Profiting from Coronavirus 429


On 5 May, the British security services released to their pet media the claim that Russia, China and Iran were attempting to hack into British research institutes conducting coronavirus research. The BBC reported it. Britain’s shameful copy and paste media all, without exception, just copy and pasted the government press release.

The Guardian gave the quote:

“Any attack against efforts to combat the coronavirus crisis is utterly reprehensible. We have seen an increased proportion of cyber-attacks related to coronavirus and our experts work around the clock to help organisations targeted”.

If Britain had one single mainstream media journalist willing to think, rather than just regurgitate government propaganda, they might have realised that there is a massive story here if you look at it the other way round. The quote from the Guardian deliberately attempted to give the impression that Russia, China and Iran were trying to disable, destroy or hamper coronavirus research: “Any attack against efforts to combat the coronavirus”. But if you read carefully through those articles, you find that the allegation is merely that they are attempting hack in to gain access to the research.

Because the UK and the US are attempting to hide their vaccine and treatment research results from the rest of the world to make money out of them.

Much has been written about the possibility for a new and better kind of world to emerge after coronavirus. Yet our governments cannot conceive of any model for fighting this threat to the whole world, other than the capitalist, money-making model. The much-touted “race to develop a vaccine” is not a race to save lives. It is a race to make billions.

The United States and the United Kingdom are working in all international fora to head off efforts to pool global research and to make any vaccine or medicine a good for the world. Governments can reward those working on the vaccine, and the companies for providing the facilities, using economic models other than the patent and the potential for massive profit.

It may come as a shock to you to realise that at the moment all those lovely vaccine and medicine researchers you see being interviewed on TV about their efforts to compress trials and approvals and get the product to the marketplace, are not sharing their results with fellow researchers around the world. They are rather jealously guarding them and each working in a bubble hoping to be the first in order to cash in. It is certainly true that many of the researchers themselves do not like this, but are controlled by their bosses.

For me, the failure to set up a worldwide shared scientific database on all coronavirus vaccine and medicine research, and the failure to set up a prior agreement on free manufacture worldwide of effective resulting vaccines and treatments, is the most revealing fact about the entire coronavirus episode. The fact that the British government is putting massive resources into ensuring the Chinese or Russians cannot “steal” our research – and doubtless the Chinese and Russians are doing the same, all states are hypocrites in these matters – should sicken everybody.

Our politicians repeatedly attack China for an alleged lack of openness on the pandemic while upholding a profit-led model for tackling it. That model not only excludes openness on research but necessitates security service action to protect the research from being accessed by other researchers in other countries whose collaboration could be invaluable to the world.

There is a report tucked away in today’s Guardian that opens a window on all this:

The sole resolution before the assembly this year is an EU proposal for a voluntary patent pool. Drug and vaccine companies would then be under pressure to give up the monopoly that patents allow them on their inventions, which means they can charge high prices, so that all countries can make or buy affordable versions.

In the weeks of negotiations leading up to the meeting, which is scheduled to last for less than a day, there has been a dispute over the language of the resolution. Countries with major pharmaceutical companies argue they need patents to guarantee sufficiently high prices in wealthy nations to recoup their research and development costs.

Even more fraught have been attempts to reinforce countries’ existing rights to break drug and vaccine company patent monopolies if they need to for the sake of public health. A hard-fought battle over Aids drugs 20 years ago led to the World Trade Organization’s Doha declaration on trade-related intellectual property (Trips) in favour of access to medicines for all, but the US, which has some of the world’s biggest drug companies, has strongly opposed wording that would encourage the use of Trips.

But this refers to protecting the rights in the product eventually to be manufactured. There is prior action needed on lifting all veils on research and the free interflow in real time between companies, institutions and nations of all research ideas and date in the struggle to develop vaccines and treatments. It should be a great joint enterprise bringing the world together, not a race between nations to cash in. The free real time sharing of all research worldwide could make progress substantially quicker, to the benefit of everybody on the planet we share.

If we cannot put aside profit in favour of altruism as the motive in the fight against a massive common threat, then I despair for the future of human society. No wonder we are prey to pandemics.

——————————————

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429 thoughts on “Profiting from Coronavirus

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  • Misbah

    Craig,

    In this instance are these your views or informed by other sources as you’ve previously acknowledged?

    Thanks

    • craig Post author

      What absolute crap. My facts come from a variety of sources. My opinions are entirely my own. I have no idea what rubbish you are trying to insinuate – where have I previously acknowledged what?

      • Misbah

        Craig I didn’t intend to come across as offensive. You’ve previously stated that you have been informed by others more knowledgeable than yourself in particular areas, hence the breadth of your postings. I believe you’ve referenced Juan Cole from Informed Comment previously.
        In your response you’ve confirmed my inquiry that you did reference sources, but the opinion is your own.
        I was more enquiring which publicly available data informed your post, that you are able to direct towards.
        Utilising the terms crap and insinuate are hardly polite terms of discourse. Perhaps you might like to reconsider, how you stated your response? In future I’ll make a clearer statement of my intent.
        Regards

  • Republicofscotland

    The British propaganda machine has been reporting that how wonderfully quick Oxford has been on implementing trials for a vaccine. Of course I don’t expect the rich capitalists and their government buddies to do anything else other than make as much money as possible from a vaccine.

    It will not surprise me one little bit if the vaccine chosen by the West to counter Covid-19 doesn’t even do that good a job, because it’s all about the money to them. As we the masses ponder on a fairer society after this virus abates, governments and the wealthy capitalists will just slip right back into their old routines of greed and austerity.

    Rampant capitalism has definitely killed more folk than Covid-19, and it will continue to do so long after this virus is but a distant memory.

  • MrSoft

    If the pharmaceutical companies are only interested in “the patent and the potential for massive profit” and “all states are hypocrites in these matters” then what alternative do you suggest?

    • ET

      That all data from all clinical research trials on drugs/vaccines/treatments is made available in publically accessible databases. Anonymised, of course.

      • MrSoft

        The results and conclusions already are published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. What use would the raw data be, unless you’re making an accusation that the data are being falsified, and the regulatory bodies such as the FDA (who do have access to the raw data) are complicit in this? Is that your accusation? Anyway, apart from your suggestion being pointless and expensive, it would also have no effect on the patent protection and hence the company profits.

        • Steve

          You will find that what you are suggesting isn’t happening is, and has been for decades.

          Read ‘Doctoring Data’ by Dr Malcolm Kendrick. The practice of concealing the data and changing the ‘end points’ of drug studies to give false impressions to regulators was stopped by the ECDC around 2010 (I think) and since then positive drug trials on controversial drugs, e.g. statins, have practically disappeared – because they can’t bend the rules drug companies will no longer play.

          • MrSoft

            It’s not in doubt that statins reduce cholesterol, but it is arguable whether that reduction significantly improves blood vessel health and the improvement outweighs the undoubted side-effects. Pharmaceutical companies were not responsible the research into the latter, let alone that they falsified the data, so can the blame be fairly laid at their door?.

        • ET

          “The results and conclusions already are published in peer-reviewed scientific journals.” Only the results submitted for publication in said journals. Raw data means others can look at it and verify the conclusions drawn. Much data from trials that didn’t show beneficial effects of drugs never sees the light of day. As for my suggestion, trial transparancy is one of the biggest issues involving medical research. It’s a huge issue across the board and has been for decades. I’d suggest you check out Ben Goldacre’s work.
          https://ebmdatalab.net/compare-trials/

          • andic

            Whilst reading a paper one of my colleagues at Uni noticed that the number of data points in a results table was greater than the number of points on the accompanying graph (and a very nice graph it was too; lovely correlation). He plotted all of the points and found the graph didn’t look so nice any more AND the legend on the original had been strategically positioned to hide these un-cooperative data points.

            It happens all the time when people think that THEY are right and the experimental results are wrong. Which is a bit backwards but people are egotistical

  • Martinned

    Meanwhile, outside of Craig’s fever dreams, this article was splashed prominently over the Guardian website “front page” all day yesterday. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/17/us-and-uk-lead-push-against-global-patent-pool-for-covid-19-drugs

    The US and UK are absolutely doing sweetheart deals with pharma companies, but that doesn’t mean that research isn’t being hacked by everyone who has the capability to. There’s no reason those things can’t both be true.

    • James

      Martinned – well, now we know what was behind the poisoning of Sergei Skripal – they were trying out an experimental Covid19 vaccination – which didn’t quite work and which had some rather unfortunate side effects.

    • Bayard

      Oh, it’s in the Guardian, is it? It must be true, then.
      An alternative explanation is that someone in the government reads this blog.

  • Eoin

    Thank you for your contrarian views.

    I wondered about those researchers who were promising vaccines “within months”, “by September”, “by the end of the year”, “within 18 months”. I’m old enough to remember Rock Hudson dying from AIDS in 1985 and Freddy Mercury dying from the same disease in 1991, it took the best part of two decades to get an AIDS treatment and even today, it’s still a serious matter to contract HIV.

    Presumably all these Covid19 researchers are making their promises in order to win funding or resources? If so, can I recommend they promise their vaccines will add an inch to your willy or a cup size to your bosom. Why not, they can seemingly promise anything in the media and get away with it, it might even increase their chances of funding.

    • Martinned

      1. Which researchers are that, exactly?
      2. Covid-19 isn’t nearly as much of an unknown quantity as HIV was in the 1980s. A lot was known about coronaviruses in general long before the current pandemic.
      3. Not to sound harsh, but realistically the people ultimately in charge of the money care more about this Coronavirus pandemic than they cared about a bunch of dead queers in the 1980s. (Just like they care more about Coronavirus than they care about Ebola and Malaria, which only kill black people in Africa.)

      • bevin

        “.. Ebola and Malaria, which only kill black people in Africa.”
        This is untrue. As to malaria it is a nonsense of epic proportions. It is untrue of ebola as well.
        I recommend Frank Snowden’s “Epidemics and Society”. Alternatively Martinedd, you might simply refrain from commenting on subjects of which you know nothing.

        • Martinned

          I’m sorry if it wasn’t clear from context, but the additional words I was eliding for effect were: “which are [perceived as only killing] black people in Africa”.

      • Steve

        1. All of them.
        2. Unfortunately it is. There are many coronaviruses but only a few are ‘known’ to affect humans so they are still not well understood if you bother to read what has been published. One example, all coronaviruses are considered to be far more stable in replication than influenza viruses, due to their much more effective ‘repair’ ability during replication, but the ‘common cold’ coronavirus still mutates and consequently reinfects us annually. Another example, a professor of tropical medicine who has contracted the virus has been on a rollercoaster of different effects of the virus for 6 weeks. Quite simply we do not yet know much about how the virus transmits and effects victims.
        3. You do sound harsh though. Maybe you are unaware of what Prof Montagnier (Nobel for discovery of HIV retrovirus) has confirmed – that there are RNA sequences, that could only have come from the HIV virus, present in the SARS-CoV-2 virus (but not in SARS or MERS) and that they could not have ‘got in there’ naturally. And finally BAME casualty rate?

      • Mosaic

        “A lot was known about coronaviruses in general long before the current pandemic.”

        Yep, and one thing that has been established about corona viruses is that they mutate very fast and it is virtually impossible to create vaccines for them. That is why there is no vaccine against the common cold.

        • James

          …. which elicited a nice, informed response from Steve – which we wouldn’t have had if Martinned hadn’t posted.

  • pasha

    Cheer up Craig, most of us realized there’s no damned hope years ago. Even if the giant vampire squid dies, it’ll suffocate us all in the process.

  • Forthestate

    “If we cannot put aside profit in favour of altruism as the motive in the fight against a massive common threat, then I despair for the future of human society.”

    That someone who has seen so much and exposed so much of the nefarious activities of our governments, and done so with a courage and resolution that is rare, should maintain such naive optimism for the future direction of their policies is really very touching, and that isn’t condescension. Do you really imagine, Craig, that the people who deliberately sent 15,000 patients untested into care homes that were underfunded and under equipped even by NHS standards in order to save our hospitals from the consequences of their own policies of attrition over many years – not for the sake of the patients being treated, but their own reputation – would consider altruism over profit at a time of opportunity like this? And it isn’t even their decision. They’re not in charge. That’s why they’re all such crumbs; apart from low cunning, much else is not required. Big Pharma and the rest run this show, and seedy fellows like Johnson do what they’re told. Since there are no FDRs on the immediate horizon, and Big Pharma doesn’t have a reputation for altruism, I think that ship has well and truly sailed. Brace yourself.

    • Giyane

      Forthestate

      Humans and bats have lived side by side for thousands of years without problems. Are we sure that Big Pharma has not done something to their diet of insects which has indirectly resulted in sick bats?

      All of politics is all about politicians deliberately making problems so that they can profit from upheaval. But science has not yet encompassed the unforeseen consequences of all its attacks on God’s creation.

      Many people are more worried about the sledge hammer effect of Big Pharma’s unforeseen side effects on Nature than either politicians who are predictably motivated by their egos or the actual disease.

      Of all the stupid things politicians have ever done, feeding animal offal to herbivores was the stupidest, courtesy of Mrs T. This government is scaring people with its stupidity of control freak Big Data much more than the virus itself. Basically because not listening is dangerous. The wider the pool of consultation, the more likely the unforeseen consequences will be foreseen.

      The virus will burn itself out, but the Tories seem to be searching for ever more exhaustive ways to dominate.
      24/7 spying, rigging elections, msm propaganda and police arrests. The bat virus is much less deadly than fascism. And fascism , one party rule, was established on December 13 2019. I’m not scared of the virus.
      I am very scared of living in a one party state.

      • Forthestate

        You’ll forgive me, Giyane, I’m sure, but I can’t quite make out what you’re saying. My post wasn’t about COVID-19, or indeed Big Pharma, except in so far as Big Pharma is as good an emblem of corporate fascism as any, and my point to Craig was that his faith in our ability to put our common humanity above profit is considerably belated, corporate fascism having been the reality for some considerable time now, as has the one party state.

        I disagree with you about politicians making problems from which they can profit. They make problems from which large corporations profit, for which they are remunerated. Politicians are nothing more than corporatism’s foot soldiers; they’re lackeys who serve to entertain and divert whilst implementing the simplest of agendas, no matter what party – privatise; cut public services, and taxes for the wealthy. That’s why they can’t govern when it comes to a crisis. They haven’t been involved in governance for years, so they don’t know know how to do it, and anyway, they don’t care; there’s money to be made for their masters.

        I’m not scared of the virus either. Neither am I going to join Dominic Cummings in his indifference to vulnerable people dying lonely, horrific and premature deaths because of government policy, past and present, if that’s what you mean by not being scared of the virus. As for being very scared of living in a one party state, I’d have thought you might be getting used to it by now, though I’d agree, things are going to get a lot worse.

        • Giyane

          Forthestate

          You are extremely cynical. Politics and big business is a disease. I used to work as a chauffeur and I once drove the CFO of Carillion. Something I said about the pointlessness of acquiring massive wealth got me sacked the next day. What miserable lives people must lead who are enslaved to that pursuit , in any capacity. He could not even listen to someone questioning his ideas.
          So.much so that he exercised his miserable privilege of getting me sacked.

          What a wretched, starved, brainless way to lead a life!

  • Deepgreenpuddock

    In the early eighties there was a great rush to identify and immunologically characterise what became known as HIV. It was first isolated and identified as the AIDS infective agent at the Louis Pasteur institute in Paris. I have a vague recollection of the name Luc Montagnier but this is best checked on google as I am uncertain. In a spirit of cooperation a sample of HIV was given to an individual(name forgotten) based in Washington at one of the government research establishment(National institute for infectious diseases??). At some point the individual concerned claimed the prior rights to the virus sample and claimed to have identified and isolated the virus.This was important because the royalties for the immunoassay technique for testing people was clearly going to be very substantial. I remember following the scandal in the pages of ‘Nature’ although the details escape me. I don’t know if the Louis Pasteur institute scientist had realised the commercial significance of the ‘ownership’ of the sample and the knowledge of it when he handed it over but the American scientist had clearly understood. There was a furious row and after protracted negotiations the Americans and Louis Pasteur Institute agreed to split the proceeds.My abiding impression is that the Ameicans essentially stole the intellectual property.
    At the time I was a naive molecular biolog PH D student but I remember the disillusionment with the episode as it nailed the delusion that ‘Scientists” were devoted to the greater good and that knowledge was freely shared, something I had firmly believed in until then. This was early Thatcher era and the start of the drift into neoliberalism and the domination of financialised thinking and monetisation in all things which had previously been part of the ‘public’ or perhaps commons.
    A little earlier than this I had worked in an electronics outfit which was contracted to “Racal’ a british defence contractor which spawned a niche company called Vodaphone.The knowledge to operate the phone company had undoubtedly been provided by the taxpayer finance of development of a military comms system (called Clansman)using bands in the microwave part of the EM Spectrum. This relationship between the taxpayer, private and favoured developers and government had been well established in the 50s and 60’s and was one of the main ways that the UK and US funded technological developments. ie cutting edge research done at taxpayer expense (followed by entrepreneurial exploitation),since no private organisation would have supported the risk in such ventures as developing computer technology.
    I guess we were fed the fiction at that time that public was ‘bad'(wasteful) and private was good(dynamic and porogressive) when the reality was that it provided opportunities to build huge technical empiresand fortunes
    Justification of this duplicitous funding was that technological advances were for the public good as these contributed to security,for instance.
    It would be very interesting to have a close look at source of the assets and public financing of organisations such as the one in Oxford which has started(apparently) trials of a vaccine.
    As the Ph.D unfolded I further realised that my supervisor had fiddled his experimental results in order to make a convincing proposal for the grant to the then main awarding/funding organisation -the SRC and that under his supervision his previous student had fiddled her research results and her career,then as a post doc, in Edinburgh had started to unravel as her work was put under serious scrutiny. I very clearly remember the very anxious conversations that ensued as it seemed to hint at collusion with vsarious scientistsAlthough there was no penalty(such things were kept firmly under the professorial office persian rug), there was undoubted reputational damage. The Post Doc slithered her way into a some kind of mediocrity.

  • james

    craig – excellent summation! it is the difference between cooperating with others, verses competing with others… it seems some people are incapable of seeing this! as you note – for some this is about making money as opposed to saving lives.. it can’t be put more starkly then this.. thanks..

  • Stevie Boy

    Unfortunately, like with a lot of these patented medicines acquired by big pharma, what happens is that the tax payer funds a good proportion of the research and then big pharma sells the results back to the health services. So Joe Public is ‘fleeced’ twice and we end up with a health service with insufficient funding that is unable to afford medicines.
    This is capitalism in action and yet still the public continue to vote for the crooks.

    • Stevie Boy

      And the profiteering is already underway: 50,000 swabs sent to the US for processing and 100,000 sent to Germany – who keeps the related data ? Who is paying (us, yes, but what budget ?) and how much is this costing ?

      • Republicofscotland

        The British government won’t care a jot how much it costs, for the taxpayer will eventually pick up the bill, just as they did post the 2008 bank crash.

  • DoctorK

    Ah: China, Iran, Russia – the usual suspects, eh? Our mortal enemies…

    I have a slightly different take on the failure of newspaper and broadcast journalists to speak the truth. I think the remorseless drip drip of this sewage in the daily comics and the BBC is evidence, if evidence were needed, of the degree to which the state has been captured by the “security” services. Here the “deep state” actually reveals itself. When the Guardian went down under MI5 pressure, that was just about the last gasp of a freeish press. Now we must rely on sources such as this, but for how much longer?

    Remember the Chomsky/Marr interview? The antisemitism hoax and the hounding of Corbyn? The journalists know that if they want to keep their jobs they know who they must satisfy, like it or not.

    • Republicofscotland

      The Fourth Estate, owned primarily by very wealthy people has in its remit to maintain the status quo to keep you and I informed on what they want us to know and who they want to demonise. They certainly don’t want to challenge people to think for themselves. Nor do they want folk forming their own opinions outside of what they print or air on any given subject. News fact or fiction , is always slanted to represent a particular view point.

      Worse still we pay the BBC to feed us slanted propaganda.

    • Mightydrunken

      As I have pointed out before I find it remarkable that every hacking incident reported in the news is suspected to come from China, Iran, Russia and sometimes North Korea. The fact is that hacking has a low bar of entry, any skilled person in any part of the world could be responsible. Just because the server points to a Chinese IP address does not mean to say that it was a Chinese hacker.

      Though to be fair there are a lot of Chinese and Russian hackers around but the World is a big place and they are outnumbered by all the other countries. Of course a Russian hacker may be in it for themselves and have no links to their government. It feels like the security services and media are portraying particular countries as our enemies for their own benefit. It also goes in cycles, obviously anti Russia stories appeared a lot a year or two ago. Now anti Chinese stories are in vogue.

  • Mosaic

    The Russians and Chinese are sharing their research.

    So they will probably be the first ones to produce a vaccine—it that is actually possible, which is questionable.

    But if they do produce a usable vaccine, they will probably make that vaccine available to the reset of the world at cost, or even for free. I hope they make it. To the virtuous and generous belongs the race!

    thanks again to Craig for slogging through the Guardian and other media swamps to on everyone’s behalf.

  • kashmiri

    There are a number of issues, Craig. First, I do not believe in the whole hacking story. it’s utter bollocks. The reason is simple: there is nothing secret about the chemical composition of a drug or vaccine. It’s all in public patent databases anyway, and on drug leaflet. The commercial secrets are about the manufacturing process so as to have a scalable process that offers good consistency between batches and good physical properties of the final drug (consistency, storage requirements, etc.). But we are not at that stage yet! Universities do not do research on that, manufacturing processes are developed in production labs run by pharmaceutical companies.

    Two – there is that global problem of sustainability of production in the West. There is a discussion whether it make sense to develop drugs in the west, or we should agree to China and India to manufacturing the same drugs at a fraction of the cost. It’s already happening with the majority of generic drugs by the way. However, development of a new drug means investment – and not in early research, as it is funded by governments, but in clinical development and manufacturing, which believe me is many times more costly than early research. The issue is that open-sourcing new drugs WILL remove practically the only incentive for new drug development. Let’s don’t fool ourselves: pharma companies exist not to save the humanity but to offer good return to investors. If they fail to do that, they fall, and no government pledges will help.

    Three – you might know that patent protection is not absolute and each country has a right to remove patent protection – TRIPS provides also for so-called compulsory licensing in pharmaceutics. Countries usually avoid resorting to compulsory licensing, but trust me – should they badly need the COVID-19 vaccine, they will not hesitate to use that possibility.

    So, I am not at all worried about access to a COVID-19 vaccine across the world, and I don’t believe any country is trying to hack any UK university. It is much more likely that US again needs to put blame on Russia or China in the election year, and UK govt is more than happy to help.

  • Mary

    There was a good piece on the topic in the Observer yesterday by their Health Editor.

    ‘While the US and China face off, the EU has taken the lead. The leaders of Italy, France, Germany and Norway, together with the European commission and council, called earlier this month for any innovative tools, therapeutics or vaccines to be shared equally and fairly.

    “If we can develop a vaccine that is produced by the world, for the whole world, this will be a unique global public good of the 21st century,” they said in a statement.’

    US and UK ‘lead push against global patent pool for Covid-19 drugs’
    Efforts to dilute world health assembly resolution on open licensing decried as ‘appalling’
    http://web.archive.org/web/20200517163657/https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/17/us-and-uk-lead-push-against-global-patent-pool-for-covid-19-drugs

  • Deepgreenpuddock

    The media could easily be controlled by strict limits on ownership. There used to be much talk about legislation to curb owners but nothing is heard now. Any theories, anyone.

  • Spencer Eagle

    A team of Australian scientists has produced new evidence that the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is optimized for penetration into human cells rather than animal cells, undermining the theory that the virus randomly evolved in an animal subject before passing into human beings, and suggesting instead that it was developed in a laboratory. The lead researcher on the team says that the results represent either “a remarkable coincidence or a sign of human intervention” in the creation of the virus.
    https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/exclusive-virus-researchers-uncover-evidence-implying-covid-19-was-created-in-a-lab

    • glenn_uk

      Note that this is not peer reviewed, and disputed by other studies which were. Even in the article you’ve linked to, the authors say they this is a “possibility which still cannot be excluded” – not a concluded fact, which you seem to imply.

      They also suggest that IF it had been manufactured, the release was entirely an accident. But that doesn’t fit the glamorous conspiracy theories.

        • glenn_uk

          Multiple studies have concluded it is not likely to have been made artificially, but maybe you’re not interested in the general consensus.

          https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200317175442.htm

          You didn’t get than 7 words into my rebuttal of your latest piece of denialism before bailing, I see.

          It would be nice if you made a bit more effort, instead of dropping this BS around and then leaving the real work to others to disprove it. No follow-up. That is lazy, and rather suggests you’re more interested in pushing right-wing propaganda than actually getting to the truth.

  • Ken Kenn

    Shouldn’t the US and its pet poodle be spying on the Chinese as to how to contain and keep the virus under control from here on in?

    They appear ( no doubt Trump and Johnson think there’s some cheating going on ) to have done very well in containing it.

    So much so, that the UK and the US are risking a second wave in order to catch up economically with the successful battlers against the virus.

    For the more nervous Nellies who can’t bring themselves to credit China with anything – spy on South Korea.

  • KingofWelshNoir

    Whether or not Covid-19 came from a lab, it is beyond dispute that scientists at the Wuhan lab, in collaboration with US universities, created a synthetic bat corona virus in 2015.

    https://www.nature.com/news/engineered-bat-virus-stirs-debate-over-risky-research-1.18787

    It is also pretty clear, according to this article from USA Today, that leaks and accidental escapes from such labs are commonplace:

    https://eu.usatoday.com/story/news/2015/05/28/biolabs-pathogens-location-incidents/26587505/

    So even if Covid-19 wasn’t engineered and didn’t escape from a lab it remains the case that such an eventuality is/was an accident waiting to happen.

  • N_

    There is an absolutely enormous amount of Big Pharma propaganda regarding Covid-19. What exactly is being said about it for Big Pharma’s purposes and what for other capitalist purposes is a hard question to answer and quite possibly a confused question to ask. Even in “normal” times a hell of a lot of the “news” is Big Pharma propaganda, for example push push pushing for a contract with the government in this or that country, but that’s just one example. When I used to read the Guardian there was on average maybe one BIG story (page 1 or page 3) every week at least, not counting smaller stories. Big Pharma spends MUCH more on propaganda than it does on research, development and production all rolled together.

    (Aside: with regard to the “Trump goffs hydroxychloroquine” story, would we expect the deranged Trumpian personality to have hypochondria as one of its features? More you think about it, he seems a terribly scared guy.)

    • Laguerre

      The Trumpian hydroxychloroquine story must go back to the fact that a number of White House aides were sent off into self-isolation/actually got the virus, the previous week. He was mortally afraid.

  • Mark Golding

    In memory of Li Wenliang with love and condolences to his wife, Fu Xuejie and her two children.

    Senate Resolution (S.Res.497 — 116th Congress (2019-2020)

    This resolution honors the life and contributions of Li Wenliang, a doctor in Wuhan, China, who passed away after contracting the 2019 novel coronavirus (also known as 2019-nCoV or COVID-19). The resolution expresses gratitude to Li and all Chinese medical personnel and citizens in their efforts to spread awareness of the virus and calls on the government of China to be open and transparent in its response to the outbreak.

    • Stonky

      It’s very grand and noble of the Senate to honor the lives of all these Chinese people whom they would happily blow into small pieces tomorrow if they had a means of getting away with it.

    • fonso

      More sinister efforts to curry favour – like their dispatch of vast quantities of PPE to countries in dire need of it.

  • Baalbek

    If we cannot put aside profit in favour of altruism as the motive in the fight against a massive common threat, then I despair for the future of human society.

    Indeed. The profit über alles logic of capitalism dictates that even a global pandemic is a great ‘opportunity’ for the rich and well-connected to increase their wealth.

    Ditto the many environmental problems we face. Environmentalism, which used to be linked in the public imagination with things like reducing consumption and pollution, producing fewer wasteful and harmful products and preventing the gratuitous destruction of forests and habitat…now it is all about about changing consumption habits to include ‘green’ products and energy sources, magic tech vapourware and other profit driven, no-effort-required ‘solutions’.

    Capitalism is amazing! There are no problems that can’t be fixed by buying more stuff and allowing extremely rich people to get richer!

  • Brian

    The Newspapers finally catch up with a story I have known about due to alternative news sites for the last two months .
    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2020/05/16/coding-led-lockdown-totally-unreliable-buggy-mess-say-experts/
    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2020/05/16/neil-fergusons-imperial-model-could-devastating-software-mistake/?li_s
    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8327641/Coronavirus-modelling-Professor-Neil-Ferguson-branded-mess-experts.html
    https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/11642959/neil-ferguson-stay-at-home-lockdown-advice-unreliable-code/#comments

    But I have not seen it on the TV news. Not on BBC , SKY, ITV, CH4
    This may be news yesterday but forgotten tomorrow.

    Just to be clear The Lock Down is due to the government acting on the predictions that came from this faulty pandemic model computer code.

    If you read Report 9
    https://www.imperial.ac.uk/media/imperial-college/medicine/sph/ide/gida-fellowships/Imperial-College-COVID19-NPI-modelling-16-03-2020.pdf

    This is the report that was used to get the UK into Lock Down based on the results of the faulty pandemic modelling.
    The report states that the available data from China is used. But the data is not sourced or questioned . The report is full of assumptions. Why these assumptions are made or used is mostly not explained.
    “Infection was assumed to be seeded in each country at an exponentially growing rate (with a doubling time of 5 days) from early January 2020″

    At that rate the entire world would be infected in six months.

    ” in an unmitigated epidemic, we would predict approximately 510,000 deaths in GB and 2.2 million in the US”

    This is the key statement to the prediction in the report “an unmitigated epidemic”
    Why unmitigated? This is the worst possible case scenario. The perfect storm.
    But this is not reality. There are many mitigating factors in the real world.
    Why would these real world mitigating factors not be included.

    • nevermind

      i would be more worried about us interpreting and using this information, Brian, being all ready and prepared for any pandemic,not, than the source of the information, which, lets face it, came from a nation of billions that was still in the middle of a massive and rapidly spreading infection at the time.
      Intelligence agencies farting at China for providing data that was gathered at speed, should not overlook our own ignorance, unpreparedness and unwilling stoic reactionary Government/leader who just would not take this virus serious, or was politically inept to forsee what needed doing fast. It has far more to do with future profits and world hegemony, than with picking bones about data.

    • Mark Golding

      Interestingly Imperial college has secured about £50million UK goverment funds to develop a coronavirus vaccine candidate.

      ‘War on Terror’ backer, Baroness Manningham-Buller, former Director-General of MI5 rooted the modus operandi at Imperial as chair of the council for 4 years.

      Sir Philip Graham Dilley, former business advisor to Cameron took up the post of chair after Manningham.

      https://theintercept.com/2020/03/13/big-pharma-drug-pricing-coronavirus-profits/

    • Steve

      You cannot kill people more than once though.

      From the pandemic point of view, much of the low hanging fruit has already been harvested in Europe.

      The mistake wasn’t lockdown though, it was persisting with it once we knew enough about the virus to understand that it wasn’t dangerous except to people with particular co-morbidities.

      Once that was known, the criminal act of the UK government was to protect itself from the public’s reaction to the underfunding of NHS by protecting not the most vulnerable, but the hospitals from being overwhelmed.

      Now that we have the ability in hospitals and the Nightingale Hospitals to handle an increase in cases among healthy people and have belatedly started to protected the vulnerable, it is the right time to end the lockdown and allow the healthy population the opportunity to develop a natural immunity while summer reduces its severity – as happens with other respiratory viral illness.

      • glenn_uk

        Every point you have made is incorrect or baseless conjecture, except the first.

        How do you know “much of the low hanging fruit” (from the pandemic’s view!) is gone? There are still sizeable proportions of the population with some underlying condition and/or aged. You don’t recognise that? You think they’re all dead? Utter nonsense – there is huge scope for death under your preferred “let it rip!” plan.

        It’s quite untrue to say it’s not dangerous to anyone without conditions too. Healthy people have got extremely ill and died. It’s baffling how you can ignore clear fact like that.

        The lockdown was precisely there to prevent an overwhelming of the health service, Nightingale hospitals (virtually unstaffed, btw) notwithstanding. That will happen again very soon with a murderously stupid “business as usual” approach. See much of America for evidence of this.

  • Willie

    Patent law when it comes to medicine is a device to allow the patenter to make Monet time after time after time. Argued as a mechanism to fund research the corporates then very often go on to patent every so slightly different compositions so as to extend the patent for many more years.

    Make no mistake finding a medicine is all about making money and lots of it. Indeed finding a treatment as opposed to a cure is another aspect of how money influences outcome.

    There are some, indeed there are many who say that finding something natural, which every chemical, every piece of DNA, every piece of RNA is, is ethically wrong. How can you patent DNA. Well you can.

    And when it comes to corporate money making our security services are there to protect that. Health care of the citizen is very much a secondary consideration. Better to sell it high priced to a few than cheap to the many is all too often the economic driver.

    So yes, spin and reality diverge when it comes to public health. It’s all about money – but we knew that anyway.

    • Antonym

      A supplement that shows great promise for those suffering from beginning Covid19 is Acetylcysteine, also known as N-acetylcysteine (NAC) according to Dr. Seheult of Medcram. These are a well known, cheap and easily available tablets used for various other ailments in the past: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acetylcysteine

      Not profitable for Big Pharma, so to be kept out of the lime lights.

  • Bayard

    Given the millions, if not billions of dollars being poured into research for a vaccine by pharmaceutical companies, what does anyone think would happen if someone came up with a simple and effective cure that used generic medicines already freely available, do they think these companies would just sit back and say “Ho, hum, that was $100M down the drain, what’s next?”

    • Steve

      Well, the MSM that is ‘owned’ by those vested interests are already preventing the dissemination of the well understood knowledge of how the immune system relies on adequate nutrition to effectively defend us against myriad pathogens.
      Try finding any mainstream publication telling you of the importance of vitamin C – something we, the other great apes, and guinea pigs due to a genetic defect uniquely among mammals are no longer able to make so obtain, inadequately during infection, from diet – and vitamin D3 that is present in too small quantities in our diets that it needs supplementing by sun exposure on our skin.

      Why?

      Because the former protects against oxidative damage during infection, maintains healthy RBCs minimising vascular damage that leads to blood clots, and prevents scurvy, while the latter is essential in over 170 metabolic processes many in the immune response including suppression of cancers.

      And they are both unpatentable and cheap or, in the case of sunlight, free.

  • David

    UK office for national statistix reveal that the excess deaths from coronavirus between end March, beginning week of May is the trifling

    5 3 , 4 9 0

    but we should be careful to not make international comparisons, er…..

    sadly, these ‘excess’ people won’t benefit from even an expensive patented vaccine

    • Jack

      Awful number that would rise accordingly coming months. Perhaps that number will also put to rest the claim that Corona is harmless as some people have claimed for the past months.

      • jazza

        don;t include the consequences of illegal/ inhumane lockdown though, do you???? even Chris Whitty says the virus will not kill many – FFS – 99.5% of people in britain are unharmed – just what does it take for some rationality here???/

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