So to instalment five of my notes on the pandemic. We are now coming up on October and it seems here in Toronto the Good we are into the second wave of the great plague of 2020. Pandemics tend to come in three waves and the second is usually the worst.
The reason seems to be that people get complacent and think it is over. That is certainly what was happening in Ontario over the summer. The numbers have now shot up again. As of today they have dropped back a bit. We must hope that this is not just a blip and is because people are getting the message.
As one wise and witty twitterer has been saying for months; nothing is coming to save us. A vaccine will eventually be found but none will be fully effective. What is needed is a permanent change in the way we do things.
More on that topic but right now I will talk more about vaccines. The first ones may start to be used by the end of this year or early next. I am not here posing as an expert on vaccines. I am just some cranky old fart who spends too much time on the net and also thinks too much.
I am still very keen on Russian vaccines. The Russkies actually have a very good history at infectious disease control. In the beginning, starting back in the Czar’s time, Doctor Gamaleya developed vaccines which eventually eliminated smallpox in the USSR, before anywhere else.
Doctor Zilber way back in the 30s and 40s made ground breaking discoveries about viruses which scientists in the west plagiarized to get themselves Nobel prizes. This between his spells of being thrown into the GULAG by Stalin.
Later doctor Chumakov worked with Salk and Sabin of the USA to create polio vaccines. The jab that Salk developed had to be tested in Russia. Only they had the facilities to manufacture it. The elimination of Polio in the west in the early 1960s could not have been possible otherwise. This went a long way toward melting the cold war.
More recently, the Russkies have developed very effective vaccines against Ebola and Zika. Various shadowy interests are doing all they can to prevent them from being used. Meanwhile, the Russians have developed numerous very effective vaccines for domestic use on humans and livestock.
On the other hand, the Russians have not been particualrly brilliant at containing Covid. They are much better than Canada or most European countries, but not great compared with east Asia.
Non-Replicating Viral Vectors
Still, the Russians have the best vaccine technology in the world and it is no accident they came up with a testable vaccine ahead of everybody else. Put your money on the “Sputnik 5” vaccine as being the model that eventually gets used world wide. If you do not eventually get poked by a Putin produced product, it will likely be by some other vaccine based on the technique the Russians have developed.
This is called “Non Replicating Viral Vector”. It involves using gene splicing to graft a piece of the deadly virus onto a harmless one, allowing the immune system to learn how to attack it. There is some concern that the immune system may learn to attack some part of the weak virus, rather than the sample of the dangerous one. However, this dos not seem to have happened in the NRVV vaccines that have been put into use so far.
A bigger problem with this type of vaccine may be that the immune response it creates is short lived. However, it can be developed quickly and is very reliable at producing an immune reaction. That is what is needed now. Some other vaccines are under development which take longer but will, if they work, create longer lasting immunity. The Russians are working on those, too.
The Politics of Pokes
Predictably, the propaganda machine has been cranked up to sling mud at the Gamaleya Sputnik V vaccine. It is part of the campaign of western elites to isolate rising powers it sees as a threat. The Gamaleya institute and Russian government are accused of compromising the safety of the test subjects and the greater public by rushing development too hard. If so, it is exactly what the Trump administration in the USA is doing with its “warp speed” program.
Lately, some credentialed individuals have criticized the results of stage two tests of the Sputnik V vaccine published in western journals. It is alleged that some of the statistics have been fudged. This seems strange. The Russians are not stupid. They know these results would be intensely examined. Any anomalies would be noticed and pointed out. So, why would they do it?
It may be that there is something which is not as it appears in this Russian effort. The Russian government has been promoting their success a little too hard. They have been a little too cocky about it. I wonder a bit about why the director of the Gamaleya institute looked so glum next to Putin as the certification of the vaccine was announced. However, Putin is known as a very cautious person. It would be unlike him to act so recklessly over a treatment his people were not highly confident about.
As well, no, despite the ardent desires of war mongers and Russophobes in the west, Putin’s daughter did not die after receiving the vaccine as a test subject. The lady is alive and well and full of jumping coronavirus antibodies. She is also a medical doctor.
Other Promising Pokes
There are three other Non Replicating Viral Vectors in an advanced stage of development. One is being developed by the University of Oxford in England and a company it partly owns. One is being being developed in China by a firm which used to have a close connection with Canadian universities, dating back to when we worked together on the SARS virus of 2003.
The stupidity of the Trudeau government in attacking the Huawei cell phone company has led to Chinese retaliation, severing most connections with us. China has forbidden the export of vaccines to Canada for testing. This is a bit petty. It should be noted that a few years ago this firm was fined by the Chinese government for delivering vaccines it knew to be ineffective.
Another promising effort is by a very large firm based in Belgium, which seems to have connections everywhere. It is itself ultimately owned by the Johnson and Johnson company, once a family owned firm wth a reputation for quality and integrity. Lately it has been bought out by profit maximizers who are ruining its reputation.
But this firm has strong relations with the Biomedical Industry in China, and recently opened a plant there. China presently has the greatest vaccine manufacturing capacity on earth, so wherever the vaccine you eventually get stuck with is developed, it will probably be produced in China. Canada has recently placed advanced orders with this firm.
When will Canada get stuck?
Canada has a considerable biomedical industry of its own, but it has the old Canadian problem of mostly being owned somewhere else. We will have a hand in developing vaccines, but we will have to buy them from foreign suppliers. That insures we will not be the first to receive them.
Canada has been hedging its bets, paying deposits to several firms. If these firms fail to produce an effective virus, Canada will not get its money back. At least we have a deposit with one firm which is likely to create a good first line vaccine. Some of these other firms have never developed a useful vaccine and seem to be only about getting money out of governments.
The biomedical industry is one of the world’s worst rackets. Only seven percent of vaccine developments lead to an effective treatment because they are not intended to. The ones which are useful are usually developed with shiploads of government money and the owners are then free to charge thousands of dollars for something that costs them pennies to produce.
Our neighbours to the south are in a terrible situation. They have the worlds worst rate of Covid infection, are totally incapable of containing it, and they have invested in the wrong kinds of vaccines from the wrong kinds of companies. What should worry Canada is that they also have a record of hijacking or coopting medical supplies intended for other people. They have done this to Canada with simple things like face masks.
To conclude, here in Toronto, Canada, we should not count on getting a useful vaccine soon. A first line Vaccine may be ready by 2021, but that does not mean we are getting it then. We will be waiting in line and the big boys will likely try to jump the queue.
As well, as I said at the start, no vaccine will be fully effective. By time the pandemic has run its course, huge social and economic damage will have been done. We are never going back to ‘normal’. There is no choice but to permanently change the way we do things.
Here is the link to the best vaccine tracking web site I can find. Cheers.