The virus created in collaboration with the Chinese and the current epidemic virus are both SARS-CoV with many shared characteristics. This writer has found no scientific research that specifically compares the two viruses, a subject that needs to be investigated.
  • How many more lab-created or manipulated viruses are in the world’s laboratories and under the control of governments and the military?
  • Are potentially dangerous research projects continuing to go on involving American and Chinese collaboration with or without funding from both countries?
  • Why and how has this research project wholly escaped notice amid the growing concern about China’s role in causing the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic?
  • Why have none of the American researchers come forward to draw attention to this project which, at the least, enabled and promoted Chinese efforts to weaponize viruses?

Two years before the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic upended the world, U.S. Embassy officials visited a Chinese research facility in the city of Wuhan several times and sent two official warnings back to Washington about inadequate safety at the lab, which was conducting risky studies on coronaviruses from bats, according to Washington Post.

A new investigation, titled “Coronavirus 2019-nCoV contains a furin-like cleavage site absent in CoV of the same clade,” suggests it is unlike anything seen before. Which might require furin inhibitors.

Coronavirus study identifies ‘gain of function for efficient spread in humans’

Another paper raises Ethical and Philosophical Considerations for Gain-of-Function Policy: The Importance of Alternate Experiments

Inside the Chinese lab poised to study world’s most dangerous pathogens