Virus Mania

Virus Mania : Torsten Engelbrecht : 9783751942539

Virus Mania

By Torsten Engelbrecht and Claus Köhnlein MD

Book Review

The main purpose of this book is to demonstrate how Big Pharma has transitioned, over three decades, into highly profitable antiviral pharmaceutical and vaccine production, while simultaneously sacrificing safety and efficacy research.

The illnesses covered in Virus Mania include polio, AIDS, bird flu, SARS, swine flu, Hepatitis C, Mad Cow Disease, seasonal influenza, cervical cancer (allegedly caused by Human Papilloma Virus), the 1918 Spanish Flu, and Covid19. The authors’ primary assertion is that there is no conclusive proof (based on Koch’s postulates*) linking specific viruses to the “viral” illnesses they allegedly cause.

Specifically they maintain that numerous viruses, starting with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) have never been successfully purified and identified via electron microscope. I found this really confusing, given that Wikipedia displays electron micrographs for all the viruses they mention (including HIV, H5N1 (bird flu virus), SARS or Hepatitis C virus).

When I “fact-checked” this by going backed to the original research, I found the book’s assertions to be essentially sound. Luc Montaigner and Robert Gallo are both credited with “discovering” HIV as the retrovirus responsible for causing AIDS. Although Montaigner first “isolated” HIV in 1982 (and won the Nobel Prize for it) and Gallo a year later, they both published in the same issue of the Science in May 1983. Montaigner obtained his “virus” sample from the lymph nodes of a gay Caucasian male with a non-specific immune deficiency disorder similar to those found in early AIDS patients. After being treated with growth hormone, the culture was then mixed with lymphocytes from umbilical cord blood, from which Montaigner isolated a virus similar to the one in his original sample

As Gallo admitted in 1991, he also isolated his new retrovirus from the same sample (which Montaigner had sent him), which he claimed had accidentally contaminated the samples from 48 different AIDS patients that he mentions in his paper.

However, according to Eleni Papadopolus, leader of the Perth HIV/AIDS group, both men were primarily focused on specific proteins they believed to be unique to HIV. For some reason, neither attempted to purify their retrovirus through a very simple density gradient process developed in 1973.**

Also neither scientist used their virus samples to see if it would infect new patients with AIDS-related illnesses.

Since the HIV virus was never isolated or purified, the HIV antibody test used to diagnose AIDS doesn’t measure antibodies to the virus itself but to specific proteins that, unfortunately, aren’t unique to HIV retroviruses

Virus Mania also casts a critical eye over “life saving” Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAARP) that is currently offered to AIDS patients who can afford the $10,000+ price tag. Although there a still no placebo controlled trials, there are enough HIV positive patients who can’t afford HAARP to do longitudinal outcome studies. These suggest it only increases life expectancy by a few years (in part due to extremely toxic side effects).

That being said, I have a problem with the authors’ assertion that AIDS represents a toxic immune deficiency disorder caused by illicit drug and “popper”*** abuse in the gay community. Their assumption, that 100% of gay men who contract AIDS abuse either illicit drugs or “poppers” is ludicrous.

Their failure to mention numerous studies into the role of condoms in reducing AIDS prevalence is also a serious weakness of this chapter.

My favorite section was the one on the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic, which somehow broke out simultaneously in San Sebastian (Spain) and New York City in February 1918**** and couldn’t be transmitted by airborne droplets in military experiments on Navy prisoners.

The authors believe that the so-called “Spanish flu” was more likely related to widespread postwar malnutrition, possibly aggravated by heavy metal poisoning from  post-war vaccination campaigns and the use of silver, chloroform and heavy metals in many prescription and patent medicines.


*Koch’s postulates

  • The specific organism must be present in every case of the disease.
  • The specific organism must be isolated from the host with the disease and grown in pure culture.
  • The specific disease must be reproduced when a pure culture of the bacteria is inoculated into a healthy susceptible host (an animal in the case of HIV).
  • The specific organism must be recoverable from the experimentally infected host.

**According to Papadopulus, centrifuging a sample in a sucrose solution separates out retroviruses from non-viral particles that can look identical under an electron microscope. See immunity.org.uk/articles/christine-johnson/

***”Poppers” – see https://www.verywellmind.com/what-are-poppers-22094

****In 1918, the minimum travel time from Europe to New York (by boat) was 4 1/2 days.

COVID-19: Gobbling Up Funding for Fatal Epidemics Such as Malaria, TB and AIDS

Coronavirus or Malaria, Tuberculosis and HIV?

Al Jazeera (2020)

Film Review

Why is a Low Mortality Illness Like COVID-19 Crowding out Treatment for the World’s Most Dangerous Illnesses?

This documentary reports on urgent concerns that COVID 19 “pandemic” management is crowding out prevention, diagnosis and treatment for far more serious illnesses, such as malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS.

Epidemiologists assert that low cost interventions such as bednets and “residual spraying” (presumably with insecticides?) are extremely effective in preventing malaria in African and Asian countries that experience malaria epidemics during the rainy season. Where the disease is diagnosed early, artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) has an extremely high response rate. Unfortunately due to diversion of Red Cross and other international funding to COVID management,  Africa’s anti-malaria programs have suffered significantly. India, however, is still making good progress in reducing disease prevalence.

Diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis has been similarly affected in the developing world, where, at present approximately 25% of patients diagnosed with HIV are unable to access life-saving anti-retroviral treatment.

 

Successful Mass Protest During Repression

United in Anger: A History of ACT-UP

Directed by Jim Hubbard (2012)

Film Review

This documentary traces the history of ACT-UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), one of the few successful mass protest organizations during the repressive Reagan era. Between 1981, when the AIDS epidemic was first recognized, and 1987, 40,000 Americans died of AIDS. During this time Reagan refused to utter the word AIDS, much less advocate for research, prevention and treatment. Prior to 1987, 80% of patients diagnosed with AIDS would be dead in two years.

ACT-UP first formed in New York City in 1987, the same year the first anti-AIDS drug AZT became available. By 1996, the year the life-saving Triple Cocktail* became available, they had 147 chapters across the US.

The film mainly focuses on the New York City chapter, and their Monday night meetings attended by hundreds of activists. Most former ACT-UP members believe the secret of their success decentralized (non-hierarchical) organizing. This fostered the burgeoning of dozens of affinity groups based on the needs of specific AIDS patients (women, minorities, low income).

The ACT-UP Women’s Caucus was one of the more important affinity groups, as the CDC was stubbornly resistant to the reality that AIDS was the number one killer of American women. Because the disease presents differently in women (eg with a a high incidence of cervical cancer), the initial CDC diagnostic criteria made it impossible for female AIDS patients to qualify for Social Security Disability or Medicaid. This not only left them penniless and homeless as the disease progressed but denied them access to America’s for-profit health system

In 1987, ACT-UP held their first protest at the Burroughs-Wellcome Tuckahoe (New York) research facility to protest the prohibitive prize of AZT ($10,000 per year).

Over the years, the organization held a number of creative protest actions, most involving civil disobedience:

1988 – Unfurled banners on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange to protest AZT’s  high cost.

1988 – Made the front page news for “taking over” the FDA to demand more rapid approval of drugs for AIDS treatment.

1989 – Joined with other social justice groups for a City Hall protest against Mayor Ed Kochs failure to fully fund low income housing and hospitals (many AIDS patients were dying in hospital corridors.

1989 – Joined with Women’s Health Network for a 7,000+ protest at St Patrick’s Cathedral (with hundred protestors “dying in” inside the sanctuary) to protest the Catholic Church opposition to safe sex, condoms, and abortion.

1990-94 – Commenced four-year campaign to pressure CDC to include women with AIDS in their diagnostic criteria to include women with AIDS.

1990 – Protest to force National Institutes of Health (NIH) to include patients in designing clinical trails

1991 – Camera bombed Dan Rather’s CBS network news yelling “Fight AIDS not Arabs) the day the US declared war on Iraq (picked up by all major US news outlets).

1995 – Blocked Midtown Tunnel to protest city/state service cuts

 

 

 

 

Granny Fight Club: Elderly Kenyan Women Learn to Fight Off Rapists

Granny Fight Club

RT (2017)

Film Review

Granny Fight Club is an RT documentary about the self defense program in Korogocho Kenya that teaches elderly women to fend off prospective rapists.

The deliberate rape of elderly women is an increasing problem in Kenyan slums – largely due to the prevailing myth that raping a grandmother will cure a younger man of AIDS.

The women are taught a strategy that relies mainly on self-confidence and a loud aggressive voice. However they also practice delivering blows to vulnerable areas of a man’s body.

Invisible No Longer: Chicago’s Homeless

Street Life: Faces Uncovered

By Neal Karski, George Min, Tyler Dubiak and Scott Hilburn (2016)

Film Review

Street Life is a portrait of the Chicago’s homeless population. It begins by demolishing the myth that homelessness is a lifestyle choice. In addition to a wealth of statistics, the documentary includes interviews with homeless Chicagoans, social service workers, homeless advocates and random passersby. I found it intriguing that none of the women interviewed blamed the homeless for their predicament – while more than half the men did.

On any given night 750,000 Americans are homeless, and yearly 25-35 million spend some nights on the streets or in shelters. Worldwide 100 million people have no housing at all while one billion have grossly inadequate housing. Last year, over a million American children were homeless at some point.

In examining the causes of chronic homelessness, filmmakers identified the following breakdown (in Chicago):

  • 48% suffer from chronic drug or alcohol addiction
  • 32% are mentally ill
  • 25% are victims of domestic violence
  • 15% are unemployed veterans
  • 4% have HIV or AIDS

Because the homeless make huge demands on the public health system, it costs taxpayers far less to pay for their housing than to leave them on the street. After starting a Permanent Supportive Housing program two years ago, Illinois lawmakers reduced emergency room visits by 40%, nursing home days by 975%, inpatient days by 83% and psychiatric services by 66%.