Author Archives: Bix

World Health Organization: Vaccines May Not “Prevent People From Actually Getting The Infection”

World Health Organization chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said:

I don’t believe we have the evidence on any of the vaccines to be confident that it’s going to prevent people from actually getting the infection.

What is a vaccine then? If not to prevent infection?

She also said:

I would say in a four to five-year timeframe we could be looking at controlling this.

I do not understand how these vaccines can contribute to herd immunity when they may not even provide immunity. When they may not prevent transmission.

In the spring, when the weather warms and people go back outside, will the case numbers drop? Will fewer cases be a result of weather or vaccinations?

Nonetheless, even with an effective vaccine, even with herd immunity, “the destiny of the virus is to become endemic,” that is, regularly found in populations for several years.

The COVID Vaccines Were Not Designed To Stop Transmission Or To Prevent Serious Illness

Getting the vaccine does not mean you can’t get infected, get very sick, or transmit the virus to others. That’s why, according to the CDC, you have to continue wearing a mask and social distancing. The vaccine was only designed to lessen mild symptoms. It was not designed or tested to prevent serious illness or to prevent transmission. The vaccine manufacturers should be making this point more forcefully in the media.

Will Covid-19 Vaccines Save Lives? Current Trials Aren’t Designed To Tell Us, British Medical Journal, 21 October 2020

Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, said, “Ideally, you want an antiviral vaccine to do two things . . . first, reduce the likelihood you will get severely ill and go to the hospital, and two, prevent infection and therefore interrupt disease transmission.”7

Yet the current phase III trials are not actually set up to prove either (table 1).

None of the trials currently under way are designed to detect a reduction in any serious outcome such as hospital admissions, use of intensive care, or deaths. Nor are the vaccines being studied to determine whether they can interrupt transmission of the virus.

Yet until vaccine manufacturers began to release their study protocols in mid-September, trial registries and other publicly released information did little to dispel the notion that it was severe covid-19 that the trials were assessing. Moderna, for example, called hospital admissions a “key secondary endpoint” in statements to the media.15 And a press release from the US National Institutes of Health reinforced this impression, stating that Moderna’s trial “aims to study whether the vaccine can prevent severe covid-19” and “seeks to answer if the vaccine can prevent death caused by covid-19.”16

But Tal Zaks, chief medical officer at Moderna, told The BMJ that the company’s trial lacks adequate statistical power to assess those outcomes. “The trial is precluded from judging [hospital admissions], based on what is a reasonable size and duration to serve the public good here,” he said.

“Our trial will not demonstrate prevention of transmission,” Zaks said, “because in order to do that you have to swab people twice a week for very long periods, and that becomes operationally untenable.”

Great uncertainty remains over how long a randomised trial of a vaccine will be allowed to proceed. If efficacy is declared, one possibility is that the thousands of volunteers who received a saline placebo would be offered the active vaccine, in effect ending the period of randomised follow-up. Such a move would have far reaching implications for our understanding of vaccines’ benefits and harms, rendering uncertain our knowledge of whether the vaccines can reduce the risk of serious covid-19 disease and precluding any further ability to compare adverse events in the experimental versus the placebo arm.

If frail elderly people, who are understood to die in disproportionate numbers from both influenza25 and covid-19, are not enrolled into vaccine trials in sufficient numbers to determine whether case numbers are reduced in this group, there can be little basis for assuming any benefit in terms of hospital admissions or mortality.

This is hard to evaluate in the current trials because there are large gaps in the types of people being enrolled in the phase III trials (table 1). Despite recruiting tens of thousands, only two trials are enrolling children less than 18 years old. All exclude immunocompromised people and pregnant or breastfeeding women, and though the trials are enrolling elderly people, few or perhaps none of the studies would seem to be designed to conclusively answer whether there is a benefit in this population, despite their obvious vulnerability to covid-19.

Al Sommer, dean emeritus of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, told The BMJ, “If they have not powered for evidence of benefit in the elderly, I would find that a significant, unfortunate shortcoming.”

One view is that trial data should be there for all target populations. “If we don’t have adequate data in the greater than 65 year old group, then the greater than 65 year old person shouldn’t get this vaccine, which would be a shame because they’re the ones who are most likely to die from this infection,” said vaccinologist Paul Offit.8 “We have to generate those data,” he said. “I can’t see how anybody—the Data and Safety Monitoring Board or the FDA Vaccine Advisory Committee, or FDA decision-makers—would ever allow a vaccine to be recommended for that group without having adequate data.”

“I feel the same way about minorities,” Offit added. “You can’t convince minority populations to get this vaccine unless they are represented in these trials. Otherwise, they’re going to feel like they’re guinea pigs, and understandably so.”

CDC’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS)

Here’s the CDC’s database for adverse reactions to vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccines. The data is submitted voluntarily. Anyone – healthcare providers, the public – can submit a report.

Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS)

The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) database contains information on unverified reports of adverse events (illnesses, health problems and/or symptoms) following immunization with US-licensed vaccines. Reports are accepted from anyone and can be submitted electronically at www.vaers.hhs.gov.

Results are updated on Fridays, so this data is several days old. It’s not a complete list by any means and it may not be very accurate but it does provide some data. I don’t know how many people were vaccinated then but this shows 353 total adverse events. VAERS is known to underreport.

These are the top adverse reactions (to all manufacturers’ vaccines combined: Pfizer, Moderna, etc.), in alphabetical order. (Top reaction is headache.):

Arthralgia (joint pain) 22
Asthenia (weakness) 13
Blood Pressure Increased 16
Chest Discomfort 17
Chest Pain 10
Chills 50
Cough 10
Diarrhea 18
Dizziness 56
Dysgeusia (altered taste) 11
Dyspnea (difficulty breathing) 21
Erythema (rash) 12
Fatigue 63
Feeling Abnormal 10
Feeling Hot 15
Flushing 31
Headache 85
Heart Rate Increased 10
Hyperhidrosis (sweating) 24
Hypoesthesia (numbness) 11
Immediate Post-injection Reaction 15
Injection Site Erythma 14
Injection Site Pain 45
Injection Site Swelling 14
Malaise 13
Myalgia (muscle aches) 29
Nausea 54
Pain 40
Pain In Extremity 34
Palpitations 16
Paresthesia (pins and needles) 27
Paresthesia Oral 10
Pruritus (itching) 21
Pyrexia (fever) 42
Rash 17
Tachycardia (fast heart rate) 12
Throat Irritation 11
Throat Tightness 10
Vomiting 13

Joni Mitchell – Urge For Going

Urge For Going
Written, composed, and performed by Canadian singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell.

This is a live version recorded in Ontario on 24 October 1966. She was 22 years old here, an emerging artist. She recorded her first album in 1968. (I get a kick out of the other musicians watching her.)

“Urge For Going” was originally recorded by Tom Rush in 1967, Mitchell’s own version (recorded for Blue but left off the album at the last minute in favor of newer songs) was not released until 1972, as the B-side of the “You Turn Me On, I’m a Radio” single. It was first available on a Joni Mitchell album as part of her 1996 greatest hits compilation.

I awoke today and found the frost perched on the town
It hovered in a frozen sky then it gobbled summer down
When the sun turns traitor cold
And all the trees stand shivering in a naked row.

I get the urge for going but I never seem to go
I get the urge for going
When the meadow grass is turning brown and
Summertime is falling down and winter is closing in.

I had a man in summertime, with summer-colored skin
And not another girl in town my darling’s heart could win
But when the leaves fell trembling down and
Bully winds did rub their faces in the snow.

He got the urge for going and I had to let him go
He got the urge for going
When the meadow grass was turning brown and
Summertime was falling down and winter closing in.

Now the warriors of winter they gave a cold triumphant shout
And all that stays is dying and all that lives, is gettin’ out
See the geese in chevron flight
Flapping and racing on before the snow.

They got the urge for going
And they got the wings so they can go
They get the urge for going
When the meadow grass is turning brown
Summertime is falling down and winter is closing in.

So I’ll ply the fire with kindling
pull the blankets to my chin
I’ll lock the vagrant winter out and
fold my wandering in
I’d like to call back summertime and
Have her stay for just another month or so.

But she’s got the urge for going
So I guess she’ll have to go
She gets the urge for going
When the meadow grass is turning brown
All her empire’s falling down and winter’s closing in.
And I get the urge for going
When the meadow grass is turning brown
And summertime is falling down.

The Back. How To Prevent Injury. How To Heal It.

Lots of snow. Lots of shoveling. A good time to revisit Dr. McGill’s back post (reposted below).

If you read no further, the core lesson, for both prevention and healing is … keep the back straight. Walking, sitting, working, exercising … endeavor to keep the back and neck in a straight line. If you have to twist or bend, try not to do it with a load or at a great angle (shoveling snow!). Repetition is also not good. McGill says the muscles of the back and abdomen are meant to stabilize, to prevent movement.

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In the very beginning of this video, Dr. McGill* is using a simulator to create a disc herniation by merely flexing and bending a spine repeatedly, in a movement that resembles a sit-up. The rest of the video shows how to perform his 3 basic exercises for strengthening the abdominal muscles without injuring the back (modified curl-up, bird dog, side plank).

Here he is discussing myths about exercise. Did you know that sucking in your stomach is harmful? It can cause the spine to buckle (a sideways deflection).

He says that a flexible back or a strong back are not protective of back injury. In fact, they are associated with more injury. The muscles of the back are meant to stabilize, to prevent movement. This is true for abdominal muscles and others of the core or torso. However, since back and stomach muscles are in constant use, they need to be maintained to provide endurance.

Here’s another video showing McGill’s “Big 3” exercises for stabilizing the back:

Bird Dog
Modified Curl-up
Side Plank

* Dr. Stuart McGill is a professor emeritus at the University of Waterloo where he taught for 32 years. His research involved how the back functions, how it becomes injured, how to prevent injury, how to rehabilitate an injured back, and how to enhance athletic performance. His clients include professional athletes. He currently serves on the editorial boards for the journals Clinical Biomechanics, Applied Biomechanics, and Spine, and is the author of several books.

Most people will not get through life without some element of back pain impinging on their activity. -Dr. McGill

Vitamin C Supplements Reduce Endurance, Fatigue Muscles Sooner

1000 milligrams, a gram, of vitamin C is a lot. The RDA is 75 mg (women), 90 mg (men). An orange has about 60 mg. Studies are finding that vitamin C can inhibit the body’s natural ability to adapt to exercise, blunting the body’s ability to produce its own powerful antioxidants.

Below is an excerpt from a post from my old blog, from February 2009. I’m revisiting it because I just read that a high-end supplement for athletes removed vitamin C from some of their formulations, citing this study and others.

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Oral Administration Of Vitamin C Decreases Muscle Mitochondrial Biogenesis And Hampers Training-Induced Adaptations In Endurance Performance, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, January 2008

Researchers trained a group of humans and a group of rats. Some received vitamin C.

Findings:

1. Vitamin C reduced endurance.

Training increased the maximal running time in rats [by 186.7%]. However, this increase was prevented by daily supplementation with vitamin C. In the supplemented animals, the running time increased only 26.5%.

2. Vitamin C reduced the number of mitochondria (energy-producing cells) that bodies make in response to exercise.

The graph below shows the change in level of transcription factors needed for mitochondrial production. Look at the vitamin C group – almost equal to levels in untrained rats.

The number of mitochondria is linked to endurance and fatigue. (See No. 1 above.)

Endurance capacity [time to fatigue] is dependent mainly on the mitochondrial content of skeletal muscle.

3. Vitamin C reduced the amount of endogenous (made by our body) antioxidants.

Two antioxidant enzymes, superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase (GP), were found in lower levels in those taking vitamin C. Recall that acrylamide in browned and aged foods is metabolized by GP – a good thing. In fact, GP is widely used in cells to prevent damage from oxidation.

The graph below shows the change in levels of these two antioxidants. Again, the vitamin C group was almost equal to levels in untrained rats.

Exercise generates oxidized compounds. It was thought that by consuming more antioxidants, e.g. vitamin C, we could protect our cells against these oxidized compounds (known as reactive oxygen species: ROS).

We’re finding that ROS aren’t altogether bad. The body uses them as signals. Previous posts discussed this, e.g. the case of too much selenium reducing ROS leading to insulin resistance and weight gain.

In this case, ROS signals the body to make more mitochondria, and more in-house antioxidants. It probably does other things, but this study measured just those variables.

Thus, the common practice of taking vitamin C supplements during training (for both health-related and performance-related physical fitness) should be seriously questioned.

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The supplement I mentioned at the top of this post, the one that removed vitamin C from formulations, was First Endurance. Here’s an article they posted which pulls together other studies supporting this hypothesis.

Update: More Studies Show Vitamin C & E May Reduce Endurance Capacity & Performance, First Endurance, 28 March 2017

This is not just about athletes. It applies to anyone who exercises to keep fit.