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Sputnik-V: A Russian con job on its COVID-19 vaccine

Yesterday, Russia announced its approval of Sputnik-V, what Vladimir Putin dubs as the first COVID-19 vaccine. It’s propaganda, a con job, given that no data were presented and there have been no phase 3 trials.

Yesterday, the news was dominated by what I consider to be one of the worst ideas ever. Russian President Dictator Vladimir Putin announced the approval of a new vaccine for COVID-19. In a not-very-subtle admission of the purpose of approving this vaccine, the Russians dubbed the vaccine “Sputnik-V,” after the surprise launch of the first space satellite by the Soviet Union in 1957 during the Cold War, which panicked the US, a panic sometimes referred to as the Sputnik crisis. In the wake of Sputnik, there was a period of fear and anxiety about a perceived gap in science and technology between the US and its Cold War superpower rival.

As CNN reported yesterday:

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the approval of a coronavirus vaccine for use on Tuesday, claiming it as a “world first,” amid continued concern and unanswered questions over its safety and effectiveness. “

A vaccine against coronavirus has been registered for the first time in the world this morning,” Putin said on state TV. “I know that it works quite effectively, it forms a stable immunity.”

Putin added that one of his daughters had already taken it; he said she had a slightly higher temperature after each dose, but that: “Now she feels well.”

While it’s nice that Putin’s daughter didn’t suffer any adverse effects from the experimental vaccine other than what sounds like mild fevers, none of this obviates the obvious conclusion that this is pure propaganda, and an amazingly irresponsible bit of propaganda, to boot. Why irresponsible? Because:

Russia has released no scientific data on its testing and CNN is unable to verify the vaccine’s claimed safety or effectiveness.

Despite this, Russian officials have told CNN that at least 20 countries and some US companies have expressed interest in the vaccine.

I’ll discuss more about what is known (and, far more, what is unknown) about this Russian Sputnik-V vaccine in a moment. First, let me just reiterate my position (as if anyone here has any doubt about what it is). As hard as it is to believe, it was two and a half months ago when I first expressed my alarm at President Trump’s initiative to fast track a coronavirus vaccine that had been dubbed “Operation Warp Speed.” At the time, I commented primarily on the Moderna vaccine, which I viewed as an interesting example among the many COVID-19 vaccine candidates being tested because it is not a typical attenuated live virus vaccine or a vaccine consisting of key peptide antigens to provoke an immune response. Instead, it consists of messenger RNA (mRNA). For those not familiar with the biology, the DNA in your genome is translated into mRNA, which is then used as a template for the ribosomes to produce protein according to the nucleotide sequence of the mRNA. Of course, the process is a lot more complicated than that. For many genes, there are longer mRNA precursors that are cut up and then spliced together to form the final mRNA, but this description is correct, at least as far as the essence of the process goes: DNA to mRNA to protein. The Moderna vaccine uses mRNA, which is taken up by cells and turned into proteins, in order to provoke an immune response. It’s an interesting technique, although mRNA is notoriously difficult to work with because, unlike DNA, it is very unstable and breaks down easily. Personally, I was uneasy about the promotion of a vaccine based on a technique that had never resulted in an approved human vaccine before. Could it work? Sure. But it was risky.

The Russian vaccine similarly uses a technique that, while not as novel as an mRNA vaccine, is not widely used to make vaccines. Instead of using mRNA, the Russian vaccine uses an approach similar to other COVID-19 vaccines currently being developed:

Researchers at the Moscow-based Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, part of the Russian Health Ministry, developed the two-part vaccine. Both parts start with viruses that cause the common cold. Those viruses, adenovirus 5 and adenovirus 26, were each engineered to make the coronavirus’ spike protein. That protein helps the coronavirus latch on to cells and infect them. Since it is on the surface of the virus, it’s also a target for antibodies against the virus.

This approach is similar to other coronavirus vaccines in the works. The University of Oxford working with AstraZeneca uses a chimpanzee adenovirus. And a vaccine devised by China-based CanSino Biologics Inc. is based on adenovirus 5. Johnson & Johnson uses adenovirus 26 for its vaccine. Those vaccines have gone through initial safety tests where participants made antibodies against the virus and didn’t have any serious side effects (SN: 7/21/20).

So, instead of using mRNA, this approach uses a common virus as a vector, adenovirus. This is basically gene therapy as a vaccine. There are basically two approaches to using adenoviral vectors to produce proteins in humans. The first is to use what’s called a replication-defective adenovirus. Such adenoviruses are engineered to remove certain genes essential for replication, and usually the gene of interest (in this case, coronavirus spike protein) is inserted in place of those genes. This is almost certainly how the Russians engineered their vaccine, as it’s the approach used for most attempts at . Replication-competent adenoviral vectors are, as the name implies, capable of replicating in human cells normally. In general, replication-competent adenovirus vectors are used for what is referred to as oncolytic cancer therapy. Such viruses are generally engineered to replicate preferentially in cancer cells compared to normal cells and destroy the cancer cells by doing what adenoviruses do best: Replicating and then lysing (bursting) the cancer cells, thus killing them.

Adenoviral vectors have a number of advantages, but several disadvantages as well. The virus is well-studied, and adenoviral vectors can be grown into high titer stable stocks without much difficulty. They also infect dividing and non-dividing cells. In general, as formulated now they are safe and well tolerated. Another advantage of adenoviral vectors is this:

Ads are strongly immunogenic and this has consequences not only for Ad infection outcomes and prevention, but also for the use of Ads as vectors for gene therapy, for vaccines, and for cancer gene therapy. The most important antigens are the three major capsid proteins, the hexon, penton base, and fiber. Most neutralizing antibodies are directed against the most abundant capsid protein, hexon, and especially against so-called hypervariable loops (i.e. regions that differ among serotypes) that are exposed on the surface of hexon [9, 10]. Ad-specific CD4+ T cells have been found among peripheral blood lymphocytes of almost all individuals of all ages. Most of the CD4+ T cell epitopes are in hexon [11]. Although less common, hexon-specific CD8+ T cell epitopes are present in healthy donors [11]. There is evidence that cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) specific to hexon are protective against Ad infections in humans [12].

Ads and Ad vectors induce a strong innate immune response that has been studied extensively in mouse models [13]. Understanding and appreciating these strong innate and adaptive immune responses are likely relevant to assessing the use and safety of Ad vectors.

This is a problem that the Russians could conceivably have overcome by the use of two different strains of adenovirus:

Using two adenoviruses instead of one is unusual, but may help solve a potential problem, says Daniel Kuritzkes, a virologist and infectious diseases doctor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Because the body may develop antibodies to the virus carrying the spike protein, a booster shot with that same virus might be rendered useless. The two-step inoculation with different adenoviruses may sidestep that issue.

What this basically means is that Sputnik-V could work. It’s true that translating efficacy the efficacy of adenovirus-based vaccines from rodent models to primates and humans has thus far been mostly elusive. Indeed, even though adenovirus-based vaccines against COVID-19 are the frontrunners right now in the race to be the first to be approved, they have a rather checkered past for other diseases. The technology has been around for 30 years but has yet to result in an approved vaccine for humans, and:

Adenovirus vaccines might be grabbing the limelight amid the coronavirus pandemic, but they have a checkered past.

When scientists began creating adenoviral vectors in the 1980s, most worked with a particular kind of adenovirus called Ad5, which ubiquitously infects humans and causes the common cold. Researchers stripped Ad5 of the genes it needed to replicate and inserted those genes into genetically engineered cell lines. That ensured that the modified viruses could be grown only in these special cells in the lab. It also opened up space in the Ad5 genome for scientists to stitch in new genes of their choosing.

Many scientists hoped to use Ad5 to deliver a human gene that could correct rare genetic mutations—an approach called gene therapy. Those efforts came to a grinding halt in 1999 when a teenage boy with a rare genetic liver disease died after receiving an injection of an Ad5-based gene therapy, which had been designed in James Wilson’s lab at the University of Pennsylvania.

The large dose of 38 trillion viruses the patient was given sparked massive body-wide inflammation and sent his immune system into overdrive. After that, scientists mostly stopped using adenoviral vectors for gene therapy, in which the dose needs to be high to reach many cells of the body.

But vaccine developers viewed adenovirus-induced inflammation as an asset. “There is an expression out there that a failed gene therapy makes a good vaccine,” says Luk Vandenberghe, a viral vector expert at Harvard Medical School.

One attractive feature is that adenoviruses’ inflammatory effects mean developers don’t have to use adjuvants, molecules added to conventional vaccines to direct the immune system’s attention to the viral protein. The adenoviruses themselves drive the inflammation, which is kept under control by giving the vaccines at low doses.

Jesse Gelsinger’s death was a tragedy and a huge blow that set gene therapy back several years. Most likely it was the enormous dose of adenovirus vector that resulted in his death. Still, none of this changes the fact that, as yet, there are no adenovirus-based vaccines demonstrated to be sufficiently safe and effective to be approved for general use use.

So theoretically Sputnik-V could work. But does it? The answer is simple: We have no idea! Not only have the Russians not published any of the data that they used to “approve” Sputnik-V, they haven’t done the phase 3 clinical trials necessary to demonstrate efficacy and safety. The whole thing has been quite shady. Yes, the Russians did register two clinical trials at ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT04437875 and NCT04436471. These were both open-label (unblinded), phase I clinical trials. These trials accrued 38 healthy volunteers each, for a total of 76 people having received the vaccine. This is all fine, as far as early human testing of a new vaccine goes. Phase I trials, however, are not designed to determine efficacy. They are designed to rule out major safety concerns and to determine dose, and all we know about the results of these phase 1 trials is this:

According to the vaccine’s Russian-language registration certificate, all 38 participants who received one or two doses of the vaccine had produced antibodies against SARS-CoV-2’s spike protein, including potent neutralizing antibodies that inactivate viral particles. These findings are similar to results of early-stage trials of other candidate vaccines. Side effects were also similar, such as fever, headache and skin irritation at the site of injection.

Again, so far, so good, but this is only a preliminary result that supports moving on to larger phase 2 trials (which usually involve a few hundred subjects). It in no way shows that the vaccine will work to prevent infection or that it will be safe when given to millions (or hundreds of millions) of people. Interestingly, First Deputy Defense Minister Ruslan Tsalikov said in an interview published in the Argumenty i Fakty newspaper that the Russian military has completed phase 2 trials of Sputnik-V, but, again, there are no data published anywhere.

Worse:

Since then, Russian officials have claimed that they would be moving the vaccine quickly into manufacturing. Mr. Putin’s announcement on Tuesday made it official. Yet the institute has never published its Phase 1 and 2 trial data.

At Mr. Putin’s announcement, Russia’s Minister of Health, Mikhail Murashko, declared that “all the volunteers developed high titers of antibodies to COVID-19. At the same time, none of them had serious complications of immunization.”

That is the sort of result you’d expect from a Phase 1 trial. It doesn’t tell you if the vaccine actually works.

“This is all beyond stupid,” said John Moore, a virologist at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City. “Putin doesn’t have a vaccine, he’s just making a political statement.”

Vaccine expert Peter Hotez notes about Sputnik-V:

Hotez expects that the Gamaleya vaccine will elicit a decent immune response against SARS-CoV-2. “The technical feat of developing a COVID19 vaccine is not very complicated,” he says. “The hard part is producing these vaccines under quality umbrellas — quality control and quality assurance — and then assuring the vaccines are safe and actually work to protect against COVID19 in large phase III clinical trials.”

Exactly. Not only do we not have any publications in the peer-reviewed scientific literature about the results of the two phase 1 trials of Sputnik-V registered at ClinicalTrials.gov by the Russians and have no information other than a translation of the Russian registration certificate, but we have no phase 3 trials. Who knows if Sputnik-V works or not? Certainly not us, and certainly not the Russians. Even more shady, it’s been primarily the Russian elite, such as Vladimir Putin’s daughter and others, who were given access to the vaccine:

Scores of Russia’s business and political elite have been given early access to an experimental vaccine against Covid-19, according to people familiar with the effort, as the country races to be among the first to develop an inoculation.

Top executives at companies including aluminum giant United Co. Rusal, as well as billionaire tycoons and government officials began getting shots developed by the state-run Gamaleya Institute in Moscow as early as April, the people said. They declined to be identified as the information isn’t public.

Oligarchs gonna oligarch, I guess. Even more…interesting, Vladimir Putin hasn’t taken the Sputnik-V vaccine himself:

Asked on a conference call with reporters on Monday if President Vladimir Putin had taken it, Peskov said: “It probably wouldn’t be a good idea to use an uncertified vaccine on the head of state,” adding that he wasn’t aware of other officials trying it.

In fairness, the article I’m quoting is from July, and that was weeks before this announcement. However, the article also noted that it was not clear how participants in the Sputnik-V clinical trials were selected. The whole process has been, unsurprisingly, very opaque. There’s also a lot less to this announcement than meets the eye. As noted in Science, the certificate issued by Russia for the Sputnik-V vaccine allows the vaccine to be given to “a small number of citizens from vulnerable groups,” including medical staff and the elderly. However, the certificate also stipulates that the vaccine cannot be used widely until January 1, 2021, presumably after larger clinical trials have been completed.

Bottom line, I’m with blog bud and fellow defender of vaccines Skeptical Raptor. The Russian announcement of Sputnik-V is propaganda. It’s smoke and mirrors. It’s a con job designed to make it look as though Russia was the first to develop a coronavirus vaccine that’s safe and effective. One could hardly make a more obvious contrast with the original Sputnik, which involved a real feat of science and technology fused with engineering. Of course, there is always an outside chance that Russia got very, very lucky and that Sputnik-V will actually turn out to be safe and effective at preventing COVID-19 infection in phase 3 trials, but that would just be luck. In the meantime, there is now the very real risk that Russia has just handed the antivaccine movement its best weapon in a very long time.

As for me, I’m as pro-vaccine as they come, but I will not accept a COVID-19 vaccine for myself or my family until it has undergone phase 3 clinical trials demonstrating safety and efficacy.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

82 replies on “Sputnik-V: A Russian con job on its COVID-19 vaccine”

@ David

“Like many other teenage boys, Putin believes he is invincible.”

And where did you get your popular wisdom on teenage boys from?

Gee…

Putin likely knows that he has no choice but to hang on to power. The day he steps down, he seriously needs to look after his back.

A serious question: isn’t a response to vaccine potentially different in an “older person” comparing with the “younger person”? Doesn’t weaker immune system produce weaker antibody response?

People in different ages may respond differently (and not always the way you think; some vaccines are less effective in children than in older people, while regular flu vaccines are less effective in older people).

That’s why it is important, in the COVID-19 vaccines clinical trials, to also evaluate vaccine effectiveness in different age groups, not just together.

I like the cartoon.

But now I’m concerned that “Ja, ik accepteer cookies” actually translates as “Yes, I agree that the Ministry of Misinformation can inject tracking chips into my subcutaneous tissues”. Never should have clicked that OK button. 🙁

It’s semi-hilarious that after saying that an “uncertified vaccine” was too risky for an Exalted Head of State like himself, Putin decided that his daughter’s health was acceptable to gamble on. Oh well – who better than the privileged few (excepting Putin) to act as guinea pigs for this relatively untested vaccine?

I highly doubt he vaccinated his daughter; that’s pure propaganda. Russia is good at that.

Here we go again. Russia purchased hundreds of thousands of lots of the live Polio vaccine in the 1950’s that did NOT come from Cutter Labs; making the US look like buffoons after the Incident. Cold War competition. The US responds with mass immunization campaigns using Salk’s attenuated vaccine & discovers four years later that it was contaminated with SV40.

Sixty one years later & Russia’s Putin ‘vaccinates his daughter against COVID’ while the masses here are still demanding a vaccine? Nope. Nyet. Not.

A. Sabin’s attenuated vaccine.
B. To remind you, luckily, the SV40 contamination did not result in harm to humans, and led to changes that prevented a repeat.
C. Most of the world wanted a vaccine against polio.
D. Most of the world wants a vaccine against COVID-19. Because it’s a bad disease. The issue with the Russian vaccine is that there is no data on safety and effectiveness.

“…using Salk’s attenuated vaccine…”

“Russia purchased hundreds of thousands of lots of the live Polio vaccine in the 1950’s…”

LOL. The US is not the only one who looks like a buffoon. Salk’s vaccine was not attenuated. It was dead virus.

Sabin’s vaccine was attenuated, and the trials for that vaccine happened in 1959 IN THE SOVIET UNION. Why would Russia (then the Soviet Union) want to “purchase” a vaccine that Sabin was making for them over there from a country that didn’t even have it.

Next, she’ll tell us that the 1918 influenza pandemic ended the Seven Years War. Thus is the thinking of someone who wakes up in the morning and struggles hard during the day to convince themselves that they know something of which they clearly know very little about.

Well, given that Christine’s record includes giving a “per capita” death rate from COVID, and not understanding the difference between “per 1000” and “per 100,000,” are we shocked?

🙄

Jesse Gelsinger’s death was a tragedy and a huge blow that set gene therapy back several years. Most likely it was the enormous dose of adenovirus vector that resulted in his death. Still, none of this changes the fact that, as yet, there are no adenovirus-based vaccines demonstrated to be sufficiently safe and effective to be approved for general use use.

Dr Fauci ( w/ Sanjay Gupta CNN, repeated on various outlets ) has been warning that the persistent anti-science attitude permeating culture has undermined public heath measures to contain the virus including wearing masks, social distancing, tolerating restrictions and even eventually, accepting a vaccine. I’ve been watching his forebodings come true over the past few months as the numbers of infections and deaths increased drastically while other areas of the world experienced declines.

Science deniers/ anti-vaxxers bear responsibility for at least some of the damage, as do rightist political activists, for questioning the severity of the illness, misrepresenting data and frightening people about vaccines as they continue blithely disparaging reality and cavalierly dispensing their “wisdom” secure in the knowledge that if people suffer and die because of their activities disseminating mis-information, no one can trace it directly to them and hold them individually responsible HOWEVER sceptics have good memories and document their observations well.. There is a record for both leaders and followers in the movement: the internet never forgets,.
.

.

A while back I worked in a lab trying to develop a new way of testing HIV vaccines. During that time was the (in-the-field) “failed Merk Vaccine” trial, where a replication-defective adenovirus-based HIV vaccine did not work and maybe made a subset of people at higher risk of infection (not acceptable at all and the study was stopped on a dime).

The conversations I remember among more senior researchers suggested the problem was that many people have already been exposed to the most common adenovirus, and so they have a pre-existing immune response to the vector of the vaccine, meaning the other bits of the vaccine (in the Sputnik-V case, the coronavirus spike protein) never have chance to be presented to the immune system.

That was years and years ago. Why do people still want to use adenoviruses as vectors? Because they’re easy and well characterized?

I feel like I’m missing something.

“and maybe made a subset of people at higher risk of infection ”

I’ve heard that about other vaccine attempts, SARS and Zika come to mind.

“Why do people still want to use adenoviruses as vectors?”

Because they are dumb? 😃

“Most likely it was the enormous dose of adenovirus vector that resulted in his death.”

And I guess that was because they expected loads of them to be deactivated before driving it home. I get that it would not be practical at scale but it would seem that in an individual gene therapy such as Jesse Gelsinger’s that they would have given a little bit first and check to see how fast they got wiped out before deciding on a dose.

As for Sars-CoV-2, why not just identify the cross-reactivity that seems to be giving naive-exposed people at least some initial immunity? Then find a kid with that particular virus to sneeze in a McD’s ball-pit and invite those who want to flail around in there to do so (after negative test results verified, of course). A good place to look might be India — lots of bats and people that just happen to appear somewhat immune.

~~~ Dear University of California San Francisco alumni,

We have all these lab engineered llama molecules we think could be just nifty one day. So please hit that donate button 🤑 and don’t forget to like and share our informative Youtube video. ~~~

https://www.ucsf.edu/news/2020/08/418241/aeronabs-promise-powerful-inhalable-protection-against-covid-19

I , for one, for now, would much rather take a puff on that stuff than just any old prick-o-Putin. I think.

I thought the Oxford one was a chimpanzee adenovirus, but the Russian one was Ad5 and Ad26, and Ad5 is a human adenovirus, that’s part of why it didn’t work in the HIV vaccine.

I’m not just contradicting you, I’m trying to understand the differences.

“Our point to the world is that we have this technology, it can be available in your country in November/December if we work well with your regulator … People who are very skeptical will not have this vaccine and we wish them good luck in developing theirs,” he said.

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/08/12/russia-coronavirus-vaccine-has-been-researched-for-six-years.html

The timing on that is incredibly suspicious – basically, “Vote for Trump in November or you won’t get our vaccine”. Paper tiger BS, but perhaps enough to sway a scared public.

And despite these, our president here in the Philippines made a deal with Putin to have this vaccine distributed to our country, and promised us a “Covid-free December.”

It seemed like our government didn’t understand that the vaccine isn’t approved yet, that’s why they made grandiose promises with it. Our president wanted to be a guinea pig for the vaccine, but he isn’t even eligible to be enrolled in the clinical trials. I think these people in our government don’t really know what they’re doing as they’ve put non-experts in charge of handling our pandemic.

Nope Natalie, you can’t compare the two. Unlike this Russian vaccine, Dengvaxia was studied and found to be safe and effective. No Dengvaxia “deaths” in our country have been attributed to the vaccine after autopsies done by Pathologists. The campaign against Dengvaxia was politically motivated.

Orac, obviously you are not an antivaxxer, but would you say you are an ‘anti-Russian-Covid-vaxxer’?!

Seriously though folks, occasionally you get a real good, informative blog from Orac. Not his typical axe- grinding one, with adhoms, strawmen and just plain bad arguments serving as the grinders. This blog was very good, and with lots of helpful information about vaccine technology. That Orac can be reasonable just underscores how much he is ‘compromised’ and full of crap.

Orac, I would also agree with you that the Russian quick approval is a gift to us antivaxxers, but I would also say it’s a good thing. It alerts the public to the crap that is going on in Covid research, and trains them to be further wary of any similar quick approval of the Western backed vaccines. Is this not a good thing for vaccine safety?!

Actually, Orac says that vaccines should be fully safety tested. You say that they are bad just because thet are called vaccines. What is more scientific position ?

Actually, Orac says that vaccines should be fully safety tested. You say that they are bad just because thet are called vaccines. What is more scientific position ?

Wanting vaccines to be fully tested or being an antivaxxer? Not really much difference. Just a logical progression.

@ Greg

“Wanting vaccines to be fully tested or being an antivaxxer? Not really much difference. Just a logical progression.”

Wanting a vaccine to go through phase 3 is logical. Antivaxxer fantasies are not.

No “progression” there. Merely the art of inducing other people into error. Purposefully.

If only ridicule could kill…

@ Greg

“Orac, obviously you are not an antivaxxer, but would you say you are an ‘anti-Russian-Covid-vaxxer’?!”

Dumb and Dumber…

The real question: do we need a vaccine against COVID-19. Widespread testing shows that it is in the population. No surprise as we have a pandemic. Widespread testing shows that the virus is much less virulent to the general population than originally feared. Most infections do not result in significant disease. Latest stats suggest that 12% of the population is already exposed. As this only measures people tested and not randomized, it suggests it is the minimal number. If 80% are asymptomatic/minimally symptomatic, this suggest that at least another 12% were exposed and now immune. One study suggested 80% of the population has T cell reactive to the virus. This makes demonstration of a clinical effective vaccine very difficult.

To be effective, the vaccine must be self and well tolerated. It must decrease the number of infections, decrease the number of significant cases, and decrease the death rate. We assume that virus will not mutate over time. If it does it may require yearly vaccination. However the adenovirus regimes appear to be a one time deal.

We have an excellent prototype. It is the flu vaccine. It has been around fore decades; it is well tolerated with minimal side effects. Some years we get excellent results and some years we get not so excellent results (due to an unanticipated mutation). But here’s the kicker: a large portion of the population still gets the seasonal flu; and the population over 65 has the highest death rate. Somehow this does not stir up the same degree of angst but is accepted as the natural background state.

In 2017 there were about 41000 deaths due to the flu. It is true that we have about 169,000 deaths in which COVID-19 was reported as the prime cause or a contributing factor or about 4X as many. But 67% of these deaths were among the frail elderly, who were already older than the average age expectancy. The frail elderly who died all showed evidence of T cell exhaustion. As the elderly have a weaker immune system, and the frail elderly often have diabetes type 2 and vitamin D deficiency (both of which contribute to death) it is unlikely they will be candidates for the vaccine. If we remove them but take special precautions to protect the vulnerable, then the deaths from COVID-19 are about 56,000.

Every death is a tragedy and misfortune to the loved ones left behind. But every individual will die at some point. And it is not always a tragedy to the individual who dies, as it may end a period of intolerable suffering and pain.

But the real question: should we be locking down an economy, with all its negative side effects, including increased deaths from other causes, waiting for a vaccine, which at the best, will have marginal effect.

Don’t forget people dying from it and people who get a mild version of the disease offer suffer from nasty side-effects months later. Most economies also suffer badly from this, so there is enough reason to want a vaccine. The disease won’t go away on it’s own, as the latest cases in New Zealand have shown.

Pathcoin, I’m over 65 and quite fit, but I don’t want to get flu or Covid-19. Thanks for your “concern”, but I welcome a vaccine for myself and a couple of young but immune-compromised grandchildren, thank you very much.

Sweden tried avoiding lockdown. Turns out lots of people dying (Even if it’s “jut” the elderly), and even more people getting sick, all at once, is bad for the economy.

But 67% of these deaths were among the frail elderly, who were already older than the average age expectancy.

As opposed to the unfrail elderly? Any citation for the 67% number that you seem to have pulled out of your ass, rather than the more common 80% for adults aged 65+?

The frail elderly who died all showed evidence of T cell exhaustion.

You don’t say. Every single one, eh? Could you pick a specific meaning for the expression?

Do you ever read the replies to your comments?
Because I explained that of course some people have SARS-CoV-2 reactive T cellsbecause that is how T-cells work.

T-cells are pre-made with the hope that they will have a receptor that binds an antigen presented by a pathogen. The thymus edits out T-cells that would bind to “self”. So of course there are people who have T-cells that respond to coronaviruses.

How dare you write off as “expendable” every human over the age of 65. You know that’s a substantial portion of the workforce, right? Of political and scientific and business leadership? Do you have any idea what kind of impact that would have on the world economy?

Yes, eventually each of us will die, and precious few of us will get to choose the manner of our passing. That doesn’t mean ethically or morally acceptable to just kill people. Did you even thing about what you wrote? Because it is monstrous.

“The thymus edits out T-cells that would bind to “self”.” ”

Yea, those kids don’t pass muster and are forced into sex work or chartered accountancy.

The thymus facilitates the maturation of T cells, an important part of the immune system providing cell-mediated immunity. T cells begin as hematopoietic precursors from the bone-marrow, and migrate to the thymus, where they are referred to as thymocytes. In the thymus they undergo a process of maturation, which involves ensuring the cells react against antigens (“positive selection”), but that they do not react against antigens found on body tissue (“negative selection”). Once mature, T cells emigrate from the thymus to provide vital functions in the immune system.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thymus#T_cell_maturation

It is T-cell school, in general??? As noted before, maybe they can’t get there in the first place because of some kind of hoax lockdown.

‘Migrate’. Hmm. Their Waze app broke? They are but very young, having no prior exposure to cartography. Also, they are all aspiring manly men thus lack the ability to stop and ask for directions.

Do you ever read the replies to your comments?

I seem to recall one instance, but it’s mostly repetitive hit-and-run.

Where are they finding 12%? Quebec tested donated blood (from I think mid-May to mid-July) and about 2% tested positive for antibodies to this coronavirus.

That’s obviously not a random sample–it’s adults who hadn’t had symptoms in the past few weeks and felt generally well enough to donate blood–but given that, I’d be surprised if the incidence for the province as a whole was as high as 12%.

As Orac has pointed out elsewhere, people who have reason to think they’re particularly vulnerable to the virus are more likely to be staying home to avoid exposure. Without a vaccine or effective treatment, will those people ever start seeing their families again?

My mother and I live in different countries, and she’s in her eighties, and I would like to see her again, not this month, probably not this year, but in this lifetime.

The real question: do we need a vaccine against COVID-19.

Indeed the real question, but one that is not very sexy or potentially lucrative. The sexxy and potentially lucrative one is, can we make a Covid vaccine?

@ Greg

“Indeed the real question, but one that is not very sexy or potentially lucrative. The sexxy and potentially lucrative one is, can we make a Covid vaccine?”

Oh yeah. Let’s tax companies making a vaccine so that they really do have an incentive to do so.

Of course people make money when proposing solutions that correspond to the public good. Sometimes they make money with solutions that are detrimental to others, true… But if social interests and company’s interests are aligned, there is no real moral conundrum involved.

Except the one that implies the need to highlight your stupidity.

Gregger, I am far from a laissez-faire capitalist, but I have been around long enough to accept that when someone starts or runs a business they expect to make a profit, or else it soon becomes an ex-business. Even if Bob’s Friendly Non-Profit Startup over in the defunct bowling alley comes up with a vaccine so perfect that even you can’t find fault with it, someone has to make it. The company that does it has to be able to get production up and running quickly and ramp it up to produce millions, hundreds of millions, and potentially billions, of doses and efficiently distribute them in a short time. This means that an existing enterprise of scale must do it, and if they do it without making a profit, they may win all kinds of praise and awards, but their workforce will soon join you collecting deposit bottles in the park for grocery money.
If you know another way to accomplish this without anyone making a profit, not the retirement funds and university endowments that hold their shares, not the pharma companies themselves, not the raw materials and equipment suppliers, not the freight carriers that move it around the world, without causing major economic and social disruption do please enlighten us.
Surprise us with a detailed, well researched, well thought out plan that stands up to scrutiny. While you’re working it up, don’t let yourself be distracted by posting here. Nobody ever won a Nobel Prize for Economics by posting comments to blogs, not even one as prestigious and valuable as Respectful Insolence.

@ORD

ORD, sorry for the late reply. I am also a believer in the free market. Yes — I am an antivaxxer, but I also have no objections to pharma making boatloads of cash selling their vaccines to a fully informed public. What I object to is them profiting from such liability free products that are being mandated on the public. That is not the free market operating, ORD; that is extortion! If you have no problem with it, then I am afraid it makes everything you wrote null and void.

@Greg With informed consent you, of course, mean antivax lies, One of them being that vaccines are liability free.

I had confirmed Covid-19 at the beginning of April. I’m one of the people with mild to moderate symptoms. I only needed a brief in and out of the ER for a rehydrating IV with a pinch of Zofran after puking myself silly for 5 days straight. I don’t have ground glass opacity and did not need breathing support. I did not die.

I am also, four months later, not well. I have lost 19 lbs I did not need to lose. My hands, the palms, the skin peels off in sheets. My eyes burn. My hips and shoulders and knees ache, interspersed with stabbing pains, sometimes in my head. Sometimes my gums and nose bleed, fortunately not at the same time. I’m exhausted and sleep around 12 broken hours a night. Sometimes I wake up with my heart racing and it’s scary.

Some days and even weeks are better and then it comes back and I can’t walk any of my 3 dogs or play with my 9 year old or watch a movie with my husband without falling asleep. I can’t focus on work. I have tested negative since May but four and a half months down the line from the eight days of mild to moderate and I am not well.

I have no underlying conditions and I don’t smoke or drink. I am Caucasian. I was not overweight.

It’s important that people like you understand that this isn’t the fucking flu.

You are so right. I read this kind of stories regulary, but still some people keep telling it is just the flu and it is only bad for old people, so no use to damage the economy, to keep some people alive, who would have died in months anyway. If people only consider the deaths, they forget all those healthy people like you, who are still suffering and often can’t do their job and I think, how would that not be damaging the economy?
Yesterday in my newspaper, there was a story of a former Dutch female soccer-player, who worked with mentally handicapped people and when the lockdown started, they decided to lock themselves in with the patients in order to keep the illness inside. Of course, she got Covid-19 herself, not really bad, but just like you, she was still suffering the nasty consequences.

And then I see people protesting against all kind of things that are done to keep the disease under control and I think: “don’t these people read newspapers?” Well I suppose they don’t and if they do, they consider it all fake news, which is just a way of controlling people. If the people get unemployed, they get dependent of social security and according to some of these protesters, that is what the government wants, because if people are dependent of social security, they will be more willing to follow orders and take a vaccine. Because those people are not only against social distancing, facemasks and other things to prevent people from getting disease, but they are also against vaccines. And of course Bill Gates is behind all this (according to some of those people) because he will earn lots and lots of money if everyone in the world will get a vaccine against Covid-19.

Sometimes I think I’m living in some kind of madhouse.

But 67% of these deaths were among the frail elderly, who were already older than the average age expectancy.

Sorry, late to the party. Pathcoin has a bad effect on my blood pressure, so I tried not to read them for some time.

“older than the average age expectancy”
You know how “average” works, do you? Some people will be on one side of it, other people will be on the other side.

Also, are you talking about the whole population’s average age expectancy, or the seniors’ average age expectancy?
Because, as it happens, a 70-year old has more chance nowadays to reach 90 than a 15-year old.
When you look at age distribution in a population, there is a tragic bump around 20’s. Teenagers learning to drive, learning to avoid OD’ on drugs and alcohol… Or failing.
That’s gonna affect the average life expectancy.

tl;dr: I’m annoyed as hell that people like Pathcoin talk about the “elderly” like all/most victims of Covid19 were half-rotten human vegetables on their deathbed.

I’ve been waiting to see in the Trump regime will suggest buying loads of this and push for using it to prove Trumps claim there would be a vaccine in time for the election, and that he, Trump, is the one and true savior of America. It would work either way, if its taken up he can say he delivered on his promise and if health official block it, he can run with his usual victim-hood as the thwarted genius who had the answer and that you’d all be saved if not for those pesky experts.

. . . The whole process has been, unsurprisingly, very opaque. There’s also a lot less to this announcement than meets the eye. . .

Bottom line, I’m with blog bud and fellow defender of vaccines Skeptical Raptor. The Russian announcement of Sputnik-V is propaganda. It’s smoke and mirrors. It’s a con job designed to make it look as though Russia was the first to develop a coronavirus vaccine that’s safe and effective. . . .

As for me, I’m as pro-vaccine as they come, but I will not accept a COVID-19 vaccine for myself or my family until it has undergone phase 3 clinical trials demonstrating safety and efficacy.

What? You are not ready to buy Putin’s pig in a poke?

And it wants vaccines to be well tested. This is very expensive to drug companies. Something does not fly here.

Speaking of con jobs:

Age of Autism has conned Amazon into listing it as one of the charities that people visiting Amazon can designate to receive donations from the company.

So Amazon is willing to fund an antivaccine group that engages in conspiracy-mongering about Covid-19 and attacks science-based efforts to counter the pandemic. Nice.

@ DB:

I know. It’s been going on for a while; Kim reminds followers to buy and support AoA.

Since social media is cancelling anti-vax / woo ( Adams, Del on YouTube, Mercola with Twitter, Null with Facebook) a few of them try to dodge the censor by using names of their companies or fanclubs for Facebook or making their own video services or collections( NN, PRN)

I also notice that some anti-vax FB pages don’t have warnings ( Stop Mandatory Vaccination, Vaccine Injury stories)

The Hill:
A new poll says that 35% say they wouldn’t get a Covid vaccine, 60% say yes, 5% unsure
People with a college degree -19% more likely to accept a vaccine than people without one
Democrats 72%, Republicans 48%
75% trust public health officials for information
62% trust state elected officials
Trump 31%
news sources 46%

In 2009, only 51% said they would accept an H1N1 vaccine

CR:
If I read the report correctly: Democrats 72 to 53% ( for college/ not college)
Republicans 71 to 48% college/ not
NPR poll

I really think we should take polls about a hypothetical vaccine, where the safety and effectiveness profile is unknown, with a grain of salt. They may not tell us much about what people would actually do.

There could be better polls. I’d be more inclined to accept results if there were actually a vaccine ready to go.
Another poll said that people were more accepting if told the vaccine would be free.
Still, I’d be interested to see if the “No” answers change as time goes on with lockdowns and restrictions.

Well there are still people insisting Covid-19 is not more than a flu and all the bad news about it is merely a hoax, to trick people in accepting things to turn for instance the European Union in a dictatorship, like China.
Mostly, if not always, these people are also against vaccines.

@ Renate

“Well there are still people insisting Covid-19 is not more than a flu and all the bad news about it is merely a hoax, to trick people in accepting things to turn for instance the European Union in a dictatorship, like China.”

There is a mission creep of medicine. Medicine does impact lives in more and more manners, and we have no obligation to endorse that. Which is a different matter than vaccines.

Nonetheless, the way our government used the Internet to impose the lockdown has not gone down unnoticed. We had to go on a website to get a document, answer questions which may have been of a more personal nature than what has been done during this pandemic. The fact that your life and your freedom of movement can be tied to your personal computer, linking you and your government from the comfort of your home, this fact has not gone down unnoticed…

You also have to acknowledge that not everyone fancies medicine having such an unchecked power. Of course, this is a pandemic, and the situation is not the regular one. Nonetheless, that people question the legitimacy of such an infringement on their personal liberty is a legitimate one, and shouldn’t be looked down on.

A few thoughts

CR 2:

College degree accept 72% no degree 53 ( therefore 19%)
Democrats 71% Republicans 48%

Note to self:
next time don’t write results on old, torn envelopes

@ Deni¢e writes, “Still, I’d be interested to see if the “No” answers change as time goes on with lockdowns and restrictions.”

Yes…I think that was the plan to wear everyone down with the hysteria and nonsensical “rules”. Hopefully,the newly appointed, Dr. Scott Atlas a Stanford Professor, will be a great counter to the Fauxi and the Birxerk.

https://profiles.stanford.edu/scott-atlas

@Natalie,

If you’re looking for someone to echo the President’s views, the Hoover Institute is a great place to start.

I’m sure a radiologist is highly qualified to assess the risk to young children and their families that Trump is trying to persuade to reopen the schools. /sarc

https://www.forbes.com/sites/mattperez/2020/08/12/who-is-dr-scott-atlas-trumps-new-covid-health-adviser-seen-as-counter-to-fauci-and-birx/#9ab0d6920a4f

Personally, I’m looking forward to hearing what is discussed on TWiV 653 about school reopening strategies.
https://www.microbe.tv/twiv/

“The Hill:
A new poll says that 35% say they wouldn’t get a Covid vaccine, 60% say yes, 5% unsure”

Wonder how the numbers would be affected if you polled people whose jobs require daily contact with the public, and whose continued employment would be conditional on being vaccinated.

For the rest – the longer this drags on, more will be persuaded, especially as a vaccine shows good efficacy and safety.*

*as opposed to tens of millions of vaccinated people dropping dead in the streets due to retroviral contamination, Toxins, monkey pus and aborted fetal DNA exposure, as Judy Mikovits and her disciples have eloquently warned.

Which ” nonsensical ‘rules'” ?

Those which enabled NY to go from almost 700 deaths a day in March to nearly zero now and a positivity rate of under 1%
OR those which took NJ from 200+ deaths a day to around 10 now and an Rt of 5.4 ( in March) to 0.90 now with positivity of 2%?
I suppose that mass graves on public land on islands, tent hospitals in city parks and refrigerated truck morgues are acceptable to some people.

“I suppose that mass graves on public land on islands, tent hospitals in city parks and refrigerated truck morgues are acceptable to some people.”

Those are more economically viable (cheaper). Personally, I’m waiting for “blue plumes of smoke rise and merge into the leaden skies” — but I’ve never courted civil popularity.

@ Deni¢e – Thanks for your comment.

Cuomos order to put Covid infected/positive seniors in nursing homes killed thousands and spread the infection to who knows how many back in March. He reversed that order on May 10. Perhaps this action alone saved many? https://www.businessinsider.com/cuomo-executive-order-4300-recovering-coronavirus-patients-ny-nursing-homes-2020-5

According to this map, New York is still not doing too well. And if active infections are still being clumped with positive antibody tests, seems artificially inflated. https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/coronavirus-u-s-map-where-virus-has-been-confirmed-across-n1124546

Then this: “a positive COVID-19 test result or a presumptive positive COVID-19 test result. Confirmation does not require documentation of the type of test performed; the provider’s documentation that the individual has COVID-19 is sufficient.” Which artificially inflates the numbers as well. https://www.aappublications.org/news/2020/05/07/coding050720

A key point from above….A PRESUMPTIVE POSITIVE COVID-19 TEST RESULT.

So, I doubt the accuracy of the “official” numbers.

Good night.

I really don’t want to interact with you because you have no idea what you’re talking about BUT you deny reality. Reality is important.

NY and NJ were hit by the pandemic early because air traffic from Europe which allowed 3 million people to enter the US was not suspended. In mid February, the area was shut down as numbers sky rocketted and hospitals faced being overwhelmed. .

I read the numbers and graphs every day since then: these two states bent the curve and that is visible in the gradually declining numbers of people in hospital, deaths, new cases and positivity as represented in graphs and Covid “dashboards”. Both places are successful and have been gradually re-opening based on 3 ( NJ) or 5 (NY) phase plans. All of this is official. Most news sources credit their actions with controlling the pandemic. Each state has graphs that illustrate their success.

States which re-opened too quickly or didn’t follow plans based on decreases in numbers before re-opening experienced increases that are currently affecting the total US numbers. If you subtracted NY’s and NJ’s improvements since the start, the US graphs look even worse. .

@ Deni¢e writes – “I really don’t want to interact with you because you have no idea what you’re talking about BUT you deny reality. Reality is important.”

My reality IS quite different from yours. Agreed. In your reality you still believe the corporate sponsored MSM which is hilarious! In your realilty, Cuomo had nothing to do with spreading the virus in NY.

Carry on.

Yes, your reality means being delighted whenever a small child gets measles, chicken pox, pertussis, mumps and even meningitis from haemophilus influenzae. You are definitely pro-disease and anti-science, along with being ableist.

I presume you are avid consumer of news from News Corporation, which owns Fox News. If you are against corporate news, you should definitely stop that,

This is rich.

To call attention to a dubious paper published in the Asian Journal of Medicine and Health (which may or may not be a “predatory” journal) citing the alleged effectiveness of azithromycin and hydroxychloroquine against Covid-19, a group of authors submitted a sting paper called:

“SARS-CoV-2 was Unexpectedly Deadlier than Push-scooters: Could Hydroxychloroquine be the Unique Solution?” to the same journal – and it was accepted!

Under affiliations, one author is described as a “General Practitioner and Independent Seeker of Science” and another as being on the staff of “The Institute for Quick and Dirty Science” in Switzerland.

After an embarrassing (to the publisher) interlude, the paper has been retracted.

“The paper, which is the 32nd one about COVID-19 to be retracted, by our records. has such nuggets as:

Studies 1 and 2 were conducted in the authors’ office chair (Ikea) in France (multicentric), on July 20th, 2020.”

http://retractionwatch.com/2020/08/16/hydroxychloroquine-push-scooters-and-covid-19-a-journal-gets-stung-and-swiftly-retracts/?fbclid=IwAR1yALTjslLh7sn4TsQ4M1vB9Zz7wIfJYh7FjOcxThFVMQpNgnEjFowt2xk

“Of course, there is always an outside chance that Russia got very, very lucky and that Sputnik-V will actually turn out to be safe and effective at preventing COVID-19 infection in phase 3 trials, but that would just be luck.”

That is precisely what Putin is banking on. IFF they get lucky, this “triumph” will be trumpeted and propagandized ad nauseam. We’ll never hear the end of it.

If it doesn’t, reporting on that fact and criticism from within Russia will be suppressed by the usual means, i.e. censorship, threats and, if need be, violence. In free media outside Russia, the troll and bot armies will do their best to deliver the usual mix of whataboutism, denial, contortions and muddying the waters. Official Russia will simply lie & deny as they always do.

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