Elderly adults experienced a disastrous decline in cognitive functioning during the UK’s COVID-19 quarantine policies, a study published in the Lancet on Tuesday revealed.
The accelerated worsening of working memory and other key intellectual metrics persisted even after lockdown ended.
Analyzing data collected by the government’s PROTECT study of adults aged 50 and above before, during, and after the pandemic lockdowns, researchers affiliated with the University of Exeter, King’s College London, and Imperial College London found “significant worsening of executive function and working memory” across all groups studied.
Reduced exercise and increased alcohol use were associated with worsening of memory and executive functioning during lockdown even among individuals who had no previous history of cognitive impairment, while depression and loneliness were strongly linked to worsening of existing cognitive issues.
Declines in working memory persisted even after lockdowns ended and overall cognitive decline declined at twice the rate it had prior to lockdowns, as measured by performance on the cognitive tasks participants completed as part of the PROTECT study.
This marked decline in overall cognition was observed even in elderly individuals who had shown no signs of impairment prior to the lockdowns. Nor was it limited to individuals who had contracted COVID-19, though several studies have established a link between infection and persistent cognitive deficits, with up to 78% of those infected reporting lasting mental difficulties.
The researchers hypothesized reduced exercise and increased alcohol consumption might be responsible for the cognitive decline reported, but cautioned against confusing correlation with causation and recommended further study.
“Ongoing concerns about the pandemic and a shift to more virtual communication forms, leading to less time spent out of the house and a less active lifestyle” were suggested as a hypothesis to explain the lingering debilitation post-lockdown.
The study did not distinguish between those who had received the COVID-19 vaccine and the unvaccinated.
A broad spectrum of neurological side effects including cognitive impairment have been associated with the shot, though to date no comprehensive studies have been performed on the subject.
Given the established role of loneliness and social isolation as risk factors for worsening cognitive impairment in elderly adults, the predictably detrimental effect of lockdowns on this population was the source of much controversy during the pandemic.
Elderly advocates as early as July 2020 warned that patients with mild cognitive decline were rapidly spiraling into full-blown dementia, losing the ability to care for themselves and even speak due to suspensions in healthcare services and social visits.
The UK locked its population down three times during the pandemic, exercising unprecedented societal controls.
That policy is currently under investigation in the government’s COVID-19 Inquiry.
A top U.S. intelligence official who also serves as a consultant with the World Health Organization played a key role in downplaying the theory that COVID-19 came from a laboratory in China, a former official says.
In the past week, stories in the media have been warning about the latest COVID-19 variant, the latest in a long list. It doesn’t seem like people are listening anymore.
In the minds of much of the public, the pandemic is long over and is firmly a thing of the past. The last thing most people want is another trip down the rabbit hole of restrictions, lockdowns, masks and vaccinations, with the past few years having seriously undermined the credibility of governments and public trust in them to do the right thing.
And Western governments no longer have the political will or interest to dare make unpopular decisions, even if some are sounding the alarm.
The pandemic in many respects was a turning point in government-public relations in Western countries, precisely because it was the first outbreak of such scale to occur in the age of mass social-media culture, where people, more connected than ever before, have the unrestricted capability to voice their own opinions, to hear the opinions of others, and with these to enact dissent against governments and their policies. The social-media era has already provided many significant challenges to state structures as it is, with Western governments scrambling to reassert a “narrative control” over their populations that they’ve since lost.
Social-media freedom has played a critical role in – if not outright caused – outcomes which have shocked elites, be it the election of Donald Trump in the US, or Brexit in Britain. Subsequently, Western ruling classes have increased censorship and narrative policing on social media platforms through denouncing viewpoints they don’t like as “misinformation” or even as malicious propaganda by foreign actors like China or Russia.
The COVID-19 pandemic thus saw one of the most comprehensive censorship campaigns Western governments had ever undertaken (at least before that of the Ukraine conflict), especially when it came to those who sought to question or challenge the need for vaccines.
Governments have tried to aggressively reassert narrative control, stomping out dissent against their views, broadcast by establishment media.
It would be foolish to deny that vaccines were important in combating the COVID-19 pandemic, even critical to saving lives, especially among the elderly and the vulnerable, but the manner in which this issue was conducted by governments has produced wholesale distrust in authority at large. That is not because vaccines are ‘bad’ but because people saw the profits being raked in by their Big Pharma producers, saw how aggressively governments were pushing for their implementation, and were skeptical as to whether the whole thing really served the “public interest.” In other words, the method (propaganda and censorship) defeated the objective (introducing vaccines to save lives).
Big Pharma, of course, refers to a group of multinational drug- and medicine-producing companies which wield enough political influence and connections to be able to steer the public narrative towards endorsing their own products and which therefore exerts a monopoly over the perceived solutions to a health crisis or problem.
These companies profited wholesale over the pandemic and to some extent influenced government policies over the issue. But more specifically, the narrative was steered to argue that the vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna were the only ones you should use, with Chinese and Russian competitors often receiving targeted negative coverage.
Therefore, as it goes, public criticism of pandemic-related policies has grown because it is now more widely believed that these companies, armed with the media, exert “scaremongering” to fulfil their commercial goals.
Combined with the influence of social media, this has created large-scale distrust, despite all evidence of how harmful and deadly the early forms of COVID were, especially for the sick and the elderly, and of the significant numbers of COVID-related deaths being reported to this day.
As a result, continuing to sound alarm bells about new variants and the spread of the disease does more harm than good, because it reinforces perceptions that the media are attempting to scare populations with something that is not a real threat.
The pandemic has had a politically exhausting effect that also came with a choppy transition back to ‘real’ life.
The public is not interested in making sacrifices again in the name of a disease that is already perceived to have ‘gone away,’ especially when it is believed there is an agenda behind doing so – not just Big Pharma’s but also one of power centralization, censorship and narrative-control by governments.
The pandemic and the Ukraine conflict together have marked part of a shift whereby Western states have sought to reassert power lost during the social-media era, but have only achieved the opposite effect.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.
Two scientists have been awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine for their pioneering research that led to the development of mRNA vaccines, which helped curb the spread of COVID-19, it was announced early on Monday in Stockholm, Sweden.
Dr. Katalin Kariko and Dr. Drew Weissman will share the prize almost two decades after first publishing a 2005 paper examining the potential benefits of mRNA technology.
Their research received little attention at the time but the Nobel Prize committee praised the scientists’ “groundbreaking findings,” which they said “fundamentally changed our understanding of how mRNA interacts with our immune system.”
“The laureates contributed to the unprecedented rate of vaccine development during one of the greatest threats to human health in modern times,” the committee said in a statement on Monday.
Kariko and Weissman were both said to be “overwhelmed” by the news when they were notified by telephone of their win.
Traditional vaccine technology uses dead or weakened samples from a source bacterium or virus to prepare a person’s immune system to recognize and attack threats. mRNA, by comparison, prompts cells to make a protein based on a single strand of genetic code.
In the case of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, it leads to cells producing the virus’ spike protein, which the immune system subsequently recognizes as foreign, preparing it to fight off a future infection.
The COVID-19 vaccines developed by Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech were both based on mRNA technology.
“The impressive flexibility and speed with which mRNA vaccines can be developed pave the way for using the new platform also for vaccines against other infectious diseases,” the Nobel Prize committee said.
Rickard Sandberg, one of the members of the Nobel Prize in medicine committee, added on Monday that COVID-19 vaccines had been administered over 13 billion times since the start of the pandemic.
He said the vaccines “have saved millions of lives, prevented severe COVID-19, reduced the overall disease burden and enabled societies to open up again.”
The same mRNA research is now being used to combat other diseases, including cancer.
However, the widespread rollout of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines also led to “rare occurrences of myocarditis [inflammation of the heart tissue] following the second injection of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna” vaccines in teens and young adults, the Johns Hopkins Medicine website notes.
It adds that the majority of these cases were “mild and cleared up on their own.”
Hungarian-American biochemist Kariko and American physician Weismann are both professors at the University of Pennsylvania.
The award comes with a monetary prize of $1 million. Last year’s prize was won by Swedish scientist Svante Paabo for research into Neanderthal DNA, which led to discoveries in our immune system, and also revealed a specific vulnerability humans have to severe cases of Covid-19.
Jewish scientist awarded 2023 Nobel Prize in Medicine for contribution to COVID-19 vaccine
Drew Weissman was awarded the prestigious prize together with his partner Katalin Karikó for their discoveries regarding mRNA vaccines.
Jewish scientist Drew Weissman and Hungarian scientist Katalin Karikó were awarded the 2023 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine on Monday for their efforts in developing the mRNA vaccines against COVID-19.
The Nobel committee explained that Weissman and Karikó’s discoveries “were critical for developing effective mRNA vaccines against COVID-19 during the pandemic that began in early 2020.”
Through their groundbreaking findings, which have fundamentally changed our understanding of how mRNA interacts with our immune system, the laureates contributed to the unprecedented rate of vaccine development during one of the greatest threats to human health in modern times,” the committee added.
Drew Weissman is an immunologist who studies vaccinations. He met Karikó in a photography shop in 1997, the two shared their frustration over the lack of funding for RNA research for neurological illnesses.
In 2005, the two published a trailblazing study in the field which used synthetic nucleosides which prevented damage to the body as they did until then.
This study laid the groundwork for the development of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Dr. Anthony Fauci was smuggled into CIA headquarters, “without a record of entry,” where he “participated in the analysis to “influence” the Agency’s” COVID-19 investigation, according to the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic.
New allegation: @CIA secretly escorted Dr. Anthony Fauci into Agency Headquarters to “influence” its COVID-19 origins investigation. pic.twitter.com/MilogK6xll
Fauci’s alleged CIA meeting was revealed in a Tuesday night letter from Subcommittee Chairman Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) to the Inspector General of the US Department of Health and Human Services, which demands documents, communications and other evidence between Fauci and the CIA.
Dr. Fauci’s suspicious moments are especially concerning in light of recent whistleblower testimony alleging @CIA rewarded six analysts with significant financial incentives to change their COVID-19 origins conclusion from a lab-leak to zoonosis.
This allegation is even more interesting in light of a report from two weeks ago that the CIA bribed analysts to say COVID-19 did not originate in a Chinese lab.
According to a ‘senior-level’ CIA whistleblower, the agency ‘tried to pay off six analysts who found SARS-CoV-2 likely originated in a Wuhan lab if they changed their position and said the virus jumped from animals to humans.’
“According to the whistleblower, at the end of its review, six of the seven members of the Team believed the intelligence and science were sufficient to make a low confidence assessment that COVID-19 originated from a laboratory in Wuhan, China,” reads the letter from Wenstrup.
“The seventh member of the Team, who also happened to be the most senior, was the lone officer to believe COVID-19 originated through zoonosis.
“The whistleblower further contends that to come to the eventual public determination of uncertainty, the other six members were given a significant monetary incentive to change their position,” the letters continue, adding that the analysts were “experienced officers with significant scientific expertise.”
Wenstrup and Turner also asked for documents and communications between the CIA and other federal agencies, including the State Department, FBI, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Energy Department.
In a separate letter, the House committee leaders identified former CIA Chief Operating Officer Andrew Makridis as having “played a central role” in the COVID investigation and asked him to sit for a transcribed interview. -NY Post
In June, the US Intelligence Community declassified a 10-page report on COVID origins, in which it found “biosafety concerns” and “genetic engineering” taking place in Wuhan, but that most of its “agencies assess that SARS-CoV-2 was not genetically engineered.”
As the Committee noted on Tuesday;
Dr. Fauci’s questionable presence at the CIA, coupled with recently uncovered evidence that he, Dr. Fauci, “prompted” the drafting of “Proximal Origin” — the infamous paper that was used to attempt to “disprove” the lab leak theory — lends credence to heightened concerns about the promotion of a false COVID-19 origins narrative by multiple federal government agencies.
Chairman Wenstrup is seeking all documents and communications related to Dr. Fauci’s access to CIA facilities and CIA employees as it relates to these allegations. Also, after becoming aware of additional information, the Select Subcommittee is requesting Special Agent Brett Rowland appear for a transcribed interview regarding Dr. Fauci’s purported movements to and from the CIA. As mounting evidence continues to imply that federal government officials covered-up the origins of COVID-19, investigating any improper influence will ensure future accountability of not only the intelligence community, but also public health officials.
So all along Fauci was just a patsy for the deep state’s involvement in the creation of a weaponized virus using a Chinese biolab funded by the US government.
Moderna said on Wednesday its updated fall COVID-19 booster, which is pending approval from the Food and Drug Administration, performed well against the highly mutated BA.2.86 variant, AFP reported.
Human trial data showed the shot produced an 8.7-fold increase in neutralizing antibodies against the variant, also known as Pirola, which has been designated a variant under monitoring, the US biotech company said.
It added it was submitting the results to a peer-reviewed journal and has shared it with regulatory authorities.
“These data confirm that our updated COVID-19 vaccine will continue to be an important tool for protection as we head into the fall vaccination season,” said Moderna’s president Stephen Hoge in a statement quoted by AFP.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said the new variant may be more capable of causing infection in people who have previously been vaccinated or had the disease.
In August, the World Health Organization said it is closely monitoring the BA.2.86 variant which has been detected in Israel, Denmark and the United States.
Pirola has more than 30 mutations in its spike protein compared to the currently dominant XBB.1.5 strain. This raised concerns among scientists because it is a similar number to the mutations between the Delta and Omicron variants during the height of the pandemic.
Agencies within the “UK intelligence community” worked closely with the government’s ‘Counter-Disinformation Unit’ (CDU) to police COVID-related dissent on social media, the Telegraph reported on Friday, citing classified documents.
The documents in question were presented to the British government’s ongoing COVID-19 inquiry, set up earlier this year to examine the government’s response to the pandemic.
Marked “official sensitive,” the documents allege that the “UK intelligence community” was “working closely” with the CDU “where appropriate” during the pandemic, the newspaper stated. The documents do not detail which agencies within the intelligence community – which includes MI6, MI5 and GCHQ – worked with the CDU.
Little is known about the CDU’s inner workings.
Formed in 2019 to combat so-called “disinformation” surrounding European elections, the unit had up to 50 staff members during the pandemic, Susannah Storey, director general for digital, technology and telecoms at the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, reportedly told the inquiry.
Storey reportedly said that the CDU answers to a 12-member “disinformation board,” which includes members of the “intelligence community.” According to the Telegraph, the board’s director, Sarah Connolly, previously told Parliament that one of the CDU’s key tasks was “passing information over” to platforms like Facebook and Twitter (now renamed X) to “encourage… the swift takedown of posts.”
According to documents obtained by the Telegraph earlier this summer, the CDU used artificial intelligence to identify and flag comments by critics of the government’s COVID policies.
These allegedly included Molly Kingsley, whose children’s advocacy group ‘UsForThem’ had campaigned against closing schools during the pandemic; London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine research fellow Alexandre de Figueiredo, who spoke up against mass-vaccinating children against COVID-19; and Carl Heneghan, the director of Oxford University’s Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine.
The government denied the allegations, insisting that it merely tracked “narratives and trends” rather than the individuals spreading them.
The activities of the CDU mirror those of multiple government agencies in the US, which liaised with major social media platforms to remove dissenting posts and ban the accounts responsible.
According to internal documents released by Elon Musk following his purchase of Twitter last year, the platform’s prior management removed posts on behalf of the FBI, CIA, Department of Defense, and a COVID-focused academic group made up of members of the three agencies.
More than 1.4 million new cases of COVID-19 and over 1,800 deaths attributed to the disease were registered around the world from July 31 to August 27, the World Health Organization said on Friday.
The figures represent a 38% increase in the number of cases and a 50% decrease in the number of deaths from the previous 28-day period, the WHO said in its weekly bulletin.
South Korea had the highest number of both new cases (1,296,710) and deaths (596), the WHO said. Italy had almost 27,000 new cases, followed by the UK with 26,000.
The largest increase in new cases was in the Eastern Mediterranean (+113%), Western Pacific (+52%) and the European Region (+39%), while Africa (-76%) and South-East Asia (-48%) saw a decline.
The WHO is attributing the increase in cases to the ‘Eris’ variant of the novel coronavirus, which is now the most widespread, having been found in 26% of sequences during the second week of August.
The ‘Arturo’ variant was found in 22.7% of sequences in 109 countries, while ‘Kraken’ was reported by 124 countries but seems to be receding.
According to the WHO, there have been more than 770 million cases of COVID-19 and over 6.9 million deaths from the virus since the beginning of the pandemic.
Though the WHO declared an end to the “global health emergency” in May, the organization has reminded member states to “maintain, and not dismantle, their anti-COVID-19 infrastructures,” urging them to keep in effect the systems of “early warning, surveillance and reporting, variant tracking, early clinical assistance [and] vaccination boosters for high-risk groups.”
Friday’s bulletin was the last-ever weekly update by the WHO, which intends to transition from emergency response to long-term “prevention, control and management“ of COVID-19. The updates will be monthly from now on, with the next one due at the end of September.
The novel coronavirus, later dubbed SARS-CoV-2, was first detected in Wuhan, China in late 2019. Its exact origin and how it came to affect humans remain unknown.
The WHO dubbed the disease caused by the virus COVID-19 and declared it a pandemic in March 2020.
Many countries attempted to deal with the virus by ‘locking down’ their populations and mandating face masks and vaccines, while cracking down on anyone who criticized the effectiveness of these measures.
US President Joe Biden has announced that he plans to request additional funding from Congress to develop a new COVID-19 vaccine, adding that it is likely everybody will be encouraged to take the new shot.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, the president was asked if the White House was planning a response to a reported uptick in COVID cases.
The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had previously announced a 21.6% increase in COVID-related hospitalizations and a 21.4% increase in COVID-related deaths in recent weeks. The numbers are, however, still far below the levels seen during the pandemic.
Biden responded by stating that he has already signed off on a proposal to have Congress fund a new vaccine “that is needed, that’s necessary, that works.”
“It will likely be recommended everybody get it no matter whether they’ve gotten it before or not,” he added.
The president’s announcement comes after CNN suggested last week that people should mask up again as the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) warned of a surge in coronavirus cases and new variants.
“If you’re at high risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19, it’s time to dust off those N95 masks and place them snugly over your nose and mouth to protect yourself from a recent uptick of the virus,” CNN wrote, citing “a growing number of experts.”
On August 17, the CDC announced on X, formerly Twitter, that it was tracking a new “highly mutated lineage of the virus that causes COVID-19” called BA.2.86. The agency said it had detected the virus in the US, Denmark, the UK, and Israel.
The WHO confirmed on the same day that the BA.2.86 variant was “under monitoring” due to the large number of mutations it carries, but noted that only a handful of sequences of the variant had been reported so far.
The organization reiterated its calls for better surveillance, sequencing, and reporting of COVID cases, but did not call for any mask mandates or lockdowns.
Nevertheless, some institutions in the US – such as the Morris Brown College in Atlanta, Georgia, several hospitals in New York, and the Lionsgate film studios – have already begun to reinstate mask requirements for anyone on their premises.
He and I agree on two major points: the vaccine mandates were a bad idea, and vaccinating the elderly saved lives. However, we disagree on several other points, which I’d like to focus on here.
In his article, Hanania takes aim not only at “pure deniers” but also at “moderate vax sceptics” – people like myself and Martin Kuldorff who questioned whether the vaccine was right for everyone.
He argues that even though “moderate vax sceptics” are “occasionally correct”, their contribution to the debate has been “overwhelmingly negative”.
This is because they overemphasised “narrow issues”, thereby distracting people from “the lesson we should take from this experience”, namely that “the public health establishment is too risk averse”.
I don’t necessarily disagree that the public health establishment is too risk averse and the vaccines should have been approved sooner, so long as they weren’t mandated. After all, different groups of people face different risks.
Elderly people and those with certain pre-existing health conditions faced a significant risk of death from COVID, so it would have made sense for them to get vaccinated even before the safety data were in.
By contrast, young people without pre-existing health conditions faced little risk of death or serious illness from COVID, so it would have made sense for them to wait slightly longer.
If the vaccines had been approved sooner and had not been mandated, each individual could have decided whether to get vaccinated based on the specific risks he or she faced. Most elderly people would presumably have chosen to get vaccinated straight away; many young people might have preferred to wait for more safety data before doing so.
Where I do disagree with Hanania is on the contribution of “moderate vax sceptics” to the debate. Naturally, I dispute that it is “overwhelmingly negative”.
Even if you believe, as I do, that the vaccines saved many lives, the rollout itself was based on safetyism not science. And it was absolutely right that “moderate vax sceptics” called attention to this.
“Getting any vaccine was clearly a good idea for almost any adult,” Hanania claims, “even if they weren’t at a high risk of dying from COVID.” I disagree.
Putting aside issues like myocarditis in young men, there was no need for people who’d already had COVID to get vaccinated. I’m not saying they shouldn’t have been allowed to get vaccinated; I’m saying they didn’t need to. Natural immunity provides excellent protection against serious illness and death, and better protection against subsequent infection than the vaccines.
As Jay Bhattacharya and Martin Kulldorff note, natural immunity to infectious disease has been known about since the Ancient Greeks. Yet its existence in the context of COVID was downplayed or outright denied by large swathes of the public health establishment.
This matters because there’s some evidence that adverse events were more common among vaccinated people who’d already had Covid. In addition, vaccine mandates initially failed to recognise natural immunity, which led to dozens of nurses and other healthcare workers being fired from their jobs – for the sin of being wary of a vaccine they didn’t need.
The situation was particularly egregious given the excellent protection afforded by natural immunity. As Kulldorff wrote in October of 2021: “hospitals should hire, not fire, nurses with natural immunity”.
Hanania claims that the vaccines “do make transmission somewhat less likely”, which means that “health care facilities are reasonable in requiring them for staff”. But the second part simply doesn’t follow.
Vaccine effectiveness against infection wanes to such an extent that several datasets showed evidence of negative effectiveness. (This may be partly attributable to many unvaccinated people having natural immunity, which provides better protection against subsequent infection.) Mandating vaccines for healthcare workers was therefore no guarantee of safety.
In fact, it may have done active harm by leading healthcare workers and their patients to believe there was no risk of transmission. The only surefire way of protecting those patients would have been requiring healthcare workers to take daily tests (which I supported – at least for those dealing with the most vulnerable patients).
As well as overstating vaccine effectiveness against infection, Hanania overstates vaccine effectiveness against death, suggesting that it is “at least 90%”. But this widely touted figure cannot be reconciled with the data from countries like South Korea, which saw large spikes in excess mortality even after vaccinating the vast majority of elderly people.
Studies claiming 90% vaccine effectiveness against death often fail to account for waning or the healthy vaccinee effect. One Hungarian study, which compared death rates among vaccinated and unvaccinated people during epidemic and non-epidemic periods, concluded that the Pfizer vaccine is about 50% effective against death, with the other vaccines being slightly more effective.
However, put all this to one side. Even if Hanania were right that “getting any vaccine was clearly a good idea for almost any adult”, the vaccine rollout would still have been based on safetyism not science.
Why? Any net benefit of getting vaccinated for healthy young adults and those who’d already had Covid will have been marginal at best. So instead of strong-arming those people into getting vaccinated, we could have donated the vaccines to people in poor countries who actually needed them, thereby saving thousands of lives.
Perhaps if the “moderate vax skeptics” had not been side-lined by the public health establishment we could have had a more rational policy that actually took account of the risks and benefits to different individuals.
The leftist Die Tageszeitung newspaper on August 17th: ’New German wave: The new Covid variant Eris has arrived in Germany. Concerns about a new wave are growing – but the country is not well prepared’
The pandemic is over, but the virus is still dangerous: Reports of the new variant EG.5.1 seem to confirm this analysis. EG.5.1 (Eris) has been considered a ‘variant of interest’ since August 9th. According to the WHO, the phenotype does not differ fundamentally from other Omicron lineages and does not require special public health measures…
With the announced end of the pandemic, virtually all mandated protective measures have been lifted in Germany. The most important instrument in the fight against COVID-19 is thus the immunisation of the population through infection or vaccination.
The World Health Organisation has upgraded the new COVID mutation EG.5. This variant, called ‘Eris’, now belongs to the ‘variants of interest’. …
As WHO Covid expert Maria Van Kerkhove explained in Geneva on Wednesday, more severe outcomes have not been observed with Eris, but vaccination confers less protection than with other virus variants. …
Even though the new variant is unlikely to cause severe disease, the [German vaccine regulatory authority] STIKO still recommends getting vaccinated – above all to avoid possible long-term consequences of SARS-CoV-2 infection and to protect employees in medical and nursing care.
The pharmaceutical company Moderna has announced that its updated COVID vaccine according to an initial study is effective against the Eris sub-variant.
The company now expects to launch the new vaccine in time for the autumn vaccination season. Approval from vaccine regulators however is still pending.
Moderna, like vaccine manufacturers Novavax and Pfizer, has developed versions of its vaccines with BioNTech SE that target Eris subvariants.
Shortly before, the pharmaceutical company Pfizer had reported that its revised vaccine had been effective against Eris in a study with mice. …
Most recently, it was suspected that the cinema hype surrounding the feel-good film Barbie and the gloomy biopic Oppenheimer may have caused many infections. At the same time, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) recorded an increase in the number of reported COVID infections. Experts, however, see no reason for concern so far.
Is COVID on the attack again? There are indications that the virus is on the rise once more. …
British doctors are already calling for a return to masking.
[Relentless virus charlatan and deranged hypermasker] Trisha Greenhalgh suggests that, “in view of the spread of new variants”, masking in high-risk situations should be considered.
The [virus surveillance] of the Federal Ministry of Health shows that the numbers are also on the rise in Germany…
‘Eris’ is already responsible for every fourth corona infection, according to new figures from the RKI.
“The number of COVID-19 cases reported to the RKI… seems to be related to the increasing circulation of this ‘variant of interest’,” the Robert Koch Institute says.
The increase in the case numbers – at least in Great Britain – coincides with the opening of the blockbusters Barbie and Oppenheimer in British cinemas, which has given rise to talk of the ‘Barbenheimer’ phenomenon. It is well known that larger crowds in enclosed indoor spaces are associated with an increased risk of corona infection.
So is it time for a mask renaissance?
In the USA, more and more voices are calling for one. [Relentless virus pest] Eric Feigl-Ding… used the hashtag #MaskUp on Twitter to call once again for protecting oneself from COVID infections with masks.
Health Minister Karl Lauterbach shared the post, warning that the latest COVID data from New York is “worrying”. …
“There is still a risk that a more dangerous variant will emerge, which could lead to a sudden increase in cases and deaths,” emphasises WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Not only adapted vaccines that take the new variants into account, but also wearing a mask would then help to protect oneself and others, Frankfurt virologist Martin Stürmer told Spiegel.
The number of laboratory-confirmed Corona cases in Germany is rising again – but at a relatively low level. This development has been ongoing for around a month, reports the Influenza Working Group at the Robert Koch Institute (RKI)… According to the report, about 2,400 confirmed cases of COVID-19 were reported nationwide last week. This is more than double the number reported in the week ending July 9th, when there were about 1,000. …
According to the RKI report, the activity of acute respiratory diseases in general in the population was “at a low summer level… Anyone with symptoms of an acute respiratory infection should stay at home for three to five days and until the symptoms have clearly improved,” advises the RKI. …
Despite all of this obnoxious verbiage, absolutely nothing of virological note is happening in Germany. Official Covid testing has been all but abolished here, forcing our journaloids to unearth statistics from RKI influenza surveillance – something they refused to do during the pandemic itself, because the flu people routinely posted data that undermined their panic narrative. Here, I’ve circled in red the scary rise in infections from the latest RKI report that we’re meant to be worried about:
This microscopic uptick is dwarfed by the February/March wave that peaked between weeks eight and 13. Our media luminaries took next to no notice of this frightening late-winter surge, and as I type this, COVID diagnoses have not even re-achieved their June levels. The difference between the state of things now and the state of things in February is not the unremarkable Eris variant. XBB was also debuting across Europe early this year, driving the post-February case peak, and nobody cared.
The only thing that is different now, is the proximity of the autumnal vaccination liturgy and the prospect of new, updated vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and Novavax.
That is why we are hearing about variants and masks and Long Covid all over again. It is also why many of these articles contain buried within them somewhere the advice to line up for the shiny new anti-COVID juice this Fall. This whole thing is, very plainly, a psy-op, if a very low-effort one.
There are several patterns in the German reporting that are worth noting. First of all, the latest hysteria was unleashed on August 17th, prompted by a report on Eris from the German news agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur.
Particularly in the realm of routine reporting, the news agencies are a powerful coordinating force, and their influence here means that the full media panic machine is not engaged. We’re looking instead at pieces thrown together by low-level staff desperate to fill column inches. Second, all the German stories are firmly downstream from Anglophone sources, going so far as to recycle from British tabloids the improbable theory of a ‘Barbenheimer’ wave (it is painful even to type this silly word). Third, at least German health authorities – Karl Lauterbach excepted – resolutely refuse to provide virus doom quotes. Thus the Frankfurter Rundschau had to appropriate the tweets of Anglosphere mask hysterics like Greenhalgh and Feigl-Ding to make Eris sound scary.
If the pandemicists try to kick up another round of non-pharmaceutical interventions this fall, they’ll be flirting with self destruction. There are important prerequisites for virus panic: You need a plausibly novel pathogen, the risk of which can be exaggerated. You need a prevailing sense of stability, with nothing else much going on, because the public health interventions themselves have to seem new. Risk, excitement and the prospect of a break from routine are important enticements. That’s all gone now. COVID is not a new scary virus anymore; nearly everyone has had personal experience with it. Solid majorities everywhere have learned to hate lockdowns, despise masking and avoid the mRNA vaccines. The pandemicists need a plausibly new virus to reopen the circus, and they need a lot of people to forget about what a misery the last pandemic response was. They’ll have another chance in ten or fifteen years, I’d guess. Then, it’ll be time to worry.
The World Health Organization and US health authorities are closely monitoring a new variant of COVID-19 which has been detected in Israel, Denmark and the United States, i24NEWS reports.
The WHO classified the new variant, BA.2.86, as being under surveillance “due to the large number (more than 30) of spike gene mutations it carries”.
“The potential impact of the BA.2.86 mutations are presently unknown and undergoing careful assessment,” the WHO said.
The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) confirmed it is also closely monitoring the variant.
“As we learn more about BA.2.86, CDC’s advice on protecting yourself from COVID-19 remains the same,” the agency said, as quoted by Reuters.
The new lineage, which has 36 mutations from the currently-dominant XBB.1.5 COVID variant “harkens back to an earlier branch” of the virus, explained Dr. S. Wesley Long, medical director of diagnostic microbiology at Houston Methodist.
He said it remains to be seen whether BA.2.86 will be able to out-compete other strains of the virus or have any advantage in escaping immune responses from prior infection or vaccination.
The US military is studying pathogens that could be used as biological weapons as the nation prepares for a potential new pandemic, the commander of Russia’s Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Defense Forces, Lieutenant General Igor Kirillov, claimed on Wednesday.
The list of diseases that have attracted the attention of US specialists includes anthrax, tularemia, and various coronaviruses, Kirillov told a media briefing.
Some of these pathogens are listed by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as “high-priority” threats that can be used as “bioterrorism agents.”
“There is a clear trend: pathogens that fall within the Pentagon’s area of interest, such as COVID-19, avian influenza, African swine fever, subsequently become a pandemic, and American pharmaceutical companies become the beneficiaries,” the general claimed, without elaborating.
According to Kirillov, the US was extensively studying coronaviruses shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic struck.
Last month, the White House announced the creation of the Office of Pandemic Preparedness and Response Policy (OPPR), tasked with “leading, coordinating, and implementing actions related to preparedness for, and response to, known and unknown biological threats.”
The Russian military believes that may be another step in Washington’s plans to gain control over the global biological and epidemical situation.
“As in 2019, the US has begun preparing for a new pandemic by searching for virus mutations,” Kirillov said.
Moscow does “not rule out that the United States will use so-called defensive technologies for offensive purposes, as well as for global governance by creating crisis situations of a biological nature,” the general added.
Russia has repeatedly raised the issue of global biological activities that involve the US military. Soon after the conflict between Moscow and Kiev broke out, Russia shared allegations of a sprawling network of secretive US-funded biological laboratories in Ukraine. It has since published troves of documents it claims were linked to the work of the laboratories.
In April, the Russian Defense Ministry stated that the US had been constructing new laboratories in Ukraine and training their personnel.
Moscow also took the issue of biolabs to the UN last October, requesting an international probe. The motion, however, was turned down by the UN Security Council, with the US, UK, and France voting against it.
Earlier this week, Democrat presidential hopeful Robert F. Kennedy Jr. claimed that the US had outsourced some of its biological weapons research to the Ukrainian authorities after the 2014 Maidan coup.
According to Kennedy, the bioweapons program operates under the guise of “life sciences” studies.
The US has created biological laboratories in Ukraine within the framework of Pentagon programs on developing biological weapons, US presidential candidate Robert Kennedy Jr. told political commentator Tucker Carlson.
“We have biolabs in Ukraine because we are developing bioweapons,” Kennedy Jr. said.
“Those bioweapons are using all kinds of new synthetic biology and CRISPR technology and genetic engineering techniques that were not available to a previous generation,” he said in an interview with Carlson posted on the X social network (formerly known as Twitter).
“When the Patriot Act reopened the biolabs arms race in 2001, the Pentagon began putting a lot of money into bioweapons,” Kennedy Jr. added.
“But they were nervous at that time because if you violate the Geneva Convention, it’s a hanging offense,” he explained.
“So they were nervous about actually going full force into bioweapons development. So they transferred the authority for biosecurity to one agency in the HHS [the US Department of Health and Human Services],” the politician added.
“But now, when you do bioweapons development, every bioweapon, it needs vaccine so you develop them side by side because in a 100% of the cases when you deploy a bioweapon, there’s blowback. Your side also gets sick,” he concluded.
In mid-April, a Russian parliamentary commission presented its final report on the investigation into the activities of US-run biolabs in Ukraine.
According to the document, the Pentagon’s military biological program had grown large in scale, being implemented under the guise of anti-terrorist projects and activities permitted by the Biological Weapons Convention.
The commission also pointed out that the activities of all the US-controlled laboratories involved Pentagon experts. However, their work is secret and government agencies in the host countries only have access to secondary research.
The National Review has weighed in with a leading article on the leaked messages revealing a stunning conspiracy behind the Proximal Origin paper on COVID-19. The messages implicate top scientists and authorities in a potential cover-up that misled the world. Here’s an excerpt:
On March 17th, 2020, a group of several eminent virologists published a paper on the “proximal origin” of COVID-19. “Our analyses clearly show that SARS-CoV-2 is not a laboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated virus,” it trumpeted. The Editor in Chief of Nature Medicine proudly retweeted it: “Let’s put conspiracy theories about the origin of #SARSCoV2 to rest and help to stop spread of misinformation.” The paper went on to say, “We do not believe that any type of laboratory-based scenario is plausible.”
One of the scientists, Kristian Andersen, sent an email to Dr. Anthony Fauci that morning, alerting him to the paper’s publication. Fauci replied to Andersen that very day, “Thanks for your note. Nice job on the paper.” He had praised an early draft of it as “very thoughtful summary and analysis”.
Almost simultaneously, Peter Daszak, the head of EcoHealth Alliance, which was the cutout through which the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases funded research on coronaviruses in Wuhan, sent an email to University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill virologist Ralph Baric informing him that an investigative committee would not be looking into a lab-origins theory.
Now Fauci tells the New York Times that he’s not sure he ever read the paper.
Immediately, the Proximal Origin paper was put to use to shut down debate. ABC: “Sorry, conspiracy theorists. Study concludes COVID-19 is not a laboratory construct.” Vice News: “Once and for all, the new coronavirus was not made in a lab.”
Leaked messages now show that the Proximal Origin paper itself was the product of something like a conspiracy and was intended to mislead the public about the origins of Covid. FOIA requests of their emails and chat messages show that all of the authors of the paper expressed the exact opposite views of the conclusions in the paper. “60-40 lab,” Dr. Edward Holmes said. “I really can’t think of a plausible natural scenario,” wrote Robert Garry.
“In the lab it would be easy,” Garry also surmised in February. “It’s not crackpot to suggest this could have happened given the gain of function research we know is happening.” Andersen: “The lab escape version of this is so friggin’ likely because they were already doing this work.”
After Fauci was informed that his agency had funded coronavirus research, he got word from other scientists that the research was done according to low safety standards – a “Wild West,” according to one scientist. Andersen shared the same assessment of the Wuhan lab in another email: “I’m all for gain of function research, but to do it at BSL [biosafety level] three is nuts.”
One conference-call participant outlined the motive for a cover-up. More talk of the lab-leak theory would “do unnecessary harm to science in general and science in China in particular.” This reflected concerns voiced by the head of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Francis Collins, as early as February. He wanted to convene experts on the question of lab origins, “or the voices of conspiracy will quickly dominate, doing great potential harm to science and international harmony.” …
It’s difficult to overstate the gravity of the fraud at work. The Proximal Origin paper was cited thousands of times and shaped coverage of the pandemic for years. To get just a flavour of it, Andersen brags about manipulating the New York Times coverage by science reporter Donald McNeil Jr., who was open to a lab-leak hypothesis.
The Times eventually fired McNeil for unrelated reasons, and the COVID beat passed to a reporter who dismissed the lab leak as nothing more than a racist theory.