Politics against people and medicine in the race for a novel coronavirus cure (Revised)
By Charlotte Cerminaro
Since I first heard testimony from the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee on the state of the pandemic last February, it was clear that hard science would play no part in the information dispersed to the general public and, more importantly, the treatment options and preventive medicine that would forever alter the course of our lives. The striking contrast between politics, media propaganda and actual medical science was on full display and continues still, with blatantly unconstitutional mandates and deceitful, coercive journalism. The scene has been reenacted many times over this past year and a half--it would be just another argument about truth versus myth, except people's lives are at stake. On a very fundamental level, humans are becoming an endangered species: The greatest threat is not a virus; it's a vocal minority, the certainty that bully tactics will yield more than reason, and a frenzied war on our first amendment rights. Any reasonable ideas or alternatives are quashed in a predictable pattern of hysteria, threats, insults and misinformation. The panic button has been pushed too many times by politicians, the media, and pharmaceutical companies bolstered by government grants; the simple, straightforward testimony of physicians and researchers on the frontlines of medical care is easily drowned out by name-calling, labeling and preaching, by those who benefit from general public fear and ignorance. It's not only tiresome, it's predictable. It resembles a childish game, but the power of emotional and political manipulation takes its toll on reality and those who need it most.
In the early days of the pandemic many healthcare workers noted that anti-inflammatory and anticoagulant therapy for patients hospitalized with respiratory distress was effective, cost- and life-saving--often eliminating the need for ventilator assistance and longer hospital stays--with better outcomes. Despite the research, this relatively simple treatment remained a mystery and a well-kept secret for many months. The odd, almost parasitic behavior of the virus prompted healthcare workers in numerous, large-scale studies to use Ivermectin as a prophylactic and post-infection treatment. This antiviral, antiparasitic Nobel Prize winning drug was among many repurposed, FDA approved medications that were part of the arsenal in some of the hardest hit and most heavily populated Asian and Latin American countries.
The most convincing testimony in the SHS meeting was by Pierre Kory, MD, a professor of Critical Care Medicine at St. Luke's and a frontline healthcare provider throughout the pandemic. His remarks were from personal experience and medical research and he was clearly fighting back strong emotions. Forced to witness much needless death, he and many other physicians were barred from using Ivermectin, despite its remarkable efficacy and safety. Already proven as a potent antiviral medication, it pulled critically ill patients into recovery within 24 hours of administering the first dose. Its M.O.A. is known to be host-directed, docking to specific sites on the host cell and blocking the viral spike protein. It is one among several repurposed drugs that were proven to effectively slow the spread and severity of infection. The WHO refused to publish any accurate findings, while the world held its breath for the non FDA approved, EUA (emergency use authorization) only vaccines. The reason? Those repurposed drugs are FDA approved for many other viral infections, but not Covid-19. While billions of dollars have been pumped into mRNA vaccine production, virtually nothing has gone into hard research on already-existing drugs and vaccines, though these drugs have a track record of long-term safety.
The biggest question--why weren't these promising medications heavily researched and promoted, while waiting for longer-term safety and efficacy results on vaccines?--was never adequately answered, though the most obvious reason would appear to be: Profit. Most vaccines require years of research before they are widely distributed to the general public. Many lifesaving drugs for the deadliest diseases are held back for decades, while terminally ill volunteers are denied emergency use even after safety and efficacy have been well-quantified. The AIDS antiviral scandal was one of the more notable.
According to Dr. Kory, significant research has already proven that Ivermectin is as effective for Covid prevention as it is for other viral and parasitic prophylaxis. Doctors and nurses working in ICU facilities throughout Latin America and Asia relied on it for their own protection: There were numerous published studies, including one with 1,600 healthcare workers taking Ivermectin and exposed to Covid who did not become ill, with 1,600 who didn't receive Ivermectin, 58% falling ill. Why have millions of people been kept in the dark, denied access to this reasonable prevention? Instead, we have lockdowns, masks, high infection rates, ICUs at full capacity and vulnerable populations at significant risk of mortality.
Before I fail to state the obvious, there are several biotech companies that already have vaccines which are proven safe and effective against many varieties of coronavirus. One of the quickest responders was a small company that already produced a successful vaccine against a very similar coronavirus, responsible for feline infectious peritonitis. Used safely for years, having a similar mode of antigen production (weakened, altered or killed virus), a slight modification of their formula yielded an effective product. The pandemic panic has rushed an entirely new vector for viral antibody production into global distribution, with only months (not years) of data on safety. With millions of people in a state of fear, having little knowledge of or access to other modes of prevention, they are putting a new technology into their bodies, assuming it's the same as their yearly influenza vaccine. It's not. The FDA has already been compelled to issue new warnings for higher-than-expected rates of serious adverse reactions to mRNA vaccines. Unusual clotting and autoimmune thrombocytopenia, myocarditis (heart muscle inflammation) and Guillain-Barré syndrome are among the severe and life-threatening reactions which are likely underreported and underdiagnosed. Investigations by the FDA are typically vague, inconclusive, and only offer estimated offsets in numbers of lives lost, versus hypothetical projections on morbidity and mortality in "unvaccinated populations".
The new BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are made from modified messenger RNA (mRNA) which is the single strand copy responsible for replicating the proteins encoded in double-stranded DNA. Specifically, the RNA segments coding two viral "spike" proteins, which are separated by a pair of amino acids. The molecule is then wrapped in a fatty acid "nano-capsule", to hold it in an unbound, stabilized state until it reaches its target--the host cell. The fatty acids break down readily, whereupon our own cells bind nucleic acid to the viral RNA, transcribe its code and synthesize the viral proteins within our cellular ribosomes. The presence of these viral proteins within our cells causes our immune system to mount an attack against them. The issue isn't one of changing our DNA, as some people fear, but of a slight mistake within our own immune system. Two common immune problems (severe allergic reactions, such as anaphylaxis, and autoimmune reactions) are simply immune overreactions to a perceived threat. With our own cells producing the antigen and antibodies, even a slight immune anomaly could potentially turn our antibodies against the production site (autoimmune) or producing IgE antibodies instead of IgM and IgG could cause severe allergic reactions.
It is possible that these new vaccines are as safe as any other. There is no way to know this, however, and for the millions of people who have already been vaccinated, only time will tell. Companies that produce vaccines are rarely held accountable for serious reactions and since these have no track record beyond the past few months, we are gambling with our own immune systems and the quick mutations of this virus. With many new infections occurring in the already vaccinated population, a third "booster" shot is now advised only months after the first. The painstaking, costly research on Covid-recovered patients shows full and robust antibody activity a dozen months post-infection, yet there is no exemption for vaccine mandates in this significant population. With supposed vaccine shortages in many high-risk areas, the dangerous and irrational hypocrisy of these mandates is further highlighted. It's clearly not the general public health but rather politics, that are the determining factor in treatment protocol and health outcomes, and have been since the outset; the resulting media-fueled panic has driven an even bigger wedge between scientific reasoning and myth. We must not be the pawns (or lab rats) in this deadly game of chance.
Charlotte B. Cerminaro is a Juilliard-trained classical musician who, in addition to being a studio and orchestral musician, enjoys writing and has a degree in Molecular Biology. © 2021