May 8th, 2023 3-5PM ET
Monday on The Robert Scott Bell Show:
America Will Never Give Up Its Ideals Two years ago, major American cities were segregated by vaccine status. Mask mandates delineated safe and unsafe. Signs told us to be separate from each other. We couldn’t even encounter each other during shopping thanks to one-way grocery aisles. We were not allowed to visit families or even attend funerals. Weddings were out of the question. There were even travel restrictions. And today, the Department of Health and Human Services released a report sounding the alarm about the pandemic of loneliness. While social connection had been declining for decades prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the onset of the pandemic, with its lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, was a critical time during which the issue of connection came to the forefront of public consciousness, raising awareness about this critical and ongoing public health concern. Many of us felt lonely or isolated in a way we had never experienced before. We postponed or canceled meaningful life moments and celebrations like birthdays, graduations, and marriages. Children’s education shifted online—and they missed out on the many benefits of interacting with their friends. Many people lost jobs and homes. We were unable to visit our children, siblings, parents, or grandparents. Many lost loved ones. We experienced feelings of anxiety, stress, fear, sadness, grief, anger, and pain through the loss of these moments, rituals, celebrations, and relationships. Oh thanks a lot HHS! As if this agency had nothing to do with causing this and they are just innocent bystanders. It’s not as if many people predicted exactly this.
Autoimmune disorders found to affect around 1 in 10 people A new population-based study of 22 million people shows that autoimmune disorders now affect about 1 in 10 individuals. The work, published in The Lancet, also highlights important socioeconomic, seasonal, and regional differences for several autoimmune disorders and provides new clues on possible causes behind these diseases. Autoimmune diseases occur when the normal role of the immune system in defense against infections is disturbed, resulting in it mistakenly attacking normal healthy cells in the body. Examples of such diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis, and there are more than 80 types of autoimmune diseases known. Some autoimmune disorders, such as type 1 diabetes, are reported to have increased over the past several decades, raising the question as to whether the overall incidence of autoimmune disorders is on the rise, driven perhaps by common environmental factors or behavioral changes. Exact causes of autoimmune diseases, particularly with respect to relative contributions of genetic predisposition or environmental factors, also remain largely a mystery and are subject to much research. Because individual autoimmune diseases are rare, and because there are so many different types of autoimmune diseases, it has been very difficult to undertake sufficiently large studies and establish reliable estimates to answer these questions.
Doctors Are Promoting Vaccines For Money Ever wonder why many doctors are so adamant about their patients getting the COVID vaccine? They have likely been offered financial incentives, demonstrating the erosion of ethical principles in medical care. A recent op-ed from John Leak and Peter McCullough, MD, raises a disturbing issue: doctors around the country were offered financial incentives for vaccinating their patients against COVID-19. We expect our medical providers to advise us on the best treatments to preserve and optimize our health—not the treatments that will make them the most money. Examples like this reveal the deep cracks in our medical ethics exposed during the pandemic but which stretch back many years. Fixing some of our most pressing healthcare crises means addressing these shortcomings with a new ethical framework—something our colleagues at ANH-International are working on right now. There is tremendous social pressure to get the COVID vaccine, especially from doctors. The op-ed puts it this way: In my extended social circle, I heard many reports of doctors being downright pushy about [getting vaccinated against COVID-19]—as though getting the COVID-19 vaccine was the single most pressing matter of medicine and health. Even patients who’d recently recovered from COVID-19 were urged by their doctors to get the shots, as were patients who had bad reactions to the first injection.
Proof that the Vaccines Were a Military-Backed Countermeasure Here is a high-level review of the manufacturing contracts between US DOD and Moderna. Moderna’s injection, mRNA-1273 is co-owned with the US Government, as the company has been funded by the defense research grants for years and also received intellectual property transfers from the US Government, in addition to preclinical and clinical research work conducted for Moderna by the NIH Vaccine Research Center. The NIH and Moderna each have a separate Investigational New Drug number for this product. Moderna entered 2 types of contracts with the US Government for Spikevax injection: “Vaccine” contract and amendments that specifies R&D projects that the US Government ordered and paid for. Note that in Pfizer’s case no R&D activities were ordered or paid for by the US Government, as these were excluded from the scope of the contract. “Manufacturing” contract(s) that ordered a large-scale manufacturing. This is different from Pfizer manufacturing contracts as the words “demonstration” and “prototype” are not used. I believe this is because OTA contracts must be for prototypes but FAR contracting doesn’t have to be. Note on redactions. In both Moderna and Pfizer’s contracts many areas are redacted indicating a reason for redaction – the “redaction codes.”
Research monkey shortage undermines US readiness, panel says There’s a shortage of monkeys available for medical research and the U.S. should expand its breeding programs rather than rely on international suppliers to solve it, an influential scientific advisory panel said Thursday. Studies using nonhuman primates, especially monkeys, have been critical to lifesaving medical advances – including creating vaccines against COVID-19 – because of their similarities to people. The U.S. funds colonies at national primate centers but supplies were tight and more animals were regularly imported even before the pandemic. Then China, once a leading supplier, ended exports of research monkeys in 2020, as scientists everywhere needed more for coronavirus studies. And last fall, the U.S. filed charges to stop a Cambodian smuggling ring accused of shipping endangered wild monkeys in place of those bred for research, further constraining supplies. Thursday’s report examined only research funded by the National Institutes of Health, deemed key to responding to public health emergencies — not drug company or other publicly or privately funded research with monkeys. The nation’s preparedness is undermined by having to depend on imports of these animals, which are especially important for infectious disease research and neuroscience, said a panel of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. Highlighting that vulnerability, the U.S. experienced a 20% drop in imports of one species, cynomolgus macaques, when China suddenly stopped shipping.
Parkinson’s Disease Has Become a Pandemic, Possible Causes Parkinson’s disease has been a rare disorder for most of human history. Yet a combination of aging demographics and byproducts of industrialization may have created a Parkinson’s pandemic, according to a 2018 review of studies in the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease. In 2022, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that disability and death due to Parkinson’s disease are increasing faster than for any other neurological disorder, including Alzheimer’s disease. Parkinson’s Has Become a ‘Pandemic’ In 1817, Dr. James Parkinson first described the condition in London. It was rare, and he only found six individuals with the disease. However, 200 years later, in 2015, over 6 million individuals lived with it, according to the 2018 review. Furthermore, findings indicate that the number of people with Parkinson’s disease is predicted to double from 6 million in 2015 to over 12 million by 2040, primarily due to aging. According to the Global Burden of Disease study, neurological disorders are currently the leading source of disability worldwide. The fastest-growing of these in age-standardized rates of prevalence, disability, and deaths, is Parkinson’s disease. The 2018 review of studies finds Parkinson’s, while noninfectious, exhibits traits that identify it as a “pandemic” disease.
EPA Approach to Regulating PFAS Chemicals ‘Inexplicable and Irresponsible’ To great applause, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last month proposed “maximum contamination levels” in drinking water for six per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) chemicals. This was the first such action that EPA had taken in more than 30 years on any drinking contaminant. Unfortunately, despite the magnitude of this action for this handful of PFAS, there are at least 12,000 PFAS variations. Before the applause for EPA could die down, this month, a study found 26 types of PFAS in drinking water samples from 16 states. Notably, EPA has no pending proposed standard for 20 of these PFAS. More disturbing, 12 of these PFAS are not included in EPA’s current monitoring — in other words, EPA does not even currently test for them. Furthermore, three of these PFAS fall outside the “working definition” for PFAS that EPA adopted without any outside review in 2021. This means that EPA is not considering regulating them. In fact, EPA’s working definition is far narrower than those adopted by other entities, such as the intergovernmental Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and members of the European Union (EU). Nor is it as broad as the definition adopted by numerous states that have started regulating PFAS on their own, frustrated by the slow pace set by EPA. It is also substantially narrower than the definition EPA itself uses for research purposes and non-regulatory estimates.
Should we still wear masks as restrictions ease? Now that the major hospitals have lifted their masking requirements, does that signal the final all-clear? Or should we hang onto, and even still wear, our masks? For years, we have watched those overseas wearing masks on normal days and out of habit. As it turns out, they were onto something. For decades, the treadmill of seasonal illnesses has been a constant; then came the pandemic and masking. “We’ve seen that it actually does decrease the risk of spreading viral diseases,” according to Dr. Brian Lamb of Allegheny Health Network. “Masking decreases the risk of all respiratory infections,” said Dr. Donald Yealy, UPMC’s Chief Medical Officer. The reason is simple. “We’ve shown that it does decrease the amount of air that you are breathing that’s coming out of someone else’s mouth,” Dr. Lamb said. And coming out of that mouth, riding on breath, dr. Lamb said, are the particles that lead to the flu, RSV, and even colds, numbers that went down to almost zero while we all wore the masks. “And once we stopped doing masking, we actually saw the return of influenza, RSV, things like that,” Dr. Yealy added. Dr. Yealy said that even though mask mandates have been lifted, they still have a purpose. “The more mature in our population are people who have multiple other conditions. [People with] heart, lung, and neurologic conditions should consider masking, particularly if they’re going to be in a crowded area,” Dr. Yealy advised.
MRNA Was a Covid Miracle. Could It Be the Same for the Flu? Brent Teichman was establishing himself as a promising young chef in Louisville, Kentucky, when he called his parents — a doctor and nurse — to tell them he was struggling to fight off a virus. They instructed him to visit urgent care. After returning home, he curled up in bed, fell asleep and took his last breath. Teichman died in 2019 at age 29 from a flu that progressed into pneumonia, which suffocated him by filling his lungs with fluid. At the time of his death, he hadn’t gotten around to heeding his parents’ advice to get a flu shot. Half a million people across the world die of the influenza virus each year in what pharmaceutical executives and researchers believe is a tragedy they can help prevent. Pfizer Inc., Moderna Inc. and other companies are using the mRNA technology behind the Covid-19 vaccines to improve the flu shot. Though as that work has progressed, it’s become apparent the task is far more challenging and urgent than expected. The first mRNA flu shots — designed to be better than the existing vaccines that can be as little as 10% effective — were supposed to be rolled out as soon as this year. But data released in February from a shot Moderna is testing proved underwhelming, and in April the company said it needs to keep studying the vaccine before it can declare victory, casting doubt on its timeline to reach the market. Rival Pfizer is still on track to release data later this year. The heroes of the pandemic, vaccine makers need this. Last year, Pfizer and Moderna reported a combined $56 billion in Covid vaccine revenue. That number is expected to fall to $21 billion in 2023. People seem to have grown tired of visiting the clinic.
Scoop: Tucker Carlson ready to torch Fox News Tucker Carlson is preparing to unleash allies to attack Fox News in an effort to bully the network into letting him work for — or start — a right-wing rival, sources close to him tell Axios. Bryan Freedman, the high-powered Hollywood lawyer Carlson retained for the contract dispute, told Axios: “The idea that anyone is going to silence Tucker and prevent him from speaking to his audience is beyond preposterous.” Why it matters: Tucker vs. Fox could reshape the conservative news world. Fox, which has seen its ratings plunge in Carlson’s slot since he was let go 13 days ago, wants to sideline him by paying him $20 million a year not to work. The intrigue: Axios has learned Carlson is busy plotting a media empire of his own. But he needs Fox to let him out of his contract, which expires in January 2025 — after the presidential election. We’re told Carlson has been contacted by outlets — including the right-wing Rumble and Newsmax — that offered to pay him more than his Fox contract.