The plague resumes in 4 days

I’ve been at home, rarely stepping out, other than to visit an empty university and a lab populated entirely and exclusively by spiders. And I like it that way! Alas, it all changes on Tuesday, when the students return and I have to mingle with them 5 days a week. I have my masks, and I’ve been thoroughly vaccinated, but I’m also aware that there are plague demons among us. People like Joseph Ladapo, surgeon general of Florida, and accomplice to the fast-fading fascist, Ron DeSantis.

It used to be fairly easy to dismiss Florida’s surgeon general, Dr. Joseph A. Ladapo, as a clownish anti-vaccine quack posing a danger mostly to residents of his home state.

That has become harder to do as time goes on, as Ladapo has moved from promoting useless treatments for COVID-19, such as the drugs hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin, to waging an ever-expanding fact-free campaign against the leading COVID vaccines.

This month, Ladapo established a new low for himself. In a public advisory issued Wednesday by the Florida Department of Health, he declared the vaccines “not appropriate for use in human beings” and counseled doctors to steer patients to other treatments. He explicitly called for a “halt in the use of COVID-19 mRNA vaccines.”

He’s basing this sweeping dismissal on ONE (1) swiftly debunked paper by an anti-vax crank.

It’s not just COVID, though. I’m concerned about that as I prepare to share an atmosphere with students again, but also because we’ve got idiots like Ladapo everywhere who are disrupting basic public health with their absurd ideas.

Then there’s the public health context: As COVID infections have been surging coast to coast, advisories from public health authorities to resume masking and take other protective measures, such as making sure you’re up to date on vaccinations, are almost invisible.

Even more worrisome, the incidence of other vaccine-preventable diseases may be rising. As many as nine cases of measles have been reported in Philadelphia, some associated with an infection started at a daycare center with a family that violated quarantine rules.

Among the victims, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, are “an infant who was too young to get vaccinated, an unvaccinated older child and the older child’s unvaccinated parent.”

Nine cases may not sound like a lot — 41 were reported nationwide in 2023 — but they could be a harbinger of worse to come, in clusters in which anti-vaccine propaganda has taken hold.

The “invisible” aspect of public health advisories is notable — my university used to have a big bold link on the main web page that pointed to the status of the pandemic on campus, with recommendations for protecting oneself. It’s gone. You have to dig to find any updates on COVID. I guess someone thinks COVID-19 is over.

And then, undermining public confidence in such basic principles of good preventive medicine, such as vaccines and hygiene, as Ladapo is doing, is going to do long-lasting harm. I don’t want to die of COVID, but I also don’t want to die of polio, or measles, or the bubonic plague, or some exotic new disease that springs up in the rotting flesh of some Republican ignoramus. Ladapo and all of these conservative know-nothings are making that more probable.

How do these morons get any power at all in government, I’d like to know.


  1. garnetstar says

    PZ, just to try to save you from measles, did you get another measles shot since when you were a kid?

    The CDC says that everyone who was born up through 1957 must get another shot, as those first vaccines weren’t lifelong lasting. I think that’s your year of birth?

    Well, you probably may already have done this, but I thought I’d mention it, I know what it’s like to be around college-age germ-sinks.

  2. raven says

    Definitely, a lot of people dying right now from the Covid-19 virus. It’s 1,500 a week.
    This is 10 times higher than flu deaths.

    Happening right here, right now.
    Very old woman in the hospital with Covid-19 virus, caught at her nursing home.
    She isn’t responding well to treatment and will die soon.

    Why are 1,500 Americans still dying from COVID every week?
    Nearly 1,500 Americans have died each week from the disease, as of Dec. 9, 2023, according to the CDC.
    By Mary Kekatos
    January 10, 2024, 8:38 am

    Why are so many Americans still dying of COVID?
    More than three years into the pandemic, hundreds of Americans are still dying from COVID-19 every week.

    For the week ending Dec. 9, the last week of complete data, there were 1,614 deaths from COVID, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The last four weeks of complete data show an average of 1,488 weekly deaths.

    By comparison, there were 163 weekly deaths from the flu for the week ending Dec. 9, according to CDC data.

    MORE: JN.1 variant makes up a majority of COVID cases in the US. Here’s what to know
    While high, these COVID death figures are still lower than the high of 25,974 deaths recorded the week ending Jan. 9, 2021, as well as weekly deaths seen in previous winters, CDC data shows.

    The current “weekly rate of COVID mortality is similar to what we were getting per day at [the worst] parts of the pandemic. So, proportionally, we’re in a completely different place than where we were, thankfully,” Dr. Cameron Wolfe, a professor of infectious diseases at Duke University in North Carolina, told ABC News. “But there’s still a pretty significant mortality; 1,500 patients dying every week is unacceptable, frankly.”

    Experts said there are several reasons why people might still be dying from the virus, including not enough people accessing treatments or getting vaccinated as well as waning immunity.

    Additionally, if more people get sick, even if in lesser numbers than in previous waves, it will naturally lead to more people becoming hospitalized and, in turn, dying.

    “We do have very good vaccines that [researchers] have been able to adjust as the variants have changed and very good treatment options that have been shown to decrease the risk of hospitalization as well as deaths,” Dr. Shivanjali Shankaran, an associate professor of infectious diseases at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, told ABC News.

    “However, if we’re not accessing those particular tools, then having them doesn’t sort of make any difference,” Shankaran added.

    Too few people getting vaccinated
    As of Jan. 5, just 19.4% of adults aged 18 and older and 8% of children have received the updated COVID vaccine, CDC data shows. Additionally, just 38% of adults aged 65 and older, who are at higher risk of severe illness, have been vaccinated.

    The updated vaccine is targeted against variants that are related to XBB, an offshoot of the omicron variant.

    Currently, JN.1, a descendant of BA.2.86 — which is itself descended from XBB — makes up an estimated 61.6% of U.S. COVID cases, CDC data shows.

    Although the CDC has suggested JN.1 may be more transmissible or better at evading the immune system than other variants, there is no evidence that available vaccines don’t work.

    “The longer someone has gone since their last vaccine, or their most recent infection for that matter, the more likely their COVID breakthrough would occur and the more likely it’s going to be severe enough that they land in hospital” and potentially die, Wolfe said.

    Experts said there may a level of vaccine fatigue and complacency in the population with people not getting the updated vaccine because they don’t feel like they need it after getting the original vaccine and then subsequent boosters. This, however, doesn’t account for waning immunity.

    “[Vaccines] don’t retain their memory as effectively as we might like, so if you were vaccinated short of more than 12 months ago, your chances of maintaining really good memory again from that vaccine is probably pretty poor at this point,” Wolfe said.

    For a high-risk person, this increases their chance of severe illness if they get infected. For lower risk people, this increases the risk of them spreading the virus to more at-risk groups, he added.

    Americans not accessing treatments
    COVID-19 treatments have evolved since the early days of the pandemic with antiviral pills available, particularly Paxlovid from Pfizer.

    Paxlovid is three pills given twice daily for five days for those at high risk of severe illness. Initial clinical trial data showed Pfizer’s pill reduced the risk of hospitalization and death for unvaccinated patients at risk of severe illness who began treatment within three days of symptoms by nearly 90%. More recent studies including omicron strains of the virus and vaccinated patients have upheld similar results showing the treatment cut the risk of hospitalization and death in half.

    MORE: Respiratory viruses increasing as Americans prepare to gather for the holidays: CDC
    It’s been a relatively underused treatment with some reports suggesting that in some states it’s prescribed in less than 25% of cases — and it may be another reason why deaths have increased.

    Experts said there may be several factors at play.

    “It’s a combination of misunderstanding about who’s eligible for Paxlovid, a misunderstanding about whether Paxlovid works and then sometimes trouble getting prescriptions,” Dr. Megan Ranney, dean of the Yale School of Public Health, told ABC News. “Because we know, for example, that Paxlovid use is much lower in rural areas, as well as among those who have lower educational levels, so I suspect for Paxlovid that there is this kind of element of access as well.”

    Physicians may also feel hesitant to prescribe Paxlovid due to concerns about how the medication interacts with other prescription drugs or even due to instance of people experiencing a Paxlovid rebound, which is a recurrence of COVID symptoms.

    “The data on rebound is still being figured out, but what’s clear is that whether or not you get a rebound with Paxlovid, it absolutely decreases risk of hospitalization and death,” Ranney said.

    More infections mean more severe illnesses
    Another reason for the increase is the sheer fact that more people getting sick naturally means more hospitalizations and more deaths, according to experts.

    “It’s nothing obviously like the omicron wave where we had just millions and millions of people getting sick, and because of that many more people going to the hospital and dying, but yeah, as the total number of people who are infected increases, then you are going to have a similar increase in the number of people who need hospitalization,” Shankaran said.

    For those who may be elderly or immunocompromised, even a case of mild COVID-19 can result in severe illness and even death.

    Experts said the messaging to the public is the same as in earlier phases of the pandemic and advise that Americans remain diligent.

    “The message is to be aware of your own risk factors, be aware of your own symptoms, recognize that vaccines provide protection, not only against getting sick but severity of sickness,” Wolfe said. “That’s the same message that we try and send for flu and RSV each year, it’s no different.”

  3. boba1 says

    There’s a new right wing stink tank…the Brownstone Institute:

    “The world needs Brownstone Institute now to prevent the next “snap” lockdown and make the case for an open and free society.
    The idea is to correct and compete with the mainstream media and take on the technocratic disease managers, or anyone else who believes rights and liberties can be violated, at the discretion of political leaders, to central plans.”

    Your ability to infect others, is your right! (me)

  4. raven says

    …did you get another measles shot since when you were a kid?

    Vaccine? What vaccine?

    In 1963, the measles vaccine was developed, and by the late 1960s, vaccines…

    PZ might well have done what we all did back then.
    Get measles.

    I never got the vaccine. It came out years after I got measles.
    And chickenpox, Rubella, and mumps.

  5. dbarkdog says

    Yup, back in the day we all had a slew of now preventable diseases. Most of us came through mostly fine, but plenty also had lasting, occasionally fatal, effects. Those who now push for natural herd immunity seems to ignore these facts, or simply do not care.

  6. wzrd1 says

    And dying of SSPE is totally the coolest thing to do in 7 years! Everyone should do it, just to keep god-emperor Trump happy.
    Then, we can move onward to full forced birth laws, to promptly machine gun the babies after the forced birth, in His unholy name.
    While burning oil and gas as fast as possible, in order to make earth like the heaven known of as venus.
    Maybe, if we ask really nicely, the god-Trump will have them reintroduce smallpox too, as a bonus.

    Oh, Silly Sidney Powell has stated that the god-Trump will be reinstated as POTUS by this summer. Under the constitutional grounds of hand wave.
    And the state of Texass still allows her to malpractice law.

    Of course, I’m just being grumpy. Storm’s coming in, my back is sending hot rails of pain down from butt to ankle and my doctor’s practice still is refusing to give vaccinations, referring all to their pharmacy (mine doesn’t offer vaccines, so I have to limp 3 miles to one that does).

    Maybe we can instead have a rabies party!

    Oh, a bit of a joke, mixed with truth. Blame the spread of the genes associated with MS on Ukraine. Well, the regional people from there 5000 years ago. Apparently, the cattle breeding people from the region migrated westward through Europe back then, the genes that helped protect against livestock diseases also leaving one vulnerable to MS. So, we can blame Ukraine for MS and Russians existing. :P
    Well, technically, Rus people originating from Vikings, not the MS gene, which was pre-existing by the time the Rus invasions began…

    Well, back to figuring out what to make for dinner. Left over fish fillets, whole red snapper, thin sliced bone in pork chop and to decide upon veggies.
    And I want to make a batch of potato-egg salad…
    I know, I’ll have food! Side order of yummies.

  7. bcw bcw says

    PZ’s age and yeah I got measles, mumps, chickenpox and whooping cough which I almost died from. Had acquaintances with polio damage.

  8. says

    Well, it certainly is a good thing that Biden officially let the Covid state of emergency lapse. He needed to focus government attention on the state of emergency which he did renew, the one for 9/11. I mean, 1500 deaths a week may be scary, but it’s nothing to the omnipresent, imminent threat of Zombie Osama Bin Laden, who might at any moment rise from his grave and crash more planes into the World Trade Center, killing another totally unacceptable 3000 people. (That’s where the weekly threshold is, 3000. If weekly Covid deaths double, then maybe it will be worth talking about again.)

    Stop expecting your government to protect you; obviously the only legitimate function of the US government is to protect Israel while they commit their genocide in Gaza — as you expire from preventable illness, you can take solace in the remembrance that even though Biden won’t lift a finger for you he’ll at least give billions of dollars to deliberately commit crimes against humanity. Such an improvement over Trump; well done Democrats.

  9. John Morales says

    Vicar (singular), hey, you’ve moved on from Hillary and from Obama.

    (For you, not that shabby, only took you a few electoral cycles)

  10. bcw bcw says

    Maybe make “explain what vaccines do” a prerequisite for your course and give a mandatory to pass exam on it the first week.

  11. wzrd1 says

    Vicar @ 10, that’s bullshit! We all know that Biden most certainly will lift a finger.
    Alas, we’re not incredibly fond of which finger is being lifted, but we veterans are used to that from Republicans indicating veterans are #1, while lifting that same third digit.

  12. StevoR says

    @10. The Vicar (via Freethoughtblogs) :

    Would you prefer Trump or any of the Repugs? Would (t)he(y) be any better in any respect here?

    Aren’t they – Trump personally and most of the Repugs & reichwing – the virus and vaccine deniers throughout the whole covid pandemic? The ones who denied the scientific and observed reality, that recomended non-cures and attacked reasonable health measures with disinfo, lies and even violent attacks on the people trying to save other people?

    Biden might be bad here. I actuallty agree lettingthe covid emergency lapse was wrong – but Trumpand those onthe other side are far worse. When your options are bad or worse, you pick bad and also work to try and find and create better ones. As I’ve said before, major political reforms incl abolition of the Electoral College, abolition of voter suppression laws and gerrymandering and also the introduction of some form of preferential or run-off voting system are very much needed over in the USA.

    @11. John Morales : Please don’t get Vicar started.

    @12. bcw bcw : An excellent idea . Should be mandatory for anyone considering entering politics too in my view.

  13. John Morales says


    @11. John Morales : Please don’t get Vicar started.

    Heh. Fat chance.
    Vicar (definite article) can’t dispute me. Tried once or twice, back in the day, a decade ago or so.

    Point being, far as he’s concerned, everything without fail is the fault of the Democrats, particularly of Hillary Clinton. And Obama.

    And yes, he would prefer Trump. I quoted him making that claim, years ago now.

    (To be fair, he does seem to know a bit about computing, so there’s that; shame he can’t stick to what he knows)

  14. Rob Grigjanis says

    StevoR @15: Re The Vicar; you’re pissing in the wind, mate. He’s an accelerationist (i.e. he wants everything to go to shit ASAP so that things can somehow magically then get better), but he doesn’t have the guts to admit it. That’s why he hates the Democrats (above and beyond the hate they actually deserve); they’re delaying the nightmarish hellscape he devoutly wishes for.

  15. dbinmn says

    “not appropriate for use in human beings”. Did he say this to placate ranchers and farmers who spend thousands injecting their herds? I had a similar discussion with an anti-vaccine local who at the end of his rant seemed to suggest that vaccines work on mammals but not humans.

  16. Hemidactylus says

    I found this to pretty much quash concern:

    Ladapo initially wrote to FDA and CDC officials about residual DNA-related concerns in a Dec. 6 letter. He cited a 2007 FDA guidance document on DNA vaccines that contain plasmids, a form of circular DNA, incorrectly claiming that the agency’s recommendations for assessing the risk of DNA from such vaccines integrating into the genome also apply to the mRNA vaccines. No DNA vaccines are yet on the market in the U.S.

    The guidance is not relevant, Marks wrote in his Dec. 14 response letter. “This guidance was developed for DNA vaccines themselves, not for DNA as a contaminant in other vaccines, and is not applicable to the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.”

    So the guidance Ladapo is relying upon for his scaremongering was toward DNA vaccines, not the mRNA vaccines.


    As we’ve also previously written, DNA is the primary ingredient of DNA vaccines, while it is only present in residual amounts in the mRNA vaccines. For DNA vaccines to work, there needs to be a mechanism to get the DNA into the nucleus of a cell. The mRNA vaccines, however, contain primarily mRNA, which only needs to get into the body of a cell.

    Even with DNA vaccines, DNA integration is only a theoretical risk and has not been shown to be a safety problem. The FDA guidance only recommends doing integration studies in animals for DNA vaccines — in which genomic DNA in various tissues is analyzed for signs of integration — if a certain level of plasmid is shown to persist in animal tissue.

    If you full-on want cray cray of Ladapo’s mental process here:

    DeSantis’ Florida surgeon general Dr. Joseph Ladapo says covid mRNA vaccines “the Anti-Christ of all products… That’s so wrong, you know, it’s just complete disrespect to the human genome and the importance of protecting it and preserving it, and that is our connection to God.”

    Also it’s quite possible university systems have required employees (eg- PZ) to get a measles update at some point. I was vaccinated as a tyke in late 60s, but had to get one in early 90s before entering university as a student.

    I still managed to convince the pharmacy to give me a measles update again in 2019 and received the three shot polio series quite recently though I received OPV as a tyke. Fairly easy to do.

  17. Hemidactylus says

    From the Orac link above

    As an aside, I can’t help but ask antivaxxers like Dr. Ladapo: Why are you calling for the cessation of use of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines? Only plasmid used to produce the Pfizer vaccine contains an SV40 promoter; the plasmid used to produce the Moderna vaccine does not. Look it up if you don’t believe me. If SV40 is what you’re worried about, then you should be fine with the Moderna vaccine. Dr. Ladapo, just like every other antivaxxer promoting the SV40 fear mongering narrative, fails to mention this difference between the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines because it’s not about science. it’s about fear mongering about vaccines. Moreover, the SV40 promoter, particularly fragments of it, is not oncogenic by itself. Moreover, we have good evidence, both in vitro and in vivo, that whole plasmids with just SV40 promoter elements are not by themselves oncogenic, even when used in huge amounts. If there is no actual DNA for an actual oncogene present, the whole plasmid is not oncogenic, much less fragments of it.

    I received Spikevax from Moderna every time, though I doubt there’s any there there for SV40 concerns. I did learn more about the manufacture of mRNA vaccines as a result of this BS put forward by Ladapo. I also knew not to be concerned about integration of the mRNA itself because lack of reverse transcriptase and integrase in the vaccines. I was not aware of the presence of residual DNA fragments, which I could understand laypeople like me having concerns about as presented by antivax scaremongers.

    Yet I know the difference between these phantom integration events and the nifty DNA changes in B-cells that vaccination and/or COVID itself can set in motion. I am at a point now where I wonder about an offset between imprinting (so-called original sin) and affinity maturation (via hypermutation). We want the latter to prevail when we get updated Spike targets in vaccines. Our history with Spike antigen may impact how our individual immune systems react upon future exposure.

    Here’s a cool video where a researcher discusses his work on how B-cells mature:

    And another where Dr. Wilson demonstrates the stupidity of Joe Rogan on vaccination related to life expectancy drops:

  18. Hemidactylus says

    As an aside rabies shots are far from the scary thing they once were. I kinda want to get mine so I can pursue my dream of wrestling raccoons.

    On a more serious note, last I checked mpox vaccine isn’t available outside qualifying groups. I would totally get mine if I could.

  19. raven says

    I can’t see that the Pfizer/BioNtech Covid-19 vaccine even contains the SV40 promoter.
    There is absolutely no reason why it should.

    Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2022 Dec; 78: 102803.
    Published online 2022 Sep 1. doi: 10.1016/j.copbio.2022.102803
    The journey of a lifetime — development of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine
    Chelsea R Thorn,1,* Divya Sharma,1,* Rodney Combs,2,* Sonal Bhujbal,1,* Jennifer Romine,2,* Xiaolu Zheng,2,* Khurram Sunasara,2,* and Advait Badkar1,*

    This involved quickly screening all four plasmids for each vaccine candidate in parallel in five separate E. coli cell lines that were available.
    When selecting the potential large-scale bioreactors for the IVT step, (in vitro Transcription step)

    The SV40 promoter is mammalian eukaryotic specific. It doesn’t work in bacteria.
    The entire mRNA vaccine is made in E. coli and in bioreactors in vitro.

    The Pfizer vaccine is made by growing DNA plasmids in E. coli, harvesting them, and cutting them from circles to linear.
    The DNA is then transcribed to mRNA and capped in vitro using enzymes.

    An SV40 promoter isn’t used and would be useless.

  20. birgerjohansson says

    Crossposted on the infinite thread.

    -The tories in Britain also ignored professional advice and killed vast swathes of their own voters . But finally -despite pro-tory newspapers having a deathgrip on printed media and tories having unofficial control over BBC- the birds are coming home to roost. I hope the coming year will catch up with the regressives in your country, too.

    I bring it up because if such a thoroughly conservative-dominated hellhole as Britain can change for the better, your country – and your state – can, too.
    Of course a lot of people will still die needlessly from disease (and failing public services) before then. But the end will finally come. To quote Brecht, night has 12 hours, then comes the day.
    “Tory Government Ended By Maths” 
    “Carnival Party” 🤤🦚🍹✨🎊

  21. Kagehi says

    Trump – I will go along with any stupid idea that my party wants, as long as I get to pretend to be, and maybe when the next election happens again, try to actually become king.

    Biden – I realize my party has no one that actually has ideas, who has a better chance of actually making it through a primary (see Berne Sanders for an example of this, or anyone else actually not a centrist), and am arrogant enough to a) not step aside and support someone else, who might undermine some of the stuff I already have in the pipeline, and b) think that all my ideas are super great, and maybe the anger and complaints from some of my own parties base can’t possibly be a sign that some of those ideas are a serious problem. Besides, we need to win (and I am arrogant enough to think I can, even with all the lies being told about me by the other side, on top of my own constituents annoyance at some of my choices), or – see the alternative.

    That said, some of the anger is.. somewhat misplaced. For example – Israel. Hell yes, in a sane, fair, politically stable, world, in which we didn’t have half the freaking idiots in it thinking that we need to, “make sure Israel exists so the end of the world will happen”, or we at least didn’t have to freaking make some level of concessions to the madness that has always existed around them, Biden has failed. In the real world, he is playing a mad game of politics, in which you can’t support them 100% without being a lunatic, but you also can’t utterly abandon them to their own idiocy and side with their victims, lest you cut your own throat doing it. So.. you middle ground the crap out of things – do everything politically feasible to argue for a cease to the hostilities, and to funnel non-military aid to the victims, while also doing every damn thing possible to not step on the wrong toes, or at least not too hard, and lose everything in the process. You are damned no matter how you handle it, but you are double damned if you ignore the fact that, on this one single subject, are large percentage of the people that might be voting for you in the next election might actually vote for someone insane, out of spite, because they believe in 90% of everything that is liberal, but just happen to have bought into the idiocy that “Israel is important, and all Palestinians are dangerous!” And, yeah, sadly, those people exist, because this kind of stupid has bled, much like “the government is the problem” rhetoric, through generations, into every corner of the nation, and even people that utterly reject the Reagan era nonsense still catch themselves thinking this. And, even people that are 100% against what is happening in Israel are going to be prone to thinking, “But.. we need them, right?”, at least part of the time.

    So much of the stupidity in US politics is this madness. We know damn well what is right, and what we need to do, but then there is the entire other half of the country, and some percentage of our own “half”, who if you tried to do it would immediately balk, try to derail it, undermine the process, and intentionally or not sabotage the goal, because you crossed some insane line and stepped on a social land mine, caused by decades long absorption of ideas that run utterly contrary to ACTUALLY doing what ever you are trying to accomplish. So.. Every flipping person that gets even close to the presidency, at least if they have any prior political experience, has spent their whole career dodging these land mines, then they become president, and they still have to dodge them, or the next election, for representatives, gets flooded with people who scream, “Ah ha! You stepped in it now, the people won’t allow that, look how we just took over majority of the Senate, or the Congress. Now we will stop you!”

    So, you play the game. And, everyone that doesn’t want you to play the game is pissed you are playing it, and hate you, but.. if you don’t, you will be mobbed by all the idiots that get pissed because you didn’t play it.

    Vicar’s biggest problem, to give the most egregious example of failing to understand this, is the belief that the solution is to elect someone that somehow magically falls “outside” this mobius strip of land mine dodging, but anyone “third party” is both a) already playing the same game, and b) has 100 times more land mines in their path. What is needed is a sea change in the people themselves. Something we kind of see going on, on the left, but which the right has also seen and has not just doubled, but quadrupled down on undermining, with lies, misinformation, propaganda, and more land mines. Its an act of desperation in many respects, because without all that crap, hammering people with an endless mass of lies, at least some percentage of which even people on the left sometimes look at and go, “Huh.. maybe…”, because they have no clue what the real source of al the crap is, but its an act of desperation that came within a hairs breadth of working on Jan 6. It failed, and keeps failing, despite all attempts to prop it up, because of gross incompetence – you might be able to con the people that are already 100% on board with the madness over and over again, because they seem to all be too bloody clueless to recognize that you have changed the lies 15 times, and keep changing it every time the last version didn’t work. But this is also why everyone else recognizes it as lies – they keep trying to change them to fit the changing tides, instead of sticking to one freaking set of clear lies.

    I mean, seriously, how many different lies did Trump speak with regard to Covid – starting with how China was doing a great job, and it would never get here, to then claiming it was just a cold, to them claiming it was a Chinese virus made to kill us, to lies about how to cure it, and on and on. The only “lie” that didn’t change was that persisted was that it, “wasn’t a problem”. Even when he flipping did a 180 and suggested it was really a problem, and people should get vaccinated, the first true thing he said in the whole bullshit cycle, they just spewed back at him the other 40 lies he told them before and ignored his new advice. And they have done this with everything, including their attempts to exonerate him for Jan 6, his document thefts, etc. And, again, its hit the point where he can literally flat out admit his own guilt, on national TV, and somehow his followers eyes gloss over, the truth doesn’t compute, and all they hear is the 50 lies he told them before about how it didn’t do it.

    But, the rest of us.. we see utter madness.

    Thing is.. even among those that see the utter madness, there are some small number that will say, “Yep, guilty of 99.9% of everything, but.. he might have a small point about lie number 134 that he told about crime number 14.” Because, some of the bullshit still seeped through. And, its been only 4 years. What if this nonsense had been going on, like support of Israel, for 80+ years? How many otherwise sane people would instead be talking about how half his lies sort of make sense, and half his crimes might not be crimes, among his freaking detractors?

    This is the madness I think Biden has to contend with when setting policy, and its made only worse by how much of his policy really is crap.

  22. raven says

    From the Orac link in #7.

    Unsurprisingly, antivaxxers being antivaxxers and there never being anything truly new under the sun in antivax misinformation, COVID-19 antivaxxers glommed onto the presence of the SV40 promoter sequence, a short DNA sequence frequently used in plasmids because it is a strong promoter that drives the production of a lot of mRNA, in the plasmid used by Pfizer—but not, I note, Moderna—to drive the expression of an antibiotic resistance marker—but not, I note, the actual spike protein mRNA—to resurrect this particular fear mongering about SV40 in COVID-19 vaccines.

    OK, I see where that SV40 promoter is probably used.
    To drive an antibiotic resistance gene that works in eukaryotic cells.

    This SV40 promoter-antibiotic resistance gene isn’t need at all for the production of vaccine mRNA. It’s just along for the ride.

    Probably what Pfizer did was just use an off the shelf plasmid with an extra feature they didn’t need or want but didn’t bother to take out.

    In any event, as already discussed, it doesn’t cause any problems.

    COVID vaccinations administered number by manufacturer …

    Statista › statistics › covid-19-vaccina…

    As of April 26, 2023, roughly 367 million Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine doses had been administered in the United States. This statistic shows the number …

    The number of Covid-19 vaccine doses given worldwide was 12. 7 billion in October, 2022.

    These vaccines are no longer experimental.
    We have data bases of hundreds of millions and billions of doses given. Something like 5 1/2 billion people have been vaccinated. It’s now been 3 years.
    If there were problems with the vaccines, we would know by now.

  23. Kagehi says

    More specifically on the subject of vaccines though, when do we finally see these?:

    Got to love how tech improves, but we can’t “quite” get there in terms of making it available. I understand the general reasons why – manufacturing and storage issues, due to what they are made of, but they also, supposedly, reduce, or erase two major issues with shots 1) reactions to the shot, which make some people feel sick after getting them, and 2) the actual shot. I literally didn’t even know these where a thing, at all, until like 2 months ago, when I stumbled across an article on the subject.

  24. Hemidactylus says

    raven @27
    The SV in SV40 promoter just means a simian virus was its original source, so that’s the superficially scary part. But it’s only a component of a larger virus and lacks the nasty bits. Maybe molecular biologists recognized it as a useful tool and co-opted it. It’s upstream of an antibiotic resistance marker that might indicate transfection of eukaryotic cells or transformation of bacteria with a gene of interest containing plasmid was successful. Somewhere in the process of COVID vaccine manufacture DNAases are used to chop up the plasmid DNA into meaningless pieces. Some acceptable level of DNA finds itself remaining in vaccines. The part that’s SV40 promoter may be rendered meaningless by the chopping up process? But being sourced from SV40 is not SV40 itself. It’s just a promoter.

    This is at the limits of my meager knowledge of such things.

    I think there’s both a Gish Gallop and moving of goalposts with antivax rhetoric. They throw everything at ignorant targets hoping something sticks. They also go from mRNA itself as a threat (gene therapy, integration etc) to a byproduct of manufacture (DNA fragments) instead.

    Another thing the Florida Deportment of Hell added to the current “threat” was the lipid nanoparticles:

    The Surgeon General outlined concerns regarding nucleic acid contaminants in the approved Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 mRNA vaccines, particularly in the presence of lipid nanoparticle complexes, and Simian Virus 40 (SV40) promoter/enhancer DNA. Lipid nanoparticles are an efficient vehicle for delivery of the mRNA in the COVID-19 vaccines into human cells and may therefore be an equally efficient vehicle for delivering contaminant DNA into human cells.

    Scary! Not. The development and deployment of these vaccines was amazing. That a minority of the US population is getting boosters is sad and fearmongering is at least partly to blame.

  25. Hemidactylus says

    Kagehi @28
    I had read something recently where Topol is still cheerleading nasal delivery.

    Still, there has been exciting new data on oral, inhaled vaccines that achieve high levels of mucosal immunity and protection against infections, which would be variant proof. The U.S. has invested hundreds of millions of dollars to rev up clinical trials for two different nasal vaccines with promising early clinical trial data, and for improved, variant-proof shots with better protection and durability. But most of these efforts started only recently and are not getting urgent priority for completion during 2024, nothing like what we saw with Operation Warp Speed in 2020.

    I could see that in theory the nasal route may have the advantage of inducing mucosal immunity.

  26. raven says

    I think there’s both a Gish Gallop and moving of goalposts with antivax rhetoric.

    They are just throwing out scary words that they don’t even understand.

    SV40 is a common, well known lab virus that is known to be oncogenic in some species. We use it for spare parts. The oncogene is the T antigen which isn’t part of more or less any of the constructs that use the SV40 promoter.

    mRNA purification process at lab scale consists of Dnase I digestion followed by LiCl precipitation. Purification at a larger scale is obtained using well-established chromatographic strategies coupled with tangential flow filtration.Mar 24, 2021

    mRNA vaccines manufacturing: Challenges and bottlenecks
    National Institutes of Health (.gov) › articles › PMC7987532

    After the plasmid DNA is used as template to make the mRNA it has to be purified away.

    They seem to use DNase 1 digestion followed by multiple chromatography steps and tangential flow filtration.
    The vaccine mRNA is highly purified but there are low levels of short DNA strands left.

    I was unable to find out anything about the Pfizer and Moderna details of just how they purify their mRNA. It is likely to be something of a trade secret.

  27. raven says

    Strange factoid.
    DNA is everywhere.
    Not surprising since it is a necessary component of all cellular and a lot of viral life.

    We eat a lot of animal, plant, and bacterial DNA every day.
    It’s on the order of grams per day per person.

    What This Means for Our Diets. You may consume up to a gram of DNA from vegetables or meats in a meal, though the exact amount varies depending on the type of meat or vegetable and how much you eat. A 500-gram (16-ounce) steak contains about a gram (or 0.04 ounces) of DNA.Sep 20, 2023

    How We Studied DNA Damage in Cooked Food
    National Institute of Standards and Technology (.gov) › blogs › taking-measure › how-…

  28. Hemidactylus says

    As a caveat I am way outside my wheelhouse here, but I wondered how prevalent DNA vaccines are as they were the focus of the guidance Ladapo was misusing.

    Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D. Director Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research wrote to Ladapo in a footnote:

    In your letter, you raise questions, citing to the 2007 Guidance for Industry: Considerations for Plasmid DNA Vaccines for Infectious Disease Indications. This guidance was developed for DNA vaccines themselves, not for DNA as a contaminant in other vaccines, and is not applicable to the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.

    I found in the Wikipedia entry (yeah I realize that):
    …that apparently the only DNA vaccine being used in humans is ZyCoV-D in India:

    The vaccine contains a DNA plasmid vector that carries the gene encoding the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2. As with other DNA vaccines, the recipient’s cells then produce the spike protein, eliciting a protective immune response.

    Ignorant me was going to ask if smallpox vaccine would be considered a “DNA vaccine” considering it’s based on a DNA virus (vaccinia), but DNA vaccines are a more specific thing involving plasmids I guess. Caveat above…

  29. raven says

    As a caveat I am way outside my wheelhouse here, but I wondered how prevalent DNA vaccines are as they were the focus of the guidance Ladapo was misusing.

    Right now in the USA, no DNA vaccines are approved. It is zero.

    DNA vaccines are an idea that came and went.
    They work in animals but ended up failing to work in humans.
    The reason for this is now known.
    It is hard for some reason to get enough DNA into human cells by injections to make enough antigen for an immune response.

    People are still working on that problem.

    Inovio’s patented CELLECTRA electroporation delivery technology uses controlled, millisecond electrical pulses to create temporary pores in the cell membrane and allow significant cellular uptake of a synthetic DNA vaccine previously injected into muscle or skin.Jul 10, 2013

    Inovio’s CELLECTRA® Electroporation Delivery Technology …
    INOVIO Pharmaceuticals › news-releases › news-releases-details

    Inovio has been around for a long time and is still working on DNA vaccines.
    They use an electroporation device to increase delivery.

    That works but it really slows vaccination down. Each patient takes up a lot more time and materials.

  30. raven says

    INOVIO Plans to Submit a BLA for INO-3107 as a Potential Treatment for RRP in Second Half of 2024 Under Accelerated Approval Program
    January 03, 2024

    Company will request Rolling Submission and Priority Review of its Biological License Application (BLA) by U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to expedite review process
    Accelerating commercialization efforts to be prepared to launch INO-3107 in 2025
    PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa., Jan. 3, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — INOVIO (NASDAQ: INO), a biotechnology company focused on developing and commercializing DNA medicines to help treat and protect people from HPV-related diseases, cancer, and infectious diseases, today announced plans to submit a BLA for INO-3107 as a potential treatment for Recurrent Respiratory Papillomatosis (RRP) in the second half of 2024.lete the submission of our BLA in the second half of 2024 and request a Priority Review. We also plan to initiate a confirmatory trial prior to submission of our BLA. Concurrently, we will continue advancing our commercial plans, with the goal of being ready to launch INO-3107 in 2025.”

    If approved, INO-3107 would be the first DNA medicine made available to RRP patients in the United States and INOVIO’s first approved product.

    About RRP
    RRP is a debilitating and rare disease caused primarily by HPV-6 and/or HPV-11. RRP is characterized by the development of small, wart-like growths, or papillomas, in the respiratory tract. While papillomas are generally benign, they can cause severe, life-threatening airway obstruction and respiratory complications. RRP can also significantly affect quality of life for patients by affecting the voice box, limiting the ability to speak effectively. Surgery to remove papillomas is the standard of care for RRP; however, the papillomas often grow back because the underlying HPV infection has not been eradicated. The most widely cited U.S. epidemiology data published in 1995 estimated that there were 14,000 active cases and about 1.8 per 100,000 new cases in adults each year.

    About INO-3107
    INO-3107 is designed to elicit an antigen-specific T cell response against both HPV-6 and HPV-11 proteins. These targeted T cells are designed to seek out and kill HPV-6 and HPV-11 infected cells, with the aim of potentially preventing or slowing the growth of new papillomas.

    In a Phase 1/2 clinical trial conducted with INO-3107, 81.3% (26/32) of patients had a decrease in surgical interventions in the year after INO-3107 administration compared to the prior year, including 28.1% (9/32) that required no surgical intervention during or after the dosing window. Patients in the trial had a median range of 4 surgeries (2-8) in the year prior to dosing. After dosing, there was a median decrease of 3 surgical interventions (95% confidence interval -3, -2).
    Treatment with INO-3107 generated a strong immune response in the trial, inducing activated CD4 T cells and activated CD8 T cells with lytic potential. T-cell responses were also observed at Week 52, indicating a persistent cellular memory response. INO-3107 was well tolerated by participants in the trial, resulting in mostly low-grade (Grade 1) treatment-emergent adverse effects such as injection site pain and fatigue.

    That there are no DNA vaccines approved for humans in the USA might change in the next year.

    Inovio plans to submit a Biological License Application this year for a DNA vaccine directed against HPVs-6 and 11, which cause Recurrent Respiratory Papillomatosis.

    Inovio also had a Covid-19 virus vaccine in clinical trials.
    They were so slow in testing that all the other vaccine makers ran circles around them and they finally gave up without completing much of anything.

  31. bcw bcw says

    If Ref to @3 stinkers and also PZ’s original point, perhaps PZ could replincate the situation at the famous Eton School in England which is operating remotely because flooding in the Thames has backed up all the sewers and toilets.

  32. StevoR says

    @18. John Morales : Cheers!

    @19. dbinmn :

    I had a similar discussion with an anti-vaccine local who at the end of his rant seemed to suggest that vaccines work on mammals but not humans.

    Oh fer fucks sake!

    Did you tell him humans are mammals too? How did he react?

  33. wzrd1 says

    bcw bcw @ 36, we have a unique American system just for such instances. Sink or swim.

    StevoR @ 37, such people then massively go off with, “Mammals are animals and people are not animals”, so I’m guessing in their minds that people are either minerals or vegetables. Minimal knowledge, even less logic in them.
    Hence, why so many are MAGA types.