Categories
Antivaccine nonsense Bad science Cancer Medicine Science Skepticism/critical thinking

No, the mRNA in the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines does not cause cancer by targeting tumor suppressor genes

The latest antivaccine propaganda claims that a 2018 research paper published by researchers at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center shows that the RNA in the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines can cause cancer by targeting tumor suppressor genes. As usual, it’s a complete misapplication of a cherry picked study grounded in a lack of understanding of molecular biology. Same as it ever was.

The topic of this post might be a bit niche, but, given my background in molecular biology research, particularly earlier in my career, every so often I like to take on a topic that’s a bit “niche,” particularly if it is relevant to medical misinformation being promoted online, and even more so if it’s relevant to medical misinformation about COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccines being promoted online. Many have been the times that I’ve mentioned how, with respect to the new COVID-19 vaccines, everything old is new again. At the risk of being repetitive (but also providing the benefit of your not having to click on a link to see what I’m talking about; that is, unless you want to), antivaxxers have falsely spread misinformation and conspiracy theories claiming that COVID-19 vaccines kill; render women infertile; cause autoimmune disease; “reprogram your DNA“; aren’t needed because COVID-19 is not only not a serious disease but is a “casedemic” based on overly sensitive tests; can cause Alzheimer’s disease; can cause prion disease; and/or are loaded with “toxins” (in this case, the lipid nanoparticles that contain the mRNA used in the vaccines). To these old antivax tropes was added the claim that the mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines are not really vaccines at all but rather “experimental gene therapy”. (No, they’re vaccines.) Just about the only claim that antivaxxers haven’t made yet about COVID-19 vaccines is that they cause autism, and that’s only because there are as yet no COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in children and babies and no mass vaccination program of children. Just wait until there are, and you’ll see that claim too. I’ll give you a brief preview: Cancer and tumor suppressor genes.

And here it comes, the claim that COVID-19 vaccines cause cancer

I did forget one common antivaccine claim, though. It’s one that I hadn’t yet seen about the COVID-19 vaccine, even though it’s a claim that dates back decades about early versions of the polio vaccine used in the late 1950s and early 1960s, namely that vaccines cause cancer. (It’s a claim that’s morphed and metastasized to invoke “chronic inflammation”—which can contribute to cancer—from vaccines in general as a cause of cancer.) You remember that hoary old claim, don’t you, that because early versions of the polio vaccine were contaminated with a virus (SV40), those polio vaccines given to children over 60 years ago are responsible for a wave of cancer over the last two decades. I discussed in my inimitable detail how that claim was investigated and found to have no scientific basis way back in 2013. Now that claim has been repurposed for the COVID-19 vaccine. No, antivaxxers are not claiming that the COVID-19 vaccines by Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech, or Johnson & Johnson are contaminated with SV40. Rather, they are focusing their false claim that COVID-19 vaccines will cause a wave of cancer in decades to come on the mRNA-based design of these vaccines and a cherry picked study from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center from 2018 (to give their misinformation the patina of scientific respectability). I haven’t seen this claim widely disseminated (yet), but as a trained molecular biologist I thought I’d try to nip it in the bud before it grows too much.

Let’s start with this Tweet:

To answer the first question, so far, based on observations after tens of millions of vaccines administered in the US alone, we do not yet have a single case of death that can be definitely attributed to the vaccine and the number of deaths soon after vaccination with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines is actually less than would be expected by random chance alone if the vaccines have nothing to do with the deaths. To answer the second question, “pathogenic priming” is scare term invented by an antivaxxer named James Lyons-Weiler to describe antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE), which has been a problem in the development of vaccines against Dengue Virus, Ebola Virus, HIV, RSV, and the family of coronaviruses. In brief, ADE is a condition when insufficient antibody titers due to the vaccine trigger enhancement of disease with subsequent infection. Vaccine-induced non-neutralizing or weakly neutralizing antibodies bind to newly infecting virus to promote enhanced virus uptake into host cells. ADE was indeed a concern early on during the development of COVID-19 vaccines but fortunately appears not to be an issue. If it were, we would have seen it after the nearly 90 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines (and counting) that have been administered so far in the US (as of Sunday).

Which brings us to the third question based on this study touted by MSKCC by press release two and a half years ago. The source of this “interpretation” of the MSKCC study to weaponize it as evidence that the mRNA in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will cause cancer appears to come from one of our favorite conspiracy quack sites, Natural News.

Quoth antivaxxers, “Oh, no, RNA targets tumor suppressor genes and causes cancer!”

The article that appears to have been the origin of the claim that somehow the RNA in COVID-19 vaccines causes cancer, based on a mechanism first described by scientists at MSKCC more than two years before the first cases of COVID-19 puzzled Chinese health authorities in Wuhan, was published last week on NaturalNews.com under the title “MEDICAL SHOCKER: Scientists at Sloan Kettering discover mRNA inactivates tumor-suppressing proteins, meaning it can promote cancer“. The article is by S.D. Wells, one of Mike Adams’ minions at Natural News, a veritable workhorse who spreads conspiracy theories and misinformation under Mike Adams’ banner.

The first paragraph is…something:

There’s a secret layer of information in your cells called messenger RNA, that’s located between DNA and proteins, that serves as a critical link. Now, in a medical shocker to the whole world of vaccine philosophy, scientists at Sloan Kettering found that mRNA itself carries cancer CAUSING changes – changes that genetic tests don’t even analyze, flying completely under the radar of oncologists across the globe.

So now, it’s time for independent laboratories that are not vaccine manufacturers (or hired by them) to run diagnostic testing on the Covid vaccine series and find out if these are cancer-driving inoculations that, once the series is complete, will cause cancer tumors in the vaccinated masses who have all rushed out to get the jab out of fear and propaganda influence. Welcome to the world of experimental and dirty vaccines known as mRNA “technology.”

That “secret layer” of information is only “secret” if you don’t know simple molecular biology, but I’ll let that pass for the moment. Instead, observe how this observation is framed as a conspiracy theory. There’s a “secret” aspect to mRNA vaccines that “they” don’t want you to know about, an aspect that will harm you because…well, you’ll learn that soon enough. I can’t help but note that the PR department at MSKCC must be aware of the conspiracy theories being spun based on this science, because someone added this disclaimer to the press release being used as justification for Wells’ claim:

Researchers at the Sloan Kettering Institute have found that changes in an information-carrying molecule called messenger RNA can inactivate tumor-suppressing proteins and thereby promote cancer. The findings pinpoint previously unknown drivers of the disease. It’s important to note that mRNAs are a normal component of all cells and the specific ones discussed here are not involved in mRNA-based vaccines, like the one developed against SARS-CoV-2.

Because, of course they’re not. Wells is interested in making it seem to those who don’t know enough molecular biology to assess the claim (the vast majority of the population) that any old “RNA” or “mRNA” can shut off tumor suppressor genes and thereby cause cancer. Still, being a molecular biologist, I was interested in the specifics. Before I do that, let’s delve deeper into the claims:

The information carrying molecule, messenger RNA, can instruct human cells ultimately in the same way as cancer drivers, playing a major role in causing cancer to thrive while inactivating natural tumor-suppressing proteins the human body creates to save you from cancer. This is the complete opposite of what the CDC and the vaccine manufactures are telling everyone right now about the Covid vaccines, and this is based on clinical research by molecular biologists at the Sloan Kettering Institute.

Even sequencing the DNA in cancer cells doesn’t reveal these changes, that’s how sneaky the vaccines are. It’s like a Trojan horse that tells your cells to allow these changes to be made, as if they were safe, but they’re not. All assumptions being made about mRNA being ‘safe’ right now have been completely turned 180 degrees with this research. Consider this very carefully if you have not yet been vaccinated with mRNA technology, and you may want to ‘lawyer-up’ if you already got the jabs.

Notice the conspiracy theory again. Not only did “they” not tell you about this, but “they” hid this ability of mRNA from you in a manner making it unlikely to be found, even by oncologists! (Damn, those scientists at Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech are clever and evil, aren’t they?) I mean, seriously, Wells even brings Bill Gates into the mix, because of course Bill Gates is part of the conspiracy. He’s part of every vaccine conspiracy:

Bill Gates and the Vaccine Industrial Complex are very sinister, as we all know, but to create vaccines that truncate (disable by cutting short) cancer tumor suppressors, and destroy the human body’s ability to protect against cancer, well, that’s just complete insanity. Truncated tumor-suppressor proteins are similar to the DNA mutations that cause cancer cells to mutate and multiply uncontrollably. Will America see cancer cases skyrocket over the next few years due to Covid vaccines? Only time will tell, but right now, science is revealing that it’s likely. Pay close attention.

Therefore, anyone who is scared to death of the Covid vaccines is pro-science rather than anti-science, because the science shows the mRNA technology is very dangerous, especially concerning proteins that fuel cancer tumors. Let’s say that again: Science shows mRNA technology can fuel cancer tumor growth.

No, not exactly. Let’s look at the actual paper to see why.

Lying with science

So let’s take a look at the press release and the scientific paper the press release was promoting. The press release is entitled “In a Twist, Scientists Find Cancer Drivers Hiding in RNA, Not DNA“, and the paper was published in Nature by Christine Mayr, a molecular and cellular biologist at MSKCC who studies mRNA. The study is entitled “Widespread intronic polyadenylation inactivates tumour suppressor genes in leukaemia“, which is, of course, not the sort of title that most people would understand. Don’t worry. I’ll explain.

But first, I need to explain some background. When discussing the mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines and how they don’t “reprogram your DNA” and are not “gene therapy“, I discussed how DNA encodes RNA that ultimately encodes protein. Before I discuss what the paper actually shows and why Wells is misapplying its findings, I think it helpful to review the basics of this aspect of molecular biology again. Here is a very basic diagram of the process:

The “Central Dogma of Molecular Biology”. Information flows from DNA to RNA and then is used to make protein.

Basically, DNA replicates from a DNA template and results in a double-stranded molecule that is very stable, as it has complementary sequences that tightly bind to each other in a sequence-specific fashion. This DNA template is unwound by enzymes that use the template to make RNA strands, which are single-stranded, which is then used by a ribosome to make protein out of amino acids. Again, to put it simply, each nucleotide equals one letter of the code; each three-nucleotide sequence (codon) equals one “word” that translates to an amino acid. Given that there are four nucleotides, there are 64 possible codons. Since there are only 20 amino acids, that means that most amino acids are encoded by more than one combination of nucleotides or more than one codon; i.e., the genetic code is redundant. Of course, it’s more complicated than that, as this diagram shows:

After the genetic code was cracked 60 years ago, it soon became apparent that the RNAs encoding for proteins are often not fully formed right after they’re transcribed. Often RNA starts out as a longer precursor RNA (a pre-mRNA) that is spliced to the final mRNA sequence before being transported out of the nucleus into the cytoplasm to be used to drive the production of protein in the cytoplasm. In brief, the precursor RNA that is initially transcribed contains sequences known as “exons” and “introns”. In genes, exons contain the nucleotide sequences that encode actual protein, while introns contain nucleotide sequences that do not code for anything but can have important sequences that regulate gene production and activity. Here’s an illustration of the splicing process from Wikipedia:

This diagram is actually fairly simple, with two exons and one intron. Some genes have many exons and introns, requiring multiple splices, as in this diagram:

Did I forget to mention that mRNAs are also processed to have a “cap” at one end and a stretch of As (a poly-A tail) at the other end? The poly-A tail is very important in regulating mRNA stability and therefore its half-life in the cytoplasm. In any event, as with any biological process, things can go wrong with these splicing events. Splice site mutations, for instance, can result in mis-spliced mRNAs and proteins lacking exons:

I could go on and on and on. There are normal genes can produce more than one protein through alternative splicing:

Sometimes when splicing goes awry, it can result in a truncated protein lacking one end. For instance, if an intron is left attached to two exons, chances are that the ribosome (the enzyme complex that translates mRNA into protein) will hit a “stop” codon (three nucleotide code that tells transcription to stop) long before it reaches the other end of the intron, at which point transcription will just stop. All of this is not even counting the other molecular modifications that the RNA can undergo on its journey from transcription to pre-mRNA through splicing to the final “mature” mRNA.

Unsurprisingly, if these sorts of errors occur in genes important to processes regulating cell growth and invasion, cancer can result, either from a mis-splicing removing a regulatory region in the protein that keeps it in check or by producing a protein that doesn’t function as it should. Examples of cancers that are caused or accelerated by a splice site mutation are accumulating. It is this latter possibility, a truncated protein that doesn’t function, that the paper being misapplied by Wells examines. The proteins compromised by the truncation are tumor suppressor proteins, whose function is to shut down growth or other processes that can result in cancer when they are overly active.

So what did the paper show? What was interesting about the paper is that it showed the existence of splicing errors in tumor suppressor genes in a specific cancer, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, without mutations in splice sites to explain how these proteins became truncated due to splicing errors, or, as the authors put it in the manuscript:

We discovered widespread upregulation of truncated mRNAs and proteins in primary CLL cells that were not generated by genetic alterations but instead occurred by intronic polyadenylation

And:

The truncated proteins generated by intronic polyadenylation often lack the tumour-suppressive functions of the corresponding full-length proteins (such as DICER and FOXN3), and several even acted in an oncogenic manner (such as CARD11, MGA and CHST11). In CLL, the inactivation of tumour-suppressor genes by aberrant mRNA processing is substantially more prevalent than the functional loss of such genes through genetic events.

So what does this all mean? First, to reiterate and simplify, the authors detected truncated mRNAs and proteins for a number of tumor suppressor genes in CLL that could not be explained by DNA mutations in the genes themselves, such as splice site mutations. They did a lot of other controls, such as making sure that the explanation for the truncated proteins was not cleavage by proteases, enzymes that cut proteins at specific amino acid sequences. After ruling out other possibilities, the authors demonstrated that these mRNAs and proteins were truncated because of a process called intronic polyadenylation. But what is that?

Polyadenylation is the process of adding a bunch of adenosines (As) to the 3′ end of an RNA molecule. It’s how the poly-A tail is added to the end of an mRNA, but it turns out that it’s a common process for polyadenylation to occur in introns. This process is very widespread and was appreciated well over a decade ago. It’s involved in diversifying the products of immune cell mRNAs, the process explained thusly:

In the splicing literature, isoforms generated through recognition of an IpA signal are often described as ‘alternative last exon’ events. Genes that generate IpA isoforms are thought to harbor competing splicing and polyadenylation signals, producing a full-length messenger RNA (mRNA) when splicing outcompetes polyadenylation and otherwise producing a truncated mRNA. As the defining event is the recognition of an IpA signal, we call these transcripts IpA isoforms. It is now possible to recognize the widespread expression of IpA isoforms through the analysis of 3ʹ-end sequencing data.

Or, to put it more simply, whether there is a truncated protein or a full-length protein depends on the balance of splicing to poly-adenylation at the site in the intron. If there’s more splicing activity, you get much more of the whole protein. If there’s more polyadenylation, you get much more of the truncated protein. What Mayr’s lab found was that too much polyadenylation can result in truncated tumor suppressor proteins in CLL, contributing to the development of the cancer, which is why, according to the MSKCC press release which explains the findings pretty well:

These findings help explain a long-standing conundrum, which is that CLL cells have relatively few known DNA mutations. Some CLL cells lack even known mutations. In effect, the mRNA changes that Dr. Mayr’s team discovered could account for the missing DNA mutations.

Because CLL is such a slow-growing cancer and people with CLL often live for many years, it’s too early to say whether these mRNA changes are associated with a poorer prognosis.

There are some important differences between the mRNA changes and a bona fide DNA mutation. Most important, the inactivation of tumor suppressors through mRNA is usually only partial; only about half of the relevant protein molecules in the tumor cells are truncated. But in many cases this is enough to completely override the function of the normal versions that are present. And because this truncation could apply to 100 different genes at once, the changes can add up.

So why does none of this have anything to do with mRNA-based vaccines causing cancer? I’m glad you asked and hope you don’t mind that I took this opportunity to geek out a bit, in a molecular biology sense. The biology being abused by Wells is actually quite complex and fascinating, and I don’t get to discuss pure molecular biology very often any more. I hope I didn’t lose too many readers with the explanation, but I also bet more than a few of you have already figured out why what Wells is peddling is utter nonsense. If not, here we go.

The payoff of all that beautiful science: Mayr’s paper has nothing to say about whether COVID-19 vaccines targets tumor suppressors

So why do I say that Wells is totally misapplying Mayr’s paper? Simple. There are three reasons that anyone with a knowledge of molecular biology could identify. First, both mRNA vaccines, Moderna and Pfizer, use mRNAs encoding the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. (The Moderna version, for instance, uses a pre-fusion stabilized spike protein. This detail isn’t really important to understand why Wells is misrepresenting the science, but the molecular biology geek in me wanted to mention this.) Unlike oncogenes and tumor suppressor proteins, which are mutated versions of proteins with normal functions in normal cells, the coronavirus spike protein is not made by normal human cells and has no normal function in human biology. Its only function is for the virus. SARS-CoV-2 binds to the ACE2 receptor on human cells and thereby allows the coronavirus to enter cells to set up shop and start the COVID-19 infection process and churn out more virus. Even if a truncated spike protein were made through the mechanism that Wells apparently doesn’t understand or is lying about, there’s no known biological mechanism for these mRNAs to cause cancer.

Second, the mRNA in the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines does not undergo any splicing, both of which occur in the nucleus. The mRNA sequences in these vaccines is a complete mRNA sequence for the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and needs no splicing before transcription. Indeed, it really wouldn’t make any sense at all to include in a vaccine an mRNA that requires splicing, as that’s an extra step where things could go wrong and that doesn’t provide any countervailing advantage to make it worthwhile to do. Basically, when you are trying to get eukaryotic cells (as in human cells) to produce a protein from an RNA, keeping the design of the mRNA as simple as possible is best. Use the RNA sequence encoding the protein you want to produce, tack on whatever regulatory sequences to the coding sequence in order to drive expression of the protein, and get as much of the RNA into the cytoplasm to encounter as many ribosomes and churn out as much protein as possible before the RNA, unstable molecule that it is, inevitably degrades. In other words, no splicing or truncated proteins, even if the proteins being produced were even relevant to cancer, which the coronavirus spike protein is not.

Finally, for cancer to develop there needs to be continuing production of the oncogene or continuing elimination of tumor suppressor function in the cell over the long term. The mRNA vaccines used against COVID-19 were intentionally designed to be short-lived. Even if they did produce some sort of truncated protein that could potentially cause cancer, the mRNA and the protein would be gone long before they could trigger cancer, as carcinogenesis is a process that takes months to years, not days to weeks. As I discussed before, the mRNA from these vaccines hangs around for days at most and the protein for a couple of weeks at most. The vaccine’s effects with respect to making spike protein are transient by design.

I will give S.D. Wells credit in a warped sort of way. He understands that the vast majority of people do not have a sufficient background in molecular biology to understand why the Mayr lab paper says nothing about whether COVID-19 vaccines could potentially cause cancer, why even applying it to cancer causation through splicing errors that are not caused by mutations in DNA is a risible misapplication of the paper. He knows that people will see the MSKCC press release about the Mayr lab’s finding that truncated mRNAs can contribute to the development of CLL in the context of his false claims that mRNA-based COVID-19 cause cancer and just make the connection, as scientifically baseless as it is, that the Mayr lab paper found a mechanism by which the mRNA from COVID-19 vaccines can cause cancer too. Again, to misapply a study that deceptively and effectively, I suspect that Wells must have some background in molecular biology, particularly if he was the one who found that paper to cherry pick. Either that, or he’s the luckiest antivaccine propagandist I’ve encountered in a long time.

In the meantime, I’ll finish this post the way I like to finish posts about COVID-19 vaccines and say that, in the age of COVID-19 everything old is new again when it comes to antivax disinformation. There is no good evidence that mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines cause cancer or even have a plausible mechanism by which they could cause cancer. Mike Adams’ minion S.D. Wells is, quite simply, spreading disinformation. I’m still waiting for antivaxxers to claim that COVID-19 vaccines cause autism, and I know it’s coming sooner or later.

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]

71 replies on “No, the mRNA in the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines does not cause cancer by targeting tumor suppressor genes”

Nice clear explanation. My field is cancer cytogenetics and I didnt know about the reason CLL cases have few abnormalities. Thanks for that, fascinating.

I have to admit Wells manipulates his audience well:
–basically, if they read Natural News, their general level of understanding can’t be all that great**. Wells’ job is to make his article sound science-y enough to impress readers without being based on the actual science ( like the study quoted in particular) and not have anything so obviously wrong that readers can look in up in 5 minutes ( why some of these outlets forbid Wikipedia)
— writers like him may have background in life sciences but either deliberately- or because they incompletely understand the issue- leave salient material out or distort it.. Null uses Richard Gale, who has a background in genetics(?) to flesh out his own forays into cargo cult/ cosplay bio/ medicine/ psych. .I have no idea whether these writers believe their written works. .

Although we have no idea of how much of their work is based on gaps in their education or is a planned dis-informational campaign to sell their boss’ woo. I venture that the level of woo reflects its creators’ level of relevant knowledge. As Orac often notes, they should know this is wrong from Bio 101; so we can grade their level of expertise/ education easily.

** in brief, if you buy into any anti-vax talking points, you can’t be too well versed n SBM

Though on this one, even reasonable lay people who are not NN readers may have trouble sorting truth from fiction. You do need some background, I think.
Which is why I’m grateful that Orac went through it.

You are correct: this type of article is where woo-purveyors excel because the majority of the audience hasn’t a clue! ** Most people don’t study life sciences except for intro courses perhaps taken decades ago. Many do not keep up with innovations.

So what’s a sceptic to do?
— first of all, know something about your source. NN is notorious for its fear mongering about vaccines and rx meds.
— Orac notes that Wells includes conspiracies quite openly.
— sometimes, it just didn’t sound right: the article quoted is different from what the writer says.
–AND you see nothing similar to Wells’ points across the net: If it were true, it would be big news.

TRUE, we need to seek out alarm bells that signal woo/ BS artistry relevant even for people who didn’t study the precise area involved: a cavalier attitude and know-it-all smugness might be a signal.

** much of what I hear from PRN and NN takes advantage of their audiences’ lack of background.
There is a reason that PRN despises Wikipedia!

.

I know of one person who received both doses of the Moderna vax in Dec / Jan….his ashes are now sitting on my daughter’s desk because her father died of aggressive pancreatic cancer the 21st of March…no time for treatment. Think what you like, but DNA manipulation is rather dangerous in the hands of humans without a conscious.

And you think the vaccine had anything to do with the man’s aggressive pancreatic cancer…exactly why?

Pancreatic cancer doesn’t just pop up overnight, or even in a couple of months. It takes many months to go from a single transformed cell to life threatening or terminal disease. Based on what we know about pancreatic cancer (and, in fact, most cancers), we can conclude with a high degree of certainty that this man already had his pancreatic cancer at the time he was vaccinated—and had had it for some time before that. The cancer just hadn’t been diagnosed yet. The vaccine did not cause the pancreatic cancer. The vaccine had nothing to do with the man’s pancreatic cancer.

@Kali’s Watcher: “Think what you like, but DNA manipulation is rather dangerous in the hands of humans without a conscious.”

mRNA doesn’t manipulate DNA. mRNA is copied from DNA. The clue is in the “m”, for “messenger”. Cells use mRNA to pass instructions from the cell’s nucleus to the cell’s ribosomes, which then synthesize the protein described by those instructions. That’s going in the opposite direction from DNA manipulation. (Perhaps you were thinking of retroviruses? Or Mary Shelley? Try thinking of the US Postal Service instead.)

Also, pancreatic cancer is absolutely notorious for not showing any symptoms until it’s already reached stage 4—i.e. spread to other organs—meaning that by the time it’s detected it’s already been growing for many months or even years; and since stage 4 cancers are usually incurable the patient only has a few more months, or even just weeks, left to live.

So you should be doubly ashamed of yourself: firstly because DNA→mRNA→Protein is learned in high school-level biology class, so you’ve no excuse for spouting such patently made-up garbage; and secondly for leeching off someone else’s genuine tragedy in order to amplify it.

As to whether you’re capable of shame or correction; that’s up to you.

Basically, DNA replicates from a DNA template and results in a double-stranded molecule that is very stable, as it has complementary sequences that tightly bind to each other in a sequence-specific fashion.

More than that even: DNA lacks the 2′-hydroxyl and is incapable of autocatalysis resulting in attack and cleavage of the phosphodiester linkage. One of the big reasons RNA has a fairly short half-life. But, this is incidental and doesn’t effect what you’re saying.

Thanks as usual. I thought of forwarding to a couple of people who tell me they are “waiting” to get vaccinated until “further research” because they STILL think (after all my forwards) that it was “rushed” and “who knows, maybe it will cause cancer or something” and also, well– “who can trust BigPharma”? When I ask if they have read what I send, I get versions of “science doesn’t know everything”. One is a dear friend that is usually not prone to this and I’m trying to bite my tongue because I’ve already crossed off quite a few “friends”. I don’t think people involved in research and health care often realize how widespread these ideas are. The friend in question has a PhD from a prestigious university–in communiations. I doubt she ever took biology or any real science after high school, but surely critical thinking is in a communications major?

Dr. Hibbert, looking at a clipboard and addressing football player Anton Lubchenko after Homer Simpson ran over him and broke his leg:
“Oh, your playing days are over, my friend. But you can always fall back on your degree in…..Communications?! Oh, dear lord!”

Well, I have no less than 3 degrees, including a PhD, with “Communication” in the title, and I can testify that it’s not in any way a coherent field with either a consistent subject matter or a consistent intellectual approach from one school to the next. But then ‘critical thinking’ doesn’t have a consistent, universal definition or pedagogy, either. Undergrad Communication programs vary all along the spectrum, from ‘guts’ to quite challenging, and from humanities theory, to social science, to practical job training more appropo to Vo-Tech institutes like DeVry than to university. I’d say most of the different sorts of PhD programs in (x) Communication (x) have some sort of critical thinking component, but those may take quite different forms.

What I can absolutely say after a lifetime in academia is that the assumption that higher education in “real science” produces critical thinking is absolutely false. True, a Biology degree might help dissuade people from certain vaccine fears, or Bio might just attract people who are already prone to ‘trust the science’ on medical matters, but that’s far from establishing any broad ability in critical thought. What i can also say after decades of experience is that it’s incredibly common for academics of all sorts to have their intellectual skills sort of roped off within the constraints of their specializations. So anybody’s ‘critical thinking’ might turn out to be surprisingly localized.

But the thing that struck me in your comment is that your “dear friend” is “usually not prone to this.” An awful lot of people seem to be in similar straits these days, with friends and family they’ve known forever somehow recently gone over to one degree of crazy or another… leaving them struggling to find an explanation for something that just doesn’t seem to make sense.

The idea that the explanation has something to do with inadequacies in education seems to appeal to a lot of people’s prejudices, but cannot itself pass the scrutiny of critical thinking. I’ve seen absolutely no evidence to suggest that any aspect of education is a reliable predictor of who will or won’t be worried about getting a COVID shot. Why should it? We’re in the middle of a pandemic and a corresponding economic contraction. People are freaked out. The emotional stresses of their everyday lives right now are likely to rule over whatever intellectual discipline they learned back in school, no? It doesn’t make sense because it doesn’t come from the sense-making part of the brain, but from the more primal lizard brain.

Fwiw, saying that doesn’t really help much. Maybe because the pandemic didn’t change my life much, it hasn’t bothered me that much. But I was already very freaked out by the spread of neo-fascist movements fueled by conspiracy theories. I wish I knew why so many are so vulnerable to this stuff. For example, I wish I could understand and explain enough about QAnon to have useful ideas about combatting it. But trying to track down a rational explanation — Jim Watkins, dark web, game design, Russian psy-ops — is it’s own conspiratorial rabbit-hole. My head spins, I can’t keep up. I lie down and try to coax my cat into curling up in the crook of my leg.

@ sadmar

What I can absolutely say after a lifetime in academia is that the assumption that higher education in “real science” produces critical thinking is absolutely false.

I can only agree. In part because I feel we as students spent a lot of time learning stuff like the components of the Krebs cycle, but there was not really any course on “critical thinking”.
There was a short course during my pre-thesis year, maybe just three hours altogether, where the prof was trying to make us students think, but it didn’t pan out well. Trying to encourage one person to unlearn their assumptions and appraise why one experiment is done this way rather that that way is one thing, trying to get 20 or 30 students to do it at the same time… The take-home message got muddled, in all the confusion.

I’m afraid that critical thinking may only be efficiently learned – and taught – by actual hand-on experience. You try an experiment, it works or it doesn’t, and then you have to figure out if the results are meaningful, and how to prove that to other people in the field. Who will spend time trying to shoot holes in your results.
And this is why, as you said, that one’s critical thinking skills could be highly specialized. And completely off when trying to deal with something outside of one’s field. Not everybody can be a Renaissance man.
All of that imply a desire to learn and a capacity for self-questioning. And the time and resources to develop these skills. It’s a luxury not everybody can afford, even if they want to.

Now, let’s add the various conspiracy talks on top of it.
There always have been gossips, half-trues and true lies exchanged in human societies. We like to share good stories, and a fearmongering tale about the secret evils of the people over there (higher-up, or down, or in another society/country) is the very definition of a good story.
A social science article I half-read a while ago pointed that all societies tend to have a cannibalistic part – as a group, we humans are tempted to eat the individual, the one who is different. Sometimes “just” metaphorically, with peer pressure and gossip and ostracism, sometimes literally, with lynching and riots.
All these made-up stories? Just our way to eat and digest the world around us.

But some days, especially these days, all these circulating stories could be overwhelming.
It has become a cliché to blame internet for this state – internet has accelerated exchanges to the point of near-instantaneity, and allowed every crackpot in the most remote locations to find soulmates all over the world.
But maybe we always have been like this. It’s just that, two or three generations ago, our weird stories about what the people in the next town over were like, did not have as strong, as immediate and as widespread an impact.

@ sadmar:

Tracking down Q beliefs/ origins/ who is susceptible is worse than following woo/ anti-vax. I try to remember that much of it transpires on Reddit, 4Chan, 8Chun etc which should tell us a lot..

@ Athaic

My hypothesis is that the internet is at the heart of our recent dilemmas, and that’s because ‘human nature’ has NOT changed that much. Human cultures, of course, have long made up stories “to eat and digest the world around us.” but the nature of that world has changed dramatically in an incredibly short period of time, outstripping the ability of evolution — either biological or socio/cultural — to keep up. I

t’s not just the internet, but the experiential effects of the whole sphere of digital technology and corresponding movements in global capital. (The latest paradigmatic example being the mind-blowing sale of the NFT of Beeple’s “Everdays: The First 5000 Days” collage for $69 billion in cryptocurrency.)

Similarly, it’s not just that “our weird stories” now have a more immediate and widespread (and therefore stronger) impact.via the speed and spread of digital communication technology, though that’s true. It’s also that the nature of those stories has changed in sync with the nature of the relationships between individuals and groups and their increasingly mediated, simulacral, experiential realities.

Just an eye-blink ago in evolutionary time “the world around us” was around us materially, engaged mostly empirically via direct sensory experience, with second-hand extensions limited to the ability of members of the community to travel. (“Communication” and “transportation” used to be synonyms, only beginning to gain different meaning after the spread of telegraphy.) There’s a whole different hook to “real-ness” in that than there is today with so much coming to us in the form of data packets from far far away.

I submit that like a frog in boiling water, we’re too tuned in to the present to perceive these changes, how massive fundamental and transformative they really are. We too easily imagine things have always been more or less the way they are now, even when they may have changed a lot during our own lifetimes (at least if one is a senior like me).

At this point I’d like to recommend a book about the relationship between technology and ‘consciousness’ or, if you will, human perception and information processing. It’s The Railway Journey by Wolfgang Schivelbusch. It’s full of brilliant observations of how the industrial revolution remade experience, including “our perceptions of distance, time, autonomy, speed, and risk.” Following the line of thought to the present, you just have to imagine that the ‘high tech’ revolution has to have at least an equally profound set of consequences, if not more. If you can find a library with a copy of the original Urizen Press hardcover, get that. It’s beautifully illustrated. It was reprinted in paper by UCPress, probably much easier to find, even a Kindle version (expensive, though) with only a limited selection of images in the middle.

“We too easily imagine things have always been more or less the way they are now, even when they may have changed a lot during our own lifetimes (at least if one is a senior like me).”

Uncle Jimbo fell off the back of the tractor and got turned under by the disking blades yesterday. It happens — the more things change, the more they stay the same. Going to be tornadoes tomorrow. Peace.

@Denice Walter: “I frequently listed variables associated with CT belief and anti-vax which included personality differences”

Let me suggest as the yardstick test: “How much does the person like the smell of their own bullshit?”

Being intelligent or educated doesn’t count for squit; all those make you is a lot more adept at lying to yourself.

You have to look at what the person gains by willful self-deception. Understand that base motivation an you’re much better equipped to slice that personality to fine pieces and hold up its ugly parts for all the world to see.

I’ve often observed that the base state for all true woos is a paranoid narcissism; and while this is grossly simplistic generalization at best, I don’t think it entirely wrong either.

@ has:

Sure. Researchers found both narcissism and paranoid style associated with CT belief.
Of course, they gain much through their stance:
they’re unique ( which they value as well), ahead of their time and can pretend superiority to run-of-the-mill non-believers. Sometimes they are persecuted ( unfairly, of course) and suffer for their Truths.

As we can observe with alties via their websites/ social media and trolls right here, they are awfully full of themselves, what Orac calls the “arrogance of ignorance” as they put down people more informed and skilled than they ever could be.
Think about it:
amongst those I survey, some of the loudest critics on medical/ psychological topics have no legitimate background in those areas:
Adams has a BS in technical writing ( for computers etc)
Null has a career school 2 year business degree and alternate paths/ correspondence school degrees in NUTRITION.
Del has studied television production at a Vancouver career school.
Several are lawyers – law school requires intelligence but no relevant studies for this.
Wouldn’t you then need to be quite narcissistic/ un-realistic to debate professionals in medicine, biology, psychology?

The aforementioned woo-meisters frequently cite poverty as the reason they didn’t attend “elite” unis HOWEVER we all know worthy students who received scholarships, financial aid, work/study, loans yet these guys are so outrageously brilliant and great athletes and they got no help? Come on!

Perhaps they insult Orac and the better educated population in general ( the elites) because they were refused the chance to compete academically at well-regarded places and then pursue more lucrative professions. Fauci, Hotez.and Gates are objects of their scorn and envy. I have often heard rants on this subject: these men remind them of what they can never be: expert and well known for it.

@Denice:

Adams has a BS in technical writing … Null has a … 2 year business degree … Del has studied television production … Several are lawyers – law school requires intelligence but no relevant studies for this. Wouldn’t you then need to be quite narcissistic/ un-realistic to debate professionals in medicine, biology, psychology?

I wouldn’t be surprised if Adams and Null are straight-up psychopaths. You don’t need to be a narc when you already give zero shits.

As for Wakefield and Bigtree, either psychopath or malignant narcissist fits. RFK Jr, defo narc and no doubt busted up at being the only Kennedy in two generations that nobody considers worth a shooting.

(Mind, psychopathy and narcissism are so close to be twins, if not one and the same. But DSM makes the distinction so who am I to argue.)

The aforementioned woo-meisters frequently cite poverty as the reason they didn’t attend “elite” unis

Of course these claims are nonsense. And there is less than zero grounds even to consider that they could be made in good faith. Toxic personalities always have a litany of excuses for why others are at the top and not them. It is simply one of many tools they use to grab power and status for real. Not least because it plays upon real and imagined grievances of the “little people”, and nothing builds personal army better than common cause. And of course it’s another scam, but try telling them that.

As for the reason they are not at the [true] top is simple: because getting there requires a massive amount of hard work, which is not something they would ever do, because they’re lazy opportunists who are happy to cheat their way up the ladder for a fraction of the labor and magnitudes more profit. Even easier once you have sufficient power to redefine “at the top” to mean what suits you best: i.e. where you are.

Perhaps they insult Orac and the better educated population in general ( the elites) because they were refused the chance to compete academically at well-regarded places and then pursue more lucrative professions.

LOL, no. They insult Orac et al because people like that are an immediate and direct threat both to the power they already have and to their acquisition of further power in future. The last thing they need is for the plebs and suckers to begin listening to Fauci, not them—because if they do, they might start doubting… and then their whole profitable house of cards risks tumbling down. Taking out these enemies as quickly and unpleasantly as possible is a major priority; not just to shut down those voices specifically but to show to others what awaits them should they dare to speak up.

These people’s goal is to own other people. It’s what every demagogue wants, needs, and does.

There is a reason why megalomaniac narcs like Jones and Koresh did not go quietly into the night but took every single life which they owned with them in one final blast of glory. Because that is the death worthy of Pharaohs. Now work back from that to understand the rest.

We all know the aphorism “absolute power corrupts absolutely”, but your Trumps and Nulls and all were always utterly corrupt, right from the start. Winning popular support gives them the power to take the gloves off; to discard even the pretense of civility and openly commit whatever acts—no matter how abusive, extreme, or depraved—will gain them the most power the quickest. And part of this requires redefining their ever-increasing acts of abuse so that those become the New Normal; the incremental process popularly analogized as slowly simmering frogs on the stove. And they cannot do that for as long as other voices continue acting as the people’s conscience. There must be only One Voice to which the people listen and repeat all in unison: Dear Leader’s. The manufactured outrage and constant stream of abuse is merely the soft edge of that policy in action. And don’t think that soft edge won’t translate into hard steel the moment they perceive the next level of escalation is now popularly viable.

Look at Stalinist purges; Krystalnacht; Mao’s Cultural Revolution. Look at the 50-year progress of the Overton Window inching the US mainstream to extremism. Twenty years ago the big question being asked was “Who radicalized these twenty Saudi hijackers?” Today it’s “Who radicalized these fifty million white middle-Americans?”

I often post this by way of explanation, because while it may be lower pop-culture originally written by an author increasingly off into the extremist weeds himself, it is still the best and most accessible encapsulation of this mechanic that I know. (Yeah, I’m not exactly high-read, but even if I was I wouldn’t start quoting Sartre or Marx because they’re too much hard work and not nearly so effective.)

If you wish to crack this monster, your first step has to be inserting a wedge between its leadership and its followers. Because there are three categories of people operating here: those who intend to lead, those who want to follow, and those who are currently following as a means to climb the ladder until they become leaders as well. You will never sway the first, because they already know what they want—which is a lot more of what they’ve got so far—and the only way you’ll even slow them is by shooting and/or locking them up. The climbers you might divert onto a slightly less harmful track, but only by showing they’ll profit more by following that.

The little people; well, there’s a myriad of individual drivers there, but I think the common word here is “little”. Some may require their egos built up; others their egos torn down. Some require tastier bait; others punitive threat. Some, if you can show them the path they’re set on and where history shows it will lead, might recoil in disgust (or at least fear) and do the rest of the work of deprogramming themselves. I doubt there’s a simple one-size solution for all. Although I’m sure cultivating a strong positive self-respect, and from there at least a civility to others (so that they reciprocate in turn), is vital to reducing the needier types’ dependency on the vast animal they’ve chosen to inhabit.

But you can’t start any of that as long as the trusted familiarity of Dear Leader whispers comfortably in their ear, telling them what to think and who to hate today. Because nobody likes leaving their comfort zone; even toxic ones like those.

Also, let’s not forget that while a subset might be reachable, many are certainly not (as RI’s regular trolls will testify). The sooner you identify and change tactics on the latter the better; as the first thing the reactionaries will do is move to prevent you draining any power (i.e. steal others) from their collective. Your goal is to slip lots of small wedges between their various factions, so the whole eventually shakes itself apart; theirs is to drive one enormous wedge between theirs and you to ensure absolute unity in face of common foe. No guesses here who has the easiest job.

Personally I’m a believer in cultivating strong enlightened self-interest, because you can’t do squat to help others if can’t look after yourself first, but even just “don’t be a total dick to others just because you can” would be a pretty good level to achieve. And even that will be tough: because when there’s two ways to get ahead in life—either 1. work hard to [try to] raise yourself up, or 2. stomp down everyone else around you—the world has no shortage of lazy opportunists and casual abusers happy to take whichever route is easiest for them.

Again, remember: the moment that you, outsider, start to threaten their whole they will come for you first. And when that happens, they will look to their leadership to set tone and tactics, and for validation and permission to take their response to whatever level that leadership decrees appropriate—from mass-bombing our gracious hosts’ employers in attempts to get him sacked, to violent insurrection up on Capital Hill (“Law and Order party”, LOL!), to national pogroms and flat-out genocide. And all of it starts with what each individual considers a legitimate response for the time, place, and issue; or at least one they’re willing to go along with as long as someone else goes first.

(With apologies for length as I blame Pascal: Je n’ai fait celle-ci plus longue que parce que je n’ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte.)

We all know the aphorism “absolute power corrupts absolutely”, but your Trumps and Nulls and all were always utterly corrupt, right from the start.

It took me a long time to realise that Lord Acton got things backwards. Yes, unfettered power tends to corrupt, but in reality the corrupt seek out power.

@ has ( 7:29 am)

I agree with most of what you write BUT there is absolutely envy and seething hatred of the “elites” – those recognised professionally, the well-educated, the well-known, the successful.: they are ridiculed, insulted, demonised as criminal endlessly.- society rewards the wrong people, they say, when paragons of virtue and brilliance like them exist!

Yes, they didn’t do the hard work and it is apparent to those of us who did.
.
AND of course, they are greatly feared because expertise poses a threat to woo-meisters’ livelihood:
sceptics’ exposes of their MOs and backgrounds result in scathing counterattacks so that followers will not be swayed by this information- :both NN and PRN** have reams of articles excoriating Steven Barratt, Orac, SBM, Wikipedia et al because they inform followers about posturing, faux degrees, poor information and unsavoury tactics in order to make money. In fact, Null admitted that Wikipedia’s bio of him has resulted in a loss of income- it scares people away. Adams wrote a series of libelous articles about Orac to – hopefully- counteract his effect on followers.

On a smaller scale, we can observe similar reactions by trolls : no one can truly know another person’s feelings but it sure sounds like hatred to me. As a frequent recipient of their attention, I feel that I must be doing something right

** over 70 anti-Wikipedia articles, PRN; perhaps 40 anti-Orac articles, NN
Also efforts to counter their dismissal from social media.

.

@ Denice / Has

Perhaps they insult Orac and the better educated population in general ( the elites) because they were refused the chance to compete academically at well-regarded places and then pursue more lucrative professions. Fauci, Hotez.and Gates are objects of their scorn and envy.

In the case of Gates, isn’t he usually dismissed as a “dropout” by the same antivaxers/alt-meds, as he didn’t pursue university?
Not saying it’s invalidating your point about that motivate the alties. Quite the contrary, that makes him even more a subject of their envy.
Why would we listen to such a nerd, and a failed one at that, instead of such exemplars of the human race as Mercola or Adams?
Some passerby asked exactly that a few times here.

It also didn’t help that scorning Gates was quite mainstream in the 90’s. I changed my opinion on him when he retired from Microsoft and started his foundation.
But for people of a certain age (like me), Gates is/was a scoundrel. A very successful one.

Between something you said on another thread about alt-meds crying “censorship” because they cannot use anymore social media as a free platform for their businesses, and Has good point that “these people’s goal is to own other people”. I’m suddenly thinking…
Gates’ successes with his business and his sustained fame with people, elite or otherwise, must be really grating on the nerves of the likes of Mercola, Null and Adams.
They will never reach that high in either money or social recognition, and to top it, in their mind, we unfairly don’t give them the latitude we seem to be giving to that other scoundrel, Gates.

@ Athaic:

Sure!
Gates really drives them crazy because he succeeded wildly, is recognised internationally as expert in his field AND is outrageously RICH!
AoA writers call him a ‘dropout’ ( he could actually buy universities) but the others focus on his dastardly deeds- owning the world, turning us all into androids and vaccinating poor people!

As I noted, sceptics – and Big Tech- may be partially dismantling these woo-based empires by exposes, de-listing and outright bans on their platforms, Of course they’re hopping mad! Spewing venom and self-righteously defending their own business activities and charitable work. The Centre for Countering Digital Hate has been added to their enemies list along with Orac, SBM, Wikipedia, Fauci, Hotez and Main Stream Media.

Education can combat woo but is no guarantee against it: a while ago, I frequently listed variables associated with CT belief and anti-vax which included personality differences like preference for purity or freedom, non-acceptance of expertise, suspiciousness, not being agreeable, having anxiety, less cognitive complexity and many more as well as gender, educational level and SES.

As we have seen with anti-vax CT believers, a university education is not protection against falling into the black hole of anti-vax: most of the well-known adherents we read are middle class ( or above), white, college graduates. A few have graduate degrees. Although, most of their degrees are not in life science ( English, education, business, social science) STILL college should inoculate you against CT I would hope.. .but it doesn’t:
Orac wrote on Twitter that even doctors are not immune from beliefs like these and wondered if there was a way to screen for it before they were accepted in Med school ( or similar, I can’t recall exactly).

I’ll return.. . .

The trap is that any of us can fall for at least some disinformation if we are not careful. That’s why it’s important to learn the warning signs. I appreciated your setting out of how to identify.

That’s also why debunking work like this article is important.

I can’t say enough about sceptics learning how to check sources and it’s not always that easy:
scientific research can be difficult unless you have insight into the minutiae of the subject matter and know how to dig BUT
there’s a reason that woo-meisters/ anti-vaxxers/ CT mongers assiduously AVOID the mainstream : it debunks them or it fails to examine their efforts at all

So news outlets ( newspapers, internet, television), general magazines, Wikipedia and fact checking websites are DESPISED because they use standard sources to explain concepts or people’s contributions. To deny their input, alties need to construct all encompassing CTs to explain away realistic input. Usually, on important issues, we can find multiple sources pointing to the same conclusion internationally.

Being aware of this situation, alt med/ anti-vax actively discourage followers using standard sources because they are ‘all corrupt’. A few have had to create their own social media to replace their dismissals from the standards and have alternate bios prominently displayed.
A question I ask alties/ anti-vaxxers:
Can you show me an accredited university that teaches courses on your theory?.

.

I may have said already, but did these chaps that keep claiming we have a cheap and easily administered way to suppress a certain gene ever stop to ask themselves what the consequences were if this were true? We could cure a plethora of nasty, often fatal genetic conditions just with a tiny, 20 dollar worth jab – something that we cannot actually do.
I find these claims extremely offensive, both to the patients affected by the aforementioned conditions and their family, and for the scientists that every day go to work trying to find a therapy for those people, often in fund-strapped research projects (rare conditions are not profitable, and this is a sad fact).

Antivaxxers don’t care about anyone but themselves, so it would never occur to them. I mean, even if it was cheap to make, you’d expect BigPharma to offer it at a huge markup if it were real.

Fun tidbit: there’s a gene therapy for Sickle Cell Disease in clinical trials right now!

If I had to guess (because I don’t know for sure) I’d guess that at least some of the initial funding for it came from on the of the “orphan diseases” funds, because I seriously doubt that it’s mRNA based, so it is/will be expensive to make. (Separate from whatever markup the company goes with.)

(BluebirdBio)

Since I’m not a health professional I was a bit confused by the bit about the vaccine getting into the blood stream and travelling round the body. Isn’t that sort of the point?

Also, theres a lot of ‘if you havent proved that it doesn’t then it definitely does’ rhetoric.

Clearly this isn’t actually a letter to the EMA. It’s a letter to the public with the aim of disrupting the vaccination drive.

I’m not fond of their use of the term “gene-based vaccine”. They are physicians, I don’t see why they cannot say “mRNA-based vaccine”.

And yes, there are plenty of “prove it isn’t so or else it’s evidence it’s happening”. That, and “err, Isn’t that sort of the point?”

Uh, not sure the reference for point 2 is appropriate. The nanoparticles from that article may be very different from the lipid vector used in the vaccines.

I’m also perplexed by point 3, “We must assume that these lymphocytes [from a previous exposure] will mount an attack on the respective [epithelial] cells [expressing the Spike protein]”.
Let’s put aside for now that re-exposure to the wild virus will trigger that reaction, too. What’s so important about lymphocytes from a previous exposure? Following vaccination, eventually, newly-primed lymphocytes will attack these epithelial cells, too.
I guess they suggest these pre-existing lymphocytes could have some quick and overpowered reaction, bit like an allergy (not sure it’s the best simile). This is that their point 6 is all about, actually.
I cannot say how much this is a probable concern.

Point 7, “the health systems of most countries were no longer under imminent threat of being overwhelmed because a growing proportion of the world had already been infected and the worst of the pandemic had already abated. ”
The pandemic is abating? Must be news to the Italians. And to plenty other European countries. OK, they may have started written this at a time numbers were gently going down, but still. That didn’t stop them from openly publishing the letter now.
(and if they wrote it one or two weeks ago – numbers were not good already)

Eh, at the end, menton of the Nuremberg Code.

And Brazil to. Come for the debauchery and soccer; stay for the “I licked P1” tshirts and your very own personalized favela organ harvesting experience.

Not alarmists, but COVID.deniers, who try everything to block masks, vakzination, any political response based on personal vendettas.
sadly those persons with no proper scientific background are hosted by various media as brave mavericks.

Well, if alternative splices of pre-mRNA is their new boogyman how long will it take for them to claim the COVID mRNA vaccines cause schizophrenia?

Don’t give them ideas! People with schizophrenia have enough to deal with without becoming anti-vaxxer’s next target population.

Update on Hooman Noorchashm M.D.: he’s now hinting* that ex-boxer Marvin Hagler’s death may have been due to being SARS-CoV-2 positive and getting vaccinated.

After Noorchashm claimed that he didn’t authorize RFK Jr.’s Children’s Health Defense to publish his open letter about the alleged dire perils of vaccinating virus-positive individuals, it’s curious that the CHD website is now hosting a video in which James Lyons-Weiler interviews Dr. N. about his vaccine concerns. Lie down with antivaxers, get up with…virions?

Hope this doesn’t make me one of the “jeering critics” that Dr. N. is so exercised about.

*or if you prefer, Just Asking Questions.

That’s highly troubling. Mr. Hagler’s wife said otherwise, and asked people not to share such claims. https://vaxopedia.org/2021/03/14/did-marvin-hagler-die-after-a-vaccine-reaction/

Dr. Noorchashm also appears to be reaching out to others who shared anti-vaccine misinformation in the past to try and get their attention. https://twitter.com/noorchashm/status/1371843338475876353

He is clearly willing to work with the anti-vaccine activists. Personally, I think that should carry a cost in term of credibility with officials.

My guess is Noorchashm is projecting an over-sized ego into his obsession with “#ScreenB4Vaccine’. So outraged that more of the medical establishment is not listening to him, he over-values those who do, and minimizes the significance of their faults in his mind. ‘They have to have something on the ball if they agree with me!’ That may only go so far, and he may still think of antivaxers as pretty loony, but I’m guessing he doesn’t see himself as lying down with them but rather using them… for good, of course… The egotism lets him imagine the relationship is all on his terms, to his ends, and blinds him to the fact they’re using him, and the harm that may cause… In short, I’m thinking this is William Thompson Syndrome redux.

I am sensing many of you are thinking, Greg hasn’t commented in awhile, I wonder what he thinks of this post? First, I want to commend Orac on a very informative post. I am sure Joel (he is getting rather surly of late and doesn’t want me to address him as Lear anymore) would be proud. I suspect though that Orac’s ego got a little of him, and he was more interested in showing off his microbiology wits than shooting down Wells’ argument. As to that argument, though I don’t have enough expertise to properly appraise Orac’s rebuttal, I nevertheless believe we should be very wary of a technology that shoots a foreign material into humans’ cells. Just thinking about it evokes that famous thought — ‘Really, what could go wrong here — hhmmn!’

Somewhat related, I came across this article of a scientist sharing his dire warnings about mass covid vaccination and its potential for viral escape. Yes, I am an unrepentent and likely bias antivaxxer that welcomes any news that cast vaccines in a bad light, but this article has a particular ominous feel to it. I am hoping the choir here would address it.

I am sensing many of you are thinking, Greg hasn’t commented in awhile, I wonder what he thinks of this post?

Truthfully, this had never crossed my mind.

In fact I manage to get through almost every day without thinking about you at all.

If you never commented here again, I would not miss you.

It is only when I happen to scroll across some of your bulldust on here that my thoughts turn to you. The usual variant is “It is that attention-seeking scumbag Greg again.”, there are other less polite variants of the same.

When certain trolls return after an extended absence, the most I can generate is “I guess they’re not dead.”

When certain trolls return after an extended absence, the most I can generate is “I guess they’re not dead.”

Yah, I was thinking respirator. Oh, well; happy Doctor–Patient Trust Day.

Was something supposed to be linked to in your post Greg?

Not sure how viral escape is possible when the mRNA vaccines contain no virus and don’t cause the body to create the virus. I’m sure it will all become clear.

Really excellent article, thanks Dorit! (Now to go read all the links in that article.)

I would love to read actual peer reviewed studies that you have done….

Right back atcha. Pretension and wordiness can live separately, as you have just demonstrated.

Which specific assertion?
Please list it or them, clearly. Citations of peer-reviewed papers supporting your position are expected.

@ Greg

You write: “I nevertheless believe we should be very wary of a technology that shoots a foreign material into humans’ cells.”

Obviously, you don’t have the vaguest understanding of what mRNA is. First, have you ever had a cold, the flu, any viral infection? If you did, then you had much more injected into your cells than mRNA, including, in some cases, DNA that could enter the cell’s nucleus, which mRNA can’t. Second, rMNA is NOT a “foreign material.” It is a chain of nucleotides, the same nucleotides that exist in abundance in your cells. And it has a very short life as a “chain” and breaks down into individual nucleotides. Think of SCRABBLE. You have a bunch of letters, put them together to make up a word, then as game ends, back to letters. Third, the mRNA codes for making the S-spike protein. Think of your index finger. If I wanted to take your finger print for future recognition, I could simply bring a pad to your padded cell or I could cut off your finger and take it to fingerprint it. If so, your index finger would be harmless, it couldn’t pull a trigger or do anything. Same with S-spike protein. By itself, it can’t do anything but be recognized. I realize that in past comments you’ve attacked me for actually reading books, articles, etc.; but if you don’t want to continue making a fool of yourself, either purchase or get from your local library a book on genetics and, and, perhaps, one on cell biology.

You write: “I came across this article of a scientist sharing his dire warnings about mass covid vaccination and its potential for viral escape.” And you give a link to Children’s Defense Fund. In a previous exchange I gave just one example of many where Robert Kennedy Jr, founder of Children’s Defense Fund, either just plain lies or is delusional, i.e., when he has claimed numerous times that there has never been a single placebo controlled trial of vaccines. I gave two, the 1954-55 Salk polio vaccine trial with ca. 850,000 children, and Paul Offit et als. of a rotavirus vaccine with 72,000 children. Just one example from Children’s Defense Fund. I could give dozens. But you ignore and continue to refer to Children’s Defense Fund. Since you like them, here is another one I’m sure you will love: The Flat Earth Society at: https://www.tfes.org

Dorit Reiss came up with an excellent scientifically rigorous well-referenced refutation of Geert Vanden Bossche on Children’s Defense Fund. Thanks Dorit.

I’ll just add one more by Vincent Iannelli (2021 Mar 16). “Who is Geert Vanden Bossche?” at: https://vaxopedia.org/2021/03/14/who-is-geert-vanden-bossche/

Note that Vanden Bossche claims he has his own vaccine, though no documented research, in fact has never published any research about vaccines.

Finally, you write: “I am sure Joel (he is getting rather surly of late and doesn’t want me to address him as Lear anymore).”

In a previous exchange you stated clearly that if I requested you no longer address me as Lear that you would stop. Obviously, you lack any integrity, sense of honor, or decency as you continue. So be it. Just digging yourself a deeper and deeper hole.

p.s. you wouldn’t be related to or friends with Christine Kincaid and/or Natalie White, two others who ignore clear refutations of their posted comments and often just speculate.

Obviously, you don’t have the vaguest understanding of what mRNA is. First, have you ever had a cold, the flu, any viral infection?

Joel, I don’t claim to be a virologist, but I see a difference. First, infections also occur at the humoral level and giving the immune system time to counterattack. With mRNA vaccination, however, we are talking straight cell-mediated penetration. How is that a good thing? Second, I see infections as more likely to infect diffusely and limitedly. With mRNA vaccination, on the other hand, you are more likely to have a concentrated infection. Joel, again, how is that a good thing? Remember those lumps that are being found in women’s breasts? Indeed, maybe a biopsy would offer some ‘interesting’ findings!

@ Greg

Obviously you either didn’t read Orac’s piece on lymph nodes and breasts or several comments or didn’t understand them or simply could care less. And if you were to talk with a virologist you would discover that a viral infection spreads much further thru body than injection of COVID-19 vaccine in one deltoid muscle. You fail to understand that the sole purpose of a virus is to penetrate cells, hijack the nucleus in order to reproduce itself. And again, you fail to understand that a virus releases far more in a cell than the COVID-19 vaccine does, that is, mRNA that has a very limited lifespan.

The mRNA doesn’t course thru the body. The S-spike protein may follow blood or lymph; but can’t enter a cell. If I cut off your index finger it can’t even ring a door bell let alone open a door.

Finally, you write: “infections also occur at the humoral level and giving the immune system time to counterattack. With mRNA vaccination, however, we are talking straight cell-mediated penetration.”

Unless the immune system has previously encountered a specific virus, it takes around 10 days to be able to counter attack, all the while the virus is entering cells. Yep, sometimes the innate immune system can slow this down; but only somewhat in most cases, so viruses enter many cells. Once more you simply speculate based on ignorance. Try to actually learn something about virology.

So, to summarize, COVID-19 vaccines injects in the deltoid muscle, maybe a few might travel a short distance and the mRNA can’t replicate, can’t enter the nucleus and hijack the cells productive facilities, whereas a viral infection, especially respiratory like COVID-19, flu, and common cold enter thru the lungs and go just about everywhere and if not previously recognized by immune system, penetrate cells, depending on virus, in many places before immune system gets up to speed.

Keep speculating or try to actually learn something.

By the way, the slight increase of blood clots found in Germans getting COVID was still much lower than the number of serious cases per capita and in UK the number getting blood clots was lower than expected in general population. In other words, probably just a random fluctuation.

Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz (2021 Mar 17). The AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine And
Risk of Blood Clots: What You Need to Know. Science Alert. Available at:

https://www.sciencealert.com/a-scientist-explains-why-you-don-t-need-to-panic-about-the-astrazeneca-rollout-pause

What antivaccinationists fail to understand that if one vaccinates a large group of people then some will suffer problems not caused by vaccines, that is, they would still have had heart attacks, blood clots, etc. because in a large group of people some will suffer problems regardless. I wonder how many have had a heart attack after trying a new breakfast cereal?

@ Joel A. Harrison

You fail to understand that the sole purpose of a virus is to penetrate cells, hijack the nucleus

I’m afraid I have to nitpick: Sars-Cov2 doesn’t hijack the nucleus, As a positive-strand mRNA virus, it finds everything it needs once it’s inside the cytoplasm.
“hijack the cell’s machineries” is more accurate as a general description or what viruses do.

There are enough fearmongers running around yelling about how the mRNA vaccine is going to “change your genome”.
Let’s be precise and not give them ammo.

So the argument over CLL is that the level of tumor suppressor proteins is reduced because the level of a particular mRNA is itself reduced. There is nothing new in that observation at all — in fact it is where the CLL researchers started — the new finding is in how that mRNA reduction happens. In brief, it is not mRNA as anything inherently oncogenic, but the fact that one or a hundred mRNAs out of twenty thousand or so are reduced in numbers, and these mRNAs are important for their role in promoting tumor suppression.

More briefly, the anti-vaxx argument is fundamentally stupid.

By the way, polyadenylation is widespread to the extent that it even happens to some ribosomal RNA in the mitochondria (which is itself somewhat unstable) as shown in the Attardi lab in the 1970s.

Thanks to the author for going through the CLL findings, which were of interest and also add to conclusion (also nothing new) that cancer is an incredibly complicated business.

@Bob G “in fact it is where the CLL researchers started” Thanks for that as I have been looking for the what did I miss that I cannot find and there is not any. My CLL diagnosis goes almost as far back as the early mRNA research and yes it has been quite the tour with the good news of all the treatment options available today even without total understanding.

Want to respond to Orac? Here's your chance. Leave a reply!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.