At least they got the name right. "Operation Warp Speed" is the Trump Administration's code name (from the science fiction series Star Trek) for the colossal government-corporate partnership, with bottomless public funding and satellites across the globe, that boldly aims to be able to inject every person on the planet with a coronavirus pandemic vaccine at breakneck speed.
"That means big and it means fast," Trump said, launching Warp Speed in April with Dr Anthony Fauci, head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, standing at his side, wearing a face mask and adjusting his tie. "A massive scientific, industrial and logistical endeavor unlike anything our country has seen since the Manhattan Project."
The Manhattan Project was the secret government program that developed the atom bomb, which killed nearly a quarter of a million Japanese civilians. The Warp Speed bomb is supposed to rain down at least 300 million doses of injectable COVID-19 vaccines by January 2021. But that is just the beginning.
"We need to make billions of doses, we need to get them out to every part of the world, and we need all of this to happen as quickly as possible," Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates of the eponymous Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation wrote April 30.
"Our foundation is the biggest funder of vaccines in the world, and this effort dwarfs anything we've ever worked on before. It's going to require a global cooperative effort like the world has never seen," Gates said. "But I know it'll get done. There's simply no alternative."
It's been hard to guess from what he says whether Trump will allow for COVID vaccine mandates or not, but Gates is suggesting there will be little choice in the matter for the entire world population of seven-plus billion because, in his view, "in order to stop the pandemic, we need to make the vaccine available to almost every person on the planet."
It's a dream come true for drug company execs. Operation Warp Speed is funneling billions of dollars to pharmaceutical companies big and small for COVID-19 vaccine research and development. It's hustling vaccine candidates through administrative red tape and over licensing hurdles, fast-tracking clinical trials and financing the scale-up production and distribution of vaccines before there is even preliminary evidence of efficacy, let alone a product.
By the end of May, there were 100 vaccines in preclinical development by drug companies, academic institutions, government agencies and others looking for a piece of the colossal coronavirus pie. The World Health Organization (WHO) was tracking eight clinical trials.1
A vaccine, if it works, might cut the risk of death from coronavirus and quell the fears of those who are most worried about getting infected. It might, as Gates and others are promising, put an end to the lockdown, set the global economy on the path to recovery and restore us to "normal." Why hesitate?
Researchers have been trying to produce a coronavirus vaccine for decades. They haven't just failed—their prototypes have made the virus more lethal.
After the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) outbreak of 2002 in China, scientists tested the four most promising coronavirus vaccine candidates in mice and ferrets. The animals all developed coronavirus antibodies—a regular measure of success for vaccine developers. But when these vaccinated animals were exposed to wild SARS coronavirus, the results were crushing.
Not only was every vaccinated animal infected, but they showed an "enhanced immunopathology"—it was like their immune systems had been activated by the vaccine to hyper-respond to a real coronavirus. They had severe inflammation, especially in their lungs.2
The findings were a flashback to a 1967 experiment with a respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine that went wrong. It was given to a group of babies and children in a "welfare institution." All the orphans produced measurable antibodies to the disease, and the doctors celebrated their success.
About nine months later, however, a real RSV outbreak occurred in the orphanage. All the vaccinated children were infected, and 80 percent of them became so ill they had to be hospitalized for bronchitis and pneumonia. Two children died.3
"The conclusion from that experience was clear; RSV lung disease was enhanced by the prior vaccination," the coronavirus researchers noted in 2012. It was a vaccinology enigma that had lingered for 45 years, and they were no closer to solving it. "Caution in proceeding to application of a SARS-CoV vaccine in humans is indicated," they warned.2
Vaccine enhancement of a disease occurred again in 2016, when the Philippine government hastily rolled out French drug maker (and COVID vaccine developer) Sanofi Pasteur's Dengvaxia vaccine against dengue fever to 830,000 children despite known potential risks.
Nineteen deaths among the at least 190 child deaths that followed were proven to be associated with Dengvaxia. It was yanked from the market amid a huge public outcry, and several government officials in the Philippines now face charges of "inexcusable lack of precaution" and "reckless imprudence resulting in homicide."4
Researchers now claim that Dengvaxia only works in those who have already been exposed to dengue fever; among those who haven't encountered the fever before, vaccine-generated antibodies can trigger a storm of immune hyperactivity. The children died of severe dengue fever, which is characterized by massive internal bleeding and liver damage.5
COVID caution tape
A few prominent vaccine developers including Paul Offit at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and Peter Hotez of Baylor College of Medicine have publicly referred to the "vaccine enhancement" or "immune potentiation" risk associated with any COVID vaccine. Dr Fauci is clearly aware of the red flags, too, as he explained to Congress, "I must warn that there's also the possibility of negative consequences where certain vaccines can actually enhance the negative effect of the infection."6
The caution tape around COVID vaccines hasn't kept Fauci from spurring on Operation Warp Speed, however. The question remains if researchers can overcome a half-century-old, yet barely understood, deadly vaccine problem in just a few months.
Just like the smallpox shot?
Bill Gates has said that a fast-tracked COVID-19 vaccine might be "imperfect," just like the smallpox jab, but still "get the job done." Serious side-effects from the smallpox vaccine described by the US Centers for Disease Control include:
•Blood-borne spread of the vaccine virus with a hideous smallpox-like rash at a rate of 241 cases per million vaccinations
•Eczema vaccinatum, which is especially deadly in children (39 per million vaccinations)
•Postvaccinial encephalitis, which can cause permanent, disabling neurological damage or death (12 per million vaccinations)
•Vaccinia gangrenosum, a slow and progressive necrosis from spread of vaccine virus to tissues and organs that might require "debridement or amputation" and can be fatal (1.5 per million vaccinations)
•Cardiac events including myocarditis and pericarditis (rate unknown)1
•Serious cardiac events are also a risk of the smallpox vaccine, according to the CDC.2
Past pandemic mistakes
You may recall when the WHO last declared a global pandemic of H1N1 virus ("swine flu"), in 2009. The death rate was a fraction of that of seasonal flu, but drug makers profited from a windfall of government investment to produce a vaccine then, too.
Wolfgang Wodarg, a German epidemiologist who was then head of the Council of Europe's Health Committee, along with 13 other scientists, claimed the whole thing was a "massive operation of disinformation," orchestrated to sell vaccines.Dr Wodarg raised concerns in 2010 about swine flu vaccines that were "developed too quickly," and said, "Some ingredients were insufficiently tested."7
While Wodarg was calling for an inquiry into the matter, a pediatric neurologist in Finland was noticing a sharp uptick in the number of cases he was seeing of children with the sleep disorder narcolepsy. Narcolepsy is an incurable autoimmune brain disease in which victims suddenly fall asleep, sometimes dozens of times a day. They also frequently suffer from cataplexy, a sudden muscle paralysis that causes them to collapse randomly, along with night terrors and hallucinations.
Usually, narcolepsy is vanishingly rare, affecting only 0.7 per 100,000 people, so the Finnish neurologist noticed the increase in children with the disorder and that their first symptoms began shortly after they'd received GlaxoSmithKline's new Pandemrix swine flu vaccine. He reported it to Finland's National Institute for Health.
In 2012, the Finnish NIH confirmed that the incidence of new-onset narcolepsy among children aged 4 to 19 had spiked 12.7-fold following distribution of the Pandemrix H1N1 vaccine.8 A follow-up study confirmed a rise in narcolepsy-cataplexy in Pandemrix-vaccinated children and adults in France, too.9 Studies in sleep centers in England confirmed a 16-fold rise of narcolepsy in vaccinated children and up to a nine-fold rise among adults there as well.10
Pandemrix was quietly pulled from the market; however, for the at least 1,300 children and adults recorded with vaccine-associated narcolepsy by 2015, their lives were forever changed.11
Scientists eventually found that the antibodies in the vaccine, in conjunction with its adjuvant (a chemical added to vaccines to trigger an immune response), called AS03, triggered an immune response against a molecule involved in sleep regulation and killed the brain cells that carried it—causing irreparable brain damage.
Guillain-Barre Syndrome, another 'swine flu' fiasco
A similar vaccine scandal happened in 1976, when the US government predicted mass deaths after 13 American soldiers became ill and one died with an unusual respiratory "swine flu." The government underwrote massive vaccination development and marketed it as a civic duty to prevent a pandemic.
Forty million Americans "rolled up their sleeves," and 4,000 of them later sued the government, mostly for neurological damage. Hundreds developed a rare, paralyzing neurological autoimmune disease called Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), which can cause respiratory arrest and death.12 Dozens died. But the feared epidemic? It never came.13
One vaccine guinea pig's experience
His right arm hurt so much he couldn't lift it. Twelve hours after the shot, he spiked a fever of 103°F (39°C) and felt "more sick than he ever has." People at the clinical trial told his girlfriend to call 911. He went to an urgent care facility and was sent home, where he fainted.
Ian Haydon, 29, was one of three volunteers in a 45-person clinical trial for Seattle-based Moderna Therapeutics' COVID-19 vaccine who experienced a serious systemic adverse reaction.
He recovered the following day and went on CNN and CNBC to say he was fine and he'd even be deliberately exposed to COVID to test the effectiveness of the vaccine, which uses a novel genetic platform. He didn't mention his negative reaction to the vaccine on the major news media outlets, "out of an abundance of caution."
Haydon seemed to be shielding Moderna's frontrunner COVID vaccine, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, from poor public opinion. "I understand that sharing the story, it's going to be frightening to some people," he later told STAT News. "I hope that it doesn't fuel any sort of general antagonism towards vaccines in general or towards even this vaccine."
Haydon changed his mind, however, in "hopes his story counterbalances the desperation that some people feel to push a vaccine to market regardless of the consequences."
"[T]he reality of vaccine development is that it can only be rushed so much, and the trial still needs to take place," Haydon told STAT. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, added: "Such side-effects are "noteworthy, but it doesn't stop the train."
Insects, fetal DNA, adjuvants, etc.
Vaccines are more than just a bit of de-fanged virus in saline solution. They are complex immune system-stimulating formulas that contain adjuvants like aluminum, preservatives like mercury-containing thimerosal and formaldehyde, antibiotics like neomycin and a host of "excipient" ingredients, including DNA from whatever cells have been used to amplify the virus in manufacturing production—cultured from aborted human fetuses, dogs, monkeys, insects, and more.14
Vaccines contain unknown residual contaminants, too. In 2017, Italian scientists used nanotechnology to study 44 samples of 30 different vaccines and found dangerous contaminants, including toxic metals, debris and even red blood cells, in all but one sample tested.15
Even "trace amounts" of these ingredients "may not be inherently safe," immunologists wrote in the 2015 medical textbook, Vaccines and Autoimmunity (Wiley Blackwell, 2015). "[A] typical vaccine formulation contains all the necessary biochemical components to induce autoimmune manifestations."
Sanofi (of Dengvaxia notoriety) and GSK (of Pandemrix fame) have teamed up to produce a COVID vaccine using the same adjuvant as Pandemrix, AS03. It's grown on insect cells, and they plan to be producing "hundreds of millions" of doses of it by 2021.16
At least six COVID vaccines including the two leading candidates from Massachusetts-based Moderna and Oxford University are manufactured using human embryonic kidney cells (HEK 293 cells) drawn from a baby aborted in 1972 and since multiplied millions of times over. Johnson & Johnson's COVID vaccine is being developed with their patented "Per.C6" cells, retinal cells taken from the eyes of a baby aborted at 18 weeks.17
"Anyone who says that the fetal DNA contaminating our vaccines is harmless either does not know anything about immunity. . . or they are not telling the truth," Theresa Deisher, a Stanford University-trained molecular biologist and founder of the Sound Choice Pharmaceutical Institute, wrote to the US Congress last year.
"To illustrate the autoimmune capability of very small amounts of fetal DNA, consider this: labor is triggered by fetal DNA from the baby that builds up in the mother's bloodstream, triggering a massive immune rejection of the baby. The fetal DNA levels in a child after being injected with fetal-manufactured vaccines reach the same level that triggers autoimmune rejection of baby by mother," Deisher wrote. "If fetal DNA can trigger labor (a naturally desired autoimmune reaction), then those same levels in vaccines can trigger autoimmunity in a child."
Deisher also said that fetal DNA could incorporate into the vaccinee's DNA, causing mutations that may lead to cancer.18 Among the organizations using fetal cells for the manufacture of their new COVID vaccines are Moderna, Johnson&Johnson, Inovio, Oxford University, Merck, AstraZeneca and the University of Pittsburgh.
Never used before
Dozens of new prototypes for vaccines are being tried that have never been used before because they can be done fast. Fast is what drug companies are after in the race for the "holy grail" of a COVID vaccine.19 "Messenger RNA is one of the hot new platforms," Fauci told The New York Times in May, adding that it can be used to mass produce new vaccines.
Although they've never been used before, new mRNA and DNA vaccines theoretically work by inserting genetic material from the coronavirus into a person to prime their immune system. As Gates puts it: "You essentially turn your body into its own vaccine manufacturing unit."
Gates has been plugging Moderna's vaccine, which he financed, because it's "much faster to manufacture."
"There's a catch, though," Gates added, "We don't know for sure yet if RNA is a viable platform for vaccines. Since COVID would be the first RNA vaccine out of the gate, we have to prove both that the platform itself works and that it creates immunity. It's a bit like building your computer system and your first piece of software at the same time."
Except that it's not a computer you're experimenting with—it's your health.
Ominous early results
Moderna, which has never brought a vaccine to market before, took its mRNA vaccine to clinical trial just two months after Chinese researchers released the genomic sequence of the coronavirus. The company took the unusual step of releasing its preliminary trial findings by press release, declaring that all the participants had made COVID antibodies.
Three of 15 people (20 percent) who got the highest dose of the vaccine, however, experienced "grade 3 systemic symptoms," which Moderna did not describe. The FDA defines grade 3 symptoms as "serious" issues "requiring medical intervention."20 The very same day, Moderna released a second press release offering $1.25 billion shares of public stock.21
Oxford University has also presented findings from its first COVID trial in monkeys. All the vaccinated animals developed COVID infections and had the same level of virus in their nasal passages as unvaccinated monkeys. The researchers defended their vaccine because the monkeys did not develop pneumonia, however.22 Would people be willing to take a COVID vaccine that doesn't prevent COVID just to avoid pneumonia, which 99 percent of people don't develop anyway?
Just like the smallpox vaccine?
Investor Bill Gates must be aware of the particular COVID-19 vaccine risks. "It might not be a perfect vaccine yet—and that's okay," he wrote in April.
"The smallpox vaccine is the only vaccine that's wiped an entire disease off the face of the earth, but it's also pretty brutal to receive. It left a scar on the arm of anyone who got it. One out of every three people had side-effects bad enough to keep them home from school or work. A small—but not insignificant—number developed more serious reactions. The smallpox vaccine was far from perfect, but it got the job done. The COVID-19 vaccine might be similar."23
Gates might have considered using a less terrifying comparison than the smallpox vaccine. Brutal indeed. The modern smallpox vaccine, which the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers "generally safe and effective," has a long laundry list of grotesque and lethal side-effects.24
"Autoinoculation," the most common "mild" side-effect of this vaccine, occurs at a reported rate of 529 per million vaccinations, or about one in every 1,900. This happens when a person transfers the smallpox vaccine virus from the injection site to another location on their body, causing "satellite lesions," usually on the eyes, mouth or nose.
These can become severe and lead to problems like scarring on the cornea. A 2018 study even describes two women who accidentally transferred smallpox vaccine virus from the injection sites on their arms to their genitalia, causing blistering lesions.25
Vaccine virus spread
Not only do vaccinated people sometimes infect themselves, but they can spread the disease to others. In 2007, a recently-vaccinated soldier shed the smallpox vaccine virus onto his two-year-old son, who wound up in critical condition with eczema vaccinatum, an infection that causes a blistering smallpox-like rash, in his case covering 80 percent of his body. He nearly died. They boy's mother was infected, too.26
In 2013, the CDC also reported a case of the smallpox vaccine virus spreading like an STD. A vaccinated military man infected his lover, who developed a fever, rash and vomiting. Before he got sick, he had infected another lover.27
Bill Gates is right: research says mild smallpox vaccine reactions including autoinoculation, swollen lymph nodes and headache keep more than one-third of recipients home from school or work (see box, page 28).Surely he doesn't think that a COVID-19 vaccine on par with the smallpox vaccine is a good idea for every person on the planet?
COVID-19 death rates increase with age, up to about 7.8 percent among those over 80. But the fatality rate is 0.0016 percent among children (less than the likelihood of a lightning strike) and 0.66 percent over all ages.28 Maybe some people will think a COVID-19 vaccine is worth the risk. But should children with virtually no risk be mandated to accept unknown vaccine risks in order to reduce the COVID risks to the elderly? Do grandparents even want to expose their grandchildren to serious immune system risks to cut the risks to themselves?
Does Gates really mean that he's willing to accept that one-third of the global population—2.5 billion people—can get sick enough from a vaccine to miss school and work, in exchange for "protection" from a coronavirus that 25 to 50 percent of infected people don't even know they have?29
COVID-19 is not as deadly as public health officials predicted. In March, the data models from Neil Ferguson and his colleagues at Imperial College London forecast that COVID-19 would kill 2.2 million Americans and 500,000 Britons alone if no action was taken, spurring the US and UK governments to begin instituting travel bans and lockdowns.
But by the end of May, the US death toll (which has been disputed) had just reached 100,000—22 times lower than Ferguson's wild calculation—and the British death toll was about 37,000—13 times lower Adrian Hill, director of Oxford's vaccine program, told The Telegraph in May that an upcoming trial involving 10,000 volunteers threatened to return "no result" due to low transmission of COVID-19 in the community. "It's a race against the virus disappearing, and against time," Hill told the British newspaper. "At the moment, there's a 50 percent chance that we get no result at all."
If the disease is dwindling, so are the benefits of a vaccine.
Risks don't weigh too heavily on the minds of vaccine makers right now. Blanket indemnity is another gift bestowed on them by health policymakers and their pandemic emergency measures.
Even before the WHO had declared a pandemic and while there were fewer than a dozen active COVID-19 cases in the US, for example, on February 4, 2020, the US Department of Health & Human Services quietly passed the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act ("PREP" Act), which contains a clause giving pharmaceutical companies financial immunity if something goes wrong with one of their novel COVID-19 products.30
It's not too unusual—the 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act in the US indemnified drug companies against any financial liability for vaccine injury claims. The UK has a similar measure, originally codified in the Vaccine Damage Payments Act of 1979. It's considered an incentive to drug manufacturers if they have zero accountability and can't be sued when children are hurt.
When a COVID-19 vaccine arrives, remember that as a protected pandemic "countermeasure," you cannot sue for any side-effect, known or unknown.
Regulators don't require vaccine manufacturers to compare vaccines against true placebos, like saline injections, in clinical trials.
Oxford University's vaccine, called ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 (the one with the sick monkeys), for example, started out by being compared with a saline placebo, but then later the researchers switched the placebo for injection of another vaccine, the conjugated meningitis ACWY vaccine. It would be just as easy for researchers to use a saline injection, but comparing side-effects of a new vaccine to side-effects from an old "control" vaccine, as is a common practice in vaccine trials, masks the risks and makes the vaccine look safer than it actually is.
Technologies reminiscent of Brave New World are being rolled out under the COVID-19 vaccine umbrella, including a new microchip that embeds both a vaccine and vaccine record under the skin and can be scanned by smartphones.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has funded recent research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing and the Global Good, Intellectual Ventures Laboratory in Bellevue, WA, to develop "near-infrared quantum dots" which can be implanted under the skin along with a vaccine to encode information for "decentralized data storage and bio-sensing."
The bioluminescent dots, made from the enzyme, luciferase, that makes fireflies glow, are invisible but can be scanned with a smartphone.
At the same time, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh are developing a patch-like vaccine (which uses human aborted fetal cells) that resembles a spiky piece of Velcro, with hundreds of tiny microneedles made of sugar. The needles prick just into the skin and dissolve, releasing the vaccine into the tiny abrasions and triggering an immune response that is more potent than a regular injection.
These "microchip" technologies can be used together to encode a lot of information about people within a vaccine. Not having an embedded vaccine chip might mean not having access to school, for example, or public spaces.
Bill Gates presents himself as the world's foremost philanthropist, but it's not really a secret that he makes a lot of money from his donations. Last year at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, for example, he forthrightly told an interviewer that he fully expects to make a 20-fold return on his $10 billion investment in global vaccines over the past two decades. So, $10 billion becomes $200 billion—especially when governments across the globe are committed to using taxpayer dollars to purchase and distribute your liability-free investment product to "almost every person on the planet."31
Many people think that a COVID-19 vaccine, if it saves any lives, is worth the big money to drug makers. It's worth bearing in mind, however, that big drug companies have long experience manipulating data and sweeping side-effects under the rug. With relaxed government oversight of the same industry that brought us the Vioxx scandal and the opioid epidemic, "safe and effective" is more relative than ever.32
Prevent COVID infection naturally
If you'd rather not take a vaccine against the new coronavirus, you can give your immune system everything it needs to fend off viral respiratory infections.
Vitamin D. Vitamin D levels fall in winter, which is a factor in seasonal respiratory illnesses. An April 2020 review of the literature recommends high-dose vitamin D to prevent COVID infection.1
Recommended dose: 5,000 IU/day, reducing to 2,000 IU after two weeks, or 10,000 IU/day for those most at risk. Ideally, check blood levels and adjust dose for an optimum vitamin D level of 60-80 ng/mL
Vitamin A. Maintaining sufficient levels of vitamin A is critical to lung health.2
Recommended dose: 3,000 IU (900 mcg)/day (equivalent to 18,000 IU beta carotene)
N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC). This nutrient bolsters levels of glutathione, a potent antioxidant, anticancer, antiviral and anti-aging molecule that is significantly reduced in a number of diseases. NAC has been shown to bolster immune function and to reduce inflammation in lung disease.3 Test tube studies have shown it suppresses replication of influenza viruses and reduces inflammation.4 A clinical study of NAC (600 mg twice daily) during flu season found that it reduced symptomatic infection from 79 percent to 25 percent, reduce symptoms by 70 percent and shorten recovery time.5
Recommended dose: 600 mg, twice daily
Selenium. Selenium is a trace element and known antiviral agent. Your body needs it to make the antioxidant glutathione.6
Recommended dose: 140-200 mcg/day as seleno-methionine.
Zinc. Zinc has well-documented antiviral properties, especially in the respiratory system.7 It's been suggested that hydroxychloroquine's reported reduction of viral load may be due to the fact that it appears to increase the transport of zinc into cells.8
Recommended dose: 15 mg/day, as a chelate, two to three times more as a sulfate or gluconate
Vitamin C. Hundreds of published scientific articles support the use of vitamin C for immune system support. High intravenous doses have been used to fight severe COVID infections with success.9
Recommended maintenance dose: 1-2 grams twice / day