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

***”Poppers” – see

****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.


Male Genital Mutilation

On watching this film, I was really horrified how much male circumcision rates have increased since I left the US. In the eighties and nineties, they seemed to be declining as more feminists entered the medical profession. Like many of my feminist friends, I have always opposed circumcision, along with a variety of child rearing practices that seem to affect men’s sensitivity and self-confidence. Contrary to the claims of pro-circumcision advocates, young infants experience pain as acutely as adults do. Now that the US has become both post-feminist and post-racial, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that male circumcision is making a comeback.

Circumcize Me?

BBC (2012)

Film Review

Circumcise Me? examines the alarming US cultural practice of genitally mutilating their male infants. It also asks why American doctors have parted ways with their British (and Australia and New Zealand) counterparts in this area. The documentary demonstrates how infants are strapped down at eight days of age, enabling a surgical circumcision specialist to snip off the foreskin with a specialized circumcision instrument.

Medical circumcision was first introduced to the English speaking world in 1860. Doctors claimed it inhibited masturbation and cases of insanity caused by masturbation. Nineteenth century medical textbooks stress that the pain of circumcision is essential – theoretically the cure only worked if young boys to associated the penis with pain and punishment.

During the twentieth century, the rationale for medical circumcision changed. Without a shred of research evidence doctors (many US doctors still do) claimed that uncircumcised men were at higher risk for cancer of the penis, herpes, warts and HIV. When these claims were debunked, doctors claimed the partners of circumcised men were at higher risk of cervical cancer. When high rates of cervical cancer among Israeli women (the Jewish and Muslim religion requires all men to be circumcised) suggested otherwise, circumcision rates in most English speaking countries declined. In the 1940s, 50 percent of British male infants were circumcised. By 2012, the figure had decreased to 3%. This contrasts with Fargo North Dakota which, in 2012, had a circumcision rate of 90%.

Although sexologists don’t do population research, the film features several who have seen a link between loss of glans* sensitivity in circumcised men and erectile dysfunction in middle age. The filmmakers also interview circumcised men who have restored their foreskins (either through surgery or a procedure known as “tugging”**) . All report greatly enhance sensitivity and functioning.

American men seem to want their sons circumcised though their motivation is unclear. In the film, the most common reasons given are “Everyone else does it” and “I want him to look like me.”

In a candid interview at the end of the film, a British Medical Association representative refers to the US obsession with circumcision as a risky unethical procedure that continues that’s mainly driven by a multimillion dollar surgical circumcision industry.

*Phimosis is a congenital narrow of the foreskin which prevents it from being retracted.
** “Tugging” – A technique for foreskin restoration. See foreskin restoration